We’re less than a week from the NFL Draft. One assumes that the Dallas Cowboys will stay at No. 4, but at the rate the top picks are being traded you never know. But for the purposes of this final seven-round Mock Draft Friday, we’re assuming the Cowboys will stay put.
This time I’ve done just two mock drafts. The first is purely best available player, regardless of position. The second is my mock draft, where I tried to marry team need and player ranking in a way that made sense for what the Cowboys need now and in the future. In both cases I used the rankings supplied by CBSSports.com through the Fanspeak.com draft simulator.
Next week I’ll publish my final first-round mock draft. We're less than a week away from finding out who the Cowboys will take in the first round.
Best Available Player
Round 1 (4): DB Jalen Ramsey, Florida State
Analysis: The Rams took Jared Goff, followed by Philadelphia taking Carson Wentz and San Diego taking Joey Bosa. This would seem to be the consensus pick among Cowboys fans at this point. With Bosa off the board the only real competition is Myles Jack, but the Cowboys have depth at linebacker and Ramsey allows the Cowboys to put last year’s first-round pick Byron Jones in the right place, wherever that may be.
Round 2 (34): DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Analysis: A space-eating, one-technique tackle that can plug the run and pave the way for the Cowboys’ solid linebacking corps. He’s a Top 20 player that falls to No. 34. Great value, especially if you’re looking for someone that can play right away.
Round 3 (67): G Christian Westerman, Arizona State
Analysis: Given that Ron Leary is in the final year before free agency, this pick makes some sense. Scouts love his athleticism and his knowledge of multiple blocking schemes. He also has versatility at center, and the Cowboys lack a true backup at the position right now. He’s a Top 50 player on the CBS board.
Round 4 (101): WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
Analysis: The watchword here is discipline, as in Cooper has plenty. At 5-foot-11 he won’t tower over anyone, but he has crafty route-running skills and a few years of SEC coaching to have him poised to produce as a fourth wideout.
Round 4 (135): RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas
Analysis: The first of the Cowboys’ four compensatory picks allows them to grab another Arkansas running back. Williams understands how to play in a timeshare, scouts love his instincts and he’s used to playing behind experienced offensive lines while at Arkansas. The left foot injury that ended his 2015 season bears monitoring.
Round 6 (189): TE Beau Sandland, Montana State
Analysis: A tight end with the right height and weight that needs a couple of years to develop. With the plethora of tight ends on the roster already, Sandland better have special teams versatility as well.
Round 6 (212): CB Daryl Worley, West Virginia
Analysis: At 6-foot-1 he won’t lose many 50-50 balls. But he’s a work in progress when it comes to man coverage. Playing in nickel and dime or zone schemes might suit him initially. This is a compensatory pick.
Round 6 (216): S Jayron Kearse, Clemson
Analysis: At 6-foot-4 he’s huge for a safety, so there are concerns about his coverage ability. But if he received at least some of the bloodlines from his uncle, Jevon Kearse, and his cousin, Phillip Buchanon, then he’s worth a flier. This is a compensatory pick.
Round 6 (217): S Kavon Frasier, Central Michigan
Analysis: A run-stopping safety with special teams value that is drawing comparisons to Barry Church. You decide if that’s good or bad. This is the last of Dallas’ four compensatory picks.
This mock doesn’t address quarterback, and I think the Cowboys will do so at some point in this draft, just not in the first round. If Ramsey falls to the Cowboys I imagine they’ll pull the trigger, unless for some reason there is an available player ranked ahead of him. The Cowboys received great value in Rounds 2-4 at positions where they could use depth. The day three guys are draft and develop. Kearse intrigues me. I mean a 6-foot-4 safety? Can that even work?
