Yes, it's already that time of year. Now that the off-season has officially started for the majority of teams around the NFL, it's time to start getting into draft talk. That is why today I will share with you a pre-playoff 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft.
If I'm being truthful, I started looking at potential draft prospects for the Dallas Cowboys when the Ezekiel Elliott suspension started. I knew it would be hard for the Cowboys to make the playoffs without their best player, but I still held out hope anyway.
It did, however, allow me to get a jump-start with my scouting.
Now, it's still way too early in the process to know exactly what the Cowboys' draft needs are since free agency hasn't started yet, but we can still guesstimate based on the holes that need to be filled. It's also a little bit difficult to know where some of these players will fall in the draft because their stock will rise and fall these next several months.
For this Cowboys mock draft I used the Fanspeak simulator and Matt Miller's big board. So, if you don't agree with where some of these players were selected, you can take it up with him.
Let's get started, shall we?
Round 1 (19th overall)
WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
Selecting 19th overall kind of lands the Dallas Cowboys in no man's land in this mock draft. There isn't really an immediate starter on the board when they are on the clock, so I addressed the need of upgrading the wide receiver position.
It's been five years since they added a starting caliber WR, and it's way past time for an upgrade.
Courtland Sutton (6'4", 220) is a big physical WR with #1 potential. He likely would've been a first-round draft pick in 2017 if he would have left SMU early, but he decided to return to school instead.
He is similar to Dez Bryant in a lot of ways, which is fitting because he would be his eventual replacement.
Sutton isn't a burner and isn't going to create a lot of separation, but he is excellent at using his size and physicality in the passing game. He has strong dependable hands, is a solid route runner, and is good at picking up yards after the catch.
Round 2 (51st overall)
LB Josey Jewell, Iowa
Whether or not Dallas re-signs Anthony Hitchens could determine how highly the Cowboys draft a linebacker. But, even if Hitchens is re-signed, the Cowboys need depth at the position and also need to find Sean Lee's successor. That is why I took Josey Jewell with the Cowboys second round draft pick.
The one thing that jumps off the tape when watching Josey Jewell are his instincts. He has a lot of the same mannerisms/instincts Sean Lee does and just has a knack of fighting his way through traffic to get to the ball carrier. He also isn't a liability in pass coverage either.
But, what I really like about Jewell is he has the size (6'1", 240) and ability to play any three LB positions in the Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme.
Round 3 (83rd overall)
OG Will Hernandez, UTEP
The left guard position for the Dallas Cowboys is really the only uncertainty along the offensive line heading into the 2018 season. There are concerns about Tyron Smith's long-term health because of his bothersome back, but I'm hoping for the best.
To solidify the OL, I decided to take Will Hernandez in the third round of this Cowboys mock draft.
Will Hernandez (6'3", 330) is a plug-and-play player. His size indicates he would probably be better off playing in a power scheme, but he is light on his feet and has no problem making any block on the field. He's a road grader when blocking in the run game, and his bulk/athletic ability make him a good pass protector as well.
He would immediately upgrade the LG position and make the Cowboys OL the best in the NFL.
Round 4 (121, 136, 139 overall)
DE Marcus Davenport, UTSA
I personally think Marcus Davenport will end up getting drafted a lot higher, but if the Cowboys can get him in the fourth round, it would be an absolute steal.
Despite drafting Taco Charlton in 2017, there's still a need to upgrade the defensive end position, and I think Davenport will do just that.
At 6'6", 260, Davenport has the size the Cowboys look for in their 4-3 DEs. I even think he could challenge for a starting spot as a rookie. The Dallas Cowboys absolutely have to find somebody else to play opposite DeMarcus Lawrence, whom I expect them to retain for 2018, at least. Davenport could be that guy.
CB Holton Hill, Texas
I struggled with the selection of Holton Hill in this Cowboys mock draft. Dallas did an excellent job of pretty much completely making over their secondary in 2017, so there really isn't a need for another cornerback. But, Hill's talent and potential were just too good for me to pass up.
Holton Hill has first-round talent, but has some off the field problems. He has supposedly failed three drug tests at UT, which is why his stock has fallen so far.
But, I would still be willing to take the risk on him in the fourth round because of his size (6'2", 200) and ball-hawking ability.
It is definitely a risk/reward kind of selection, but I think it's worth taking considering how well the Cowboys' young secondary performed in 2017.
