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2018 mock draft tracker: Two Alabama players make a strong showing

The Cowboys needs and players from Alabama are a match.

CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After weeks of Maurice Hurst overload, this week’s mock draft tracker finally starts seeing a little more variety. If you’re a fan of a couple of Alabama players, then you will be pleased to see their names showing up a little more. Both Da’Ron Payne and Calvin Ridley get some love in the tracker this week. Payne, and Vita Vea, are two fan-favorites to fit the Cowboys need for a true 1-tech defensive tackle.

If Ridley slides this far after weeks of going higher in almost every draft, the Cowboys would have to pounce, one would think. Fellow WR Christian Kirk also gets a few supporters this week, mainly because his speed could loosen up defenses.

Leighton Vander Esch and Tremaine Edmunds have both been mocked to the Cowboys, although Edmunds falling this far might be wishful thinking. The Cowboys need at linebacker could skyrocket if Anthony Hitchens leaves in free agency.

Hit up the comments BTB, who is your current favorite for the Cowboys first-round pick?

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
NBC Sports Philly (Hudrick), Feb 17 Payne showed how disruptive and dominant he can be in the National Championship Game. If the Cowboys can get that player to show up every week, he'll be giving the Eagles trouble for years.
Great Blue North (Guillemette), Feb 19 Time to plug in a stud for the inside of their DL. DC MARINELLI has been doing it with mirrors & motivation for years. Now give him a stud!
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
CBS Sports (Wilson), Feb 15 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.
Football Couch Scout (Staff), Feb 20 The Cowboys were solid on defense overall but they could use more talent across their Dline. Hurst is very quick off the snap and excels when it comes to getting into opposing backfields.

LINEBACKERS

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
National Football Post (Caputi), Feb 19 Analysis: Sean Lee is turning 32, has never played 16 games in a season and the Cowboys defense is consistently weakened without him. Vander Esch is an impressive athlete with low mileage, coming off an elite year of all-around production.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Bleacher Report (Tanier), Feb 19 Tremaine Edmunds has been a tricky player to slot in this mock draft. He has limitless upside, but at a position (off-the-ball linebacker) that few teams prioritize in the first round anymore. He should be a Bobby Wagner/Luke Keuchly-caliber contributor by 2019, but whoever drafts him will experience some growing pains as the not-yet-20-year-old Edmunds learns not to get sucked into play action or get caught flat-footed in coverage. Edmunds could easily go to the Colts third overall (they need impact defenders), the Browns fourth (upside remains king in Cleveland), the Niners, Raiders, Dolphins (Tremaine's father, Ferrell Edmunds, was a star tight end for them) or Packers. Wherever Edmunds ends up, pencil in a string of 100-tackle seasons, a healthy dose of sacks off the blitz and plenty of Pro Bowl berths as soon as he grows into his potential.

DEFENSIVE END

Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
Palm Beach Post (Lieser), Feb 15 Davenport is possibly a top-10 talent, so even if defensive end isn’t Dallas’ biggest need, he’s too good to bypass.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
NFL.com (Davis), Feb 20 The Cowboys need a young, big target to help QB Dak Prescott push the ball downfield, and Ridley provides exactly that option.
CBS (Trapasso), Feb 19 The Cowboys are thrilled with Ridley still being available. While he's not the biggest wideout and has a skinny frame, he's a dynamic route runner and has the deep speed Dallas has to inject into its offense.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
CBS (Dubin), Feb 16 The Cowboys would clearly missing an element of speed in their offense in 2017, and it showed in the way defenses crowded up near the line of scrimmage against them. Adding Kirk would force defenses to devote some over-the-top coverage and help loosen things up for Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
CBS (Prisco), Feb 15 They lack speed outside in their offense and it shows up the way teams defend them. They need to back them off and Kirk would help do that.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
Draft Countdown (Wright), Feb 19 With so much focus on young stars Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, not to mention the best offensive line in the league, the struggles of Dez Bryant have gone relatively unnoticed. Lately Bryant hasn’t been the dominant, impact pass catcher we’ve come to expect, so it’s time for Dallas to bring in another wideout to help open up the passing attack. Sutton is a big, strong, physical target with terrific ball skills who can pick up yards after the catch. Sounds a little like Bryant. Another thing that stands out when evaluating Sutton is his competitive spirit as he displays an uncommon degree of toughness and aggression for the position. If Sutton can alleviate concerns about his speed and ability to separate during the pre-draft process he should be one of the first few wideouts off the board. Dallas could also use this pick to bring in a stud right tackle, which would allow La’el Collins to kick back inside to guard and help ensure their continued dominance up front.

GUARD

Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
SB Nation (Kadar), Feb 19 This is a pretty terrible draw for the Cowboys, but that can happen if a team leapfrogs them in the first round. If they miss on the best defensive players, they could look at a guard to restock the offensive line.