Cowboys Mock NFL Draft 8.0: Wading into 'Player' Pool for 2 DBs

Matthew Postins

So it’s Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft 8.0, I took a different approach to putting together the best mock draft I could, one month out from the NFL Draft.

For this mock draft I actually did FIVE different mocks. The idea was to create a pool of players at each selection, and then pick the best possible player at each selection for the Cowboys. To increase the pool of players, there were rules:

Each mock was best player available. Once I picked a player at a particular position in a particular round, I could not pick that position in that round in another mock. For instance, if I took a wide receiver in Round 3 of the first mock, I couldn’t take a wide receiver in that round again.

I could only take one position in each mock. So no repeats at a particular position.

We also modulated the settings. In some cases I used the predictive draft board on The Draft Network’s mock draft tool. In other cases I used the player rankings.

By creating player pools, it gave me some choices of which players might be at each of the Cowboys’ selections, allowing me to take the best player, and in some cases the best fit, for the Cowboys in each round. I completed the last of these mocks on Thursday evening, so I was able to take free agency gains and losses into account, though I didn’t allow that to keep me from taking the best player I could find in each round. Finally, once the pools were created, I went from Round 1 to Round 7 to pick the best possible player and fit. So there was no looking ahead, just like an NFL Draft.

So let’s get to Mock Draft 8.0.

Round 1: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

The player pool: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon; CB Kristian Fulton, LSU; WR Justin Jefferson, LSU; DE K’Lavon Chaisson, Alabama; DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina.

Herbert is intriguing, but I think the odds of Dak Prescott not being in Dallas in 2021 are miniscule. With Gerald McCoy on a three-year deal, and Dontari Poe also coming to town, it lessens the need to stock up at defensive tackle (even though Kinlaw is an enticing selection). The departure of Randall Cobb means the Cowboys will probably grab a wide receiver, but there are plenty of good options after the first round. So it’s down to Fulton and Chaisson. The Cowboys aren’t set at either position, but they have more significant issues at cornerback. Fulton can be a Day 1 starter. Both have been here in previous mock drafts, and there’s a good chance that at least one of these players is available on draft day.

Jan. 27 Mock: S Grant Delpit, LSU

Feb. 4 Mock: DE K’Lavon Chaisson, LSU

Feb. 11 Mock: WR Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado

Feb. 18 Mock: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama

March 5 Mock: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

March 12 Mock: CB Kristian Fulton, LSU

March 19 Mock: S Xavier McKinney, Alabama

Round 2: S Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota

The player pool: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU; S Antoine Winfield Jr., Minnesota; QB Jordan Love, Utah State; WR Denzel Mims, Baylor; CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama.

I eliminated Edwards-Helaire and Love right away (but, to be clear — Love has an NFL future). Diggs would have been a great player to take to double up at corner, but I’m looking for a little balance after taking a corner in the first round. So my logic came down to Mims, a player I really like, and Winfield. I’ve seen both in person in the past two years. Both have the potential to be a great fit for the Cowboys. But, when you look at the depth chart at wide receiver and at safety, selecting Winfield here is, to me, the clear option. With Jeff Heath leaving town and new signee Ha Ha Clinton-Dix coming to the Cowboys on only a one-year deal, the Cowboys will still need a long-term option at the position. To me, that could be Winfield.

Jan. 27 Mock: DE Bradlee Anae, Utah

Feb. 4 Mock: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU

Feb. 11 Mock: DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

Feb. 18 Mock: OT Lucas Niang, TCU

March 5: DT Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M

March 12 Mock: DT Ross Blacklock, TCU

March 19 Mock: DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State

Round 3: DE Jonathan Greenard, Florida

The player pool: S Jordan Chinn, Southern Illinois; RB Cam Akers, Florida State; TE Adam Trautman, Dayton; OT Austin Jackson, USC; DE Jonathan Greenard, Florida.

Greenard has been in this mock draft before, and with the corner and safety position taken care of in the first two rounds, I wasn’t necessarily looking for a third defensive player. But, sometime that’s how drafts work. Akers, Trautman, Jackson and Chinn all feel a bit superfluous after the first two rounds and free agency (though I’d love to see what Jackson could do as a long-term replacement for someone at tackle). But Greenard has the potential to be a pass-rush specialist in Year 1, especially with the moves that he cultivated at Florida. Scouts see his inside rush moves as a strength, and that’s hard to find in a first-year player. He’s not going to replace Robert Quinn (frankly, no one will). But if Demarcus Lawrence has a nice bounce-back year it takes a bit of heat off of Greenard, or anyone else on the roster, to be Quinn in 2020.

