Rd. 1, Pk. 19
Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Boise State
The Cowboys' defense has fallen apart in recent years when Sean Lee has been out of the lineup. Anthony Hitchens was developing into a solid second linebacker, but he signed with the Chiefs this offseason. Dallas needs help at linebacker.
We published a report that one NFL team medically flunked Leighton Vander Esch. While this is 100-percent true, it's also true that other teams really like Vander Esch and would consider taking him in the first round. I believe the Cowboys to be one of those teams.
*** OTHER 2018 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. D.J. Moore, WR - If the Cowboys opt for a receiver in the first round, I believe it'll be Moore.
2. Taven Bryan, DT - A sleeper pick if the Cowboys really want to focus on improving their interior pressure.
Rd. 3, Pk. 17
Harrison Phillips, DT/3-4DE/NT, Stanford
There are some legal problems troubling David Irving right now, so here's an insurance policy.
Pick change; previously Tarvarius Moore, S
Rd. 4, Pk. 16
Tre'Quan Smith, WR, Central Florida
The Cowboys will need a new No. 1 receiver in the wake of the Dez Bryant release.
Pick change; previously Andrew Brown, DT
Rd. 4, Pk. 37
Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida
The Cowboys needed a receiver even before Dez Bryant's release. Now, they have to find two.
Rd. 5, Pk. 34
Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
Jason Witten won't be around much longer, so here's a potential successor for him.
Rd. 6, Pk. 18
Phillip Lindsay, RB, Colorado
The Cowboys could lose Alfred Morris to free agency this offseason. If so, here's a replacement.
Rd. 6, Pk. 19
Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State
The Cowboys added a couple of cornerbacks in the draft last year, but they could still stand to add one more for depth in the wake of Orlando Scandrick's release.
Rd. 6, Pk. 34
Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State
This is late for Tyquan Lewis, but the Cowboys will take it, as they'll want to add some depth to their edge rush.
Rd. 7, Pk. 18
Christian Sam, ILB, Arizona State
Despite the Leighton Vander Esch projection, the Cowboys could use another pick on a linebacker for depth purposes.
The Cowboys need a cornerback upgrade badly. At the combine, sources with Dallas told me they love Adoree' Jackson, but I don't have him getting to Dallas. The Cowboys could target King as they hosted him before the draft and he would be an upgrade for them.
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder King has the length and size to match up against big wideouts while proving his excellent speed at the combine. Sources from multiple teams think that King could go late in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
King was part of a good tandem of Huskies cornerbacks with Sidney Jones. In 2016, King notched 44 tackles with 13 passes broken up and two interceptions. He also had quality production as a junior with 39 tackles, five passes broken up and three interceptions. King totaled 65 tackles as a sophomore.
Rd. 2, Pk. 2
Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
The Cowboys could double up on cornerbacks to address their weak secondary.
In 2016, Awuzie recorded 65 tackles with 12 passes broken up, four sacks and one interception. The 6-foot, 205-pounder has decent size to him, but is inconsistent in coverage. He allows separation and doesn't play as big as his listed size. In his bowl game, he was torched by Oklahoma State. Awuzie had 84 tackles with 12 for a loss, four sacks, seven passes broken up and two interceptions in 2015.
Rd. 3, Pk. 3
Nazair Jones, DT, North Carolina
The Cowboys lost Terrell McClain in free agency and could use more interior defensive line talent.
Jones had a solid 2016 season for the Tar Heels with 70 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, three passes batted and a forced fumble. He is a disruptive defender who can defend the run and put some pressure on the quarterback. The 6-foot-5, 304-pounder played on the inside for North Carolina and has some versatility to man a variety of spots, but his best fit might come as a five-technique 3-4 defensive end.
Rd. 4, Pk. 4
Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio
The Cowboys grab some more pass-rushing competition.
Every year, there are some small-school prospects who get exposure at the college all-star games, and Basham took advantage with an impressive Senior Bowl. The 6-foot-3, 259-pounder has the quickness to be an edge rusher in the NFL and has athletic upside to develop.
As a senior, Basham recorded 50 tackles with 16 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks and two passes broken up. He put together some modest sack production as a junior (5.5), sophomore (4) and freshman (7.5). Basham ended his career with totals of 40 tackles for a loss, 28.5 sacks and six forced fumbles.
