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Safety Leads the Way in this Dallas Cowboys 7-Round Mock Draft

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft: Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill V

This is the week that we've all been waiting for. The NFL Draft is now just five days away. The Dallas Cowboys will finally be able to put all the hard work they've done over the last year into practice. They'll finalize their big board and will add six (or more) players to their roster between now and next weekend.

As it's the last week before the draft, I wanted to bring you one final mock draft. This one will focus on the Dallas Cowboys pre-draft visitor list. They've had contact with tons of players over the last several months, so we should have a pretty good idea where their collective minds are at. Of course, the draft brings so many variables into play that it's hard to accurately predict who will go there, but we're going to try anyway.

Using Fanspeak.com's Premium On The Clock Simulator, I declined options to trade back in the second, because they required trading back a full round. In trade back scenarios, I wouldn't want to trade back further than the fifth pick in the third round. The Cowboys would miss out on too much talent by going back a full round in the draft.

I attempted to focus this mock on players that the Cowboys have had in for visits this offseason. So let's find the Dallas Cowboys some players.

58 - Juan Thornhill, Safety, Virginia

Juan Thornhill has been a guy I've hyped up for much of the last two weeks. Until I watched his tape, I was all about Maryland Safety Darnell Savage. In Thornhill, I saw a similar player to Savage, but a better overall athlete that is bigger as well.

Thornhill is in that group of safeties along with Taylor Rapp, Jonathan Abram, and Savage, who could be there for the Dallas Cowboys at pick 58. While each in that group are capable of making a day one impact for the Cowboys, Thornhill is the guy that I think has the best potential.

He's smooth in coverage and willing as a tackler. He plays the ball well in the air and is excellent with the ball in his hands. He has the ability to play corner if needed. At Virginia, he lined up all over the secondary.

Here's what Dane Brugler from The Athletic had to say about Thornhill:

"A three-year starter at Virginia, Thornhill arrived in Charlottesville as a safety before moving outside to corner his sophomore and junior seasons. He moved to the “Sabre” strong safety position as a senior and led the team in tackles (98) and interceptions (6), playing everywhere from nickel to single-high to linebacker (showed he can just as easily press as he can play from deep positioning). Thornhill, who wears No. 21 for Sean Taylor, doesn’t play as fast as he timed, but he has a smooth lower body and doesn’t get off-balance in his movements. He has plus anticipation and ball skills, but will take the worst of hits when his tackling technique isn’t perfect. Overall, Thornhill is more smooth than sudden, which causes him to be a beat late at times, but his instincts, field range and roster versatility are strong selling points, projecting as a high alignment safety who can walk down and cover slot receivers."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

He's Dane Brugler's 49th ranked player and fifth best safety in this year's draft. Over the course of Thornhill's career he totaled 13 interceptions and 26 pass deflections. He's a playmaker that stays around the ball and would give the Cowboys another ball hawk in the secondary.

Check out Brian Martin's Scouting Report on Virginia Safety Juan Thornhill.

90 - Jace Sternberger, Tight End, Texas A&M

I don't think that tight end is as big of a need in this year's draft because I firmly believe that Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are solutions there long-term. However, sometimes the draft doesn't fall like you'd like and here, there weren't any defensive players available that I was as interested in as Texas A&M Tight End Jace Sternberger.

Already off the board were any of the EDGE players that the Cowboys have shown interest in as well as Defensive Lineman Trysten Hill and Khalen Saunders. There were several wide receivers available that the Cowboys have had in for visits, but I felt like there was an opportunity to get one of those later in the draft, thus the pick of Sternberger.

"A one-year starter at Texas A&M, Sternberger quickly emerged as the centerpiece of the Aggies’ passing game, lining up split out, wing or inline. Despite only one season in College Station, he is one of the most productive tight ends in school history, setting the single-season records for receiving yards and touchdown catches. With his athleticism and toughness, Sternberger offers tremendous YAC and down-the-seam value, recording at least one 20-plus yard catch in 12 of 13 games in 2018 (44 percent of his catches resulted in a 20-plus yard play). He is a work-in-progress as both a route runner and blocker and his NFL ceiling will be closely tied to his development in both areas. Overall, Sternberger is a vertical pass-catching target with the athleticism and warrior toughness to be a mismatch weapon, projecting as an NFL joker tight end."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

He's a field stretching tight end, similar to Blake Jarwin, with a better  pedigree and more college production. Potentially, Sternberger could get snaps right away as a move tight end as he learns his blocking responsibilities.

128: Emanuel Hall, Wide Receiver, Missouri

There are several wide receivers that bring a speed dimension to the NFL draft this year and Emanuel Hall is one of them. He had good production at Missouri, but injuries kept him from having the type of career that potential first round pick Marquise Brown had.

Like Sternberger, Hall could make an impact week one in three and four wide receiver sets on the outside. With Amari Cooper's ability to line up in the slot, Hall on the outside would add another dynamic element to this young and improving offense.

"Prototypical size and length... excellent release package at the LOS... sets up corners well with head fakes and quick, deceptive feet... Long strider... few corners can keep pace with him vertically... good tracker of the ball... sneaky good route runner... keeps corners on their toes because of his deep speed... takes advantage with an array of double moves... great body control and adjuster to the ball in the air."

