Mel Kiper, Jr. has dropped another mock draft on us, his first since free agency has made its impact on NFL teams. Usually, after the free agency period things change for teams in the mock draft arena, but for the Cowboys and Kiper it’s the same as it ever was. His mock draft 2.0 had the Cowboys drafting linebacker Rashaan Evans. His opinion hasn’t changed on that. His latest draft once again has the Cowboys picking the player from Alabama.
When Kiper picked Evans before, I was appreciative of the pick but not overwhelmingly so. Others in Cowboy Land were not of the same mind-set with many scribes slamming the pick. I am still in disagreement with them and fairly receptive to the choice.
Alabama has so much talent that we could do a “five players from Alabama that might interest the Cowboys” article and not even mention Evans. We’re mentioning him now.
Dallas is thin along the linebacker spot and Joe Thomas is not likely to be the player you want playing full-time in case of injury. He’s also not the future if Jaylon Smith never becomes the player we’re hoping he will become. There is also the issue of Sean Lee. If he can’t stay healthy this year, the Cowboys can get out from his contract after the season with minimal damage financially. Or in two years, after the 2019 season, Lee will be a free agent and given his age and injury history, the Cowboys won’t be splashing money around to re-sign him.
They need to re-stock at linebacker for the future.
Of course, do they need to do that now, with a first-round pick? That’s the downside to this pick and why I’m not totally sold. It’s not because of Evans’ ability, which is top-notch. He’s a three-down linebacker and can do many things well, including rush the quarterback from blitzes. He’s fast and athletic, and could easily slide in as a Will starter in the future and make an excellent rotational piece this season. Of course, Evans has had his own injury issues in college, so that could be a red-flag for some.
But do the Cowboys have more pressing needs? Maybe. Picking a player in the first round who likely won’t start this season is not what anybody really plans on, although Evans could see considerable playing time in the linebacker rotation.
If you are a believer in adding a starting guard, then Kiper failed you. He could have given Dallas G Isaiah Wynn, G Will Hernandez or G/C James Daniels.
If you are a believer in adding a starting wide receiver, then Kiper failed you. Both Calvin Ridley (who shockingly goes at #26), and D.J. Moore are available.
If you are a believer in adding a starting defensive tackle, then Kiper failed you. You couldn’t get Da’Ron Payne or Vita Vea in this mock, but Taven Bryan, Maurice Hurst or Harrison Phillips were available.
Kiper could have gone with linebacker Leighton Vander Esch instead of Evans (both Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds were already gone).
In the end, this is a pick that will no doubt disappoint much of the fanbase. But it could be a pick that pays off long-term, and could really pay off in 2018 if the Cowboys face injury at linebacker again.
Still, I have no doubt it will be an unpopular pick.