"It is now the post-Witten era in Dallas and unless a tight end on the roster emerges this season, the position could be high on the wish list next offseason. His athleticism makes Fant an appealing up-and-coming prospect."
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?
Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts, a Pass Catching Theme Persists
The Dallas Cowboys haven't played the 2018 NFL season yet, but that shouldn't stop us from looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft and seeing what players the team will have their eye on this fall.
With the NFL season fast approaching, that means the college football season is as well, and as we look through these mocks, perhaps you get an idea of whom to watch with a Cowboys perspective this fall.
I scoured the internet looking for the best and brightest minds and their "way too early 2019 mocks." As I perused the mocks, one thing was clear. Many of the national writers see the Dallas Cowboys going with an offensive pass catcher in the 2019 NFL Draft. Namely a TE.
TE Noah Fant, Iowa
Noah Fant, from the University of Iowa, will be a junior in his 2019 season and as a sophomore caught 30 passes for 494 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage may not look all that impressive, but if we think about Iowa's offense in the Big 10, we can understand that he's not going to get many opportunities to catch the ball when the team is running it as often as they do.
In fact, the Hawkeyes ran the ball 10 more times per game than they threw it and their quarterback only completed - on average - 15 passes a game.
Fant accounted for 21% of the receiving yards on the season and 42% of the passing touchdowns. He was only 36 yards away from leading the team in receiving despite catching 21 fewer passes than leader Nick Easley. No other pass catcher for Iowa had more than four receiving touchdowns.
If there's something not to like at the moment about Fant, it's his size.
At the moment, College Football Reference has him listed at 232 pounds. There are running backs that weigh more than Fant does and he'll probably need to add about 10-20 pounds in the NFL to be an effective in-line blocker.
Mocked to the Dallas Cowboys by Dane Brugler of The Draft Show on DallasCowboys.com. In a mock draft he did for Sports Day DFW and the Dallas Morning News, he had this to say.
Dane Brugler - Sports Day DFW, Dallas Morning News
Eric Galko of The Sporting News selected the Iowa tight end to the Cowboys as well, seeing him as a special prospect that has the chance to fill the shoes of Jason Witten.
Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington also had Noah Fant to the Cowboys, thinking they are in need of a Jason Witten replacement.
DE Austin Bryant, Clemson
Depending on what Dallas can get out of Right Defensive Ends Tyrone Crawford, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, and Charles Tapper, it could have the Cowboys taking a defensive end in the first round for the second time in three years.
Will Brinson's mock doesn't offer much analysis on Bryant, mostly saying that Clemson is going to be good. But here's what Draftek.com's Brett Clancy, who covers the 49ers, had to say about Bryant:
"Clemson's Austin Bryant is the 4th EDGE off the board in this mock and 2nd from his school, but he's still well worth a mid-round pick. Bryant broke out with 8.5 sacks as a junior last year and many thought he'd go pro. I like Bryant's move to stay in school and refine his game, specifically growing a repertoire of pass rush moves to complement his strong edge-setting ability."
Brett Clancy - Draftek.com
Bryant was amazingly disruptive for the Clemson Tigers as a junior, racking up 50 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. At 6-5 265, he could come in and play right defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys on day one.
DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama
We know that the Dallas Cowboys have an affinity for Power 5 prospects and Jason Garrett goes back with Nick Saban.
Despite that relationship, it hasn't led to many Alabama players being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps, that should tell us something.
One other factor that could be in play with Davis is dependent upon who the defensive coordinator is in 2019. We all know that Rod Marinelli doesn't place premium draft value on defensive tackles, but prefers to find diamonds in the rough to develop.
If Kris Richard takes over as the defensive coordinator in 2019, the story could be a bit different. Seattle, with Richard at the defensive helm, selected defensive tackles in the second round of the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts.
If the Dallas Cowboys are going to spend a first on a defensive tackle, this is the guy to do it on.
He was highly productive as a sophomore for the Crimson Tide, racking up 69 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also had one interception that was returned for 19 yards. At 6-7 306 pounds, he has the size and frame to be an immediate impact player on the Dallas Cowboys interior.
If the Dallas Cowboys choose not to resign David Irving in the 2018 offseason and Maliek Collins doesn't take a step forward, then Davis becomes a real possibility.
Here's what Draftek's Cowboys analyst had to say about Raekwon Davis.
"Alabama's Raekwon Davis has played both DT and DE in the Crimson Tide's 3-man line. He can maintain his gaps against the run when needed, but his primary skill set is using his long arms and strong lower body to use a variety of pass rush moves to win with power and speed.
"One red flag on Davis happened 8/27/17: he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet during the wee hours of Sunday morning at a Tuscaloosa bar (Bar 17) where several shootings have occurred over the past few years. Despite HC Jason Garrett's affinity for Nick Saban coached players, this incident might remove him from the Dallas board."
Long Ball - Dratek.com
Interestingly, Draftek did a second round in this mock and they sent Boston College Safety Lukas Denis to the Dallas Cowboys.
S Jaquan Johnson, Miami
Speaking of safeties, Dan Kadar over at SBNation sent one to the Dallas Cowboys in the form of Jaquan Johnson.