Jonah Tuls - Jonah Tuls 2019 NFL Draft Guide

See my Scouting Report on Missouri Wide Receiver Emanuel Hall.

136: Damien Harris, Running Back, Alabama

Alabama Running Back Damien Harris was a productive player in college who averaged 6.4 yards per carry for his career. Over the last three seasons in the Crimson Tide backfield, Harris totaled 1,000 yards each season. In 2018, he caught 22 passes for 204 yards for 9.3 yards per reception. Over his final two years, he totaled 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Only five times in his 54 games played in college did Harris receive more than 15 carries a game, so he's not coming into the NFL as a workhorse type back, but he has potential to work in a running back by committee. For the Dallas Cowboys, if he can take 5-10 touches a game from Ezekiel Elliott, it will help keep Elliott fresh down the stretch and hopefully keep Elliott from seeing 400 touches.

"A Swiss army knife type of running back who possesses good traits in nearly every facet of the game. Solid experience and production as a ball carrier, receiver, and pass protector for an elite program. Nice contact balance and rarely goes down on arm tackles. Underrated footwork and vision. Scheme-versatile to play in both zone and power schemes."

Jonah Tuls - Jonah Tuls 2019 NFL Draft Guide

Check out Brian Martin's Scouting Report on Damien Harris.

165: Kingsley Keke, Defensive Line, Texas A&M

The Dallas Cowboys don't really have a huge need along the defensive line in 2019, but when you look ahead to the 2020 offseason, you could be without Antwaun Woods, Maliek Collins, and Tyrone Crawford. The Cowboys would have big needs along the defensive line if they were to move on from Crawford to save money on the cap, they would need a 3-technique defensive tackle. Kingsley Keke could be a potential starter.

In 2018, at Texas A&M, Keke had 7.5 sacks and 51 total tackles and 11 tackles for loss. At 6-4 and 305 pounds, he's a player that could give you some snaps at 1-technique on passing downs and be your primary 3-tech in your base defense. He's a productive player with good athletic traits, so getting him in the fifth round would be huge for this defense.

"A quick interior defender with position flex as both a base end and nickel rusher in multiple fronts... played his best football at the end of his career... seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss... 35 consecutive starts... proven durability... a lightning- quick first step with an impressive array of pass rush moves... moves really well and is light on his feet... plays with impressive bend and cornering ability."

Jonah Tuls - Jonah Tuls 2019 NFL Draft Guide

"A three-year starter at Texas A&M, Keke started at nose guard as a sophomore and junior before losing 20 pounds prior to his senior season and moving outside to defensive end under new defensive coordinator Mike Elko. He was listed as an end on the depth chart, but he also played substantial snaps over the A-gap and B-gap in 2018 as the Aggies took advantage of his versatility. Keke is an active athlete and moves well on his feet to slip blocks and chase in pursuit. He flashes upper body strength, but plays too high and is too easily slowed by road blocks, lacking pass rush tempo or core strength to consistently work through contact. Overall, Keke’s inconsistent contact balance and marginal anchor strength will limit his NFL ceiling, but his foot quickness, nonstop effort and position flex are appealing traits, projecting as a base end in a 4-3 or rotational interior player."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

241: Chris Westry, Cornerback, Kentucky

Kentucky Cornerback Chris Westry is a project player, but has a lot of experience, size, and athleticism that makes him an interesting player to take in the seventh round. That's what you're looking for in the seventh round of the draft. Guy who have traits that with some coaching and an NFL training and conditioning program could turn into productive role players for your team.

"A three-year starter at Kentucky, Westry was a full-time starter as a freshman and sophomore at Kentucky, but gradually dropped down the depth chart as Derrick Baity improved and Lonnie Johnson arrived from the JUCO level. He was the third cornerback on the depth chart as a senior, playing primarily in the boundary when he was on the field. Westry has exceptional straight-line speed to stay stride for stride with receivers or quickly make up ground when he gets a late start. However, he plays undisciplined with a questionable mental process, struggling to recognize routes or create production. Overall, Westry is a better athlete than football player right now with questionable football intelligence, but his size/speed numbers are rare, which will get him drafted as a high upside project."

Dane Brugler - Dane Brugler's 2019 NFL Draft Guide via The Athletic

The Dallas Cowboys may not have a ton of holes in the 2019 roster even before heading into the NFL Draft, but this draft sets up nicely for them to upgrade several positions for 2019 and beyond. If the Dallas Cowboys can pull off half of this draft, I think it should be considered a really nice weekend for the Cowboys. They add potential starters at safety, tight end, wide receiver, and 3-tech, as well as a good backup at running back, and project corner.

What do you think of this Dallas Cowboys mock draft?



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.

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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft: 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.



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NFL Draft

Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class

Brian Martin

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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?



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NFL Draft

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades

Shane Carter

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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades 1

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

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 1

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.

Grade: B

90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 6

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.

Grade: A

128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard

If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.

Shane Carter on Twitter

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.

Grade: A-

158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 9

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.

Grade: C+

165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 11

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.

Grade: B+

213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson 

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 12

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.

Grade: B

218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 13

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.

Grade: B

241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks

Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades 14

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.

Grade: B-

Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B



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