Rd. 6, Pk. 6
Treston Decoud, CB, Oregon State
The Cowboys grab more cornerback talent and competition.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Taylor McNamara, TE, USC
The Cowboys moved on from the predictably disappointing Gavin Escobar and could use some tight end depth.
Rd. 7, Pk. 7
Xavier Woods, SS, Louisiana Tech
Woods visited the Cowboys, and Dallas could target some safety and special teams depth.
The Cowboys moved on from Dez Bryant. Here's a big receiver who could bring some mismatch advantages to the Dallas offense. The Cowboys have also shown a lot of interest in Sutton. <br> <br>
In 2017, Sutton recorded 68 catches for 1,085 yards with 12 touchdowns. He totaled 76 receptions in 2016 for 1,246 yards - a 16.5-yard average - with 10 touchdowns. The 6-foot-4, 218-pounder has size to him, and in 2015, he showed big-play ability by averaging 17.6 yards per catch. For the year, the redshirt freshman totaled 862 yards and nine touchdowns on 49 receptions. If Sutton finds a little more "Dez Bryant to him," aka playing more physically and bullying defensive backs, he could be tremendous in the NFL. <br> <br>
Scouting sources really like Sutton and think he is a mismatch weapon. One playoff general manager said they loved Sutton and thought he could end up becoming the best receiver from his draft class. Another scouting director told WalterFootball.com that, in studying up on players before hitting the road for college training camps before the 2016 season, Sutton's tape really stood out, and he continued to impress them over the next two seasons. Sutton is a long-strider, and sources say his speed is comparable to TCU's Josh Doctson, who the Redskins took in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Cowboys moved on from Dez Bryant recently. Here's a fast receiver who could bring some explosion to the Dallas offense. The Cowboys have also shown a lot of interest in Ridley. <br> <br>
Ridley reeled in 63 catches for 967 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. He totaled 82 yards on seven receptions with a touchdown against Florida State and its NFL-level secondary. The 6-foot, 189-pounder Ridley was capable of producing a lot more, but Alabama's ground-based offense and running quarterback limited his opportunities. If Ridley had played at a school like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or pretty much any Big XII school, his production would have been off the charts. Ridley has quality height, speed and upside for the NFL. He does have a thinner frame though, and will need to add weight. <br> <br>
In 2016, Ridley made 72 catches for 769 yards with seven touchdowns. He had a tremendous freshman season for the Crimson Tide as the replacement for Amari Cooper. Ridley was very effective in that role with 89 receptions for 1,045 yards with seven touchdowns. He finished the 2015 season with impressive performances against Florida and Michigan State to help push Alabama to the National Championship.
The Cowboys grab a difference-maker at the point off attack. <br> <br>
Payne played well against Florida State in the 2017 season opener, showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. In 2017, he has 23 tackles and a pass batted.<br> <br>
Scouts who have looked ahead to the 2018 class have raved about Payne's potential. Coming from Alabama, it isn't a stretch, and Payne could take on the lead role for the Crimson Tide with Jonathan Allen moving on to the NFL. Payne (6-2, 319) is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. When given the opportunity to rush the passer in 2016, Payne was impressive, and sources have said that he helped set up sacks for Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson last season.
Dallas' offense is good. with the addition of Fleming the OL is solid to very good. They have good targets for Prescott,.. and with Elliot, have an very effective run game.
The Defense is what needs work. Dallas has a dominating defense LE in Lawrence, with good interior rush & run defense provided by Irving and Collins. The problem on the line is at RE,... Charlton played there as a rookie, and he played ok. However, he was out of position, as RE is really a speed position, Charlton is really a LE. The Cowboys could use a LE capable of bringing the heat to help the rest of the defense.
At LB, the cowboys have Lee,.. but lost Hitchens (2nd leading tackler) in FA,... Their OLB's didn't stand out & were often exploited in the flats & seams of the defense both in the pass and the run. This led the Cowboys to have to employ their safeties closer to the box to help the OLB's. The safeties were their 3rd & 5th leading tacklers, but this put them at a disadvantage covering deep and the Cowboys paid for it. (Both safeties PD numbers were lower than you would expect.) This often left the CB covering man deep, as there usually wasn't a safety playing deep field to help,
So,.. the cowboys safeties, I don't believe, are as 'bad' as advertised,.. but I believe they need help, either at RDE, or at OLB, or both to allow one of the safeties to stay 'clean' to play the deep center.
