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2017 Mock Draft Tracker: Can Cowboys Really Afford NOT To Draft A Pass Rusher?

We have 14 of the freshest and juiciest mocks handpicked for your mock draft pleasure.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In today's mock draft round-up, we look at 14 of the latest mocks published since Monday, including mocks from CBSSports,, FoxSports, SB Nation and many others.

The Cowboys have repeatedly said that they won't let defensive needs force their hand in the draft, but can they really afford not to go after a premier talent at defensive end, especially in a draft that's likely to have some premier talent left when the Cowboys are on the clock at the bottom of the first round?

The Cowboys' insistence on following their board and drafting the best player available is nice and all, but nobody believes them - at least not the majority of draft analysts assembled below, as 10 of the 14 mocks in our mock draft tracker have the Cowboys picking a pass rusher.

We'll see how this trend develops over the next few months, and perhaps the Senior Bowl, Combine, and pre-draft visits will provide a little more clarity on the Cowboys' intentions prior to the draft.

For now, all the mock draft goodness is summarized below.

Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan
Drafttek, Jan 27 Vidauntae "Taco" Charlton is gaining traction and may not even be available for Dallas at #28, having caught the eye of "Mr. Hair". Taco played mostly on special teams as a true Freshman (2 tackles), but as a Sophomore produced 19 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and 3.5 sacks in 1 start. Although Charlton started just 3 games as a Junior, he contributed 30 tackles, 8.5 for loss, and 5.5 sacks on passing downs. His Senior season produced 1st Team All-Big Ten honors after leading Michigan with 9.5 sacks among his 13 tackles for loss. As you can see from these 2016 highlights, #33 exhibits instant reaction time off the snap and up the field, thanks to an uncommon twitch for a man his size. The questions surrounding Taco center around lack of consistency . . . and what better coach to get production out of him every play than DC Rod Marinelli?
SB Nation (Kadar), Jan 23 After whiffing on Randy Gregory, the Cowboys could look early in the draft this year for a pass rusher. Charlton has the size the Cowboys generally like in an end, and he’s a player who can play the run and the pass. (Reuter), Jan 23 A pass rusher with size, just like Jerry Jones likes 'em.
Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford (Brooks), Jan 26 Without a reliable option on the edge, the Cowboys could pick up Thomas to shore up their biggest defensive need.
All22 (Carroll), Jan 25 Thomas is a solid pass rusher with no character concerns. That gets him the pick over others, including Tim Williams and Jalen "Teez" Tabor, who drop out of the first.
Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA
Foxsports (Kurtenbach), Jan 27 McKinley is a divisive prospect, he has all the talent you could ask for and impressive speed, though his consistency leaves something to be desired. You know that Jerry Jones is going to fall for this uber-athlete though.
Newsday (Klopsis), Jan 26 Randy Gregory may never play another snap for Dallas after his third marijuana-related suspension in as many years. DeMarcus Lawrence also was suspended four games to start the season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and he may need a second back surgery this offseason. So the Cowboys' search for a dominant pass-rusher will continue this offseason. Takkarist McKinley could be a perfect fit for the Cowboys' defense after a breakout senior season with 10 sacks. He has excellent speed and a non-stop motor, though he still could use some work as a run defender and withdrew from the Senior Bowl with a reported torn right labrum that may require surgery.
Tim Williams, DE, Alabama
Football's Future (Davis), Jan 25 Williams is one of the draft's better edge rushers. It might take some added weight to play with his hand on the ground exclusively, but the role would be the same: go get the quarterback.
Tanoh Kpassagnon, DL, Villanova
Draftwire (Easterling), Jan 27 A small-school darling in this week’s practices, Kpassagnon, showed incredible quickness for his size, and lined up all over the defensive line. He’s the kind of playmaker Dallas needs up front.
Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn
CBSSports (Brugler),
Jan 23
The Cowboys have defensive needs at every level, but especially at pass rusher. Lawson does an outstanding job using his upper body strength and lower body quickness in unison to beat blockers.
Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
SD Union-Tribune (Brown), Jan 25 Jones may fly under your radar because no one ever really attacked his side of the field, but that is because his ball skills are only rivaled by Florida’s Tabor. Top needs: DE, CB, WR
The SportsBank, Jan 23 Boys look to beef up the secondary in "the DB Draft."
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama
Walter Football, Jan 26 O.J. Howard is way too good for the Cowboys to pass up at this juncture. Jason Witten will be in the Hall of Fame five years after he retires, but he turns 35 in May, so Dallas will have to find a long-term replacement in the near future.
John Ross, WR, Washington
CBSSports (Rang), Jan 28 For as dynamic as the offense was in 2016 with Prescott, Elliott and Dez Bryant, the lack of a legitimate deep threat was a relative weak spot with speedsters Terrence Williams and Brice Butler seemingly dropping as many passes as they caught. Ross is a DeSean Jackson clone with the electric elusiveness and acceleration to make an immediate impact as a receiver and returner.

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