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Drafting Dallas 2019: 7-Round Mock Draft 2.0

Welcome to my 2.0 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 1.0 installment was published, the NFL Scouting Combine and the initial wave of Pro Days have given us another opportunity to evaluate this incoming draft class and additional data to reference in grading players, stacking boards, and determining potential team fits, including with America’s Team. The 2019 NFL Draft order has also been locked in. We now know exactly where the Cowboys are scheduled pick in each round and that they have been awarded a fourth-round compensatory pick, giving them a total of six selections.

On the pro personnel front, Dallas remains at an impasse in contract negotiations with Demarcus Lawrence, opting to place the franchise tag on their star defensive end for the second consecutive year and almost assuredly increasing the threat of a holdout. Meanwhile, in a surprise turn of events, the Cowboys are welcoming back future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten to the field from the ESPN Monday Night Football booth. Free agency, on the other hand, has gone about as expected, with Dallas operating conservatively, thus far only signing former Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb to replace the departing Cole Beasley, as well as rotational defensive linemen Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder. With additional veteran visits expected, as well as official visits with 30 draft prospects to be scheduled, much remains to consider in mapping out their potential draft plans in April, which, of course, is what I will be doing in 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 evaluations to this point, with the knowledge that offseason variables (releases, trades, free agency signings, draft stocks, etc.) will most assuredly impact future installments. 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 with Drafting Dallas 2019 2.0.

Round 2 | Pick 58
Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
The prevailing narrative over the last year was that the Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas were simply waiting for the free agency period in 2019 to strike a deal to bring Thomas back home to Texas. While the story saturated the air waves and online outlets, it proved to be little more than wishful thinking for members of the media and the fan base championing the move, as Thomas ended up signing a lucrative contract with the Baltimore Ravens, seemingly without even an overture from the Cowboys. However, safety does remain a point of interest in the draft and one of the likely positions Dallas could address when they finally come up on the clock on Day 2. With scheme fits, traits, and value of the position varying from team to team, there is a relatively wide window in which Abram could be selected, but expect Dallas to jump at the chance to install a fast, physical enforcer on the back end of their rising defense if he remains on the board at 58.

Round 3 | Pick 90
Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech
Perhaps no position group has been hit as hard this offseason as the defensive line. In addition to the difficulties of striking a deal with Demarcus Lawrence, the NFL suspended pass rusher Randy Gregory indefinitely for violating the league’s substance abuse policy and the terms of his conditional reinstatement, as well as free-agent defensive tackle David Irving, who subsequently announced that he was quitting football. With uncertainty on the edge, the Cowboys will most certainly need to address the pass rush through the draft. Ferguson is a prospect who projected somewhat higher entering the process, but has seen his stock dip after having his NFL Scouting Combine invitation rescinded and turning in otherwise abysmal Pro Day numbers. The poor athletic testing is concerning, but you point to the tape and the production for the power rusher when making this pick.

Round 4 | Pick 128
Kris Boyd, CB, Texas
The Cowboys could soon be facing difficult decisions in the secondary with newly-minted All-Pro cornerback Byron Jones and experienced nickel cornerback Anthony Brown both entering contract years. Coupled with the team’s inconsistent use of one-time starter Jourdan Lewis, it could be surmised that the depth chart is primed to add a new name. In this scenario, a prospect like Boyd, a physical, developmental cornerback with size who could benefit under the tutelage of Kris Richard, might be in play.

Round 4 | Pick 136 (compensatory selection)
Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma
As expected, offseason moves for the Cowboys thus far have been characterized by practical, cap-friendly signings that allow them to go into the draft without glaring holes. To this point, the outlier has been backup running back, where the team has not done anything to address the vacancy created by their apparent move away from Rod Smith. With precious few snaps to offer behind superstar Ezekiel Elliott, it’s unlikely that a quality veteran seeking pay or play would be that interested in coming to Dallas, so a selection on Day 3 of the draft is more realistic. Anderson has been a forgotten name in this draft class, but he would be in the Top-50 to Top-100 mix if not for a significant injury history. To that point, he also fits the profile of talented prospect with medical concerns that the Cowboys have a penchant for drafting on clearance. Coming into a situation where he could start off with limited touches, but earn more if he were to not only stay healthy, but show out, the fit makes sense.R