TE Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
The tight end position for the Dallas Cowboys could be one to watch this off-season. Jason Witten has already announced he will return for 2018, but the depth chart behind him could see a big shakeup.
James Hanna could end up being a salary-cap casualty, which leaves Geoff Swaim as the only other backup TE to see playing time this season. And, who knows what is going to happen with Rico Gathers. He seems to be in the Cowboys doghouse for some reason.
For all those reasons, I decided to take Troy Fumagalli with the last of the fourth-round draft picks in this Cowboys mock draft. If you don't know Fumagalli's story, I suggest you look it up. He will be heavily scrutinized because he only has nine fingers, but it doesn't show in his play.
He is arguably the most technically sound TE in the draft class and probably understands the mental aspect of the game more than any of the other TEs as well. He has experience as a halfback, is an adequate in-line blocker, has soft hands, and is a good route runner.
He's more of a possession type TE than a stretch-the-field type, but that's probably what Dak Prescott needs most.
Round 5 (174, 176 overall)
S Damon Webb, Ohio State
The safety position for the Dallas Cowboys is a bit of a head-scratcher heading into the off-season.
They didn't perform terribly bad in 2017, but if there is a chance to upgrade the position, the Cowboys should jump on it. That is why I selected Damon Webb with the first of two fifth round draft picks.
Damon Webb has the potential to be a rookie starter for the Cowboys at either safety position. He was surrounded by talent at Ohio State, but that doesn't take away from his skill set.
He's a solid tackler around the line of scrimmage, yet has the range and cover skills to be a deep safety. The Cowboys could use that versatility, especially if they decide to move Byron Jones back to CB.
DL Kentavius Street, NC State
I would love for the Dallas Cowboys to draft a defensive tackle earlier for a change, but they just don't put much value in the position. That was evident enough in 2017 when we saw a carousel of players rotate on and off the roster.
One of the things they do love in their DL is versatility, which is why I selected Kentavius Street.
While at NC State, Street played up and down the defensive line. He could just be one of the strongest and most athletic defensive lineman in the entire draft class. He has a quick first step and shows some natural bend when rushing around the edge as a DE, but is strong at the point of attack when playing as a DT.
Round 6 (197th overall)
LB Skai Moore, South Carolina
Like I mentioned earlier, Dallas needs depth at the LB position, which is why I wouldn't be surprised if they double-dip.
To find Skai Moore still sitting there in the sixth round is little bit surprising, but not totally out of the realm of possibility. He is talented, but there are concerns that need to be addressed.
First off, he is a little undersized at 6'1" and around 220 pounds or so, but you wouldn't know it by his physical play when watching tape.
Secondly, he had to take a redshirt season due to a herniated disc in his neck that required fusion surgery.
Other than that he would be the perfect weak side LB in the Cowboys 4-3 scheme.
He has excellent sideline to sideline speed and knows how to fend off blocks with his hands. I think he has the talent to eventually take over for Sean Lee down the road.
Round 7 (238 overall)
RB Myles Gaskin, Washington
With the final pick in this Dallas Cowboys mock draft I decided to add some depth to the running back position since Alfred Morris likely won't be brought back. We all know Ezekiel Elliott is going to handle the majority of the workload, and Rod Smith has likely earned more playing time, but Dallas could still use another shifty type RB.
Myles Gaskin could be the change of pace RB the Cowboys attempted to acquire last year.
You may have forgotten, but Dallas was targeting Donnel Pumphrey in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but Philadelphia beat them to the punch. Instead they drafted Ryan Switzer. Gaskin, however, is a lot like Pumphrey.
Gaskin is listed at just 5'9", 195, but he runs heavier than that. He has excellent start/stop quickness, great vision, speed, and is a good receiver out of the backfield. All he needs is a little crease and he is gone.
What do you think of this pre-playoffs Cowboys mock draft?
Report: Boise State LB Leighton Vander Esch Visiting Cowboys
As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer, teams are beginning to hold their official visits with prospects of their own choosing. The Cowboys have already met with a few different prospects thus far, and they've reportedly added a linebacker to that list this week.
Multiple reports are saying the Cowboys will meet with Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch this week, adding him to the list of 30 potential visits.
BoiseState LB Leighton Vander Esch will be a pre-draft visitor for the #Cowboys. Add him to your list of 30, per Tony Pauline.
