Well, here we are. My final first-round mock draft of the offseason. The draft is Thursday night. Are you going to be at the Dallas Draft Party (with ex-Cowboys Phillip Tanner, Jesse Holley and Roy Williams, plus Fish, Jeff Cavanaugh and Bryan Broaddus)? Well, you need to be. It's on Thursday, April 28, at The Maverick Bar in Carrollton. We hope to see you there.
We're not wasting any more time. You know the drill — 31 picks, no waiting. Who will the Cowboys end up with? Well, for the sixth, and final time, my pick changes. But let's start at the top, which is a little easier.
1. Los Angeles: Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Why? The Rams paid the premium to start over at quarterback. They'll take Goff and install him as the starter right away — unless Nick Foles suddenly turns into Tom Brady.
2. Philadelphia: Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Why? Need more verification? Sam Bradford wants a trade. Get ready for the Wentz era to start in the City of Brotherly Love.
3. San Diego: Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Why? So here comes the decision for San Diego GM Tom Telesco. Laremy Tunsil is the top offensive player on most boards, and Ramsey is the top defensive player on most boards. Now, we have no way of knowing which player the Chargers value more, and we have no way of knowing how serious the Chargers might be about trading the pick (I guess less serious at this point). Telesco is a Bill Polian disciple so he should subscribe to the best player available theory. But the fact that the Chargers gave up 44 touchdowns last year, and lost safety Eric Weddle to free agency, has to factor into this a little bit.
4. Dallas: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Why? So now Tunsil falls to the Cowboys at No. 4 and Jerry Jones' phone starts to ring because teams like Jacksonville, Baltimore and San Francisco might be interested in moving up to take the top tackle on the board. The Cowboys could net an extra third out of that. Assuming Jones and company stand pat, the decision boils down to Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Myles Jack and Tunsil. Yep, Zeke's a latecomer to the party, at least as far as I'm concerned. But some respectable draft boards have Elliott as high as No. 4 overall, which puts him in the Cowboys' wheelhouse. I think the Cowboys pass on Tunsil because they just have too much already up front. I think Jack is too low on their board to go at No. 4. So it comes down to Bosa and Elliott, and that makes sense — the Cowboys have spent an awful lot of time at Ohio State this offseason. Elliott has had a private workout and a Valley Ranch visit. So has Bosa, along with a visit with the Cowboys at the combine. Now you have to project which player is higher on Dallas' board.
So I examined several scouting reports on each player and found one word missing from Bosa's reports that I found consistently on Elliott's reports — elite. Yes, Elliott's workload from college scares me a little. But I saw him destroy Notre Dame's defense in person at the Fiesta Bowl. He's a great fit for Dallas' run scheme and he's less of a liability blocking the blitz than most rookies.
Now, the Cowboys could exploit a few teams' love of Elliott for some extra picks, too. And does this address the defensive needs? No. But when you get caught up in what you need mistakes tend to get made.
By the way, if Ramsey falls, then this decision gets much harder. But in this scenario, the Cowboys don't have to face that decision.
Oh, and then there's this:
5. Jacksonville: Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss
Why? I imagine Jags GM Dave Gettlemen might lose his mind if this happens. If it does this one is a no-brainer, given the investment the Jags made in Blake Bortles.
6. Baltimore: Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Why? It wouldn't shock me if the Ravens tried to trade up and get Tunsil. Otherwise, they get Bosa.
7. San Francisco: Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis
Why? Sometimes trading up for a particular position can impact other players at that position. That could be the case for Lynch, who in my mind is the No. 3 quarterback on the board but is clearly behind Goff and Wentz. But the situation with Colin Kaepernick could cause the Niners to reach. If they do, Lynch benefits.
8. Cleveland: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Why? It would not stun me if the Browns traded down again. But if they don't Jack is a great fit and he'll be fine by the regular season.
9. Tampa Bay: DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon
Why? Staying with Buckner here. Bucs need pass rush help.
10. New York Giants: Darron Lee, LB, Ohio State
Why? The first three mocks I did I had Laquon Treadwell going to the Giants. So who knows really. The Giants could use one of both.
11. Chicago: Vernon Hargreaves III, DB, Florida
Why? A Top-10 player drops into Chicago's lap, so you pull the trigger.
12. New Orleans: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Why? I had Reed going at No. 11 last mock. With him falling to 12 he displaces A'Shawn Robinson.
13. Miami: Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson
Why? I've been consistent for more than a month. Lawson is a great fit in Miami.
14. Oakland: LaQuon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Why? Pair Treadwell with Derek Carr and watch the passing touchdowns go up. The Raiders are actually getting good at this. Who knew?
15. Tennessee: Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame
Why? He's the second-best tackle on the board and in some cases he's considered a Top 5 player overall, so this may be crazy thinking he would fall this far to Tennessee. But if he does, that trade worked out so well.
16. Detroit: A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Why? The Lions are still trying to replenish the middle of their defense. Robinson would be a great addition.
17. Atlanta: Mackensie Alexander, DB, Clemson
Why? The Falcons need secondary help. Alexander is a solid solution.
18. Indianapolis: Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State
Why? Plug him in at right tackle and let him protect the heck out of Andrew Luck.
19. Buffalo: Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
Why? Rob Ryan will love this guy. Great player who came out of a great defensive system and can impact right away.
20. New York Jets: Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
Why? Some boards have Butler in the Top 10. I think he falls to the Jets at No. 20, which allows them to draft some flexibility for their interior defense.
21. Washington: Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
Why? An old-fashioned space-eater helps give the Redskins more push inside.
22. Houston: Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Why? I just think this makes too much sense for the Texans. I could be totally wrong about this. But Coleman opposite DeAndre Hopkins sounds like a great 1-2 punch to me. What about you, Brock Osweiler?
23. Minnesota: Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State
Why? Sticking with OT help for Teddy Bridgewater here. Could easily be a receiver, though.
24. Cincinnati: Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Why? Doctson holds steady as the answer to Cincinnati's dearth of depth at wide receiver. But if Coleman falls watch the Bengals pounce.
25. Pittsburgh: William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Why? Jackson gives the Steelers' secondary and immediate boost.
26. Seattle: Robert Nkemdiche, DE, Ole Miss
Why? The Seahawks could not possibly pass on this guy, should he fall to them.
27. Green Bay: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia
Why? Some have Floyd a lot higher but he's all over the overall board. I think he settles in a nice spot in Green Bay.
28. Kansas City: Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh
Why? Could be Will Fuller of Notre Dame. But I saw Boyd last year and I loved what I saw.
29. Arizona: Noah Spence, DE, Eastern Kentucky
Why? Spence is on the small side but the Cards will make good use of him.
30. Carolina: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama
Why? The need at corner doesn't matter. I've been consistent all along. The Panthers take Henry as their back-in-waiting behind Jonathan Stewart.
31. Denver: Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State
Why? Sticking with Cook here. He's the right kind of player for Gary Kubiak. Don't believe all the weird character hype. Listen to his teammates and coach Mark Dantonio at Michigan State. He can play — and lead. I saw it first-hand at the Big Ten title game.
Note: The New England Patriots do not have a first-round pick this year due to the Deflategate saga (which, sadly, continues).