Round 5 | Pick 165
Trysten Hill, DL, UCF
With essentially the entire depth chart of the interior defensive line playing on one-year deals, and consequently, no financial liability beyond this season, expect Dallas to continue loading up on defensive linemen to find the best rotation. From a talent perspective, Hill should be drafted higher, but reported concerns about football character and coachability could see him selected later, even after a strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. The hope would be that he could find his way under Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard, provide quality depth, and push a veteran under contract for playing time, if not out of a roster spot.

Round 7 | Pick 241
Byron Cowart, DL, Maryland
Rinse and repeat in Round 7. The position group where Dallas is least secure is the defensive line and I expect training camp and the preseason to be a battle of attrition where the best players, regardless of experience, will earn a place in the rotation. A former No. 1 overall recruit in the nation, Cowart’s college career didn’t turn out as expected, but the physical tools and upside are worth taking a flier as the draft nears its end.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

2019 NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Post-Combine Edition

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the books and the official open of free agency fast approaching, I am pleased to present my 2019 NFL Mock Draft 2.0. These first-round projections are based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs as of March 10, and do not reflect any potential trade scenarios.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

Drafting Dallas 2019: 7-Round Mock Draft 1.0

It was a tale of two seasons for the Dallas Cowboys in 2018.

America’s Team labored through the first half of their schedule, getting off to a disappointing 3-5 start. The offense was maddeningly inconsistent, showing but mere flashes of competence, let alone brilliance, while a stalwart defense would seemingly keep the team in contention each week until struggling themselves at the most inopportune moment. With no sign that success would be forthcoming, the franchise was presumably headed toward an offseason of significant change.

Instead, the front office took measures to make a run at the NFC East—the division there for the taking with neither the Cowboys nor one of their rivals able to stake claim through eight games. A mid-season trade for wide receiver Amari Cooper and the dismissal of offensive line coach Paul Alexander in favor of assistant Marc Colombo seemed to serve as the catalyst for a turnaround. The Cowboys reeled off five straight victories, ultimately winning seven of their final eight games to earn the division title and a berth in the NFL Playoffs.

Riding a wave of momentum into January, with an offense that seemed to do just enough to win and a defense that would rise to the occasion with the game in the balance, the Cowboys turned back the challenge of the Seattle Seahawks during NFC Wild Card Weekend. But, the ride would grind to a halt in Hollywood, as Dallas was summarily dismissed by the eventual NFC representative in the Super Bowl, the Los Angeles Rams.

Now, much like the offseason following the 2016 campaign, the Cowboys will look to build on the promise of a playoff appearance in an attempt to finally end their championship drought of more than two decades.

In my 1.0 installment of Drafting Dallas 2019, I’m assuming front office duties to mock draft the full seven rounds for the Cowboys using the current edition of my DRAFTPLEX Board. 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 evaluations to this point, with the knowledge that offseason variables (releases, trades, free agency signings, draft stocks, etc.) will most assuredly impact future installments.

While the complete NFL Draft order is not yet confirmed, the Cowboys are currently scheduled to make their first selection at #58 in Round 2, followed by #90 in Round 3. The exact number and order of their selections in Rounds 4, 5, and 7 are to be determined pending the disclosure of compensatory picks. Dallas does not currently possess a Round 1 selection after trading it to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper this past season, nor a Round 6 selection after trading it to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for cornerback Bene Benwikere in 2017.

That all being said, for the purposes of this exercise, I will be drafting under the prevailing assumption that Dallas will be awarded a compensatory selection in Round 4 for the departure of linebacker Anthony Hitchens in free agency, giving the team a total of six selections.

Now, let’s go on the clock with Drafting Dallas 2019 1.0.

