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2017 BTB Mock Draft Challenge: Pre-Combine Edition

Time for some mock draft fun. Submit your mock and have it voted on by your fellow BTB members. But wait, there are rules!

NFL: NFC Divisional-Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

For the seventh year in a row, BTB is hosting a Mock Draft Challenge in late January/early February. And if the previous six years have taught us anything, it's that this early in the year, nobody has a clue what the Cowboys will do in the draft. Our collective track record at predicting the Cowboys' first-round pick this early in the year is a complete disgrace.

  • In our 2011 challenge, only one BTB member correctly picked the Cowboys' first-round pick, Tyron Smith. In 2012 only one participant correctly predicted Morris Claiborne as the Cowboys' first-round pick. In 2013, only two of the 100 different mocks submitted had Travis Frederick going to the Cowboys.
  • In 2014, not a single one of the 120 submitted mock drafts had Zack Martin going to the Cowboys. In 2015, only one mock listed Byron Jones, but only as a priority free agent target.
  • Last year, 13 of 56 mocks got Ezekiel Elliott right, but that probably had more to do with the limited choices at No. 4 than with any type of prophetic ability by our community.

But that doesn't mean we can't have fun trying to guess what this year's draft could look like.

The challenge this year is the same as in the previous years: create a mock draft based on the latest CBSSports Big Board and submit it for a peer review by your fellow Blogging The Boys community members. The BTB community will hand out recommendations for those mocks they like the most and I will feature the top vote-getters and their mocks in a subsequent front-page post.

But wait. You can't just pick whatever players you like, that would not make this a challenging exercise. The idea here is that you'll have to make choices based on the best player available, so these are the rules for our Mock Draft Challenge:

  • The contest will run from now until Monday morning at 6:00 AM ET. We will use the CBSSports Big Board from January 30, 2016 as the basis for all mock drafts.
  • We will assume that all draft-eligible players will be available at exactly the spot CBSSports has them in. You don't like where a player is ranked? Deal with it.
  • Until the compensatory draft picks are announced, the Cowboys hold the following picks: 28, 60, 92, 124, 185, 199, 217 (per Drafttek).
  • You pick at your exact spot or anywhere below that (e.g. 28th or anywhere from 29th on down)
  • You are allowed only one trade-down using this handy draft pick value calculator and the draft value chart immediately below it. The value you give up in the trade-down must be equal to or greater than the value you receive, e.g. your 28th (660 pts) pick could get you New England's 32nd, 122nd, and 189th picks (590+50+15.4=656.8 pts).
  • You may however trade up as often as you want. Again though, the value you give up in the trade up must be equal to or greater than the value you receive,

Post your mock in the comments section below. As you read through the mocks other BTB members have posted, look for mocks that you like and rec' them (Just press rec at the bottom of the comment box). And don't be stingy with your rec's. It's more fun for everybody involved if we have a high rec' count.

The best mocks will be featured on the front page in some form next week, so put some thought into your mock. And give us a rationale for your picks - mocks that have some extra content beyond 6 or 7 player names usually get more rec's, are more fun to read, and will be treated preferentially as I pick the best mocks for the front page post next week.

To get this challenge started, I'll submit the following mock, which has one trade-down and one trade-up.

TRADE DOWN: 28 for Gree Bay's 30+158 (660 for 649.2 points)

1. (30) David Njoku, TE, Miami - If Njoku lasts this long, he could well be the best player left on the Cowboys' board, and it's a good time to look for Witten's replacement anyway.

Give Njoku a year or two to learn under Witten, and the Pro Bowls should continue at TE for the Cowboys, says

Ascending pass catching talent with elite athleticism and enough fight in his run blocking to believe that he can be lined up anywhere on the field at any time. Njoku should annihilate the combine with monster numbers in speed and explosion, but his play on the field shows he's more than a combine warrior. He is still growing into his body and has to add to his play strength, but his playmaking potential and elite traits should make him a first-round pick and a future Pro Bowler.

2. (60) Ju-Ju Smith-Schuster, WR, USC - Two offensive players when the Cowboys need defenders? This could well be how the draft falls for the Cowboys.

The Cowboys get their No. 2 receiver with Ju-Ju, who fits the Cowboys template perfectly at 6'2", 220 pounds. Nick Saban compared Ju-Ju to Dez Bryant, and Rob Rang of CBS Sports compared him to Brandon Marshall.

IN OUR VIEW: NFL teams in search of a big, physical tone-setter on the perimeter will value Smith-Schuster's physical talent, work ethic and toughness.

COMPARES TO: Brandon Marshall, New York Jets: Though two inches shorter than the 6-4, 220 pound Pro-Bowler, Smith-Schuster offers a similar blend of physicality, reliable hands and competitiveness on the outside.

