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2018 mock draft tracker: Defensive tackles continue to dominate Cowboys first-round mocks

The latest roundup of first-round mock draft picks for the Cowboys.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Fiesta Bowl - Washington v Penn St Photo by Kevin French/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As we jump back in to our weekly mock draft tracker for the Dallas Cowboys first-round pick in the 2018 draft, one thing is clear - defensive tackles dominate. Its become a trend recently as interior defensive linemen are the flavor of the month. The interesting part of that is the divide between players who would be considered 1-tech guys like Vita Vea, or 3-tech guys like Maurice Hurst. It is still my contention that the Cowboys have a couple of options in-house for the 3-tech, and that if they are going to spend a draft pick on the tackle spot, they should opt for a 1-tech. Of course there is the theory that you just stake the best player and not worry about need.

In our roundup below, defensive tackles are the first-round pick from nine of our 14 mocks, with Hurst leading the way with five selections. Besides Vea and Hurst, the two names most commonly associated with the Cowboys, Traven Bryan and Harrison Phillips are a couple of other guys to keep on your radar.

Further down, we have a couple of new names at linebacker - Tremaine Edmunds and Leighton Vander Esch. Offensive line, specifically guard, has fallen out of favor over the past week, and we have a new position entry with defensive end Arden Key.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Draftek (Longball), Feb 14 "Listen to the masses who clamor for the massives!" - The Outhouse Poet strikes again! When looking up at the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles (painful to see those 5 words together), one has to notice that they finished #1 in run defense, allowing only 80.8 yards per game. In comparison, your Dallas Cowboys finished #8, allowing 104.0 yards per game. This would appear to be a role reversal from 2016, where Dallas finished #1, allowing 83.7 yards per game and Philly finished middle of the pack, allowing 103.2 yards per game. However, further analysis reveals that in the last 3 games, Dallas only allowed 89.3 yard per game (Philly 89.7) which would seem to indicate how much the Cowboys missed Sean Lee. V-squared has attained "Pet Cat" status among the readership of Blogging The Boys (a fine addition to SBNation; I highly recommend a visit). Vea utilizes his size very well, displaying an ability to overpower guards and pummel centers when isolated on them. He has the strength to press blockers off of his frame and the hip rotation and flexibility to dislodge. Vea's repertoire includes a booming hump move that can topple blockers off their base as a pass rush counter. When his pad level is low, Vea maintains leverage against running plays. Vita's issues that need to be corrected include a tendency to allow his pad level to rise, and his base and footwork can be compromised when he gets too far out over his toes. However, a more troubling characteristic is an inconsistency of effort . . . don't know if that's a conditioning problem, but it won't be tolerated by either DC Rod Marinelli or DL Assistant Leon Lett.
Cleveland.com (Labbel), Feb 13 The Cowboys get some interior help.
Traven Bryan, DT, Florida
NFL.com (Casserly), Feb 13 Bryan has excellent upfield quickness. He fits Rod Marinelli's scheme.
Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford
SB Nation (Kadar), Feb 12 The ideal for Dallas should be moving off the No. 19 pick. That could mean going up for a player like Vea or Ridley or dropping back to get better value. Staying here, the choice was between Phillips and Georgia guard Isaiah Wynn. Phillips fits the one-technique spot the Cowboys badly need along the defensive line.
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
CBS Sports (Wilson), Feb 14 The Cowboys have a big need along the defensive line and Hurts is the most obvious player to fill that need. At 6-2, 283 pounds, he may be undersized but his unbelievable quickness more than makes up for it.
San Diego Union-Tribune (Brown), Feb 8 The “undersized” narrative following Hurst is similar to the one Aaron Donald dealt with in 2014. Hurst has been close to un-blockable at the collegiate level and could be the missing piece to a dominant Cowboys defense. Top needs: DT, WR, TE
CBS Sports(Dubin), Feb 9 It's a Michigan defensive lineman for the second straight year for the Cowboys. Throw Hurst into the mix with Taco Charlton, DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, and Maliek Collins, and you've got the makings of a deep group up front the likes of which the Cowboys haven't had in a while.
Draft Blaster(O’Conner), Feb 13 The Cowboys’ offensive line was just not the same this year, but some of that was injuries and developing chemistry. They have enough key pieces that they don’t have to panic and address the position early in the draft. With three of their five positions locked down, they should be looking to add two offensive linemen through the draft and another in free agency and then let the competition unfold. They have found their edge guys on the defensive line, but have a big need in the middle. They also will need to find a WR and TE to replace key players at the end of their careers.
SEC Country(Riley), Feb 14 Hurst might not be drafted this high simply because of his position. But the Cowboys need defensive tackles who can play, and Hurst is one of the best football players in this draft class.

LINEBACKERS

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
CBS (Trapasso), Feb 12 I think Vander Esch is going to have a ridiculous combine, one that, without the presence of Tremaine Edmunds, would be viewed as one of the best in a long time at the off-ball linebacker position. Rashaan Evans is considered here, but the Cowboys place a high priority on athleticism, and Vander Esch covers a lot of ground really fast at 6-4 and 240-plus pounds.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Stampede Blue (Arthur), Feb 9 The Cowboys could build an elite linebacker corps by adding Edmunds with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith, especially if Anthony Hitchens leaves in free agency. Dallas has more pressing needs, but this pick is about value.

DEFENSIVE END

Arden Key, DE, LSU
CBS (Brinson), Feb 13 A talented but troubled defensive end for a pass-rush needy defense? This sounds familiar. The Cowboys aren't afraid to take chances on players in the draft and Key has a ton of upside.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Washington Post (Harris), Feb 14 There is some question about whether Dez Bryant will be moved in the offseason, but even with Bryant back, the Cowboys can use more firepower at receiver. Terrance Williams has been inconsistent, and he produced no touchdowns in 2017. Sutton is a height/weight/speed animal with downfield ability to stretch the field to help every Dallas skill player, especially Prescott.
Sporting News (Galko), Feb 13 In the short term, the Cowboys need a No. 2 receiver opposite Dez Bryant to help get Dak Prescott back on track. For the long term, Sutton could become the replacement for Bryant as the team’s No. 1 receiver.