Round 2 | Pick 58
Charles Omenihu, DL, Texas
The Dallas defensive line developed into a formidable unit by season’s end, but perhaps its most physically gifted player was a veritable non-factor in 2018. David Irving was absent from training camp, served a four-game suspension to start the year, and played in only two games, his season derailed by off-field matters and injury. Irving is now no longer under contract and not expected to be back. That said, there were times when the self-proclaimed “Hot Boyz” clearly missed his physical presence and disruptive play. Possessing a similar frame and ability to affect the game from the edge or the interior, Omenihu has drawn comparisons to Irving and should be a strong consideration if he remains on the board when the Cowboys enter the fray at #58.

Round 3 | Pick 90
Elijah Holyfield, RB, Georgia
Ezekiel Elliott claimed his second NFL rushing title in three years, while also leading the league in rushing attempts and total touches. Working behind a banged up offensive line, Zeke took a pounding week in and week out, but rarely left the field. Meanwhile, backup Rod Smith did little to lock down the supporting role after a promising end to the 2017 season. Now a free agent, Smith could still return because of his special teams value, but the Cowboys should really consider upgrading the primary reserve—not only to preserve Elliott’s health over the course of the season, but as insurance as he nears the end of his rookie contract. Holyfield resembles a slightly smaller Elliott, with comparable speed, power, and elusiveness, and flashes the feature back potential that would make him an ideal rotational running back for Dallas.

Round 4
Andre James, OL, UCLA
The Dallas offensive line was essentially a shell of the five-man front that dominated opponents just a couple of years prior. Center Travis Frederick was lost for the season early due to illness. Guard Zack Martin and tackle Tyron Smith fought through injuries virtually the entire year. At left guard, rookie Connor Williams and journeyman veteran Xavier Su’a-Filo split time while battling injuries of the their own. Meanwhile, Joe Looney and La’el Collins are both entering contract years, with swing tackle Cam Fleming possibly one and done with the club. With the unit aiming for a return to form in 2019, I would expect Dallas to continue investing resources up front with an eye toward the future. James is an intriguing mid-round blocker, entering the process as a redshirt junior with 32 college starts to his name—including a full season at each tackle position.

Round 4 (projected compensatory selection)
Darius Slayton, WR, Auburn
Perhaps the biggest unknown of the upcoming season for the Cowboys is the passing game. The team parted ways with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, then appointed Kellen Moore to the position with just one year of pro coaching under his belt. New quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna and tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier expect to have involvement in the offensive game plan as well, with head coach Jason Garrett overseeing the entire operation. But, it’s not just the coaching staff that is being shuffled, as the roster expects to see some shakeup as well. Fan favorite Cole Beasley is currently a free agent and has expressed dissatisfaction with his role in the offense, while injury and pedestrian production could see Dallas also move on from veterans Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns. Offering good size and great speed, Slayton would give the Cowboys both a vertical threat down the field and big-play potential underneath.

Round 5
Otaro Alaka, LB, Texas A&M
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch were a revelation for the Cowboys in 2018, playing far above expectations and proving that the defense could not only survive, but thrive without veteran leader Sean Lee in the lineup. Lee has one year remaining on his contract and his cap hit could make him expendable, but this selection is primarily to offset the potential free-agent departure of strongside linebacker Damien Wilson. A versatile second-level defender who compares favorably to Smith and Vander Esch physically, Alaka could assume SAM duties, working in the box on early downs while providing the ability to rush the passer when called upon.

Round 7
Tommy Sweeney, TE, Boston College
The Cowboys felt the loss of first-ballot Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten during the 2018 campaign. But, even with the growing pains that have many projecting them to target a tight end early, you get the sense that they could just ride with the group they have for 2019. Geoff Swaim is a free agent, but likely wouldn’t cost much to bring back. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz came on comparatively by the end of the season. And the upside of project player Rico Gathers remains despite his limited production on the field. However, Dallas could still afford to introduce another tight end to the mix. Sweeney doesn’t enter the draft with the athletic profile of other tight ends in the draft, but he’s a sure-handed receiver and capable blocker who can come into camp and compete for a roster spot.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

2019 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Post-Season Edition

A new Super Bowl champion has been crowned and the 2018 NFL season is officially history. All 32 franchises now have their sights set on Super Bowl LIV, but all roads to Miami first run through Nashville and the 2019 NFL Draft.

