The 2018 NFL Draft is less than three months away and already fans are eager to try to predict the players the Cowboys will select in the draft. One of the cool things about the BTB community is how draft savvy fans on this site are. A lot of people over here are heavily invested in this team and will spend several hours researching players as we try to identify possible draft candidates for the Cowboys. With that in mind, we wanted to work together and configure a little draft board that would help us get an idea of potential targets for the first few rounds of the draft.
We will kick things off with an initial rankings of the top 50 players. They will be separated into four groups:
- Players with first-round grades (14 players, ranked 1-14)
- Top half of the players with second-round grades (14 players, ranked 15-28)
- Bottom half of the players with second-round grades (12 players, ranked 29-40)
- Fan favorites with third-round grades (10 players, ranked 41-50)
Anything beyond that gets even more difficult to predict, so we will just focus our attention on the top 50 players of the draft and hope the Cowboys land as many of them as they can.
As weeks go by, certain players will rise and fall based on the feedback we get in the comment section. If you have a player you are wanting to endorse, make sure to let us know. And when you come across a good comment that you agree with, don’t forget to rec it so it gets heard. The more recs, the more clout that opinion will have when the board is modified for the next go-round.
By the time the draft gets here, we’ll have put together a nice draft board that we can follow as players are selected. This will even direct us to the “best available” players remaining on our board as the draft continues.
Let’s get this thing started!
Typically, there are only about a dozen or so players in that receive a first-round grade. Thanks to a leaked draft board from 2016, we know that the Cowboys had 14 players graded out with a first-round score that year so that’s what we’re going to use for this draft. They also had a total of 26 players with a second-round score grade. We also know this about last year’s draft board for the Cowboys:
None of the players selected carried a first-round grade. But the first three picks all had second-round grades, and the franchise ended up with five of the top 68 players on its board.
Based on those estimations, here is the first attempt at the BTB draft board.
The hope is that one of these players fall to the Cowboys. It didn’t happen last year, but that’s because Dallas picked so late in the round, but at 19 - there’s a decent chance they can get one. Every organization grades out players differently as there are so many factors (talent, speed, size, scheme-fit, depth at position, etc.) that go into what a team is looking for. To land one of them, five other players not listed with this group would need to be taken before the Cowboys are on the clock.
The elite talents of the draft are players that posses a level of athleticism that separates them from the rest of the draft class; in essence they have the skills that very few players on this planet have. They are the best of the best. They will enter the NFL with high expectations that could help shape their franchise. There is a short list for this group which is limited to the top seven or eight players (blue) in the draft. It’s unlikely a player of this caliber slides to 19, but if someone like Derwin James or Roquan Smith somehow fell to Dallas, consider that a huge gift.
The Rest of the Best
While all of the elite players should go early, there still stands a good chance one of the first-round graded players are available when the Cowboys pick at 19. Vita Vea is a favorite of mine because not only is he a huge talent, but he plays the 1-tech defensive tackle position and that is an area where the team could use a big upgrade. The top corners in this draft class, Joshua Jackson and Denzel Ward, are in the mix as the Cowboys could choose to strengthen this position group. The draft’s best wide receiver, Calvin Ridley, is too talented to pass up should he fall.
Maurice Hurst and Marcus Davenport are a couple players that have the talent to be special in this league, but aren’t necessarily big pickups for the Cowboys. Hurst is a 3-tech DT which is currently occupied by Malik Collins. Davenport is an edge rusher and the team has DeMarcus Lawrence and last year’s first-round pick, Taco Charlton, manning the outside. Both Hurst and Davenport aren’t ideal candidates, but trench players are important and with the talent they have, they are worthy of first-round grades.
This group will be divided into two tiers - players we hope fall to 50 (second-round targets), and players we hope fall to 81 (third-round targets). Last year the team got pick 27, 60, and 92 all from their second-round graded group.
The first group will be the stronger group of players that will most likely fill out some the remaining first-round selections in the draft. It’s possible the Cowboys may have to make their first-round selection from this group if all the first-round-graded players are taken (like they did with Taco Charlton last year). It’s also possible that one of these players are still available at pick 50 when the Cowboys are on the clock in the second round (Chidobe Awuzie was most likely in this group last year).
There are five different offensive linemen in this group. While some the good ones won’t make it past the first round, fans will be holding their breathe that someone like Will Hernandez lasts until pick 50. This could also be a reason to lay off taking one in the first round. Similar to what Dallas did last year when knowing quality corners would still be on the board on Day 2, the team could employ a similar strategy with offensive linemen.
Don’t be surprised to see some of these names called in the first round as different boards produce different names. And there are likely to be some names here that are too high for your taste. If the Cowboys can get a second-round graded players at pick 81, they would be very happy - just like they were when they landed Jourdan Lewis last year.
This group is heavy on the defensive side with only three of the 12 on this list playing on offense.
Rounding out the top 50
More wide receivers start to show up here and this is where the variability in how teams evaluate players start to separate themselves.
Okay, it’s on you now as it’s time for the BTB scouts to get to work. Every once in a while we will update this board and based on the comments (and recs), players will be shuffled around. We will also include some good arguments made from the community about certain players so don’t hesitate to chime in with some sound reasoning about why a player deserves to be higher or lower.
Let’s see how close we can come in configuring what Will McClay and company put together in the war room.