The Dallas Cowboys are in somewhat of a waiting period until this weekend plays out and know who their opponent is, so there isn't a whole lot of news surrounding the organization.
I thought it would be fun to use this downtime to complete my first 2017 mock draft for the Dallas Cowboys. I know it's way too early to predict who will be available when the Cowboys are on the clock with any accuracy, but that doesn't make it any less fun to speculate.
To help with this mock draft I used Fanspeak's draft simulator and chose the CBS big board. Below are the players I chose for the Dallas Cowboys.
Rd 1, Pick 31: Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
It's no secret that the Dallas Cowboys could be in need of depth at the cornerback position with both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in the last years of their contracts. Luckily, Anthony Brown, who was a six round draft pick last year looks to be a future starter, but that shouldn't stop the Cowboys from addressing the CB position at some point in the draft.
In this particular mock draft Sidney Jones was still available when the Cowboys were on the clock and I couldn't pass up the chance to add a player this talented.
Jones (6'0, 181) is one of the most talented CB's in this year's draft class and would instantly upgrade the backend of the Cowboys defense. In 40 games as a Husky, Jones has accumulated 145 tackles, 8.5 tackles for a loss, one quarterback sack, eight INT's, 21 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries, and six forced fumbles.
Rd 2, Pick 63: Dawuane Smoot, DE, Illinois
After addressing the cornerback position in the first round, I thought I would try to improve the pass rush by selecting defensive end Dawuane Smoot with the Cowboys second round draft pick.
Smoot (6'3", 265) has been projected to be selected by the Dallas Cowboys on several occasions by some of these so-called "draft experts", but in the first round. To have him sitting there in the second round was a no-brainer for me.
Smoot would already have a head start with Rod Marinelli's defensive scheme, since Illinois head coach, Lovie Smith uses nearly the exact 4-3 defense Marinelli does.
Smoot has played on both the right and left side as a DE at Illinois and gives opposing offensive tackles all they can handle in the passing game. He is a quick twitch athlete that can bend the corner and get the QB, but he needs to develop a more versatile pass rush move repertoire. He also tends to struggle a little bit in the running game from time to time, but should be able to improve in this area with more focus on his technique.
Rd 3, Pick 95: Carlos Henderson, WR, Louisiana Tech
The wide receiver position will probably need to be addressed at some point in the draft with Terrance Williams and Brice Butler both in the last years of their contracts. So, I want to introduce you to one of my "Pet Cats" of this year's draft class, WR Carlos Henderson.
When watching Henderson play, you can't help but fall in love with the way he plays a game. He is exactly the type of WR Dallas Cowboys fans have been wanting for what seems like years now.
Henderson is a vertical type wide receiver that will open up the down the field passing game. He reminds me a lot of former Baylor WR, Corey Coleman, who is now a member of the Cleveland Browns. Henderson isn't quite as explosive as Coleman, but I think he is a better route runner at this point of their careers.
Henderson (5'11", 191) isn't as big as the WRs the Cowboys generally target, but his ability to stretch the field was too much for me to pass up at this point in the draft.
Don't believe me, check out Carlos Henderson's highlights.
Rd 4, Pick 135: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
The depth at the tight end position for the Dallas Cowboys next season is questionable at best. Jason Witten isn't getting any younger and both James Hanna and Geoff Swaim will be trying to come back from serious injuries in order to play in 2017. Of course, they do have Rico Gathers on the practice squad, but he is the ultimate mystery at this point.
Jeremy Sprinkle has the potential to develop into a #1 tight end in the NFL and is already experienced in both the running and passing game, having already played in a pro-style type offense at Arkansas.
Sprinkle (6'5", 256) has the size teams in the NFL look for in their tight ends. He is a natural hands catcher in the passing game and is good at the point of attack as a blocker in the running game. However, he isn't the most athletically gifted player. He has a plotting running style and might struggle to gain separation as a receiver in the NFL.
Overall, I think he can have a long NFL career, but he may never be a dominant player in the NFL.
Rd 6, Pick 215: John Johnson, S, Boston College
If you haven't noticed yet, you may see a pattern to the way I have approached this mock draft. Again, with Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox in the last year of their contracts, I decided to add depth to the safety position by selecting John Johnson with the Cowboys sixth round draft pick.
At this point in the draft I look for players with traits that can be developed and I think John Johnson absolutely has the physical makeup to develop into a solid player at the NFL level.
Johnson (6'0, 202) played mostly as a free safety at Boston College, but was asked to play down in the box as well. There are also times where he was asked to play in man coverage and didn't look completely out of place.