Johnson, from the University of Miami, was very productive in his junior season for the Hurricanes, racking up 96 total tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and four interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.
Here are Kadar's thoughts on the second team All-ACC player:
"There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro."
Dan Kadar - SB Nation
Obviously, this pick will depend on what happens with Earl Thomas over the next nine months and the development of Xavier Woods, but Johnson will be a name to watch for teams that need a safety.
WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami
Another Hurricane to have on your NFL Draft radars is Wide Receiver Ahmmon Richard, who is going into his junior season at Miami.
The Dallas Cowboys have begun the process of overhauling their wide receiver corp with the departures of Dez Bryant and Brice Butler in the 2018 offseason. In 2019, it's likely that Terrance Williams (contract) and Cole Beasley (age) could be next to go.
That would leave them with Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson as their WR depth chart. It's certainly a solid group, but adding a talent like Richards could help.
The Draft Wire's Luke Easterling believes, "Richards would be another great addition with impressive size and speed."
In two seasons at Miami, Richards has averaged 18.8 yards per reception, and 68.65 yards per game. He's got deep-threat ability which would combine well with Gallup and Hurns.
WR Collin Johnson, Texas
If Richards doesn't do it for you, then lets head a couple of hours south of Dallas to the University of Texas and Wide Receiver Collin Johnson.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has the Dallas Cowboys going with the junior wide receiver and had this to say:
"The Dallas Cowboys made interesting moves at wide receiver in the 2018 draft—trading Ryan Switzer to Oakland, acquiring Tavon Austin from Los Angeles, not selecting a receiver early—and will head into the upcoming season with a need for a playmaker down the field. Texas' Collin Johnson at 6'6" can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.
"Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season."
Matt Miller - Bleacher Report
I'll agree with Miller that Johnson will need to increase upon his production. Some believe that the quarterback limitations in Austin have been a factor, but at the moment, I'm leery of taking a wide receiver from the Big 12 that doesn't have excellent production in the first round of the draft.
✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭
It's obvious from these mock drafts that analysts see the Dallas Cowboys continuing to invest in pass catchers for their offense and that is a reasonable thought.
Obviously, a lot will change between now and next April when the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock, but this gives us a bit of insight on who to watch in this upcoming college football season.
What names will you be watching in college football this season?
Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?
Last night, it was reported that Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident comes from a traffic confrontation that took place back in October, where White -- according to his camp -- was justified in drawing his weapon for self-defense.
A promising young player that stuck on the Cowboys practice squad in his rookie season, the sixth round pick doesn't need this case hanging over his head as training camp approaches. When considering the timing up against this week's supplemental draft, and the rare crop of defensive back talent available in it, White could soon be fighting for relevance on the Cowboys roster.
Becoming complacent in building one of the best young secondaries in the league won't be an issue for the Cowboys under new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. The Cowboys were relying on White to be a depth option behind projected starters Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis.
White's spot on the depth chart may very well hold up, but by the end of the week he could also have added competition in Adonis Alexander or Sam Beal.
Respectively, the former Virginia Tech and Western Michigan cornerbacks are two of the most talented supplemental prospects to enter the draft in years -- both likely to be the first players drafted since 2015.
Alexander and Beal are also joined by Mississippi State Safety Brandon Bryant as another backup option for Dallas.
A lengthy cornerback with the toughness to play on the boundary, Alexander is a similar player to White, and one that Richard should love for his physical traits. Whether or not this natural skill outweighs some maturity issues that saw Alexander fall from freshman starter to suspended at VT will determine if the Cowboys feel comfortable sending away a 2019 draft pick for his services.
Where Alexander's career leaves his arrow trending downward on the eve of the supplemental draft, Beal is a rising prospect that some are calling the best to ever enter this draft.
An all-conference cornerback as a Junior out of Western Michigan, Beal improved with each passing college season, determined to finish out his degree along the way. However, once Beal's eligibility for his Senior season was called into question, the feisty 6'1" CB decided to turn towards the NFL.
Beal's professional football faith is now in the hands of any team that's done their homework on him. Projected to be taken as early as the third round, teams impressed by Beal's tape could be giving away a premium pick in next year's draft to add him just before training camp.
Should this team be the Cowboys, Beal's presence would put more than just White on notice. The Cowboys are also expecting corners like Duke Thomas and Kam Kelly to fight for roster spots. In a perfect world, say the one the Cowboys were living in yesterday before this White news broke, Thomas or Kelly could replace White on the practice squad as the Florida State product took another jump in Oxnard.
As I've written before though, teams must be relentless in their search for talent. The Cowboys have drafted well, but passed on big name free agents in recent years. The result is a young roster full of potential and ready to compete.
If either Adonis Alexander, Sam Beal, or even Brandon Bryant help them do so this year, we could be right here talking about a new Cowboys rookie in the middle of July. Marquez White would be happy to see this talk overshadow his legal situation for the moment.
This won't be the case when he's competing against another player that will likely cost the Cowboys more than the sixth round pick they invested in him two years ago.
Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?
You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.
I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.
Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.
Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:
2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano
You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.
Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.
The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.
DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.
The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.
Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.
I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?
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