I've been mocking Evans to the Cowboys for several weeks,. but recent reports have teams questioning his speed & athleticism. He didn't run at the combine. only did jumps,. and then did them poorly. Waited for his pro day,. then did exactly the same thing, no 40, only jumps & the jumping not impressive.
So the Cowboys go with the fastest riser up many of the draft boards to fill their need at LB. Vander Esch isn't a speed LB. He isn't slow. He is faster than most, a side-line to side-line player, just not a speed based player. He is a great athlete. He bring outstanding explosion, acceleration, and superb jumping skills. He can cover TE's and running backs,.. making plays from flat to flat. He should make the entire Dallas defense better.
The Cowboys appear ready to move on from Dez Bryant sooner rather than later. Here's a fast-rising receiver who could be a good fit for Dallas. <br> <br>
In 2017, Moore totaled 80 receptions for 1,033 yards and eight touchdowns. He has a thick build with elusiveness and physicality that make him a dangerous yards-after-the-catch receiver. As a junior, Moore had 41 catches for 637 yards and six scores. Moore (6-0, 210) is a strong wideout who has speed and plays with an aggressive competitive spirit. Multiple teams tell me they are projecting Moore to the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Show/Hide Other Mocks with D.J. Moore Going to Cowboys
Rd. 1, Pk. 19
Leighton Vander Esch, ILB
One NFC team medically flunked Leighton Vander Esch, but as Charlie and I explained on the podcast, this didn't mean that he wasn't going to fall out of the first round. Teams have different medical opinions of players, and Dallas obviously has no issues with Vander Esch's neck. If Vander Esch remains healthy, he'll be a terrific player in a Dallas defense that has historically struggled mightily whenever Sean Lee has been injured. Lee being hurt now won't be as problematic moving forward, which is a good thing.
I'm giving this a "B" grade. I'd like the pick a lot more if there weren't medical concerns about Vander Esch, but there's a good chance his neck won't be a problem, so I think this is a somewhat solid, albeit risky choice.
Rd. 2, Pk. 18
Connor Williams, OT
This is a pretty poor selection. The Cowboys, desperate after Courtland Sutton and Dallas Goedert were taken off the board, have reached for a mid-round tackle. Teams were shocked to see the media place Williams in the first or second round, as he doesn't have a home in the NFL. His arms are way too short to play tackle, and he's not nearly strong enough to play guard, which is why some teams considered him to be a fifth-round prospect. Even worse, Williams doesn't fill any sort of need. This was pretty close to a Millen.
Rd. 3, Pk. 17
Michael Gallup, WR
The Cowboys finally found their receiver. Michael Gallup has great speed and separation - something Dez Bryant lacked in his final days in Dallas. Gallup should be a nice, downfield threat for the Cowboys, and some could have argued that he could have been taken a bit earlier than this, so I like this selection.
Once upon a time, Dorance Armstrong was considered a first-round pick. He didn't play as well in 2017, but probably because he saw double teams on every play, being the only viable player on Kansas' roster. Armstrong, however, seems more of a 3-4 player, so I don't like this fit very much.
Rd. 4, Pk. 37
Dalton Schultz, TE
The Cowboys have made some stinker picks thus far, but this seems like a solid one. Dalton Schultz was someone we squarely saw as a fourth-round prospect, so he makes a lot of sense here, as Dallas absolutely had to find a replacement for the newly retired Jason Witten.
Rd. 5, Pk. 34
Mike White, QB
I don't like this pick from a needs perspective. The Cowboys already had a solid backup in Cooper Rush. However, I don't hate this selection either, as Mike White was the top quarterback on the board.
Rd. 6, Pk. 19
Christian Covington, ILB
Chris Covington probably shouldn't have been drafted, but I don't think this is a poor pick. Covington is a former quarterback who has a history of knee injuries, so he's still learning the position. He may not be anything more than a special-teamer.
Rd. 6, Pk. 34
Cedric Wilson, WR
Cedrick Wilson could have gone a round earlier than this, so this is a solid choice by the Cowboys, who need as much receiving help as possible. Wilson is an average athlete, but a quality route-runner, so he should be able to contribute sooner rather than later.
Rd. 7, Pk. 18
Bo Scarbrough, RB
I cannot remember another instance in which Jerry Jones, a proud Arkansas alumnus, selected a player from the hated Alabama program. I guess he had to make an exception, and it was a good one. Bo Scarbrough was beaten out by a couple of running backs named Harris this past season, but he's a physically gifted back who should've gone in the fourth round. This is a great pick.