Cowboys Mock Draft: How 'Bout A Trade Down?

IRVING - in the Jerry Era, Dallas moves from its top pick 80 percent of the time. So in my latest Cowboys Mock Draft, I've got a swap out of the first round - and a take that results in four potential rookie starters.



My Mock Draft 3.0

We all know that the Cowboys and Jerry Jones are unpredictable on Draft Day. It's a pretty safe bet that they will make at least one or two moves during the draft each year. (Indeed, our KD Drummond reports that in the Jerry Era, Dallas moves from its top pick 80 percent of the time!) So this week, I decided to do just that in my third official Mock Draft. I traded the 27th overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings for their 2nd round pick (45th overall) and their 3rd round pick (76th overall). So, without further ado. ... Here is my Cowboys Mock Draft 3.0.

Round 2 - Pick 45: CB Quinten Rollins (5'11" - 195 lbs) Miami (OH)

Some people might not like this pick because of how raw Rollins is. He was a basketball player who played football for just one year in college. However, the Cowboys have shown that they're not afraid to pick raw players with a lot of potential. They did the so with JJ Wilcox in 2013 and he ending up leading all Cowboys defensive backs with 3 interceptions last year, while also recovering 2 fumbles and forcing another. Rollins hasn't played football for very long, but he proved that he is a quick learner and has a knack for making plays. Rollins recorded 72 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, 7 interceptions, 16 passes defended, a forced fumble and an interception return for a TD in 2014.

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The Cowboys need a ball-hawking cornerback who can track the ball and make plays consistently. While Scandrick is very good, he's never been consistent at getting turnovers. Rollins is capable of playing man coverage but he's at his best in zone coverage - which is what the Cowboys play most of the time. Rollins is a physical tackler and loves to hit guys. When the play is in front of him, he does a great job at reading the quarterback and getting to the ball quickly. He needs work on his technique but he's already proven himself to be a quick learner.

Round 2 - Pick 60: RB Jay Ajayi (6'0" - 221 lbs) Boise State

I went with Tevin Coleman in the 2nd round of my last two drafts. This time, I went with Plano native Jay Ajayi. This guy is a touchdown machine. Ajayi led the NCAA in touchdowns in 2014 with 32 (28 rushing and 4 receiving). He also led the NCAA in rushing attempts, with 347 carries for 1,823 yards. Ajayi was in the top 5 among running backs at the combine in the 20-yard shuttle, 60-yard shuttle, broad jump and vertical jump.

Jay Ajayi does everything you want from your running back. He can make tacklers miss, break away for big runs, punch it in at the goal line or move the chains in short yardage situations and he's a reliable receiving threat out of the backfield. Has often been compared to Marshawn Lynch, which is what his ceiling is if he can reach his full potential. Can get too cute at times by trying to extend plays, which can get him in trouble. Needs to do a better job of protecting the football, as well as running north and south. Has said that he watched Emmitt Smith as a child and tries to model his game after former Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray. It would be fitting for him to be the next Cowboys starting running back. ... and CowboysHQ.com is reporting there is a vibe coming out of his Valley Ranch visit that is very, very positive.

Round 3 - Pick 76: FS Damarious Randall (5'11" - 196 lbs) Arizona State

It's no secret that the Cowboys are in need of a true free safety, which is one of the toughest positions to find in football. Randall could give them that. In the last 2 years, Randall has 177 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 6 interceptions, 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns and 4 forced fumbles. Randall was also 3rd among all safeties at the combine in the 3-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and vertical jump.

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His size isn't ideal and he can sometimes be too aggressive but Randall's motor is non-stop. Always aware of what's going on and has very good anticipation. He has a knack for creating turnovers and can be dangerous with the ball in his hands, averaging 30 yards per interception return. The thought of teaming Randall up with Church and Wilcox is intriguing and he's definitely on the Cowboy's radar. The team attended Randall's Pro Day and have him scheduled for a visit at Valley Ranch. He also has high character, great work ethic and is a team leader - all of which are common traits in Garrett/McClay draft picks.

Round 3 - Pick 91: DT Grady Jarrett (6'1" - 204 lbs) Clemson

Another big need for the Cowboys is the starting 1-tech defensive tackle. Jarrett is a perfect fit for this spot. He recorded 5.5 sacks and 29.5 tackles for a loss in the last 3 years. He also had 2 forced fumbles in 2014 and had the 7th most bench press reps among defensive linemen at this year's combine.

Jarrett lacks ideal size and length, but he makes up for it with his quickness. He is explosive off the ball and often takes offensive linemen by surprise. He is also a very aware player with a non-stop motor. Another attractive trait of his is that he's never missed a single game due to injury, dating all the way back to high school. Jarrett could be an immediate upgrade over Nick Hayden and could potentially solidify this defensive line. Hardy, Jarrett, Crawford and Lawrence would give the Cowboys a very impressive front four.