TRADE UP: 92+185 for Oakland's 88 (150.4 for 150 points)

3. (88) Rasul Douglas, CB, West Virginia - Douglas is a plus-sized defensive back at 6-2, 204 pounds, and could well be undervalued on the CBS board. Douglas was pretty much an unknown commodity until he led the country with eight interceptions in 2016 and was named an all-conference performer by the Big 12. He is also one of the hottest names to emerge from the Senior Bowl week, where he was praised for his football intelligence and leadership, and Mike Mayock said Douglas "made money" in Mobile. The folks at SB Nation agree:

Douglas stands out at 6’2, 204 pounds. He’s also one of the most energetic players on the North roster and can be heard cheering on teammates and tossing out a little trash talk from time to time.

As a senior in 2016, he led the nation in interceptions and burst on to the scene as a legitimate NFL talent. Douglas is the one-year wonder of the [cornerback]group, but hasn’t looked out of place compared to the more experienced cornerbacks at the Senior Bowl.

4. (119) Tano Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova - Cowboys finally get a defensive lineman in small-school standout Kpassagnon. Bryan Broaddus of explains why he might be a good fit:

The game wasn’t too big for Villanova pass rusher Tanoh Kpassagnon, which was something I worried about coming into the week. Kpassagnon didn’t look out of place at all. His quickness off the snap was impressive, as was his ability to control blockers. He did a nice job of using his length to his advantage when getting off blocks. He showed the ability to bend and capture the corner, which was an area of concern on his college tape. He didn’t play as tall, which didn’t allow blockers to get into his chest. By keeping his pads down and knees bent, he was a much better player. This is nothing against the coaches at Villanova, but he was able to take things he learned from Clyde Simmons of the Browns and transfer that into his play. I initially thought he was a solid third-round player, but depending on his workout he could see his stock go up after a productive week.

5. (158) Eddie Vanderdoes, DT, UCLA - The Cowboys met twice with the defensive tackle at the Senior Bowl, so there's definitely some interest there.

When healthy, the 6-3, 320-pound Vanderdoes has been a dominant defender, but the former five-star recruit battled injuries throughout his college career, missing most of 2015 with a knee injury, and struggling with knee and ankle injuries in 2016. But those injuries may make him a bargain this late in the draft.

Here's John Owning of Fanragsports on Vanderdoes' performance at the Senior Bowl:

The 6-foot-3 and 320-pound defensive tackle has outperformed other highly-touted defensive tackles like Carlos Watkins and Montravius Adams during the practices in Mobile, Alabama, and he has a skill set that teams crave in a defensive tackle.

He fits in best as a 1-technique disruptor in an even front who is asked to play forward, get upfield and make plays in the backfield.

Regardless of where he goes and when he gets drafted, Vanderdoes will be ready. Because in the NFL, there is no ‘if’ in terms of adversity, only ‘when’ and just like he does on the football field, Vanderdoes will attack it with full force.

7. (199) Jeremy Cutrer, CB, Middle Tennessee - At the bottom of the draft, the Cowboys go fishing for some small-school standouts who may have flown under the radar. Cutrer is one of them.

Cutrer has excellent size for a corner, and because spent time at receiver at Mississippi Gulf Coast before moving on to MTSU, he may actually be able to catch a ball. Via Chad Reuter of

The former LSU commit and JUCO star earned great praise playing for the Blue Raiders last season. His length (6-foot-2) gives him a chance at knocking down any pass thrown in his general direction (13 breakups in 2015).

7. (217) De'Angelo Henderson - Continuing with the small school standouts, the Cowboys pick a running back that CBS compares to Danny Woodhead.

Henderson leaves Coastal Carolina as the school's all-time record-holder in virtually every statistic used to gauge running backs, including career rushing yardage (4,635), rushing touchdowns (58), average yards per attempt (6.43) and is an accomplished receiver out of the backfield, as well, with 97 career receptions.

IN OUR VIEW: Henderson is more than just a big fish in a small pond. His versatility as a runner, receiver and returner warrants Day Three consideration and could help him carve out a nice "little" career at the next level.

COMPARES TO: Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers: There is only one man in the history of college football with a longer steak of touchdowns scored in games than Henderson and that is the similarly built and determined Woodhead, who scored in 38 consecutive games for D-II Chadron State. Like Woodhead, Henderson's value lies with the shiftiness he provides as a runner and receiver, as well as underrated power due to their compact frames and leg drive.


Think you can whip up a better mock draft? Of course you do, so go ahead and show us your mock in the comments section below.

Please don't be stingy with your rec's for the mocks submitted below. If you like it, rec' it.

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