The 2017 NFL Draft draws ever closer, but we still have over three weeks to go. Until then, we’ll content ourselves with some mock drafts. Today’s mock comes from the duo over at ESPN, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, who produced a two-round draft. The Cowboys needs are on defense and Kiper and McShay seem to have definitely noticed. Let’s jump right in with the first-round pick for Dallas at #28.
28. Dallas Cowboys
Kiper: Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan | Watch highlights
With cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne and safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox all gone in free agency, Peppers would probably play a hybrid safety role in Rod Marinelli's defense. He's a tremendous athlete (4.46 40, 35½-inch vertical) and the best punt returner in this draft. Dallas could also look at the pass-rushers left on the board -- Taco Charlton makes sense if he's still around.
McShay: Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan | Watch highlights
Funny you should mention him, Mel. Charlton fits best as a 4-3 DE who can put his hand in the dirt and get after the passer. He isn't an elite player, but he played his best against top competition in 2016, compiling 5.5 sacks against Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Florida State.
Jabrill Peppers is an interesting pick here. Kiper is going for need and value as many scouting services rate Peppers as a top-half of the first round talent. CBS Sports ranks him 14th overall on their big board while Draftek ranks him 8th overall on their big board. So the Cowboys are getting great value here, but there are doubters about Peppers in terms of where does he fit and other parts of his game. There is also the question of the Cowboys going safety again in the first round after picking up Byron Jones last year. If you believe in Peppers as a talent, then Dallas is getting excellent value, but passing on pass rushers like Taco Charlton or Derek Barnett could be a mistake.
McShay goes the more conventional route with the Cowboys picking up Taco Charlton to help with the pass rush. This move makes sense and has been mocked to the Cowboys numerous times, if he lasts this long. It’s in the correct value range of many draft services, CBS Sports has him 24th overall and Draftek has him 29th. The Cowboys need pass rushers so if any of the top-tier defensive ends fall to this spot Dallas could pounce.
Coincidentally, when the Falcons get on the board at pick #31, Kiper and McShay swap those picks and Kiper gives the Falcons Charlton while McShay gives Atlanta Peppers.
Moving on to round two, Kiper picks up his pass rusher for Dallas while McShay grabs a safety. So they basically swap positions from the first and second rounds.
60. Dallas Cowboys
Kiper: Jordan Willis, DE/OLB, Kansas State One of the most productive defenders in the country (21 sacks over the past two seasons), Willis put up eye-catching numbers at the combine -- his 4.53 40-yard dash and 39-inch vertical were second among defensive linemen. You don't often see that combination of production and athleticism. A pass-rusher is just what Dallas needs.
McShay: Josh Jones, S, N.C. State
After passing on a safety in Round 1, the Cowboys could target one here. Jones gets downhill in a hurry in run support, using his 220-pound frame and 4.41 speed to deliver a punishing blow. He has the athleticism and versatility to play in the box and in center field.
Jordan Willis would make a nice pick at #60 for Dallas. He would definitely fill a need if they don’t pick up a pass rusher in the first round, and some of his numbers are eye-popping. CBS has him ranked 76th while Draftek puts him at #74.
Josh Jones is another name that has been mocked to the Cowboys in the second round before, and here McShay goes safety after going pass rusher in the first round. Again, this makes sense for the Cowboys who need defensive line and secondary help. Jones is #61 at CBS, but Draftek doesn’t have him in their Top 100.