There is a lot of time to go before the NFL Draft - the NFL Combine has not even happened (although it is close). But the mocks are coming hot and heavy, and one recent offering has a conclusion for the Dallas Cowboys that is, shall we say, less than optimal.
Mel Kiper Mock Draft 2.0: Cowboys take linebacker Rashaan Evans in the first round - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys
Mel Kiper was one of the pioneers of mock drafting, and had so much to do with what the NFL Draft has become. His latest mock has the Cowboys taking Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans. Our Dave Halprin gives this evaluation.
Evans is a solid pick for the Cowboys if the team is unable to sign Anthony Hitchens. We’ve discussed all too often the injury/recovery issues facing Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith; Lee can go down at any time and Smith may or may not improve to the point he needs to in 2018. Hitchens is an excellent insurance policy for both, but if he is gone, the Cowboys have no depth. If Hitchens stays, the Cowboys could still certainly use another quality linebacker, especially with Lee’s age, but the need is not quite as strong.
Well, not to stir up dissent, but I think Dave was a bit kind in his take. Shouldn't your first round pick be a lot more than an insurance policy?
Mel Kiper has Cowboys making bad call in NFL Mock Draft 2.0 - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
Other writers out there were less tolerant of Kiper's selection for Dallas.
Let's assume the No. 1 consensus inside LB, Roquan Smith (UGA), is long gone by the time the Cowboys go on the clock with the 19th-overall pick. Selecting Evans would mean the team likely passed on a much better option in Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) to make it happen. And that's not the worst of it, considering it would also mean they turned their back to more impactful players at other positions of need to land the third-best LB in the Draft.
This isn't provocative, nor does it get the people going.
No one is denying Evans' abilities, as he can definitely make things happen on the football field.
Mel Kiper Mock Draft 2.0: Cowboys select 3rd-best LB in 1st round? Eww | K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
Count our old friend K.D. as another who looks askance at Kiper's choice for Dallas.
Yes, you read that correctly. An entire paragraph about the Cowboys linebacker situation with no mention of Jaylon Smith. No matter how bad one thinks the selection of Smith was in the 2016 second round, it’s quite obvious the Cowboys are going to give him every opportunity to be the man in the middle in 2017. With Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds off the board already, selecting the third-best linebacker in the draft isn’t something Dallas will most likely try come April.
It’s been well documented in our 10 Commandments the Cowboys don’t like using their first rounder on a player who they don’t rank as the best overall player at his position. Drafting late in the round they have to move off that target a bit, but for a position as inconsequential as off-ball linebacker? It feels like a bad stretch to assign Evans to the Cowboys here.
NFL Mock Draft: Sam Darnold and Josh Allen Go 1-2 | Albert Breer, SI.com
Albert Breer has a somewhat different approach to mock drafts.
As always, this isn’t based on any evaluation of mine, it’s based on discussions with decision-makers and evaluators across the NFL—and four months of reporting from having done The NFL Draft Column in the fall. With that background, I put together a mock on Sunday, and vetted it with guys from eight teams. Over that time, I rearranged it three times, and finally came up with this. Enjoy!
Breer is certainly trying to find a way to make his mocks more realistic than many. And if he got Dallas' pick right, then “enjoy” will fit for many of us.
19. Dallas: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
There’s a lot of buzz around what this 340-pounder might show athletically in Indianapolis. And a big couple days certainly could bump him higher than this
Cowboys must strongly consider Vita Vea, Da'Ron Payne in Draft - Patrik Walker, 247 Sports
While we are talking about Vea, let's get a nice little writeup on him and how he could be the best choice for the Cowboys. (It also makes a case later on for Da’Ron Payne as a great second choice.)
It also remains to be seen if they'll be foolish enough to place a second-round tender on Irving this offseason which could result in him donning a new uniform in 2018, adding more weight to a decision that could force them to pull the trigger in the first round and land their future 1-tech, and if those crosshairs are aimed at the jersey of University of Washington star Vita Vea -- kick the tires and light the fires.
