The Cowboys have made some moves in free agency that will help them pick as purely as possible in this year’s draft. Still, Stephen Jones has laid it out there for us that, this year, the focus is obvious - defense.
“What we have to do better on defense is we have to get pressure on the passer. And we have to make plays on the ball. We have to do that better."
As previously mentioned, it’s hard to envision much trading going on in the first few rounds with so much depth to be had. We’ll stick to the seven picks the Cowboys have for this exercise.
Pick 28: Cowboys select Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA (CBS 34th, DraftTek 30th)
The more this process goes on the more it stays the same. McKinley was our very first pick in Mockery I and he’s made a return. Here’s why, we know that the Cowboys are interested in him and have or will visit with him. Regardless of the shoulder injury that may keep him out the first month of the season, it won’t keep the Cowboys from taking him if they like him enough.
You’re going to have to go early on these pass rushers and McKinley has a lot to offer a team that is patient with him. He’s dealt with that shoulder for two years and is finally getting it repaired. Outside of that, you got an edge rusher with bend, athleticism, burst, and a great motor. He’s shown to be quite effective against good competition and could make an impact in his first year. It’s not so much about getting ‘a’ pass rusher as it is getting the ‘right’ pass rusher.
Pick 60: Cowboys select Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado (CBS 73rd, DraftTek 123rd)
Where Takk McKinley isn’t a standout SPARQ guy, Witherspoon is ranked fourth among cornerbacks (132.2, 92.6%). He’s got incredible length at 6’3 with an exceptional combination of size and speed for his position. Witherspoon only had one year of high school experience playing football and has improved his skillset with every year he’s played.
Colorado was sneaky good in the secondary and Witherspoon allowed a completion percentage of 26.5% last season. He was tied for best in the nation in passes defended with 20. Though he only had three interceptions in 2016, he’s getting better and has the ability to turn and mirror with all types of receivers.
Pick 92: Cowboys select Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State (CBS 97th, DraftTek 50th)
After his stand out Pro Day, he helped himself get back on the radar and is really a solid player. Walker had impressive sack numbers but he’s more of the guy that sets the edge with the power to hold up. Though there are some questions about his motor, the guy had 25 sacks in two seasons and showed relentless effort even if he was beaten. He’s known to be a good teammate and can set up his counterparts to make plays because he has power.
There is no doubt that Walker has the flexibility to play inside if need be and would be another versatile feather for Marinelli’s cap. He’s a thick guy with even more room to add if he chose to. Walker played in 90% of the snaps for the Seminoles and is a dependable/ durable pass rusher.
Pick 133: Cowboys select Xavier Woods, SS, Louisiana Tech (CBS 151st, DraftTek —)
Woods is a guy that is gaining momentum after being ignored for most of this process. The guy had six interceptions as a true freshman and returned two of them for scores. He is very instinctual and makes play after play. Woods is a very good run defender and a consistent tackler. He’s ridiculous ball skills with 14 interceptions and five forced fumbles over his college career. However, he also takes chances and can be caught guessing. He’ll need to balance these things out because he’s not the most athletic player.
Pick 211: Cowboys select Jeremiah Ledbetter, DT, Arkansas (CBS 207th, DraftTek 252nd)
Ledbetter is built in the role of a Jack Crawford. He’s a jack-of-all-trades but master of none and that’s quite alright with a sixth-round pick. You need guys like Ledbetter on the team because one thing is certain; he fights to make opportunities for himself. He’s better suited to play inside than out but he could in a pinch. The versatility and traits are there to be molded, the Cowboys are meeting with him and Marinelli magic is in-store.
Pick 228: Cowboys select Michael Rector, WR, Stanford (CBS 285th, DraftTek 367th)
Rector is a late gem to keep an eye out for as he has top-end speed that is needed on 32 rosters. His SPARQ numbers are outstanding for a guy who could go undrafted, his score is 126.7 and NFL% is 83.2. Rector has decent hands and explosiveness to run right past the defender. He’s got good size over six feet and just about 200 pounds. Not very elusive after the catch but who needs that when you’re blazing past folks?
Pick 246: Cowboys select Cethan Carter, TE, Nebraska (CBS 280th, DraftTek—)
Here’s a late round potential pick for a guy with traits that could be rewarding at some point. He’s projecting best as a complimentary tight end in the H-back role. He’s a sleeper pick that is an aggressive blocker and reliable catcher.