2019 NFL Mock Draft 4.0: Final Edition

After months of evaluation and speculation, click-bait and hot takes, the 2019 NFL Draft will finally go live from Nashville on Thursday night. As much as we all want to think we know heading in, we all understand that once teams officially go on the clock, the entire game changes. There will be prospects that unexpectedly rise and slide, trades that make perfect sense and none at all, and selections that surprise no one and shock everyone. It’s what makes the draft fun as a fan and compelling as an evaluator.

With that being said, I am pleased to present my 4.0 and final 2019 NFL Mock Draft. These first-round projections are based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs as of April 23, with consideration given to potential trade scenarios.

Enjoy the draft!

FIRST ROUND


1 | Arizona Cardinals — Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
I started the process projecting Kyler Murray to the Cardinals when virtually no one else was and despite recent reports that the Arizona front office is still weighing its options in the eleventh hour, I will finish the process with that projection.

2 | San Francisco 49ers — Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
The 49ers may consider Nick Bosa here, but I think the Raiders might make a play to move up for the Ohio State end. That said, whether they sit at #2 or bump down to #4 in a trade, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that San Francisco prefers Quinnen Williams regardless.

3 | New York Jets — Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
I’ve liked the fit, but I’ve hesitated projecting Ed Oliver to the Jets because I couldn’t confidently say they would draft him at #3. I still can’t say for sure, but I could see a trade-back situation where they drop down a few spots and are still able to land him.

4 | Oakland Raiders — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
With scenarios on the table that include them standing in to draft the third of the three top defenders, taking the first LB off the board, and potentially coveting a QB, the Oakland war room has gone dark at #4. I’ll venture that the Raiders will attempt to work a deal with the 49ers, jumping up to #2 to draft their pass rusher.

5 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Devin White, LB, LSU
The Buccaneers could look at drafting Josh Allen here, but I feel like they might make a go of it with their edge defenders as they are. Instead, I’ll follow the smoke that’s been wafting around Tampa Bay all draft season and project them to take Devin White.

6 | New York Giants — Josh Allen, RSH, Kentucky
There’s no way to tell if the Giants are truly interested in drafting a QB at #6 — until they don’t. If Josh Allen remains on the board after the top five cards have been turned in, I think there’s a strong chance he goes from one Big Blue to another.

7 | Jacksonville Jaguars — Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
Jawaan Taylor to Jacksonville has been a popular prospect-team projection. The fit and value makes sense, so I’m maintaining the pick I made for the Jaguars in my seven-round Super Mock.

8 | Detroit Lions — Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
I’m not sure the Lions don’t look for defensive help or possibly trade out of #8, but Jonah Williams to Detroit has been gaining steam in recent days. He’d be an immediate upgrade and long-term solution for an offensive line in need of both.

9 | Buffalo Bills — Brian Burns, RSH, Florida State
The Bills spent millions of dollars in free agency to improve their offense, which leads me to believe this pick will be on defense — specifically a pass rusher. Brian Burns has the tools and traits to develop into an incredibly disruptive force off the edge for Buffalo.

10 | Denver Broncos — Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
While they traded for former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, John Elway and the Broncos clearly love Drew Lock — they might even trade up to guarantee they get their latest QB of the future. That said, if they choose to ride with their veteran signal caller, expect one of the next two picks to become a Bronco instead.

11 | Cincinnati Bengals — Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
I think Dwayne Haskins would make sense for the Bengals with Andy Dalton as the bridge, but Cincinnati might not have the opportunity to draft the former Buckeye if Miami or Washington moves up. Devin Bush would make an excellent alternative for a team that seemingly has an annual offseason need at LB.

12 | Green Bay Packers — T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Packers have veteran options at tight end in Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis, but both are past their prime and neither is long for Lambeau for more than a season at best. If T.J. Hockenson lasts until #12, I expect him to be bound for Titletown.

13 | Miami Dolphins — Christian Wilkins, DL, Clemson
Christian Wilkins would be a quality player, leader, and locker room presence for a franchise starting over. I could also see the Dolphins trading back, as they desperately need picks to help rebuild a roster that might be the most devoid of talent in the league.

