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What 2018 mock drafts can tell us about the Dallas Cowboys

Yes, we’re talking about mock drafts, but hey... sometimes it’s instructive.

NFL: International Series-Fan Fest Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I know, why the heck are we talking about mock drafts for 2018 right before the 2017 season starts? Well, it’s not because we want to look at any one particular player the Dallas Cowboys might draft next year. It’s more about seeing how outsiders gauge the Cowboys and where they see their weaknesses.

It’s also about busting outdated memes. So all hail Chris Burke at SI.com. In one fell swoop he dispenses with the “Cowboys and Jerry Jones always want shiny objects” meme that has been gone for a while. Instead he jumps right in and gives the Cowboys another offensive lineman, a guard at that.

27. DALLAS COWBOYS: QUENTON NELSON, G, NOTRE DAME

The guard position doesn’t tend to see much Round 1 love. When an elite talent comes around, though, teams pay attention. The Cowboys know this better than anyone—their ’14 Zack Martin pick was an absolute home run. Setting Nelson’s bar near the Martin level is an unfair ask, but it may not be an unrealistic one.

The Cowboys have learned that an elite offensive line can cover for many things, like a so-so defense. And Burke has been paying attention, as the Cowboys left guard spot is still a troublesome area. Notice that they slot the Cowboys with the 27th pick, not exactly where we’d want to be. Pick #32 would be nice!

Over at CBS Sports, Chris Trapasso also has the Cowboys slotted at 27th in the draft. Looks like the longer the offseason has gone on, the less attractive the Cowboys have become as Super Bowl contenders. Trapasso doesn’t believe the Cowboys have solved their secondary issues with last year’s haul, so he’s going back to the well again.

27. Dallas Cowboys (13-3)

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville: The Cowboys lost Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency this offseason, and Orlando Scandrick is 30 years old. Yes, Dallas added cornerbacks in Round 2 and Round 3 of the 2017 draft, but in a division with the Giants, Redskins, and Eagles receiving corps, you can't have enough corners if you're the Cowboys. Though not quite 6-foot, Alexander is feisty and can play on the boundary or in the slot. He had five interceptions a season ago along with nine pass breakups.

I guess I can never argue with the idea of having too many corners. Still, it will be interesting to see how the rookies pan out this year.

Two mocks have the Cowboys returning to another trouble spot, even though they just used their 2017 first-round pick on the position.

The Big Lead has the Cowboys at an amazingly bad 22nd pick, and decide they need more pass rush.

22. Dallas Cowboys: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. Hopefully Taco Charlton has a monster rookie year, and then they can find his bookend in Chubb, who terrorized ACC QBs (and Notre Dame, too – 3.5 TFL, 3 sacks) last year.

Draftek has the Cowboys at a respectable #28, and they also give the d-line some help.

28. Dallas, Sam Hubbard, Ohio State, DE

Yes, Dallas drafted Taco Charlton last year . . . and the former Wolverine may turn out to be the real deal. Nevertheless, the roll call at DE goes something like this: Randy Gregory suspended for the entire year, David Irving suspended for the first 4 games, Damontre Moore suspended for the first 2 games, DeMarcus Lawrence returning from back surgery, Charles Tapper returning from a back injury, and other than the underwhelming Tyrone Crawford, there's a bunch of guys named Fred!

Why not add a Buckeye to spice up the position room with a Wolverine? Sam Hubbard redshirted for a year at Ohio State before working his way onto the field in 2015. He displayed his potential with 6.5 sacks that season to go along with 28 tackles and an interception. In 2016, Hubbard collected 46 tackles with eight for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and two passes batted. His upper body strength allows him to fight through blockers with some quickness around the corner. Sam has active hands and uses them in conjunction with his feet, which allows him to beat tackles with speed or strength.

Rod Marinelli may never retire!

And then, over at USA Today’s Draft Wire, we have a guy named Luke Easterling who must not be paying attention.

27. Dallas Cowboys | James Washington | WR | Oklahoma State

Dak Prescott has plenty of weapons already, but he could use an upgrade on the outside at the No. 2 receiver spot. Washington is a big-play machine who can stretch the field over the top or after the catch, averaging 20 yards per catch and hauling in 20 touchdown passes over the last two seasons.

He gives the Cowboys a #2 receiver. The Cowboys just re-signed their #2 receiver, Terrance Williams, to the tune of four years and $17 million. His earliest out year by contract is 2019 in terms of dead cap money. But since the Cowboys have had Williams since he was drafted, it’s unlikely they are suddenly going to sour on him and try to replace him next year.

That’s just not smart mock drafting!

So, based on these mocks, it appears most people think the Cowboys will make the playoffs but fall short of the Super Bowl. They will go back to the well on defense and get a defensive end or a corner. But they could resort to picking another offensive lineman and try to build the world’s best offensive line ever known to man.

Which way are you leaning at this early moment?

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