Johnson has the movement skills that you like to see in a free safety, but really needs to work on his technique. I think if he can clean up his technique, he can be a really good player in the NFL.
Rd 7, Pick 231: Jon Heck, OT, North Carolina
With first of the Dallas Cowboys seventh round draft picks I decided to take a shot in the dark in the hopes of finding depth at the tackle position.
Tyron Smith is likely the only tackle that can be penciled in as a starter in 2017. Doug Free has noticeably started to decline as a player and Chaz Green can't stay healthy. The Cowboys might've found something in Emmett Cleary, but I don't know if he is an every down starter.
Jon Heck (6'7", 300) has the size and length you for in a starting tackle in the NFL. He was strictly a right tackle at North Carolina and that would likely be the position he would play for the Cowboys.
Heck struggles with his technique and footwork, but that could be because of his size. If they can improve those two areas of his game, he could develop into a starter.
Plus, it would be just too much fun to come up with all kinds of different "Heck" jokes.
Rd 7, Pick 252: Noble Nwachukwu, DE, West Virginia
With the last of the Cowboys draft picks I decided to double dip and selected defensive end Noble Nwachukwu because we all know that the defense could use as much help as possible with their pass rush.
Nwachukwu (6'2", 275) lined up mostly as a left defensive end at West Virginia. He isn't the most explosive of athletes, but is stout against the run and has the ability to play a defensive end or be kicked down inside in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme.
I don't know how much he will help with the pass rush, because he only has one career quarterback sack in 49 games he's participated in at West Virginia. He does however have 29.5 tackles for a loss, so he is capable of making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
If nothing else, Nwachukwu could be a solid rotational player along the defensive line for Rod Marinelli.
Would you be satisfied with these draft picks for the Dallas Cowboys?
Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions about this topic.
Alabama LB Rashaan Evans Joins Dallas Cowboys List of 30 Visits
The Dallas Cowboys are the only remaining team in the NFL yet to sign an outside free agent, turning their attention towards what should prove a memorable 2018 NFL Draft from AT&T Stadium. Without filling any roster holes with top FA talent, the Cowboys' biggest loss of the offseason remains LB Anthony Hitchens - joining Matt Eberflus with the Colts.
The remaining market on free agent linebackers looks bleak, and without Eberflus on their sidelines the Cowboys may not feel as confident in their ability to acclimate newly acquired talent here. In search of another starter alongside Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys will be hosting Alabama prospect Rashaan Evans for a pre-draft 30 visit.
Cowboys pre-draft visitors: WR Calvin Ridley, Alabama LB Rashaan Evans, Alabama OG Will Hernandez, UTEP OL Kolton Miller, UCLA (@TonyPauline) RB Nyheim Hines, NC State (@TheWolfpacker) WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa (@ConnorNFLDraft)
Evans is just the latest Crimson Tide defender to rise up draft boards as a hard-hitting linebacker that plays as a magnet for the football. This is a player with the ceiling to potentially step in for Lee or Smith should he be called on early in his Cowboys career, along with the talent floor to blend in with this team's projected starters at WILL and MIKE to add speed and tenacity to Rod Marinelli's unit.
The jostling for quarterback prospects at the top of the draft has already begun, with as many as five quarterbacks coming off the board before Dallas picks at 19th overall. Already planning on addressing their offensive line depth in free agency, the chances of an impact defender sliding to the Cowboys are increasing.
While there is no denying that Evans' presence would be felt from day one at The Star, I've already gone on record in naming him a "Player to Avoid at 19th Overall".
"Depth can be found at LB throughout this 2018 class, making Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds the only players I would consider with pick #19 at this position. Additionally, I've graded Evans as a third round player."
Should Edmunds or Smith be the linebackers that the Cowboys are in position to draft, this conversation changes entirely. Unlike Evans, these two prospects would be the "best available players at a position of need" that the Cowboys could target in the first round.
Rashaan Evans undoubtedly benefited greatly from the talent level of his surrounding Alabama defense - which will send multiple starters to the NFL again this season. Making enough plays to certainly be one such starter, Evans may prove in a tough spot to grab for the Cowboys come draft time.
This won't stop America's Team from doing their due diligence on a prospect that could help take their defense to another level, particularly against the run. Evans is officially on the Dallas Cowboys' radar, and could be their first LB selected in round one since Bobby Carpenter in 2006.
The Cowboys will also be meeting with Evans' Alabama teammate Calvin Ridley. Amazingly, they have not selected any player out of Alabama since 2001 (Tony Dixon). Planning valuable meetings with the draft's top receiver and one of its best linebackers gives SEC fans of the Cowboys hope that this streak will end next month.