With draft season once again upon us, I am pleased to present my 2019 NFL Mock Draft 1.0. These first-round projections are based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs as of February 1, and do not reflect any potential trade scenarios.

1 | Arizona Cardinals — Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
Should the Cardinals elect to take a loss on last year’s first-round investment in Josh Rosen to give new head coach Kliff Kingsbury a clean slate, the diminutive, but dynamic Heisman Trophy winner could be the centerpiece of what is expected to be a high-octane offense.

2 | San Francisco 49ers — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
The 49ers are desperate for a true edge rusher. Widely considered the best overall prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft, Bosa projects to be a plug-and-play starter on a front line stacked with first-rounders.

3 | New York Jets — Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
With their QB of the future securely in the fold, the Jets should simply focus on getting better as a whole. Williams was the breakout superstar in college football this season and has the potential to wreck games from the interior.

4 | Oakland Raiders — Josh Allen, RSH, Kentucky
The Raiders are loaded with first-round draft capital and light on talent. With a number of roles to fill, Allen is an impressive, all-around defender who can make an impact in multiple ways for the silver and black.

5 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
An effort to retool their pass rush in free agency last offseason didn’t really pan out for the Buccaneers across the board, so they look to Ferrell to lock down the edge opposite a resurgent Jason Pierre-Paul.

6 | New York Giants — Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Despite passing on a quarterback from a stronger class the year prior, the popular opinion is that the Giants will be compelled to draft a successor to Eli Manning. But, they also lack an impact defender. Gary is an incredible athlete with incredible upside.

7 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
Duval County is another potential destination for a first-round quarterback, but the Jaguars may opt to pursue a veteran in free agency to stabilize the position. In that case, they can allocate their top pick to upgrade the offensive line.

8 | Detroit Lions — Montez Sweat, RSH, Mississippi State
The Lions are strong on the interior of the defensive line, but the edge is an area of concern. Dominant during Senior Bowl week, Sweat is climbing draft boards and could help offset the expected departure of veteran pass rusher Ezekiel Ansah.

9 | Buffalo Bills — T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Bills may have mined a franchise quarterback in Josh Allen, but while the initial returns are promising, he’ll need a lot more help around him to continue making progress. Hockenson is on the rise with his prowess as a pass catcher and a blocker.

10 | Denver Broncos — Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Case Keenum experiment appears to be short-lived in Denver. With yet another new head coach and once again in the market for a new quarterback, the Broncos have been linked early and often to Lock.

11 | Cincinnati Bengals — Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Bengals moved on from long-time head coach Marvin Lewis and incumbent starting quarterback Andy Dalton could soon be next. Haskins has a limited resume, but a wealth of talent.

12 | Green Bay Packers — Devin White, LB, LSU
Drafting an outside pass rusher will be a consideration, but a sideline-to-sideline presence like White at the second level could allow the Packers to be more aggressive with their defensive scheme in order to generate pressure.

13 | Miami Dolphins — Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
The Dolphins are rumored to be looking ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft for their next quarterback, so their focus here could simply be talent acquisition. Simmons is a disruptive defender who frequents the opposing backfield.

14 | Atlanta Falcons — Cody Ford, OL, Oklahoma
Significant injuries to key contributors were the primary factor in the Falcons having a down year, but pedestrian offensive line play, at best, didn’t help. Enter Ford, a mauling goliath of a right tackle who could also slide inside to play guard.

15 | Washington Redskins — Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
After a relatively hot start, a catastrophic injury suffered by starting quarterback Alex Smith almost doomed the Redskins to a winless finish. With Smith’s future in doubt, Jones would bring youth, experience, and a similar level of athleticism.