This 6-foot-5, 340 lb. monster of a man is a mix of Bane and ballerina, and he'd immediately launch the Cowboys' defensive front to the next level in both run and pass defense. ESPN insider Mel Kiper certainly agrees and while he's had his share of misses, this is one time the Cowboys should lend him their ear.
Could Harold Landry elevate the Cowboys’ D-Line to the next level? – Kevin Turner, The Athletic
You can never have too many good pass rushers. Here is a look at a player who might be a consideration for the Cowboys at 19.
Landry had 16.5 sacks in 2016 but decided to return for his senior season. 2017 didn’t go as planned, as he only recorded five sacks, missing the final five games of the year with an ankle injury. The ankle injury appeared to linger, as you can tell on his 2017 tape that he’s not 100%.
Landry has experience rushing as an OLB in a 3-4 as well as playing DE in a 4-3. There are some functional strength issues, as sometimes he will get blocked pretty easily, but he plays with great effort and is really good in pursuit to chase down ball carriers. From a pass-rushing standpoint, he’s locked and loaded, showing the burst and bend to get to the quarterback.
Dallas Cowboys: 5 ways Cowboys' offense can become more 'Dak-friendly,' including more designed runs for Prescott | Jon Machota, SportsDay
"Dak-friendly" is all the rage nowadays among Cowboys fans. This is an interesting look at two teams that run offenses that would seem to be that if Dak Prescott were plugged in, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Carolina Panthers. It is based on responses from writers Terez Paylor, who covers the Chiefs, and Joe Person, a Panthers beat guy. And it starts with one idea that makes a lot of sense.
1.) More RPOs.
Both Paylor and Person immediately pointed to the use of the run-pass option. Although the Chiefs and Panthers didn't exactly run the same offense last season, their use of RPOs made for a quicker passing game. The idea is to get the ball out fast to receivers in space, allowing them to rack up yards after the catch and create more explosive plays.
Everything You Need to Know About the NFL Scouting Combine, Explained - Kristi Scales, 5 Points Blue
This is a nifty little review of what the Greatest Show in Shorts is all about (and a few things it isn't). If you aren't really up on the ins and outs of the Combine, give it a read.
Scouts, coaches, executives, and medical personnel from each of the 32 NFL teams attend so they can evaluate draft prospects. Think of the Combine as a job interview: players who are leaving college are trying to make good impressions so they will be hired/drafted/signed by NFL teams.
My 2018 Dallas Cowboys Top 10 Offseason 'To-Do List' - From Dez To Garrett And The Importance Of 'NOW' - Mike Fisher, Cowboys HQ
The always-worth-listening-to Fish comes up with the latest update to this list, which he periodically revises. Among a lot of perceptive points, he includes one very basic thing that has been a bit overlooked of late.
And last but not at all least, keep Ezekiel Elliott eligible. The Cowboys spend all of last season claiming it wasn't a distraction, that they completely supported Zeke, that they trusted in his innocence, that they could both stand by their friend while wondering about his availability and focus on winning football games.
Ezekiel Elliott is arguably the best football player in the building, playing a difference-making position in a way only a handful of people can do it. (And he can do even more than he's done so far.) He's also a lightning-rod of a personality, a "pitbull puppy'' on the practice field, on the team plane, in the hotel. Fate (well, Roger Goodell) and his own misbehavior robbed the Cowboys from knowing if he'd be able to show up this week or that week or the week after.
Forget that Dallas was 3-3 during his six-game absence, and forget suggesting that they lost games when he was eligible. What Dallas lost with Zeke in limbo wasn't just talent; it was focus and energy and time.
Ezekiel Elliott needs to safely tuck himself into bed all during this offseason so the Dallas Cowboys can spend their sleepless nights on contracts, self-evaluation, and football. Accomplish that, and they return to contention.