Jan. 27 Mock: WR Denzel Mims, Baylor

Feb. 4 Mock: WR K.J. Hill, Ohio State

Feb. 11 Mock: S Brandon Jones, Texas

Feb. 18 Mock: DE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State

March 5 Mock: S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois

March 12 Mock: DE Darrell Taylor, Tennessee

March 19 Mock: CB Darnay Holmes, UCLA

Joe Machie
Michigan State LB Joe Machie.Matthew Postins/College Football America Yearbook

Round 4: LB Joe Machie, Michigan State

The player pool: LB Joe Bachie, Michigan State; WR Quartney Davis, Texas A&M; S Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame; DL Jordan Elliott, Missouri; RB Anthony McFarland, Maryland.

When you look at what the Cowboys have at linebacker, you have to have some worries beyond 2020. Jaylon Smith has a long-term deal. Leighton Vander Esch has two years left on his deal. The others? Sean Lee, Justin March and Joe Thomas are all coming back, but they’re all on one-year contracts. So, theoretically, the Cowboys are staring at a significant depth problem at the position. Everything I’ve read about Bachie in scouting reports screams one thing — Sean Lee clone. He may not be quite as athletic as Lee, but he has the football IQ. And I saw that in person at the Spartans’ 2018 season opener against Utah State.

Jan. 27 Mock: TE Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt

Feb. 4 Mock: S Richie Grant, UCF

Feb. 11 Mock: DE Khalid Kareem, Notre Dame

Feb. 18 Mock: WR Collin Johnson, Texas

March 5 Mock: DE Alton Robinson, Syracuse

March 12 Mock: S Jordan Fuller, Ohio State

March 19 Mock: WR Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

Round 5: WR Devin Duvernay, Texas

The player pool: CB Myles Bryant, Washington; RB Lamichal Perine, Florida; WR Devin Duvernay, Texas; QB James Morgan, FIU; OL Michael Onwenu, Michigan.

I wanted to come away with a wide receiver from this draft. While the Cowboys will return Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, I think they have depth questions. Randall Cobb has left town. Tavon Austin is still on the market. And I’m not sure how the rest of the wide receivers on the roster will grow from 2019 to 2020. I saw Duvernay in person against Oklahoma State. He has good hands, above-average speed, is willing to go across the middle and can play outside or slot. The versatility is key here. And it’s why I like him at this pick.

Jan. 27 Mock: CB Levonta Taylor, Florida State

Feb. 4 Mock: OT Jack Driscoll, Auburn

Feb. 11 Mock: CB Essang Bassey, Wake Forest

Feb. 18 Mock: CB Myles Bryant, Washington

March 5 Mock: WR Tyler Johnson, Minnesota

March 12 Mock: WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC

March 19 Mock: LB Markus Bailey, Purdue

Round 5 (compensatory): CB A.J. Green, Oklahoma State

The player pool: TE Mitchell Wilcox, USF; DE D.J. Wonnum, South Carolina; OT Justin Herron, Wake Forest; CB A.J. Green, Oklahoma State; S Geno Stone, Iowa.

I thought this would be a good time to go back and double up on a player at a position taken earlier that has upside and versatility. I think Green has that. He had six career interceptions at OSU, has solid speed and knows how to work the middle of the field. The reason that’s important is that at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Green has the make-up to be used at safety, too. If you’re looking to build depth throughout the secondary, Green would make a useful player. I flirted with Stone and Wilcox here. But I felt Green was more versatile than Stone, and I felt the Cowboys had the tight end position taken care of, even with the departure of Jason Witten. I saw Green in person last year. He was OSU’s best corner on the field. He showed really good instincts.

March 12 Mock: RB Lamical Perine, Florida

March 19 Mock: TE Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Round 7: DL Robert Landers, Ohio State

The player pool: CB Lavert Hill, Michigan; DL Robert Landers, Ohio State; DE Tipa Galea’i, Utah State; LB Mykal Walker, Fresno State; QB Steven Montez, Colorado.

Landers has popped up here before, and if you take a player in the seventh round you’re hoping they develop into something down the line. With Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe signed to patrol the inside together for at least one year, there’s time for Landers, who is more of a 3-4 tackle, to grow into the job as either a third-string tackle or a practice squad player the first year.

Jan. 27 Mock: DL LaBryan Ray, Alabama

Feb. 4 Mock: CB Lavert Hill, Michigan

Feb. 11 Mock: OT Colton McKivitz, West Virginia

Feb. 18 Mock: DT Robert Landers, Ohio State

March 5 Mock: FB Sewo Olonilua, TCU

March 12 Mock: WR James Proche, SMU

March 19 Mock: OT Scott Frantz, Kansas State

Analysis: I think the pool of players made this mock a little more interesting. Getting both Fulton and Winfield in the first two rounds means that, if the scouting reports are right, the Cowboys’ back line of defense gets an immediate boost. Both should be NFL starters in 2020. From there it was about finding the right fit and the right talent. Getting Greenard, Bachie and Duvernay filled depth for the Cowboys this year and beyond at key positions. Green is a solid player who has, in my opinion, untapped versatility. I think the mock hits about every need, except perhaps a center of the future, but the Cowboys have a center for 2020 locked up in Joe Looney, in the wake of Travis Frederick’s retirement.

My next mock draft will appear on April 6.