2018 NFL Draft: Cowboys to Hold Visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller
The Dallas Cowboys have been
frustratingly unsurprisingly quiet through the start of free agency, as their opportunity to improve at the AT&T Stadium hosted 2018 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching. Offensive line depth remains a team need for the Cowboys, one they're actively looking to address by visiting free agent Guard Marcus Martin while planning a pre-draft visit with UCLA Tackle Kolton Miller.
I'm told UTEP Guard Will Hernandez is another of Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors. Hernandez joins Alabama WR Calvin Ridley and UCLA G/T Kolton Miller on the list of reported visitors for the #Cowboys. Since 2014, 14 of Dallas' 35 picks (40%) have been pre-draft visitors.
Protecting one of the top quarterbacks available in the draft in Josh Rosen through college, Kolton Miller absolutely blew up the Combine in Indianapolis - entering the draft as one of the most athletic available linemen.
It is this athleticism and versatility that the Dallas Cowboys should absolutely be looking for, if trying to add another "blue chip" player to an offensive line already featuring LT Tyron Smith, C Travis Frederick, RG Zack Martin, and RT La'el Collins.
Kolton Miller with the broad jump world record for an offensive lineman at 10 1 wow
Tyron Smith's health (along with the level of play the Cowboys received at his spot in his absence) and the FA status of Jonathan Cooper are both reasons the Cowboys should consider adding a new, controllable option to their dominant offensive line. Whether this is with the 19th overall pick, or later on with a prospect like Miller, will depend on how the board falls through the first 18 picks of the draft.
With ten total picks coming in, the Cowboys could be positioning themselves for a move up the board to land an impact defender, or an additional piece for Kris Richard to work with in the defensive backfield. Staying home at 19th overall and selecting a player capable of playing swing tackle would not only be a safe option for the Cowboys, but a smart one with Ezekiel Elliott returning full-time to the lineup in 2018.
Without Elliott for six games in 2017, the Cowboys still managed nine wins. This is a point lost to most of Cowboys Nation, especially those watching the entire playoffs without their team in it, only to watch the Eagles hoist the Lombardi. Elliott's impact on each's week game plan for Dallas is hard to understate, and the Cowboys' trust in him begins up front.
Testing as an elite athlete with the film to match at tackle in the Pac 12, Kolton Miller should be a welcome addition to America's Team - getting the opportunity to learn the Cowboys' way with a trip to The Star in his future.
Can Powers of Persuasion Help Make Will Hernandez a Cowboy?
There is no shortage of NFL hopefuls who would like to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, not one of them have used their powers of persuasion to make their intentions known as much as former UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.
Throughout the entire draft process, Will Hernandez has done nothing but stand out when given the opportunity. He first started to make waves at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he pretty much dominated his competition. Then, he improved his draft stock even more by putting on a show at the Scouting Combine.
The 6'2", 330 pound offensive guard has likely cemented himself as a surefire first-round draft pick and is arguably the second-ranked OG in the entire 2018 draft class. He is a plug-and-play prospect for any team who drafts him, but he has made his intentions well known that he would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Back in February, Will Hernandez was spotted hanging out with the Cowboys bookend offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, to see the premiere of the movie Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.
@PujolsFive Cowboys fans will appreciate this post!! ⭐️ Movie Premiere #Deathwish Great movie!
To see Will Hernandez rubbing elbows with a few of the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive lineman only strengthened the connection for Hernandez becoming a draft pick by America's Team. But, this wasn't the only time the former UTEP offensive guard was seen out with a Cowboys player.
In March, he was once again seen out on the town with the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.
All of this can probably be chalked up to a current player hanging out with an NFL hopeful, but as a Cowboys fan you want to believe it's more than just a coincidence.
The Dallas Cowboys without a doubt need a new starting left guard. It can be argued it's the team's biggest need this offseason and Will Hernandez fits the bill to a T. He would immediately upgrade the entire offensive line and solidify the unit for years to come.
The only problem is, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line and taking Will Hernandez in the first round would be considered by some as overkill. I for one wouldn't be opposed to taking him at 19 if he is the top rated player when the Cowboys are on the clock.
It's hard to know if seeing Will Hernandez hanging out with Tyron Smith and La'el Collins improves his chances of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Offensive lines around the NFL perform at their best when they play as a cohesive unit, so developing a bond already could be viewed as a good thing.
Who knows, maybe Will Hernandez's powers of persuasion will pay off and end up being the deciding factor to help him become the next first-round offensive lineman drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you read anything into Will Hernandez hanging out with Cowboys players?
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