Welcome to my 3.0 installment of Drafting Dallas 2017, where I’m assuming front office duties to mock draft the full seven rounds for the Cowboys.
College pro days have concluded since my 2.0 installment was the published, but the headline news item for America’s Team in that time was the decision – finally – that would determine the future of quarterback Tony Romo. After much speculation, the Cowboys ended up releasing the face of the franchise for the last decade-plus, who then effectively retired to the broadcast booth, assuming lead game analyst duties for the NFL on CBS.
That said, while the decision to move on from Romo doesn’t project to have a direct impact on the draft for Dallas, a couple of other moves – the signing of veteran tackle Byron Bell and contract extension for tight end Jason Witten – do. The sense of urgency to acquire a starting-caliber tackle through the draft is now lessened, as is the likelihood of Dallas drafting an heir apparent for #82 in the early rounds. Now, neither move necessarily precludes the Cowboys from doubling down on the offensive edges, but with the team relatively set for the near-term at those positions, all signs point to their early picks being expended to improve the defense. 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 (and recompiled) of this year’s incoming draft class, to make my selections as realistically as I can given my current impression of team needs and players’ draft stock. 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 3.0.
Round 1, Pick 28
Gareon Conley, CB, Ohio State
The “other” Ohio State cornerback, Conley has staked his claim to being a first-round draft pick with an impressive run through the draft process. He has the prototypical size, speed, and athleticism teams covet on the outside, but it’s also his coverage versatility, instincts, and ball skills that make him such an attractive option for Dallas. He’s a starting corner in the making – if not at the outset – for the new-look Dallas secondary and should contribute from day one.
Round 2, Pick 60
Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio
A productive college defender and a draft riser who has crept into Top-50 territory as the draft process has progressed, Basham could prove to be a steal at the end of the second round for Dallas. A “right kind of guy” with an NFL-ready build, initial quickness that pops off the tape, and a relentless up-field attack, he would be an immediate upgrade for the end rotation and push for a starting role right out of the gate.
Round 3, Pick 92
Marcus Williams, S, Utah
If there’s an early name that’s been under the radar for a deep safety class, it’s Williams. An athletic, instinctive single-high safety, Williams is a true ball hawk who would bring range, coverage ability, and turnover potential to the back end of the Dallas defense.
Round 4, Pick 133
Adam Bisnowaty, OL, Pittsburgh
Dallas doesn’t necessarily need to fill a starting role on the offensive line in the draft, but they would be wise to add another quality blocker to groom for the future. An experienced, physical tackle who could possibly play guard, Bisnowaty has the size, toughness, and mean streak to potentially develop into an enforcer in the trenches.
Round 6, Pick 211
KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
The Cowboys have speed on the outside, but it would be stretch to say they have a true vertical threat on the depth chart. Cannon is a raw talent who made a college career out of catching the deep ball, and would be a viable challenger for that role in the receiving corps as a WR4 or WR5.
Round 7, Pick 228
Blair Brown, LB, Ohio
It’s becoming increasingly possible that he’ll go earlier, but if Basham’s college teammate is still on the board when the Cowboys are on the clock for the their first of two seventh-rounders, his name should be on the card for the pick. A seek-and-destroy tackling machine, it’s a good bet that Brown would quickly add his name to the list of undersized, but ultra-productive linebackers in Cowboys lore.
Round 7, Pick 246
Treston DeCoud, DB, Oregon State
The Cowboys have shown interest in DeCoud, bringing him in as one of their 30 visits ahead of the draft. A physical cornerback with size and length, he could also be a candidate for a transition to safety.
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think in the comments and check back soon for the final installment of Drafting Dallas 2017 and my continued series of 2017 NFL Mock Drafts!