Welcome to my 2.0 installment of Drafting Dallas 2017, where I’m assuming front office duties to mock draft the full seven rounds for the Cowboys.
In the time since my 1.0 installment was published, the NFL Draft order has been locked in, the NFL Combine has taken place, and most importantly, the free agency period has commenced. With many of their veteran players moving on from the Metroplex and others being signed to fill the void, we now have a clearer picture of where the Cowboys will have needs to potentially address in the draft. Which brings us to this exercise.
For context, this isn’t a prediction or a projection of what the actual front office will do, nor is it a fantasy draft where the best players just happen to conveniently fall to the Cowboys. I will be using the big board I have personally compiled of this year’s incoming draft class, which is subject to change as we progress through the draft process, to make my selections as realistically as I can in lieu the sheer amount of offseason variables (trades, cuts, free agency, draft stock, etc.) that can fluctuate in the weeks ahead, and will most assuredly impact future installments. I will also not be repeating any previous selections of the series, ensuring both a unique draft scenario and an original read.
That all being said, let’s go on the clock with Drafting Dallas 2017 2.0.
Round 1, Pick 28
Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Rising fast up draft boards since the start of the process, Moreau all but secured a first round selection with an outstanding performance at the NFL Scouting Combine. The UCLA product checks all of the boxes as an athlete, with prototypical size, blazing speed, and fluid movement skills, but he’s more than a workout warrior. His tape reveals a talented pass defender who plays tight in coverage, carrying receivers both up the field and across with minimal separation, and strong run defender with ability as an open-field tackler. While you would like to see more turnovers and fewer penalties from him moving forward, Moreau has much to offer as a prospective addition to the rebuilt Cowboys secondary.
Round 2, Pick 60
Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan
With Ronald Leary departing in free agency and Doug Free reportedly planning to retire, the Cowboys must give strong consideration to drafting a starting-caliber offensive lineman early. For me, that player is Moton, an accomplished four-year starter with experience at both tackle and guard. Assuming a returning La’el Collins remains at left guard, Moton has the potential to be an immediate starter at right tackle for the Cowboys, possessing the frame and the ferocity to be a dominant run blocker and stout pass protector, along with the flexibility to kick inside should the need arise.
Round 3, Pick 92
DeMarcus Walker, DL, Florida State
With big-time stats for a big-time college program, Walker would seemingly be a first-round lock. However, scouting reports haven’t been as kind to the prolific pass rusher from Florida State, pointing to everything from his size to his motor to his fit as reasons he’ll still be available as the draft approaches Day 3. That said, while there are valid concerns about his technique and ability to set the edge, the production and position flex are intriguing for a team that needs to find a way to generate more pressure from down to down. If Walker is still on the board at the end of the third round, I’m making a place for him in the rotation, and banking on Rod Marinelli to tap into his upside as both a base end and a penetrating tackle.
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Round 4, Pick 133
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan
With draft grades ranging from late-first to early-three based on tape alone, it’s anyone’s guess where Butt will actually be taken considering that he’ll be coming into his rookie season recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the Orange Bowl. When you factor in the rise of a number of athletic tight ends, it’s fair to say that he’s completely fallen off the early-round radar. To that end, it’s possible Butt will still be available in the fourth round for the Cowboys, who are down to one healthy tight end on the roster with NFL snaps. He doesn’t have the big-play ability of other prospects at the position, but he’s a reliable, big-bodied target with sure hands and route savvy, not unlike the future Hall of Famer who’ll be ahead of him on the depth chart.
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Round 6, Pick 211
Delano Hill, S, Michigan
Losing two former starters to free agency in Barry Church and JJ Wilcox, the Cowboys are currently thin at the safety position. Hill could be a natural fit, having drawn comparisons to the former in scouting circles with his sturdy build, physical play, and positional versatility. While he may not step right into the starting role vacated by Church, he has sleeper potential, and could compete for first-team snaps as the season progresses while contributing on special teams.
Round 7, Pick 228
Javancy Jones, LB, Jackson State
The Cowboys have yet to address their linebacker depth this offseason, which means the position is definitely in play for the draft. A small-school standout transitioning from being an undersized edge rusher to an off-the-ball outside linebacker, Jones has flashed the physical ability and football IQ necessary to play in space, along with the relentless effort and competitive fire to be a core special teamer.
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Round 7, Pick 246
Chris Carson, RB, Oklahoma State
With a strong finish to his senior season as well as a solid showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, Carson has earned himself late-round consideration. A power back with prototypical size and physical tools, he could find himself competing for a roster spot if he shows enough to convince the Cowboys to part ways with one of their veteran backs.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments and check back soon for new installments of Drafting Dallas 2017 and my series of 2017 NFL Mock Drafts!