In a perfect world all of our favorite draft prospects would fall to when the Cowboys were on the clock and the front office would oblige by selecting them. Of course, the world is far from perfect and things never play out like that. But for the sake of this discussion, we’re going to live in that bubble of happiness and see what we come up with. Here are my favorite targets for each of the first three rounds, my backup selection, and finally, my last resort.
How the first 27 picks play out will certainly attempt to shake up the Cowboys war room, but the calm heads in Dallas are unshakable. Ultimately, it’s all about sticking to your board and selecting the most talented player. Keep it simple and grab the biggest playmaker.
There are a lot of things to be excited about when it comes to McKinley. He’s an outstanding athlete. He’s a producer on the field with 61 tackles (18 for losses), 10 sacks, and forced three fumbles last year. And he’s got that explosive first step with great bend to get out and around the reach of blockers. Some people have Taco Charlton as their pet cat edge rushing prospect, but Takk is better than Taco. He’s the whole enchilada.
Quickness, physical presence at the line of scrimmage, great vision to locate the ball – each one of these singular traits you can find from some other cornerback than Conley. But you won’t find anyone that is as good at all of them as the “other” corner from Ohio State. Conley is the most balanced corner in the draft and would give the Cowboys an instant quality starter. I personally am not overly excited about the idea of taking a CB this early with so many good ones available later, but the more tape I watch, the more I have to tip my hat to Conley and stay true to the best player available philosophy.
The defensive end from Missouri is a skilled pass rusher who has demonstrated he can deliver results. And if the Tigers didn’t experiment with a scheme change, those results might have been even better and he wouldn’t even make it to pick 28. Even still, Harris proved he can get the job done when they finally cut him loose and let him focus on rushing the quarterback. The Cowboys 4-3 will fit nicely with Harris’ skill set.
If you are one of those who gets pumped during the NFL draft, then you’re going to love the second round. There should be a lot of excitement flowing with the announcement of each pick as Cowboys fans cringe any time a cornerback is taken off the board. One could make a drinking game out of it. That way, if a good corner makes it to 60, you’ll be sober enough to rejoice. But if there is a large run of them, you’ll be too inebriated to where it won’t matter when the Cowboys make their annual jaw-dropping, surprise second-round pick. Let’s hope for the former.
There are sexy names out there and then there are those that take a little longer to say. While Tankersley doesn’t grab your attention like some of the other corners, he’s every bit as good. Similar to Conley, he’s another one of those “Jack of all trades, master of none” guys. He’s not the best at anything, but does so many things well. He uses his length extremely well and smothers the receiver on short routes. His strength and footwork makes him a tough corner to beat off the line of scrimmage. And he maintains the right amount of separation, allowing him to close in on underneath routes, yet still hold his ground on deeper routes.
Anyone who has the Washington corner in their sights is probably shaking their head at the notion that he would make it to the second round. That’s fair. As we’ve discussed many times, the range of where these corners could be taken is all over the place, but as we will soon learn – someone will slide. Every corner has their own weakness and King’s stiffness in his hips could cause some teams to go a different direction. If he makes it to 60, the Cowboys can score big as he’s got great size and is a super athlete. He has great ball skills, awareness, and can jump out of his shoes. That alone, makes him a strong commodity in the red zone.
The talented corner from USC is one of the most difficult players to guess where he’ll be drafted. Some teams may fall in love with his athleticism, others may balk at the rawness of his craft. He’s like the cornerback version of Jabrill Peppers. The talent is there, but he’s got a lot of work to do developing into a good player at his position. Jackson makes this list for two reasons. First, his talent still allows him to belong in this tier of CBs. And second, the Cowboys love rolling the dice in the second round and the upside of Jackson could have them calling his number.
As deep as this draft is, one could view the third round as the new second round. The second round graded players are plentiful and will overflow into the second half of day two. Even picking as late as 92 should still allow the Cowboys to get a good player.
By the second round, the Cowboys should already have a cornerback, but that shouldn’t stop them from pouncing on any good leftovers remaining in the draft. Awuzie could be that guy. The Colorado cornerback doesn’t wow scouts with his athleticism, doesn’t have great speed, and is more of a complementary piece than a shutdown corner. For those reasons, he could be lingering when it’s the Cowboys turn to pick. Awuzie is a versatile corner who can play the slot or on the outside. He has great awareness and is able to stay with his man while keeping his eyes locked in on the quarterback. He takes smart angles and is a tremendous special teams gunner. Awuzie would be a great pick at this point in the draft.
If you think Cordrea or Chidobe is hard to say, then you’re going to have a fun time with Tanoh Kpassagnon. That name is a nightmare. As we have done in drafts before, fans may have mourn the reality that the Cowboys didn’t spend a premium draft pick on a pass rusher. But that won’t stop them from taking a flyer on someone. Charles Tapper was selected in the fourth round last year and Kpassagnon possesses some intriguing traits. He’s a big boy, standing at 6’7”, 289 pounds. He has the speed and power to overwhelm blockers. And he’s one of those guys that stands a great chance to max out his potential as he was a team captain for Villanova and just a great character guy. Jason Garrett would love him.
Despite missing out on some of the draft’s better safeties, the Cowboys can still snag a good one by selecting Marcus Williams from Utah. Williams has great size for the part. His reaction is excellent and can close in quickly without being susceptible to fakes.
Those are my favorites for the first three rounds. Leave your top three picks in the comments.