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.
Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class
The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.
You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.
The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.
Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:
- DT, Trysten Hill
- RB, Tony Pollard
- RB, Mike Weber
- WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
- CB, Chris Westry
If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.
The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.
I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.
After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.
This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.
It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.
Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades
Another year, another draft come and gone. The difference was that this year the Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick thanks to their trade for Amari Cooper with Oakland. Their de facto first-round pick would obviously earn an A+ from how well he meshed with Dak Prescott and gave this Cowboys offense another dimension.
Given how well the Cowboys have done in the first round in recent history -- all but two of their first round picks since 2011 have been in the Pro Bowl, a trend that continued with last year’s pick, Leighton Vander Esch. This season, the Cowboys only had picks from round two and on. So this year was all about finding value and hoping it would fall into their laps.
Obviously time will tell if any of these players work out or not. For the time being, we can grade the picks based on what we do know. Some picks were worth it, while others raised questions, as well as eyebrows.
58 Overall: DT, Trysten Hill
In what has been considered the best defensive line draft in decades, the Cowboys took a bit of a risk with their first “official” pick. Trysten Hill is a first round talent out of UCF, but reports questioning his love for the game had some give him a third round grade.
Dallas has already had an off-season dealing with talented defensive linemen with questions around their passion for the game (i.e. David Irving) and so obviously people didn’t love this pick.
It’s a high risk, high reward move that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern
As far as value goes, McGovern was probably the team’s best pick. In my pre-draft rankings, Connor McGovern was my fourth overall interior lineman; a player who you can play anywhere in the interior and start immediately.
However, guard didn’t really seem like a need. This was obviously a “best player available” pick. What this pick has done instead is raise a bunch of questions.
Who’s job could be on the line?
Does this imply the team won’t re-sign La’el Collins?
Is Connor Williams going to play tackle like he did in college?
Is one of them going to get traded?
Is Travis Frederick really ready to go?
So many questions surround this pick, but there’s no questioning the player. Connor McGovern is likely a future starter on the line and Cowboys fans should be excited about that.
128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard
If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.
Tony Pollard might be my favorite #Cowboys pick. Has experience at both the RB and WR position, plus had 7 career kick return TDs in college. He addresses all 3 needs in 1. #NFLDraft
Returner has been a need for a year now. I never liked the team trading away Ryan Switzer because it created a huge hole on special teams, as well as the receiving core.
The team also needed a backup running back to take the load off Ezekiel Elliott a bit. With Tony Pollard, they get all three positions filled in the form of a player who's 6'0" 210 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 and compiled 25 total touchdowns. Terrific value in the fourth round.
158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson
This is the type of corner Kris Richard loves; big and tall. At 6'1" 200 pounds, Michael Jackson fits the profile.
His 2017 tape was actually better than his 2018 tape, and all four of his career interceptions came in '17. However, the team is obviously betting on his potential, especially with corner being a serious need.
With the Cowboys' four primary corners coming into contract years the next three seasons, odds are that at least one will be gone. MJ doesn’t fill in day one as a difference maker but, given some time under Kris Richard, he could be a nice player.
165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson
Take Joe Jackson, new Cowboy, as well as Michael and Darius Jackson, and the team is just two short of a Jackson 5 reunion.
The team has been very busy trying to rebuild the depth at edge and Joe Jackson is icing on an already stacked cake. In an off-season that saw the retirement of David Irving and another suspension for Randy Gregory, the team was able to extend DeMarcus Lawrence and trade for Robert Quinn.
The edge room was already full but you can never have too many.
Joe Jackson is a fun, productive player from The U, who was teammates with the previous pick, Michael Jackson. In his career, he totaled 24 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss all in three seasons. He’s not the fastest edge rusher in the world but has plenty of power to make up for it. With the team only for sure having DeMarcus Lawrence guaranteed beyond 2019, it’s good to have as much talent as possible.
213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson
The team really needed a safety and it enraged most people that they didn’t pick one earlier. Especially with Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill and Amani Hooker all available at different times.
Donovan Wilson is an interesting pick. His career has been a rollercoaster while at Texas A&M, with a highly productive 2015 season, a dip in 2016, a fractured foot in the 2017 opener, and a rebound 2018 season.
Had his career not been derailed by his injury, he’s likely gone way before the sixth round and the Cowboys are obviously betting on his potential. Meets a need, but not a plug-in right away type of pick.
218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber
Tony Pollard is going to get first crack at the backup running back spot. However, given that he’s also the team’s likely return man as well, it makes sense that they’d want to deepen the running back room to give the team a true RB2.
Mike Weber was Ezekiel Elliott’s teammate at Ohio State, but didn’t come close to the impact Elliott had. Only topping 1,000 yards once in college, Weber is likely in competition with Darius Jackson for the backup spot.
He’s not as flashy as Zeke but can pick up the slack when asked to and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. If Weber can’t beat Jackson for the backup spot, then Weber is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks falls into a similar boat that both Hurricanes players are in. Like Joe Jackson, he’s a good solid edge piece (fifth round draft grade), but like Michael Jackson, his prior season's tape was better than his final season.
It's interesting that the Cowboys would pick a player who seems to be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a OLB, but has plenty of starter potential. Otherwise he’s a player that’s likely headed to the practice squad that the Cowboys wanted to make sure they get first crack at. Still, a good value in terms of where he was picked.
Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B
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