With the Senior Bowl practices set to kick off this week, the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is set to get a front row view to several elite draft prospects. While much of the attention every draft season goes to the rising number of underclassmen who declare for the draft every year, the All-Star circuit for seniors is a great petri dish for talent evaluators league-wide. The Senior Bowl comes on the heels of this past weekend's East-West Shrine game and the NFLPA Bowl, and is the final chance to see players in a game environment in anticipation of next month's Scouting Combine. For a complete look at the NFL Offseason, check out the schedule, here.
With Dallas coaching the North squad, they will get first hand knowledge on a cast of potential draftees, which will raises an interesting point. Dallas has notoriously used their 30 alloted national visits, as well as their Dallas Day participants, to get intimate knowledge of the draft picks. It's one of the most tried and true "tells" in recent Cowboys draft lore. Now, with the Senior Bowl gig, does that expand Dallas' "playable hands"? It will be an interesting case study to be sure.
In this week's Mock Draft, we're going to change things while they remain the same. Versions one and two had Dallas trading back to secure additional picks in the first few rounds. What happens if Dallas doesn't find a trade partner, or doesn't want to risk losing their precious slot at the top of the round? How would that look. For today's mock, we'll find out.
For this exercise, I will employ the assistance of the good folk at Fanspeak's On The Clock Mock Draft Simulator. You can perform your own mocks by simply clicking this link. You'll need to upgrade to Premium for the option to trade.
The real point of these exercises is not only to get an idea of how the draft process flows, but also give readers an opportunity to learn about some of the prospects in the draft. To assist in that, we will feature a video (using DraftBreakdown.com when available) for each of the selected prospects from their collegiate days. I will not guarantee that it will be a game they played particularly well in. Fans should get used to the idea that players with plus skills can still put out bad tape, and players with questionable ones can play a "game of their life" they may not ever live up to again.
Today's mock will be based off of Matt Miller's Big Board dated 1/19/16.
Miller's Big Board is interesting, as he's the first person I've seen that puts Carson Wentz ahead of Paxton Lynch at quarterback. It aligns with many of our sentiments about the value of Wentz, who we originally selected in the first of these Monday Mocks. Well, we did it again. At number four, Wentz checks so many boxes for the Cowboys needs, in addition to being the one position we're pretty sure Dallas isn't going to fill in free agency. While a small-school player, he has big game experience, winning back-to-back championships. He has the arm strength and escapability Dallas fans are used to with Tony Romo, but it's more of an athletic Ben Roethlisberger. He's far from perfect, but to us, he is the best moldable clay Dallas has had the opportunity to draft since they selected Demarcus Lawrence ahead of Derek Carr two years ago.
Here's how the rest of the draft played out, and their respective game cut-ups:
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Billings is everything Rod Marinelli wants in a one-tech player. The Waco native is a powerful specimen at 6'1 and over 300 lbs, able to clog the middle and penetrate the offensive backfield. Adding him to a healthy Tyrone Crawford should slow opponents run games and collapse the pocket for the defensive ends to feast.
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Kendall tore his meniscus in September, but was on his way to first-round status prior to that. He would make a great addition as Dallas has to retool their secondary as he has the necessary technique to stick with his man in press coverage and make plays on the ball when in the air, reeling in 8 interceptions in his 25 career starts.
Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma
Shepard is an IMMACULATE route runner, has great hands, and excels against all kinds of coverages. He is going to stand out, quickly, in the NFL.
Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State
Never heard of him? You will. Assuming Dallas uses free agency to find their lead ZBS back, the possibilities of the COP back shown by Lance Dunbar are too tantalizing not to try and duplicate. Ervin is that, and maybe a bit more.
Matt Judon, DE/OLB, Grand Valley State
No film, just the guy who led all of college football in sacks in 2015. Here, Dallas trades a 2017 6th rounder to get the rights to Judon before anyone else can snatch him up.
To look at this mock in it's entirety, go here.