In the latest mock draft from Pro Football Focus, the Dallas Cowboys are projected to trade with the New England Patriots, moving back from the No. 10 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to the No. 15 overall pick.
In both this week and last week versions, Dallas takes a cornerback and addresses its secondary. However, by moving back, they miss out on Patrick Surtain II - arguably the best defensive player in this draft - and select South Carolina's Jaycee Horn.
(Sidebar: We wonder if Horn, as reported by 105.3 The Fan, might end up being a target for Carolina at No. 8. But the mock must go on ...)
During his collegiate career, Horn accumulated 23 passes defensed and two interceptions. Last season, PFF awarded Horn with an 78.0 grade in coverage, which is a 15.0 point improvement from the year prior.
Regardless of pick, Dallas is expected to go to defense - indeed, according to Cowboys boss Jerry Jones, to get "the top'' defensive guy. The Cowboys struggled heavily on that side of the ball. With Chidobe Awuizie leaving for Cincinnati and the news of long-time linebacker Sean Lee retiring, the entire defense is in need of a makeover.
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As for the rest of the division, New York is expected to go with a wide receiver at No. 11, while Philadelphia is projected to draft Surtain II and shore up its back end - a move that would be a shock to some considering the Eagles' desperate need at wide receiver.
Reigning division champion Washington is slated to draft Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.
Out of the NFC East, Dallas has the earliest pick and the most options. ... though Carolina (at No. 8) and their rumored interest in corners, and maybe Denver (at No. 9) and the same possible interest, could rob the Cowboys of some of those options.
Yet if the Cowboys decide to leverage their draft capital and move back, they could load up on more assets and make a push for this year ... as long as, using this scenario, they like Jaycee Horn as much, or almost as much, as they like Patrick Surtain.