Following a disappointing loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Divisional round of the playoffs this year, the Cowboys look ahead to the off-season to improve an already Super Bowl-caliber team. I took my first shot at a seven round mock draft using FanSpeak.com. Assuming the Dallas Cowboys top needs are: DE, CB, WR, TE, OT, and S, the draft seemed to work out fairly well for Will McClay and myself.
Round 1, Pick 28 – Quincy Wilson (CB Florida)
Wilson is regarded by most as the most promising defensive back in the draft, and Matt Miller even has Wilson as his highest rated cornerback in the draft. The highlight for me with Wilson is his fluidity and ability to flip his hips and keep pace with the fastest wide receivers in the SEC. Despite being extremely athletic, Wilson relies more on his knowledge of the game to fly to the football on every play. For the highest rated cornerback in the draft to fall to the Cowboys at 28 is a blessing. Even if cornerback isn’t the position of greatest concern, I believe the Cowboys would continue on their “best player available” mindset, and pull the trigger on Quincy Wilson.
Round 2, Pick 60 – Dawuane Smoot (DE Illinois)
Again, this is an example of a player falling very low for the Cowboys to get a chance at, as many mock drafts have pointed at Smoot going to the Cowboys in the first round. With someone of Smoot’s caliber falling to the late second round, there’s no way the Cowboys wouldn’t fill their biggest need with a dominant speed rusher. The Cowboys desperately need someone who can fly to the quarterback, and that’s exactly what Smoot brings to the table. Putting Smoot in the Rod Marineli rotation next season, along with Charles Tapper’s return and a healthy Demarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys edge rushing could improve tremendously.
Round 3, Pick 92 – Juju Smith-Schuster (WR Southern California)
Both Brice Butler and Terrance Williams are about to be free agents, and the Cowboys cannot afford to keep both. This is where Smith-Schuster would come into play. While Terrance Williams had the speed and route running to be an elite wide receiver, he usually had a bad case of Butterfingers. Smith-Schuster’s greatest strength while at USC was being able to make insane catches over defenders. If that production can translate to the next level, the Cowboys could be looking at someone with the hands of Randy Moss being their WR3.
Round 4, Pick 132 – Conor McDermott (OT UCLA)
Offensive Tackle is an interesting position for the Cowboys this next year. Tyron Smith has proved himself to be one of the best left tackles in the NFL since being drafted in 2011, but the right tackle spot is a revolving door at this point. If Doug Free somehow stays with the Cowboys, this pick is useless. However, with Free likely leaving, and Chaz Green’s injury status unknown, Dallas could aim to use a mid-round pick on a tackle for the future. McDermott has some league-worthy skills, including how he uses his hands to stop rushers and zone block. The biggest flaws for McDermott are technique-based, which can be easily fixed by NFL coaches. Give McDermott a couple years behind Doug Free, and he might turn out to be a solid addition to the best offensive line in football.
Round 6, Pick 212 – Joe Mixon (RB Oklahoma)
Yes, I know Joe Mixon punched a co-ed in a bar. I also know he hasn’t played football in a year, and might be rusty. However, if you were alive for the days of the White House in the 90s, where Charles Haley constantly flashed people, cocaine was standard for away games, and Michael Irvin stabbed a teammate in the neck, then you’ll know drunkenly punching an aggressive co-ed isn’t the worst action Jerry Jones has corrected. Obviously with the selection of Ezekiel Elliott at number 4 last year, the Cowboys won’t use a high pick on a running back. But with Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden both due to be free agents, a fresh pair of legs out of the backfield might be just what the Cowboys need in 2017. Elliott, Morris, and Mixon could allow the Cowboys to keep their title of best running back core in the NFL.
Round 7, Pick 231 – D.J. Jones (DT Ole Miss)
Everyone knows about Rod Marineli’s defensive line rotation, and with multiple DTs hitting the market this off-season, it would help for the team to add another tackle. For Jones, the most impressive attribute is his hands. There were plays where he completely throws an offensive lineman off balance and puts pressure on the quarterback. However, Jones cannot take on a double team to save his life, and that might tend to be a problem in the NFL. Getting a prospect like Jones in the 7th round would be a steal for the Cowboys defense.
Round 7, Pick 249 – Peter Kalambayi (LB Stanford)
Odds are, a pick this close to the end of the draft doesn’t make the 53-man roster. In 2016, the worst defensive sub-unit was by far the linebackers. Without Rolando McClain or Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee carried the load for the defense. This pick adds a little bit of depth and competition in OTAs and training camp.
Yes, it’s only January, but it’s never too early to begin scouting for the draft. This draft fills all the Cowboys needs, and then some. This off-season is a big one for the Cowboys. There’s nothing quite like working for that 6th trophy.