14 | Atlanta Falcons — Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
The Falcons will look hard at adding another edge rusher, but I don’t think Ty Sambrailo is their first choice to fill the vacancy at right tackle. I do think they like Cody Ford, though, and I think he steps right into the starting role.

15 | Washington Redskins — Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
The Redskins appeared to be a suitor for Josh Rosen and they still might be. However, they might be content to draft a QB and I think their guy, if available, is Dwayne Haskins. I’d venture they’d even consider chasing him up the board into the top ten if they could strike a deal.

16 | Carolina Panthers — Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
Drafting an edge rusher like a sliding Montez Sweat or high-floor Clelin Ferrell is a definite possibility for the Panthers, but I think it’s time they finally drafted a left tackle. Andre Dillard would be the target.

17 | New York Giants (via CLE) — Daniel Jones, QB, Duke
The word is that the NFL likes Daniel Jones more than those of us in the draft community and that the Giants covet him the most. That’s enough for me to assume that if he’s on the board at #17, he will be drafted as the eventual successor to Eli Manning.

18 | Minnesota Vikings — Chris Lindstrom, OL, Boston College
The Vikings offensive line has the potential to be a game of musical chairs before the season begins and they project to introduce another player early. I would expect Chris Lindstrom to come in and start at guard or possibly right tackle.

19 | Tennessee Titans — Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
I feel like the Titans are one of the hardest teams to read in the first round because they can realistically go in any direction. That said, they were linked to Jeffery Simmons before his ACL injury and might still value him enough to draft him at #19.

20 | Pittsburgh Steelers — D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Everyone expects D.K. Metcalf to be drafted in the first round and I think Pittsburgh is a potential landing spot. He has the size and straight-line speed that they tend to employ outside and he would enter into a situation where he can develop instead of dealing with the pressure to be WR1 right out of the gate.

21 | Seattle Seahawks — Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson
The Seahawks were able to flip Frank Clark to the Chiefs, the key piece in return being Kansas City’s first-round selection at #29, but that makes Seattle’s first order of business drafting his replacement at #21. Clelin Ferrell may not have Clark’s ceiling, but he’s ready-made for a starting role in the NFL.

22 | Baltimore Ravens — Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State
The Ravens could pursue an edge rusher or wide receiver here, but I venture their priority will be protecting QB Lamar Jackson and strengthening their running game now led by Mark Ingram. Garrett Bradbury would project to be their new starter at the pivot.

23 | Houston Texans — Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
The two glaring weaknesses for the Texans are the offensive line and the secondary. The cornerback position should stretch until their back-to-back selections in the second round, but offensive tackle will not. If they don’t attempt to trade up for one of the top three tackles, Little is the consolation prize.

24 | Oakland Raiders (via CHI) — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
The Raiders don’t have much in the way of a weapon at the tight end position and Fant is exactly that. The Iowa product would fit in nicely as a matchup player alongside their remade receiving corps that now includes Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams, and Ryan Grant.

25 | Philadelphia Eagles —Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
With a lingering shoulder issue, questions about his positional fit, and his lack of college production, I expect Gary will be drafted lower than his athletic profile would suggest. But, I feel like the Eagles might be the team to swoop in, bank on his potential, and attempt to groom him into an impact professional.

26 | Indianapolis Colts — Johnathan Abram, S, Mississippi State
The Colts could be in the market for another front-line defender, but they’ve also been connected to Johnathan Abram, who would pair with Malik Hooker to give Indianapolis one of the better young safety tandems in the NFL.

27 | Oakland Raiders (via DAL) — Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple
I expect cornerback to be a target for the Raiders early, which could put any of the top prospects in play. While Mike Mayock’s voice as an analyst has been absent from draft coverage, I can just hear him raving about Rock Ya-Sin and jumping at the chance to drape him in the silver and black.

28 | Los Angeles Chargers — Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
If they don’t look to escape the first round with an offensive tackle, cornerback looks to be where need and value line up for the Chargers. Greedy Williams could be a steal for San Diego with his measurables and coverage skills.

