The 2016 season is officially over. With the crowning of the Denver Demarcus' as the new champions of the football world, Cowboys fans have some solace in seeing a player they've cheered on for several years acheive the greatness he seeked. Now, all attention for all 32 teams turns towards building next year's champions.
As is the case in these mock drafts, we will go about constructing ways to fill this team's needs, knowing that the list of needs will be drastically altered once free agency hits in exactly a month. Still, mocks give us the opportunity to find the best collegiate fits for these needs and acquaint us with the talent pool that aren't considered retreads or castoffs. In the end, that's what every free agent is; a chance to rehabilitate the reputation of a player no longer wanted by his original team.
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 Drafttek's Big Board dated 2/8/16.
To avoid duplication over the next few months, we will try to switch up our selections as often as possible.
Prior to the draft starting, I was offered two trade scenarios. The first came from the Tampa Bay Bucs, offering 1.9, 2.8 and 3.11 for the 4th pick. The other from the Chicago Bears, offering 1.11, 2.10, 3.9 and 4.8 for the 4th pick. The fourth pick is worth 1800 on the traditional trade value chart. Tampa's deal is worth 2080 points (1350+510+220), while the Bears deal is worth 2038 points (1250+490+210+88). Both are reasonable trades from the standpoint of being less than the value of the 3rd pick (2200 pts).
We accepted the Tampa Bay deal.
Surprisingly, our four preferred draft targets were all still on the board at 9, basically the most ideal circumstance any team could hope for. Not only are QB Goff, QB Wentz, S Ramsey and LB Jack all still on the board, but RB Elliott, WR Treadwell and DE Spence are still on the board as well. If things played out this way, in a flat draft such as this, I'd envision another attempt to trade down a few spots and pick up additional ammunition. To keep things relatively legitimate here though, we'll make a pick.
I decided to take UCLA LB Myles Jack with the 9th pick. Jack is a physical specimen that comes along only every few years. He has the athletic ability to cover receivers out of the slot, but also the agility and burst to put in major work at and behind the line of scrimmage. The reasons I'm hesitant to take Jack at 4 is the worth of off-ball linebacker and the knee injury he suffered that wiped out his senior season. At Pick Nine though, with additional picks to boot, it's a no brainer.
With the next pick, I address the secondary. Virginia Tech's Kendall Fuller was on his way to a first round grade before suffering a knee injury, so of course he's a perfect fit for Dallas in Round 2. Here's how the entire draft played out, followed by descriptions of each prospect and accompanying video.
Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
You may never see the Cowboys get beaten by a RB wheel route again for the next 12 years.
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.
Darian Thompson, S, Boise State
Here, we go back to the well in solidifying the secondary, bringing in the standout safety from Boise State. Thompson is a ball-hawk, and his addition, along with that of Fuller, gives Dallas the ultimate flexibility with DB Byron Jones and the return of CB Orlando Scandrick. Thompson broke Eric Weddle's Mountain West record of 18 interceptions in his final game of 2015, and Dallas has had remarkable success drafting Broncos over the years.
Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
Lost amidst the lost season of 2015 was the late-season injury to TE2 Gavin Escobar. Already seen as a disappointment despite his severely limited opportunities, Escobar's achilles tear might keep him out of a lot of the summer activity. Enter Hunter Henry, who has a legitimate shot of being the next Jason Witten. Hunter has an insane ability to seperate from defenders in his routes, and a season or two of tutelage under the Senator would do him wonders. He's a willing blocker, and Parcells always said blocking was about will, the technique could be taught.
Kenny Dixon, RB, La Tech
Dixon is quite simply, one of backs you'll have plenty of fun watching. His speed and shiftiness, along with his pass catching ability will have him a three-down back in short order once his blocking skills improve some. I think he's somewhat hindered by not having a QB under center, well... ever. His hands are insane, his route-running is top notch and his avoidance of absorbing big hits is Emmitt-like. Him making it to 74 might be a stretch, but he's here in this mock and we're here for it. Drew rave reviews during Senior Bowl week.
Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State
Another lower-level school standout, Hargrave proved his worth when he dominated East-West Shrine week. Hargrave has a great combination of quickness and power, and consistently showed that he'll produce against higher level competition. He's had 29.5 sacks over the last two seasons combined, dominating the MEAC conference.
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
I think it makes perfect sense for Dallas to use their anticiapted 4th round compensatory selection on a guy like Hackenberg if they didn't take a QB in the first round. Hackenberg has horrible feet and his production curtailed after losing Bill O'Brien and Allen Robinson, but you can see the foundation of a quality quarterback is there. Fanspeak doesn't award comp picks yet, so I cheated and traded a future pick for a pick at the top of the 5th round. Sue me.
Tyler Ervin, RB, San Jose State
Never heard of him? You will. After selecting Dixon to be the lead 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.
To look at this mock in it's entirety, go here.