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2018 mock draft tracker: Alabama players dominate, but Derwin James makes an appearance

Our latest mock draft tracker welcomes a dream player for Dallas, Derwin James.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Florida State Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

With the news that Jason Garrett decided to personally head down to Tuscaloosa to look over the Alabama players at their pro day, speculation has shifted to which player they would really want. In our mock draft tracker, three names from Bama show up in multiple drafts. But, for Cowboys fans, the first appearance of Derwin James reignites fantasies of the safety falling in the first round right into the Cowboys’ lap at pick #19.

Many of the usual suspects show up again in these mocks. Da’Ron Payne is the choice of three out of 16 mocks. Vita Vea and Taven Bryan each make one mock. At linebacker, Rashaan Evans seems to be a favorite of the mockers (presuming that Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds would both be gone). Evans shows up twice in our survey, and yesterday he was the choice of Mel Kiper, Jr. Leighton Vander Esch gets in there once. At wide receiver, Calvin Ridley is the only choice in this week’s list, being the pick in three mocks.

But it’s definitely Derwin James’ name that brings the most excitement this week. The FSU product is expected to go before the Cowboys get on the clock at #19, but safety has never been a highly-desired first-round position, and James could be pushed down by a run on quarterbacks, edge rushers or offensive linemen. Those positions have a long history of being valued high enough for teams to reach.

So what do you think BTB, does James have a chance of dropping to #19?


Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (Schrager), Mar 29 The Cowboys could use a few more young, big bodies on that defensive line, and Payne is one of the best in this year's college crop. Great against the run; will improve as a pass rusher.
SB Nation (Stites), Mar 26 The Cowboys were relatively quiet in free agency, but addressed receiver by signing Allen Hurns. Adding more talented options for Dak Prescott may still be a priority, but the top one now is bulking up the middle of the defensive line. By adding Payne, Dallas could quickly establish itself as a team with one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL.
247 Sports (Edwards), Mar 29 Payne showed flashes of dominance in a few games last season. If he can limit the number of valleys in his roller coaster ride, he will be a special player. The Cowboys pair him with last year's first round pick - defensive tackle Taco Charlton.
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (Zerlein), Mar 27 While the Cowboys could go with Michigan's Maurice Hurst here, Bryan is an even more explosive athlete and has a higher upside in Rod Marinelli's defense from the three-technique spot.
Vita Vea, DT, Washington
CBS Sports (Brinson), Mar 27 The Cowboys have secured some pass rush this offseason, so they need to get a big body in the middle of the defensive line.


Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Bleacher Report (Miller), Mar 26 Defense, defense, defense. That's how the Cowboys' draft board should read with a wide receiver and offensive guard sprinkled in along the way. With pick No. 19 overall, Jerry Jones and Co. can address a number of positions, but I keep hearing they're connected to linebacker. Rashaan Evans can do it all—NFL clubs have asked him to play outside linebacker or edge-rusher. In Dallas, he's a natural to replace departed free agent Anthony Hitchens and adds youth and speed to a defense that's being rebuilt well through the draft.
CBS Sports (Trapasso), Mar 26 The Cowboys go linebacker here and view Evans and the eventual replacement for Sean Lee, who'll be 32 in July.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise St.
CBS Sports (White), Mar 29 The Cowboys addressed their receiver need by signing Allen Hurns, so even though Calvin Ridley is on the board, I have them passing on the position. Dallas has shown plenty of interest in Vander Esch in the run up to the draft, and he'd be an excellent replacement for Anthony Hitchens who could slot in as the long-term heir to Sean Lee as a three-down tackling machine.


Derwin James, S, FSU
Denver Post (Kosmider), Mar 27 I was tempted to move James up the board quite a bit, and his staying at No. 19 is more a reflection of how team needs play out in front of the Cowboys. This would be a steal for Dallas, which has dealt with inconsistency in its secondary for the better part of the last two seasons.
CBS Sports (Fornelli), Mar 23 The Cowboys have been connected to Seattle's Earl Thomas, but why give up draft picks on him when they could just use their first on James?


Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (Davis), Mar 29 With a 4.53-second 40-yard dash, Hughes did not run as fast as expected at the NFL Scouting Combine (pro day is March 29), but he has tremendous ball skills, and big-play ability as a kick returner. The Cowboys need to cover some big-time playmakers on the perimeter in the NFC East..
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (Giglio), Mar 23 Why: In a division with Carson Wentz, Alex Smith and Eli Manning, Dallas needs to do two things really well: Rush the quarterback and stop big plays down the field. Jackson will help with the latter.
Chicago Sun-Times (Finley), Mar 26 We’re in best-player-available territory. Jackson is that.


Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
CBS Sports (Prisco), Mar 22 They have to get more speed in their passing game. Ridley is that type of player.
San Diego Union-Tribune (Brown), Mar 22 The Cowboys made a serious attempt to sign Sammy Watkins and still need a threat to lineup on the opposite side of Dez Bryant. Ridley features explosive speed and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better route runner in college football. A rare combination
The Sporting News (Iyer), Mar 29 The Cowboys are keeping Dez Bryant, but they are lacking a true outside No. 2 who can do everything as a good-hands possession receiver. Ridley would be an upgrade over Terrance Williams and give Dak Prescott a new go-to guy.

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