On Friday, it was announced that the Cowboys would receive four compensatory picks for the upcoming draft. These extra draft picks were awarded to Dallas because they lost Ron Leary, Barry Church, Brandon Carr, and Morris Claiborne in free agency last year. As a result the Cowboys will get the following comp picks:
- Fourth round - 137th overall
- Fifth round - 171st overall
- Fifth round - 173rd overall
- Sixth round - 208 overall
These Day 3 picks are tough to gauge as the talent starts getting depleted this late in the draft, but these are extra darts the team has been given and you never know if one of them is going to stick. In 2016, they used the 135th overall pick to select their new franchise quarterback, Dak Prescott. With the front office drafting better in later rounds recently, these extra picks could end up producing some extra help for the Cowboys.
So, what are some good candidates for these compensatory picks?
Comp Pick#1 (4th Rd, 137th overall)
LB Jack Cichy, Wisconsin
In last year’s draft, many fans were pounding the table that the Cowboys would select a linebacker from Wisconsin (T.J. Watt). This year, they may get their wish. Of course it might not excite fans very much to take a player who has missed the last 24 games of his college career. After tearing a pectoral muscle in 2016 and then his ACL last year, the Badger linebacker has been watching the game from the sidelines for over a year and a half. This may sound like a terrible use of draft resources, especially since the last seriously injured linebacker they drafted hasn’t paid dividends yet, but there’s a huge difference in taking a big risk at 34 overall versus late in the fourth round. With Cichy’s medical concerns, he’s going to be sitting on the board awhile.
Although there is a limited sample size to evaluate Cichy, what he does show you on film is pretty impressive. He has great instincts, diagnoses plays well, and maneuvers his way through traffic like a boss. Cichy has great quickness and flies to ball. His football intelligence is high and he’s got great RKG attributes as this former walk-on has proven time again that he can battle through adversity.
Teams looking to Cichy to be their answer at linebacker could be disappointed, but to grab this type of talent for depth - that’s not a bad idea. The upside of a player like Cichy when he’s healthy and on the field is too good to just push aside.
An update on his medicals will play a significant role in where he lands, but the Cowboys shouldn’t get too cute on this. Even at this point, it might be too late, but if the team is interested in Cichy, I wouldn’t risk letting him get out of the fourth round.
Comp Pick #2 (5th Rd, 171st overall)
SS Siran Neal, Jacksonville State
The Cowboys don’t have their regular fifth-round pick this year because they used it to get back into the 2017 draft to select safety Xavier Woods. That was a smart move as Woods was an outstanding value pick that late in the draft and provided valuable snaps last season.
Siran Neal is small school safety that could slip through the cracks if teams fill up at other positions. He possesses traits the Cowboys coaching staff look for as he can play both safety and corner positions. His aggressive approach and striking ability makes him an asset in run support, but his coverage game is pretty solid. He played his last season in college as a corner and plays with the physicality to hinder receivers through their route breaks.
Siran Neal- DB Jacksonville State. Outstanding instincts and strong in the run game. Late round gem? Look forward to watching him at the Senior Bowl later this month. pic.twitter.com/8ytkGCw976— NFL Draft Tape (@NFLDraftTape) January 3, 2018
He won’t be a player that you’d expect to come in and be your starting safety, but his skills would add great depth in the secondary and on special teams. In 2016, the Cowboys used a comp pick to select another strong safety Kavon Frazier with the 212th overall pick and he’s a solid add to the team.
Comp Pick #3 (5th Rd, 173rd overall)
RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
This draft is loaded with running backs and many teams will be getting in on the action. While the Cowboys don’t have a need for a workhorse back since they already have Ezekiel Elliott, they should still be looking to take advantage of this deep RB class to round out their depth. There several intriguing prospects that are worth considering at different points of the draft. Tennessee’s John Kelly is the first sleeper RB I’d start targeting, but he might not be on the board when Day 3 rolls around. But one guy who might is Arizona State’s Kalen Ballage.
You may recognize his name as the college running back who tied the FBS record by scoring eight touchdowns in a game against Texas Tech in 2016. While that was an impressive day, Ballage has been stuck in a time share at ASU with fellow draft candidate running back, Demario Richard. Consequently, his numbers don’t jump out at you, rushing for only 669 yards and six touchdowns this past season.
His lack of being a definitive #1 guy could work in the Cowboys favor as he’s a guy who can slide down the draft. He’s got great speed, running a 4.49 40 (same as Saquon Barkley) and shows nice bursts between the tackles. He’s not an elusive cutter, but he can do damage if he gets in space. Ballage is also a great receiving back as he has good hands and knows how to adjust his body to make the catch.
While the other more complete running backs come off the board, the Cowboys can target a fast, role-playing specialist to complement their offense.
Comp Pick #4 (6th Rd, 208th overall)
WR Daurice Fountain, Northern Iowa
The running back position isn’t the only skill position that will offer up some appealing choices throughout the draft. While it’s not top heavy with stars, there is quite an extensive list of names to choose from when looking for players to add to your receiving core. Players like DJ Moore, James Washington, and Michael Gallup are quality Day 2 prospects that are climbing up the boards, but there are also going to be several players who will look like steals in later rounds.
One player who is likely to slide is Northern Iowa’s Daurice Fountain. With great hands and great speed, Fountain is a playmaker. If the Cowboys want someone who can be a deep ball threat - he’s your guy.
Unfortunately for Fountain, he didn’t get an invite to the combine, which can actually be a good break for the Cowboys. Dane Brugler mentions him as one of the biggest combine snubs and had this to say about him:
It is too bad he won’t be at the Combine because Fountain would have put on a show with his leaping skills and speed. While very raw as a route runner, he is an ascending prospect with excellent size (6-2, 210, 34 1/2” arms) and speed, making him an ideal candidate for the bottom of the roster while he develops.
Fountain is still a raw player and a lot of work is still needed developing his route-running ability, but he has the natural ability to be worth taking a chance on this late in the draft.
What are some of your Day 3 sleeper guys who you think would make good candidates for the Cowboys compensatory picks?