16 | Carolina Panthers — Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
The Panthers seem to have a perpetual need at offensive tackle. Taylor could step in immediately at right tackle, allowing the Panthers to bump the emerging Taylor Moton to the blindside.

17 | Cleveland Browns — Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
A year removed from drafting first overall, the Browns now have playoff aspirations for 2019. Oliver could help them get there. He’s undersized, but lives beyond the line of scrimmage and would be a steal if he slips beyond the top ten.

18 | Minnesota Vikings — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
After a trip to the NFC Championship last year, the Vikings failed to make the playoffs this season. To right the ship, they could look at adding an offensive weapon like Fant, who is less of a conventional tight end and more of a modern matchup player.

19 | Tennessee Titans — Brian Burns, RSH, Florida State
It will be a complete changing of the guard on the edge for the Titans, who will look to pair the explosive Burns with last year’s second-round pick Harold Landry to replace veteran starters Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

20 | Pittsburgh Steelers — Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
While the offense makes headlines on and off the field, expect the Steelers to turn their attention to defense at the top of the draft. Provided that another team isn’t greedy for a cornerback, they could make Williams the first boundary defender off the board.

21 | Seattle Seahawks — Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
Largely fueled by an impressive rushing attack, the Seahawks earned a playoff berth in what was expected to be a rebuilding year. But, the same offensive line powering a productive run game also surrendered 51 sacks. Risner allowed only one in his entire college career.

22 | Baltimore Ravens — Kelvin Harmon, WR, North Carolina State
The Ravens overachieved with a run-first rookie quarterback and a receiving corps comprised of journeyman veterans and late-round draft picks. Harmon is a well-rounded, pro-ready receiver who can start right away and grow with Lamar Jackson.

23 | Houston Texans — Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Since trading All-Pro Duane Brown to the Seahawks during the 2017 season, the Texans have been relying on a series of stopgaps to anchor the offensive line. Dillard could be the long-term solution at left tackle.

24 | Oakland Raiders (via CHI) — Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Raiders were able to squeeze moderate production on the ground from their aging tandem of Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin. Bursting onto the draft scene during the second half of the season, Jacobs would give the Raiders an explosive feature back with a ton of tread on his tires.

25 | Philadelphia Eagles — Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Eagles might elect to invest more resources in a suspect secondary, but with middle linebacker Jordan Hicks unable to stay healthy and no longer under contract, drafting Bush would make sense to strengthen the heart of the defense.

26 | Indianapolis Colts — Jachai Polite, RSH, Florida
With a high-scoring offense and an attacking defense, the Colts were the surprise of the season going two rounds deep in the tournament. Adding a speed rusher like Polite would force opponents to account for another dimension with their offensive game plan.

27 | Oakland Raiders (via DAL) — Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Safety would hardly be considered a position of strength for the Raiders. The versatile Adderley made an impression with their staff at the Senior Bowl, earning captain status and three Raider shield stickers from head coach Jon Gruden. He just might get one for real.

28 | Los Angeles Chargers — Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
With the oft-injured Jason Verrett’s tenure with the Chargers likely coming to a close and Trevor Williams unable to maintain form starting in his place, Murphy could be an option to solidify the cornerback position.

29 | Kansas City Chiefs — Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Kansas City’s explosive offense might have been done in this season by a lackluster defense that ranked near the bottom of the league in many categories. Drafting Baker would be one step toward improvement.

30 | Green Bay Packers (via NO) — Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Packers may target a dynamic receiving threat to replace free agent Randall Cobb. Brown is blazing fast and would give new head coach Matt LaFleur a dangerous weapon to deploy along both axis.

31 | Los Angeles Rams — Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
The Rams wheeled and dealed to outfit their defense to compete for a Super Bowl, but they will need to reload their front seven from within sooner rather than later. Wilkins would make a suitable sidekick for all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

32 | New England Patriots — Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama
Another season, another Super Bowl victory for the Patriots. But, while Tom Brady may be ageless, time and injury has taken its toll on tight end Rob Gronkowski. The second-generation Smith would make a fine choice to complement or ultimately succeed Gronk.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX