Perfect Picks: Dallas Cowboys
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper. Next up is ‘America’s Team’, the Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys fans can rightly feel aggrieved with the end result of the 2019 season. An 8-8 finish wasn’t unfamiliar to the Garrett regime. The difference was he had been given one of the most talent-laden rosters in the league. The trade for Amari Cooper signified the front office believed they were close to making a run at the Lombardi.
Now that roster looks set to be disbanded as Jerry Jones struggles to pay an array of stars. If new coach Mike McCarthy stands a chance of keeping the team in the playoff hunt, the success of this draft class could be vital.
Round 1 - Pick 17- Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Safety seems the most obvious position of need for this Cowboys team. As far back as 2018 the team was heavily linked with the likes of Earl Thomas, since then the incumbents have been functional at best. Byron Jones was initially believed to be the long term solution but having moved to cornerback and now set to leave in free agency, addressing the position is a must for Dallas.
With Xavier Woods currently holding the free safety spot, Alabama’s Xavier McKinney would make a lot of sense with the 17th pick. His physicality and versatility stand out on tape. McKinney is comfortable in the nickel backer role, in the slot or as a two deep safety. While his coverage skills might not be as fluid as Grant Delpit it shouldn’t affect his value. On top of this, his intelligence will be a big plus for NFL teams. In Daniel Jeremiah’s recent conference call, he spoke about how McKinney became de-facto leader and signal caller on Alabama’s defense last year, after a raft of injuries.
Flex Pick - Pick 17 - Neville Gallimore, DT, Oklahoma
Defensive tackle is another spot that Dallas seems to have been trying to address and failing at for too long. They selected Trysten Hill in the second round last year but he only contributed on 11% of the defensive snaps in 2019. The new coaching team will hope to see a jump in his performance this year but there remains little else to get excited about at the position.
Although it may seem a bit high, I plumped for Oklahoma’s Neville Gallimore as my first round flex. Gallimore is roundly seen as a second day prospect by most draftniks. However, it wouldn’t surprise me if a team fell in love with him. He explodes off the line of scrimmage and has great movement skills for a man of his size. Sticking him beside Demarcus Lawrence would cause plenty of problems for opposing offenses.
Round 2 - Pick 51 - Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Jason Witten’s broadcasting career was short lived. He did only one season in the booth at ESPN before he decided he’d jumped into retirement too soon. That suited the Cowboys who failed to find a legitimate replacement for him. Witten could still return for another year with the ‘Boys but his days as a number 1 threat are now in the rear view mirror. However, he would be the perfect mentor to a young rookie, should Dallas dip into the tight end class.
Without a stand-out round 1 tight end this year, there are a number of opinions on who heads up this year’s prospects. Cole Kmet has enjoyed a late rise in the process, mainly because he chose to leave as a Junior. He won’t blow the game open like a Kittle or Kelce but is a solid pass catcher who can be split out and used as a vertical threat. His blocking needs work, as with most young TE’s, but he should develop into a good weapon for Dak Presott.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 82 - Van Jefferson, WR, Florida
The Cowboys receiving corps was pretty impressive in 2019. It received a massive boost with the addition of Amari Cooper the year before. The former Raider becoming Prescott’s favourite target. Paying Zeke Elliott, DeMarcus Lawrence and most likely Dak Prescott means Cooper might be an unfortunate sacrifice Dallas may have to make. Michael Gallup is promising but with Cooper gone they will need reinforcements.
Luckily, the depth of this receiver class means that the Cowboys might be able to put the need on the backburner. In this scenario they pick up Van Jefferson with their third round pick. Jefferson has NFL bloodlines with his father Shawn having played for four NFL teams in a 12 year career. That shows up in his route running and polish. Despite not having the top end traits that would get him drafted higher, he could be a steal here. Jefferson would likely get immediate starting reps and could become a solid contributor from day one.
Van Jefferson is so fluid and flexible as a route runner. Keeping his pads down, selling each step with his upper body and staying explosive by driving off his in-steps. Clinic tape. pic.twitter.com/iv5D2O1CLK— Brad Kelly (@BradKelly17) January 24, 2020
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 146 - Harrison Hand, CB, Temple
As mentioned previously Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones is likely to be one of the hottest names on the market come free agency. Replacing him won’t be easy and Dallas may choose to address the issue much earlier than this late round pick. With only six selections in the draft this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘Boys moved back somewhere to get extra picks. If that’s the case they could even double dip at this position.
Temple corner Harrison Hand has some potential particularly as a Cover-3 corner. That could fit with a lot of what the Cowboys do even if Hand is unlikely to be able to lock down the premier receivers in the league. Playing a lot of off coverage Hand showed plenty of instincts and ability to locate the ball. His jarring hits mean that he can force incompletions even after giving up the catch. That ability to come downhill and tackle could mean a team utilise him more as safety. Either way he would add secondary depth to this roster.
Draft in full
17. Xavier McKinney (S)
51. Cole Kmet (TE)
82. Van Jefferson (WR)
113. Leki Fotu (DT)
146. Harrison Hand (CB)
208. Tyler Huntley (QB)
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com