Round 4 - Pick 127: LB Mike Hull (6'0" - 237 lbs) Penn State

Hull is the latest product of "Linebacker U". He had 140 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, an interception, 3 defended passes and a forced fumble in 2014. He also ranked in the top 5 among all linebackers at the combine at bench press, 20-yard shuttle, 60-yard shuttle and the 3-cone drill.

Hull has short arms and is shorter than you'd like. Needs to add a little bulk. However, he makes up for it with his an unmatched passion for the game and incredible high football IQ. He has very good instincts and reacts quickly. He is always around the ball. The last time the Cowboys drafted a LB from Penn State who lacks elite athleticism but has high football IQ, passion and great instincts, it worked out alright for them. Not saying that Mike Hull will be as productive as Sean Lee, but he would provide the Cowboys with a very solid backup and special-teams contributor.

Round 5 - Pick 163: WR Ty Montgomery (6'0" - 220 lbs) Stanford

Another Texas native. Montgomery had 1,562 receiving yards, 13 receiving touchdowns, 3 rushing touchdowns, 2 kickoff returns for TD's and 2 punt return for TD's in the last 2 seasons. He also had the 6th best vertical jump and 7th best 60-yard shuttle among all wide receivers at this year's combine.

Montgomery needs some work on his route running and hands, averaging about 5 drops per season over the last 3 years. However, while he may take time to develop as an offensive weapon, he would have an immediate impact on special teams. With Dwayne Harris gone, the Cowboys are in need of another return specialist. Montgomery gives them that, as his 5 career return touchdowns can attest. Has the potential to be a Pro Bowl return man. His high character and work ethic play will be attractive to the Cowboys as well. ... and Dallas has certainly done its homework on him.

Round 7 - Pick 236: DE Frank Clark (6'3" - 271 lbs) Michigan

Clark would've been drafted in the first 3 rounds if not for his off-field issues. He has 85 tackles, 25.5 tackles for a loss, 9 sacks, 3 passes batted down and 1 TD in the last 2 seasons. He also possesses great athleticism. Clark had the best 20-yard and 60-yard shuttles among all defensive linemen at the combine. He also had the 2nd best vertical jump, 3rd best 3-cone drill, 6th best 40-yard dash and 7th best broad jump.

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Clark is very quick off the snap and has a high motor. Uses his hands well but needs to develop some more pass rush moves. Some people might not like this pick because of Clark's off-the-field issues. However, the Cowboys have shown they're not afraid to gamble on guys like this. They feel like they have the right guys in the locker room to provide a positive environment for troubled players. I guarantee that they'll continue to do their homework on Clark leading up to the draft.

Round 7 - Pick 243: DE Darius Allen (6'3" - 239 lbs) CSU Pueblo

Yep, I'm double-dipping at defensive end with back-to-back picks. Allen is from a small school but he put up huge numbers - recording 132 tackles, 46.5 tackles for a loss, 31 sacks, 7 forced fumbles and 6 fumble recoveries in the last 2 seasons. Allen's 7.06 3-cone drill time at his Pro Day would've been the best among all defensive linemen at the combine, his 40-yard dash would've been the 4th best and his 20-yard shuttle would've been 8th best.

Allen is a raw pass rusher who relied heavily on his natural ability in college. Against inferior competition, his natural talent was enough. In the NFL, he'll need to fine tune his technique add more moves to his pass rush arsenal. His ability to get to the QB is impressive, regardless of what school he played at. As McClay would put it, he's a "QB hunter.'' A couple years of grooming and learning behind guys like Hardy, Mincey and Lawrence would go a long way for Allen. Has a chance to be very good one day. Could be a diamond in the rough wherever he ends up.

If the Cowboys end up with this draft class, they will be coming away with 4 potential immediate starters at positions of need with their first 4 picks, a solid backup LB with special-teams ability, a potentially elite returner and two talented but raw defensive ends for Marinelli to work his magic on. One thing that is common among many Cowboys draft picks is that they were invited to Valley Ranch for pre-draft visits. Quinten Rollins, Jay Ajayi, Damarious Randall and Darius Allen are all on that list. The Dallas Cowboys have also shown interest in Grady Jarrett and Ty Montgomery. Another common trait in Jason Garrett/Will McClay draft picks is high character, high football IQ and leadership in the locker room, which is something that most of my picks possess.

Onside Kicks

Our Cowboys Crunchtime Podcast series is here, featuring Fish, KD Drummond, Bob Sturm and more ... ... How do Dallas' national visits coordinate with who they eventually drafts? KD examines. ... Keep it right here at CowboysHQ for hard-hitting commentary and outstanding analysis. ... Hungry for some understanding of how the Cowboys front office really operates? "Jerry and his Cornerstones'' gives you answers. ... Want more Cowboys Draft Profiles? Click here!

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The Final Word

“When I came back to Texas Stadium to play the Cowboys as an Arizona Cardinal, that’s when I knew how much I loved the Dallas Cowboys. When I came back to Texas Stadium and got dressed in the visitor’s locker room, it broke my heart where I cried for 45 minutes straight in front of all my teammates. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I couldn’t put it into words. This is not my locker room. My locker room is over there.” - Emmitt Smith, on the saddest moment of his career.

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