29 | Seattle Seahawks (via KC) —Montez Sweat, RSH, Mississippi State
I have a feeling the Seahawks might elect to parlay the pick acquired from the Chiefs in a trade down to procure more draft assets. But if they stand in, I could see them double-dip at edge by taking Montez Sweat, whose stock is rumored to have fallen due to concerns about his known heart condition.

30 | Green Bay Packers (via NO) — A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
The Packers will probably give consideration to drafting an offensive or defensive lineman with their second first-round selection, but they could also choose to upgrade their pedestrian receiving corps by pairing A.J. Brown with Davante Adams.

31 | Los Angeles Rams — Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
The Rams have multiple positions of reasonable need, including their offensive line and virtually every level of their defense. Seeing they’re short a second-round pick, trading out of the first round is also a possibility. If they stand in and pick, Dexter Lawrence makes sense to line up next to Aaron Donald, where he can draw double-team blocks and push the pocket with his power.

32 | New England Patriots — Marquise Brown, WR, Oklahoma
The Patriots are loaded with draft capital, but I don’t expect them to make twelve picks over the course of seven rounds. Look for them to wheel and deal, possibly shooting up the board in the first round to draft a playmaker — perhaps the electric Marquise ‘Hollywood’ Brown.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

Drafting Dallas 2019: 7-Round Mock Draft 3.0

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.


Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

2019 NFL Mock Draft 3.0: New League Year Edition

With college pro days winding down, prospect-team visits ramping up, and free-agent signings, trades, and releases changing the face of NFL rosters, I am pleased to present my 2019 NFL Mock Draft 3.0. This two-round edition is based on the current draft order and my impression of team needs as of April 5, and does not reflect any potential trade scenarios.

FIRST ROUND


1 | Arizona Cardinals — Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma
In the two months that have passed since I boldly forecast Murray to Arizona at #1 in my Mock Draft 1.0, it’s become the consensus projection.

2 | San Francisco 49ers — Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
The 49ers acquired Dee Ford from the Chiefs to man the edge, freeing them up to consider taking Williams to team with DeForest Bucker on the interior.

3 | New York Jets — Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Needing an edge presence, the draft gods smile upon the Jets once more, as Bosa, expected to be out of their reach even at #3, falls right into their lap.

4 | Oakland Raiders — Josh Allen, RSH, Kentucky
The Raiders handed out huge contracts to fill holes in free agency, but they still need an alpha edge defender. The do-everything Allen fits the profile.

5 | Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida
After locking up left tackle Donovan Smith, the Buccaneers tap the pro-ready Taylor to be their bookend anchor on the right.

6 | New York Giants — Devin White, LB, LSU
It’s been a long time since the Giants have had a stud linebacker. With his speed, athleticism, and playmaking ability, White is exactly that.

7 | Jacksonville Jaguars — T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
The Jaguars have their new quarterback in Nick Foles. Having a do-it-all tight end like Hockenson would help him deliver.

8 | Detroit Lions — Montez Sweat, RSH, Mississippi State
Sweat’s epic draft process was nearly derailed by the detection of a heart condition, but it doesn’t expect to dissuade the Lions from pairing him with Trey Flowers.

9 | Buffalo Bills — Brian Burns, RSH, Florida State
The Bills were short on sacks this past season. Drafting a long, lean pass rusher in Burns should help them pressure the quarterback.

10 | Denver Broncos — Ed Oliver, DL, Houston
The Broncos choose to bet on their trade for quarterback Joe Flacco and draft Oliver to wreak havoc in the trenches as Von Miller and Bradley Chubb take the edge.

11 | Cincinnati Bengals — Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
Long-time starter Andy Dalton transitions to bridge quarterback for the Bengals as the new regime drafts his successor in Haskins.

12 | Green Bay Packers — Devin Bush, LB, Michigan
The Packers spent big bucks to overhaul the edge and deep middle of their defense in free agency. In Bush, they secure their new second-level centerpiece.

