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2018 mock draft tracker: Fan-favorite Vita Vea shows up strong for the Cowboys

After falling out for a while, defensive tackle Vita Vea gets back into the Cowboys picture.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Early on in this 2018 mock draft season, Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea showed up in a lot of mocks for the Cowboys at pick 19. Then, there was the Maurice Hurst era in which it seemed like every NFL mock draft had the Michigan defensive lineman as the Cowboys pick. A consensus formed, but has now fallen apart. There is more variety of names showing for the Cowboys, and fan-favorite Vita Vea is back in vogue for the Cowboys among some mock drafters.

So, that begs the question, is Vea falling out as a consensus Top-15 pick? Is that why we’re seeing him more around the Cowboys #19 pick? More likely, it’s just mockers feeling the need to switch up their picks every once in awhile. So Vea is back in the picture.

Much will be changed once the Combine happens over the next week. That is when we will have some definitive numbers on guys, and the mock drafts should firm up a bit.

In this week’s roundup of 13 different mocks, we’re starting to see that almost every mock has the Cowboys picking at five different positions. Generally it is defensive tackle, wide receiver, linebacker, defensive end and guard. This week, we didn’t get a guard pick but the other spots are well-represented.


Vita Vea, DT, Washington (Duggan), Feb 26 The Cowboys need to continue to invest in their defense. Dallas can put Vea in the middle of the defense and build around the 346-pounder.
MMQB (Breer), Feb 21 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.
CBS Sports (White), Feb 22 Maliek Collins hasn't worked out in his two years on the line, and he was a sieve in run defense while playing the second-most snaps of any Cowboys defensive lineman behind DeMarcus Lawrence. Vea would be a huge leap forward in run defense, and he can also get into the backfield and help collapse the pocket on passing downs. Trapasso says the "Haloti Ngata comparisons are spot-on."
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
NDL Draft Scout via UPI (Brugler), Feb 25 It would be out of character for the current Cowboys' coaching staff to sign off on a nose tackle in the first round. However, adding a player of Payne's talent level would create a ripple effect that directly helps the linebackers and edge rushers.
Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
Draft Wire (Easterling), Feb 21 This defense needs help at all three levels, so this pick is about maximizing value at any spot on that side of the ball. Hurst is one of the most explosive, disruptive defenders in this year’s deep class of interior linemen, and would be a welcome addition to the Cowboys’ front line.


Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
With the First Pick (Dove), Feb 25 Evans is one of the more versatile prospects in this draft. He’ll provide the Cowboys with a run-stuffer, pass rusher and someone capable of holding up in coverage.
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Walter Football (Campbell), Feb 25 The Cowboys go with the best defensive player available and add a linebacker to go with Jaylon Smith. Smith could remind Rod Marinelli of Derrick Brooks. From the start of the 2017 season, Smith (6-1, 225) impressed scouting sources with his great play. They compared him to the Falcons' recent second-day picks of the LSU duo of Deion Jones and Duke Riley, except they say that Smith is better than either Jones or Riley. These sources feel Smith is more on a par with Lavonte David coming out of Nebraska. There is no doubt that Smith is a fast and physical linebacker who flies around the field. He is an excellent run defender with speed and athleticism to cover in the passing game. Smith amassed 137 tackles with 6.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted in 2017. In 2016, he led Georgia in tackles with 95. Smith also had five tackles for a loss, one pass batted and two forced fumbles that season.


Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
Chicago Sun-Times (Finley), Feb 25 Landry led the nation with 16 ½ sacks in 2016.
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
CBS Sports (Wilson), Feb 22 Davenport parlays a big Senior Bowl week into a strong draft-day showing and the University of Texas-San Antonio standout brings his pass-rushing skills to Dallas. He had 21.5 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss during his four-year college career, and he would join a defense that ranked 15th in sacks a season ago with 36.
NFL Rough Draft (Luchene), Feb 21 Davenport drew mixed reviews early in the practice week at the Senior Bowl. He looked dominant during Thursday’s practice, however, and later tallied a sack in the game. I really like this guy as a base end in a 4-3 and I think Cowboy fans would have to be thrilled with this selection. If Davenport slides any further than this, it could be because of questionable performances in interviews with NFL personnel members. He certainly doesn’t seem to have red flags in his character, but some have interpreted his laid back personality as a lack of confidence and passion for the game. I’m not sure I agree with that.


James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Drafttek (Longball), Feb 23 The last time the Dallas Cowboys invested a RD1 Draft Choice on a WR was 2010 . . . and it was another Oklahoma State Cowboy named Dez Bryant. Dez is a freak of nature . . . a truly gifted athlete! Unfortunately, he never perfected his craft, i.e. running precise routes. As a result, he has not aged as gracefully as other WRs who are technicians. Case in point is the regression in production from the Cowboys' #1 WR: after averaging 91 catches for 1,312 yards and 14 TD's in the 3 years from 2012-2014, Bryant has averaged 50 catches for 678 yards and 6 TD's in the 3 years from 2015-2017. Folks, that's a 50% decline across the board! Unlike Dez, James Washington escapes press coverage with good initial quickness. His vertical talent is substantiated by statistics, averaging just over 20 yards per catch over last three years. The 2017 Biletnikoff Winner tracks balls like a centerfielder racing for the warning track, adjusts his speed to match ball flight, and displays ability to go up and come down with the deep ball. A deep threat like Washington will force defenders to take that extra step back, complementing the Dallas rushing attack.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
San Diego Union-Tribune (Brown), Feb 21 Wide receiver becomes the top priority if the Cowboys release Dez Bryant. Sutton is a matchup nightmare in the red zone — he has had at least nine touchdowns for three straight seasons — and has proven physical after the catch. He’s also a willing blocker. If he can develop as a route runner, watch out.
Draft Countdown (Wright), Feb 21 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.

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