Vander Esch is a bit of a controversial prospect in the draft world. As I've stated before, he tested like a freak athletically, and his combine profile alone would put him in the discussion on day one. The problems I have with Vander Esch have nothing to do with his athleticism, however, and everything to do with his actual football-playing ability.
On film, I see a player who struggles to get off blocks and will have trouble finding a home with the Cowboys. Still, I wouldn't mind the Cowboys drafting Vander Esch - that pick cannot come in the first round though.
Vander Esch is a long, rangy, and athletic linebacker who is at his best playing laterally and tracking down plays. As a blitzer, Vander Esch has some rather clear issues. He often runs directly into blocks and is unable to shed at the point of attack. I also don't think he is as instinctual a player as some of the other linebackers in this class, such as BYU's Fred Warner or Alabama's Rashaan Evans.
The way things are looking, however, Vander Esch is going to be a first round pick. And if not, he'll almost certainly be a top 50 pick. I wouldn't be very comfortable taking him at 19, and I'd have to think twice before even taking him at 50 for that matter.
2018 NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys Meeting with Texas Safety DeShon Elliott
With more pressing needs on offense at guard and wide receiver, and defensively at DE or LB, the Cowboys' concerning lack of proven ability at safety has taken a backseat in this offseason's roster build. With the expectation that new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard will elevate the play of the entire Cowboys' secondary, the team is doing their due diligence on safeties available in the 2018 NFL Draft - starting with Texas' DeShon Elliott.
It appears Texas S DeShon Elliott is visiting the #Cowboys today
With 63 tackles and six interceptions in his final season at Texas, Elliott took full advantage of being a starter in the Big 12 for the first time in his career, flying onto the NFL Draft scene.
Elliott is a well-balanced, average athlete with the upside to be targeted late in April's draft and make a difference.
If they had to play a game tomorrow, the Cowboys would be rolling with Jeff Heath, Xavier Woods, and Kavon Frazier at safety.
Finding an expanded role this season for Frazier should be a priority in Dallas, as should supplementing Heath and Woods with additional talent. DeShon Elliott would fit this group well, along with the Cowboys' scheme, given his range and disruptive ability.
Should Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and now Byron Jones help the Cowboys reach their full potential at CB, the Cowboys safeties will not be tested in single coverage up the field often. This is an area that Elliott was exploited in at Texas plenty of times, performing better as a true free safety or second-level player.
Continuing to add young talent at the right price is key to the Cowboys' ongoing rebuild on defense, now visiting with a local safety prospect that should be available to them in the later rounds. Texas' DeShon Elliott is officially a name to consider come draft week in Dallas.
Cowboys Draft: PSU WR DaeSean Hamilton Fits Cowboys’ “Type”
Last week, I detailed what the Cowboys tend to look for when drafting a wide receiver. In terms of a combine profile, Dallas clearly has a "type" of wide-out they like to target.
The Cowboys certainly need to upgrade their receiving corps, but with the plethora of other holes to fill, they may not be able to do so until the 3rd or 4th round. Luckily for the Cowboys, there is at least one receiver which both fits their profile and should be available early on day three.
That player is Penn State wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton.
Working on something for @InsideTheStarDC... here's the height, weight, 40 time, and 3 cone for every WR DAL has taken since 2010.
First, let's re-examine what the Cowboys like to look for. As you can see from the above graphic, the Cowboys draft targets all seem to fit a similar profile. If we treat Dez Bryant as their "ideal" draft pick, the trends become even clearer. Dallas wants to find a wide-out who is about 6'1" 205 pounds, runs nearly a 4.5 40 yard dash, and about a 6.9 three come time.
DeaSean Hamilton, coincidentally, is 6'1" 203 pounds, ran a 4.47 40 yard dash at the Penn State pro day, and ran a 6.84 three cone at the combine. Penn State's all time receptions leader stole the show at the 2018 Senior Bowl, putting all of "Draft Twitter" on notice to his talent.
An efficient and smooth route runner, Hamilton looks natural coming in and out of breaks, creating separation with his precise routes. The Cowboys don't have many receivers on their roster who can win with their route running, and adding a player like Hamilton would greatly help third year quarterback Dak Prescott moving forward.
With the ability to play in the slot, as well as potentially being a Z receiver for the Cowboys and a replacement for Terrance Williams, Hamilton would be an excellent draft target in the third or fourth round. And, keeping in mind how nicely he fits their typical draft profile, I'd expect Dallas to target Hamilton during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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