All it takes to figure out the Cowboys strategy for roster improvement is to look at their 30 pre-draft visits that we have for you right here. The names on that list are a great indicator of where the Cowboys are going and it’s defense all the way. Only two offensive players made that list, though Dallas will pay some attention to that side of the ball. It’s the defense that needs the facelift and that’s where this team is headed.
The only question left is whether they go after a pass rusher or defensive back with the 28th pick. Once that first pick is made, that will influence all the others. If it’s a cornerback at 28, look for a pass rusher at 60 or vice versa.
For Mockery X, we’re going to stick with the slotted picks and keep the trades out. We’re only days away from NFL Christmas!
Pick 28: The Cowboys select Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado (CBS: 28, DraftTek: 31)
Coincidentally, Awuzie is the fourth-best cornerback on CBS’ board and is ranked fourth on SPARQ as well. This pick was the best option as the Cowboys watched a run on pass rushers wipe out a lot of the guys they really liked. Awuzie is the prize of the Colorado secondary that played extremely well in 2016. He doesn’t receive as much national attention as some of his peers but he deserves it.
He was Second-Team All-Conference with 65 tackles, six TFL, 12 PBU, and 1 INT. Awuzie certainly has the size and athleticism the Cowboys covet. After letting go of both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys really want to come away with a starter. Awuzie is a fluid athlete that has shown the ability to cover a variety of receiver types.
Pick 60: The Cowboys select Tarell Basham, DE, Ohio (CBS: 57, DraftTek: 83)
Not much of a surprise here as the Cowboys go get an edge rusher that they have shown to like throughout the draft process. Basham had a stellar season with 10 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss which earned him the MAC Defensive Player of the Year honors. He leaves his program having started all four seasons and leading his school is career sacks at 29.
Basham has the initial quickness and burst off the line that Rod Marinelli wants. He may need some time to get acclimated to the speed of the NFL but most players do. Basham stands out on tape as a guy with a high motor who finds multiple ways to win.
Pick 92: The Cowboys select Justin Evans, S, Texas A&M (CBS: 110, DraftTek: 114)
Judging from the Cowboys Twitterverse, Evans is someone they really like as a rangy defensive back with versatility to do a lot for your defense. He’s kind of been a late bloomer in the draft discussion but the Cowboys are rumored to be heavily interested.
Evans jumps off the screen as a guy with incredible athleticism. He’s a quiet guy but he can carry the big stick as a hitter and makes plays that few safeties do. The interception he had against UCLA comes to mind. Evans needs to work on making more tackles but he’s fluid and has closing speed like no other. Evans plays with passion and excitement but he’s also got soft hands with four interceptions last season.
Pick 133: The Cowboys select Dede Westbrook, WR, Oklahoma (CBS: 107, DraftTek: 59)
Durability concerns and some off-the-field red flags are what could possibly drop Westbrook down the list and he does have a bit of a skinny frame that lends himself to those concerns. However, Westbrook is a standout performer and his speed makes him a threat to take it to the house on any play. He had 12 touchdowns of at least 40 yards or more.
The guy can truly gun it but he’s a reliable target too with 80 receptions, 1,524 yards, and 17 touchdowns. His projections are all over the place because of concerns about him holding up as well as his problems making contested catches and battling physical corners. There are also those off-the-field red flags that have made his draft stock very unpredictable.
Pick 211: The Cowboys select Tedric Thompson, SS, Colorado (CBS: 243, DraftTek: 314)
Thompson lacks the initial physicality that is required from a box safety but his production speaks loudly of the player. In 2016, he was one of three Colorado defensive backs to make an All-PAC team. He had 63 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 23 passes defensed, 16 PBU’s, 7 INT’s. He just makes a lot of plays when he’s in the lineup and he has a chance to eventually blossom into a starter in the NFL.
Pick 228: The Cowboys select Treston Decoud, CB, Oregon State (CBS: 293, DraftTek: 260)
The Cowboys met with Decoud and he’s the perfect type of seventh-round flyer to take as a guy with traits but isn’t the sum of his parts. Decoud has the size and physicality that is desired but he’s a bit limited right now. He’s an aggressive tackler and has shown to be able to handle NFL-caliber receivers as he did with Chad Hansen, another draft prospect for 2017.
Pick 246: The Cowboys select Seth Russell, QB, Baylor (CBS: 302, DraftTek: 235)
This late in the draft, the Cowboys will be looking for an arm and don’t want to be fighting with other clubs. The Cowboys were one of a few teams to work him out and there is a familiarity between the Big 12 School and the Cowboys’ front office. Russell has size and arm strength but it also looks like his injury is behind him. Dallas liked Bryce Petty and that’s exactly who Russell is getting comps to. He’s a project but the Cowboys would like to have a young arm.