My Final Mock Draft
Round 1 (4): DE DeForest Buckner, Oregon
Analysis: San Diego took Jalen Ramsey at No 2, so he’s off the board. Here I have my choice of Joey Bosa, Myles Jack, and Buckner. I’m not worried about Jack’s knee. The meniscus will heal. But pass rush is critical in the NFL these days and I think that Buckner has a higher ceiling than Bosa. Buckner has been steadily climbing draft boards and some now consider him to be a better prospect than Bosa. But it’s not like it’s a canyon between the two of them. I like Buckner’s overall athleticism here. The Cowboys brought Buckner in for a private visit, so he's on the radar.
Round 2 (34): DT Andrew Billings, Baylor
Analysis: Plenty of defensive pieces to choose from here. Vernon Butler, the beefy tackle from Louisiana Tech is on the board. So is defensive end Jonathan Bullard from Florida. But I caught Billings twice at Baylor last year, and hearing Stephen Jones say they wouldn’t ignore under tackle in the draft made me think that taking Billings would allow them to move Tyron Crawford around the defensive line (and if a certain defensive end does get suspended that could be important). Billings can crash the line of scrimmage and has a motor like few other defensive tackles in this draft. He’s not even 21 years old. Think Tyron Smith’s age and ability when he entered the NFL and you get an idea of the potential some scouts see in Billings.
Round 3 (67): RB Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
Analysis: A highly productive running from a Group of 5 school who fits right into the Round 3 value at No. 63 overall on CBS’s board. He’s drawing comparisons to Thomas Rawls. He has the frame to compete in the NFL but there are injury and fumbling concerns. But in the third round everyone has a few concerns. He’s coachable. That’s clear from his college career, where he amassed more than 4,000 yards rushing. I saw him play in person and was impressed with his overall field vision and running style. He has the ability to excel in Dallas’ scheme.
Round 4 (101): CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama
Analysis: The Cowboys gravitate toward players from Power 5 schools once they get into the third day of the draft. There are higher-rated players on the board here, but Jones is the highest-rated defensive player on the board at this time. Two words come up when it comes to Jones — football character. He’s solid in press coverage and can be a nickel corner right away. He’s a solid pick that adds to the depth in the defensive backfield.
Round 4 (135): WR Kolby Listenbee, TCU
Analysis: Listenbee is No. 97 on CBS’s Top 100 players in this draft. So when you consider that he falls all the way to the Cowboys’ fourth-round compensatory pick that’s great value. I saw Listenbee a few times at TCU and he’s a quality receiver who had room to grow. He has good hands. And he can fit into the Cowboys’ system as a slot guy right away.
Round 6 (189): DT Willie Henry, Michigan
Analysis: Henry adds depth as a three-technique tackle and based on scouting reports he sounds like he’s more developed than your average sixth-round pick.
Round 6 (212): S Tyvis Powell, Ohio State
Analysis: Remember that profile for late-round picks? Powell fits the bill. There’s no doubt he was well-coached in Columbus and the scouting reports reflect it. He needs work against the run, but he can cover and that can help in third-down packages.
Round 6 (216): QB Jacoby Brissett, N.C. State
Analysis: If you look at that list of players that made their way to Valley Ranch for private visits you’ll find Brissett’s name. Getting him for a compensatory pick is quite the steal. Scouts love his arm and playmaking, calling the former “NFL caliber.” But he needs plenty of development and since Jerry Jones thinks Tony Romo will last three or four more years, I guess that won’t be an issue.
Round 6 (216): DE Lawrence Thomas, Michigan State
Analysis: He didn’t produce much in college, but scouts don’t question his work ethic and at 286 pounds he could rotate inside or outside in Dallas’ scheme.
This mock skews to the defense but it hits the right notes across the board. Buckner and Billings can produce right away and bolster the position group that probably needs it the most. This mock secures good depth at corner and safety, with Jones a potential starter down the line. Offensively Dixon fits in as a 10-carry guy by midseason and Listenbee can draw attention as a fourth or fifth receiver. Brissett gives them a development quarterback with some real upside. Henry, Powell and Thomas aren’t just guys. They can make this team under the right circumstances. But they’re certainly worth places on the practice squad if they don’t.null