13 | Miami Dolphins — Jonah Williams, OL, Alabama
The cupboards are bare almost everywhere in Miami, so drafting a cornerstone blocker in Williams to help their rebuild could be a consideration.

14 | Atlanta Falcons — Cody Ford, OT, Oklahoma
The Falcons have made offseason moves in an attempt to upgrade their offensive line, but right tackle remains a weak point. Ford resolves that issue.

15 | Washington Redskins — Drew Lock, QB, Missouri
The Redskins could consider moving this pick in a trade for Arizona quarterback Josh Rosen. If they don’t, Lock is the alternative to replace the injured Alex Smith.

16 | Carolina Panthers — Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State
The Panthers signed free agent Matt Paradis to replace the retired Ryan Kalil at center. They draft Dillard to supplant his since-released brother, Matt Kalil, at left tackle.

17 | New York Giants (via CLE) — Rashan Gary, DL, Michigan
Gary’s athletic profile and upside could see him drafted higher, but his positional fit and limited production could see him settle in later — perhaps with the Giants at #17.

18 | Minnesota Vikings — Noah Fant, TE, Iowa
Upgrading the offensive line in some way, shape, or form needs to be a focus for the Vikings, but the promise of Fant may be too appealing to pass up.

19 | Tennessee Titans — Garrett Bradbury, C, North Carolina State
The Titans could go in a number of different directions here, but the plug-and-play Bradbury may present the best value as they continue shoring up their offensive line.

20 | Pittsburgh Steelers — Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
Signing free-agent cornerback Steven Nelson is a stop-gap move at best, so the Steelers grab Greedy to increase the difficulty level for opposing passers.

21 | Seattle Seahawks — Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
With only four picks, the Seahawks would seem likely to trade out of the first round to acquire more assets. But if they stay, a long, tall corner like Layne could be an option.

22 | Baltimore Ravens — A.J. Brown, WR, Ole Miss
Lamar Jackson doesn’t have much to work with currently if he is to continue developing as a passer. Brown brings a strong, all-around skillset and WR1 upside.

23 | Houston Texans — Dalton Risner, OL, Kansas State
The Houston offensive line is comprised of spare parts and experiments. Risner is a pro-ready prospect who projects as a day-one starter at tackle or guard.

24 | Oakland Raiders (via CHI) — Josh Jacobs, RB, Alabama
The Raiders recently signed journeyman Isaiah Crowell, but he’s more committee back than bell cow. Jacobs, meanwhile, has feature back traits and potential.

25 | Philadelphia Eagles — Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
The Eagles have injury concerns at safety with Rodney McLeod and Andrew Sendejo, and Adderley has been connected to his hometown team throughout the process.

26 | Indianapolis Colts — D.K. Metcalf, WR, Ole Miss
Wide receiver might be rich for the Colts in the first round, but if the lottery ticket that is D.K. Metcalf indeed pays off, it would be well worth the price.

27 | Oakland Raiders (via DAL) — Byron Murphy, CB, Washington
Murphy is the highest-graded player remaining on the board and seems like a prospect Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden would both covet for their defensive backfield.

28 | Los Angeles Chargers — Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington
The Chargers don’t look like they have a long-term solution at right tackle on the roster. McGary’s stock is on the rise and might land him in the first round.

29 | Kansas City Chiefs — Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia
Following the free-agent signings of Tyrann Mathieu and Bashaud Breeland, the Chiefs could add Baker to complete the total makeover of their secondary.

30 | Green Bay Packers (via NO) — Jerry Tillery, DL, Notre Dame
The Packers continue the offseason rebuild of their defense, further fortifying their front seven with the addition of Tillery.

31 | Los Angeles Rams — Dexter Lawrence, DL, Clemson
With their one-year rental of veteran Ndamukong Suh at its end, the Rams select Lawrence to be his long-term replacement along their formidable front line.

32 | New England Patriots — Jeffery Simmons, DL, Mississippi State
The Patriots currently have 12 picks. Would it really shock you if they gamble that a top-10 prospect recovering from a torn ACL could be ready in time for a Super Bowl run?

SECOND ROUND



Jason Pruett
DRAFTPLEX

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

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