For weeks now we have been left with nothing to speculate on except what the future has to offer for the Dallas Cowboys. Readers and writers alike are focusing our efforts on prognosticating the actions that will be taken by an elite group of Dallas Cowboys personnel once they enter the team's war room later on this week. For better or worse, the fate of the next few seasons will be impacted by what transpires.
There is not one of us out there that has not imagined that we could do it better. Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, or even the female scribe at Blogging The Boys, we all love to share our opinions. Most of the time we get it wrong, but that does not deter us from sharing our speculations. After all, our throwing thoughts out for your consideration spurs a lot of football talk as we lead up to the draft.
With that thought in mind, I will assume the role of decision maker and give you D-Mac's 2017 Cowboys mock draft for consideration.
Round 1 (Pick 28): Gareon Conley, CB Ohio State
The Cowboys let a significant portion of the defensive secondary walk during free agency and they did not address the positions with any high-profile signings. That pretty much assures that the front office is making a large scale youth movement in the draft.
Conley was 'only" the second best corner of the Buckeyes roster in 2016, but he is still ranked in the top 25 by many experts. That says a lot about the level of talent in Columbus and about the player himself. Cornerback is not the easiest transition to make, but Conley will soon adapt and grow into his role. He also has the team captain factor that Jason Garrett likes to have in his incoming players.
He is an athletic corner who possesses natural ball skills, but he will have to focus more on technique at the next level. The receivers he will be going up against are athletic as well, and Conley is going to need to take the next step and master the position to excel. Everything in his background says he is capable of doing just that.
Round 2 (Pick 60): T. J. Watt, Edge Rusher, Wisconsin
The need for a pass rush in Dallas is nearly as great as the need for defensive backs. Selecting Watt will not fill the void that was left unfilled when Dallas opted to draft Tyron Smith instead of older brother J.J. a few years ago, but it will bring in a talented player for Rod Marinelli to work with.
Watt will contribute from the start, but he will not reach his full potential immediately. His frame still has room to develop and he needs the guidance he will receive by joining the Dallas rushmen. He could be a start in the making for coach Marinelli. Couple in the benefit of learning from a Pro Bowl caliber big brother and you have a safe second-round selection.
While T J has just one full season as a starter, he has demonstrated that he can be effective against both the run and pass. He will need to put in the work to reach his full potential, but his efforts at Wisconsin have shown that he is willing to do just that.
Round 3 (Pick 92): Sidney Jones, CB, Washington
There is plenty of defensive back talent in the draft this year and the Dallas front office is taking advantage of the opportunity. Jones was a first-round talent who had the misfortune to suffer an Achilles tear at his pro day. As a result his draft stock took a serious hit. Finding him still on the board in the third round will give the Cowboys the opportunity to perform a fast rebuild on their secondary on possibly bring it up to a similar level as their offensive line.
Jones is expected to be running soon and he says he will be ready to play when the season starts. The team will bring him along slowly, but by the end of the season he will start to perform at the level you would expect from a man of his talents.
Drafting both Conley and Jones in the same year and pairing the with Byron Jones in the defensive backfield will give the 'Boys a long'term solution at a position that has been a constant challenge over the Garrett era. It will not be an overnight success, but like the offensive line before them, it will be a force for several seasons once things come together.
Round 4 (Pick 133): Deatrich Wise, Jr., DE, Arkansas
Wise is a guy who is either going to come in and make a name for himself or he is going to fizzle out quickly. Think high risk-high reward here, folks. He is the type of player who can come in and take over the game at any moment, but he needs to work on doing so consistently.
Deatrich offers the team the flexibility of being able to rush from either the inside at defensive tackle or from the outside. When he is 'on' Wise can be a tough man to block, as he showed during the Shrine Game. He gets off the ball well and most importantly he finishes plays. At times he looks to be experienced beyond his years, but then he regresses and becomes a raw talent.
Wise is an ideal student for Marinelli, and his unusual length will cause problems for opposing offenses as soon as he learns to use it to his advantage. The son of a former CFL defensive end, he brings a solid foundation to the game, but he does need some coaching up. He will get that in Dallas.
Round 5: No Selection
Round 6 (Pick 211): KD Cannon, WR, Baylor
Cannon is an explosive wide out, he might be the most explosive guy in college football. That being said, and in spite of his success at Baylor, Cannon is not ready for professional football. The talent is there and so is the drive, but he would benefit from at least one more season in Waco.
His first season as a professional is going to be a learning experience and the best contribution he will make is to give the defensive backs a chance to work against blazing speed. Beyond that, Cannon is going to begin a crash course in learning to play wide receiver. Given time and a good position coach he will have an opportunity to make something of himself in the game.
If he contributes this season, it will be as a kick returner, but you don't need more than that for him to be a good return on investment in his rookie year. If he can adapt to an NFL offense, Cannon could become the guy who can break a game wide open on any reception.
Round 7 (Pick 228): Tedric Thompson, S, Colorado
Thompson is a ball hawk. As you might expect he has good awareness of what is happening around him. That will give him the skillset to build around in the Dallas secondary. Unfortunately, that is about all he brings to the table.
The defensive backfield coaches will have a lot of work to do to turn Tedric into something that will benefit the team in the long run. When you look at the word project in the dictionary you see his picture. He can play centerfield well, but for now he is a one-trick pony.
His short-term role will likely be on the practice squad, but Dallas does like the way he takes the ball away from opposing offenses, and they will be working hard to build a skill set that will allow Thompson to get in on the action in the shortest possible time frame.
Round 7 (Pick 246): Storm Norton, OT, Toledo
You can never have enough offensive linemen in your stable and with Doug Free retiring, Dallas will take the opportunity to grab another body. Norton is not from a big school nor is he a big name, but he does have the kind of size and power that will translate well to the game at the next level. What he needs is top-notch coaching.
He will not fill Free's cleats in 2017 and he might not even make the active roster, but Storm could one day find himself as the fifth guy on the Dallas offensive front. If that happens fans will look back on this selection with the same view as the did the Jay Ratliff pick before that relationship fell apart.
Norton will do well in a power offense blocking for the Cowboys backs and he mirrors his man well when pass blocking. His biggest concern is in the level of talent he faced and the absence of top level coaching. That will change when he fights his way onto an NFL roster.