Welcome to my 3.0 installment of Drafting Dallas 2019, where I’m assuming front office duties to mock draft the full seven rounds for the Cowboys using the current edition of my DRAFTPLEX Board.
Since my 2.0 installment was published, the Cowboys have made two significant moves to sustain and supplement an emerging defensive unit that finished seventh in total defense — breaking through in contract negotiations with defensive leader Demarcus Lawrence, signing the star end to a lucrative deal that makes him the highest-paid player in franchise history; and sending a sixth-round draft choice in 2020 to the Miami Dolphins for veteran pass rusher Robert Quinn, whom the team also signed to a new one-year contract. Dallas also struck a deal with veteran safety George Iloka, who at a minimum gives the team insurance at what is considered a position of reasonable need heading into the draft.
With less than two weeks remaining until the 2019 NFL Draft, further free-agent activity expects to be minimal at most, the Cowboys having filled every position of conceivable need with the exception of backup running back. Most interesting about their approach this offseason, however, is now they are not beholden to addressing any particular position at any point and can effectively move forward with taking the best player available on their board should they so choose. Which, of course, brings us to this exercise.
For context, this isn’t a prediction or projection of what the actual front office will do, nor is it a fantasy draft where the best players just happen to conveniently fall to the Cowboys. I will be making my selections as realistically as I can based on my own evaluations and the team’s pre-draft activity to this point. I will also not be repeating any previous selections, ensuring both a unique draft scenario and an original read.
That all being said, let’s go on the clock for the Cowboys for the final time this draft season with Drafting Dallas 2019 3.0.
Round 2 | Pick 58
Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt
Much has been made of the Cowboys inviting four of the top safety prospects in this draft class to The Star for official visits, but the expectation is that due diligence will inevitably be precautionary in nature. None of said four – Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Johnathan Abram, Juan Thornhill, or Taylor Rapp – is a lock to be on the board when Dallas goes on the clock at #58. I don’t think that scenario is for certain, but seeing that I mocked Abram here in Drafting Dallas 2.0, I will consider an alternative situation where the position is wiped out relative to value. With that in mind, I point toward the long-term future of the secondary and the report of a private workout with Commodores cornerback Joejuan Williams as the reasoning behind this projected pick.
Round 3 | Pick 90
Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
You can dispute the value of drafting a running back early, but make no mistake, this isn’t a luxury pick. In Ezekiel Elliott, the Cowboys have arguably the best running back in the NFL, but they’ve not been able to bring Zeke off the field without experiencing a significant drop-off in offensive production. Faced with running their prized bell cow into the ground or bringing drives to a grinding halt every time he heads to the sidelines, the Cowboys need to consider stabling a legitimate RB2. A quality, all-around back Harris may not make it to the late-third, but having brought him in on an official visit, you have to think Dallas is preparing for the possibility.
Round 4 | Pick 128
Daniel Wise, DT, Kansas
Round 4 | Pick 136 (compensatory selection)
John Cominsky, DL, Charleston
With the return of Tank, the addition of Quinn, and the signings of Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder, the defensive line rotation looks to be solid for next season. However, looking beyond, the forecast becomes a little less clear. Rather than face the prospect of a completely different core group up front, expect the Cowboys to begin reloading in the middle rounds, if not earlier. Wise is a prospect who likely caught the Cowboys’ attention initially when they evaluated fellow Jayhawk and last year’s fourth-round selection, defensive end Dorance Armstrong. The team also reportedly worked out the prospective three-technique privately. Meanwhile, Cominsky is a small-school standout who scouts have reportedly had eyes on for months. The Cowboys hosted him as one of their 30 official pre-draft visitors and could look at taking the developmental rushman off the board with their compensatory selection.
Round 5 | Pick 165
Will Harris, S, Boston College
Circling back to the position of safety, if they don’t have a top prospect slip to them early, I think it is a solid bet the Cowboys will still come out of the draft with a new name for the depth chart, at the very least to push the veterans on the roster. Harris is a middle-tier option who would bring a wealth of starting experience and considerable ability, along with the special teams value and the position flex the Cowboys covet from the members of their last line of defense.
Round 7 | Pick 241
Stanley Morgan Jr., WR, Nebraska
In terms of numbers, the Cowboys are loaded at receiver, but it’s fair to say at least half of the roster spots anticipated to be allocated to the position are up for grabs. Morgan is a prospect that the team has shown interest in and some reports suggest the Cowboys could consider drafting him as early as the fourth round. But, that is very rich to me considering the middle-round depth of this receiver class, the positional need, and my evaluation of the player. That said, I think the Cowboys could take a wait-and-see approach and potentially still land him as the draft draws to a close.
BONUS PROJECTIONS | Priority Free Agents
Chris Westry, CB, Kentucky
Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina
Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas
Markus Jones, RSH, Angelo State
Xavier Turner, RB, Tarleton State
Westry is a late-draftable, height-weight-speed prospect the Cowboys hosted as a pre-draft visitor and would be a developmental project for Kris Richard… Holcomb is another visitor who has been rising as of late thanks to a combination of college production and exceptional testing and who could potentially find himself drafted on Day 3… Greenlaw is an undersized second-level defender who I’m not that high on, but the Cowboys seem to like… Jones is a dominant Division II pass rusher who deserves Day 3 consideration, but might not hear his name called… Turner is a Dallas Day participant who fits the profile of local, load-bearing back the Cowboys like to have during rookie minicamp.