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2018 mock draft tracker: The consensus pick for the Cowboys after Dez Bryant’s release

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What do the mocks say now that the Cowboys have released Dez Bryant?

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Northwestern v Maryland Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

This is our first mock draft tracker after the release of wide receiver Dez Bryant. While wide receiver had been a popular choice even before Bryant’s release, it is now the consensus position for mockers. There is a lot of depth at receiver in this draft so many Cowboys observers caution against having to go receiver in the first round, but the mocks are doing it anyway.

In our most recent tracker, we looked at 13 mock drafts for the Cowboys, and 10 of them had the Cowboys going wide receiver in the first round. D.J. Moore has emerged as the consensus candidate with six mocks placing him as the Cowboys pick. Courtland Sutton and Calvin Ridley make the grade in two mocks apiece.

That leaves three mocks. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, defensive end Harold Landry and guard Will Hernandez populate those three remaining mocks. For the first time in 2018, our mock draft tracker doesn’t have a defensive tackle in the survey.

LINEBACKERS

Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
EDS Football (Staff), Apr 15 Not only has Vander Esch had a private workout and an official visit with the Cowboys, but his selection would help fill the void created by the free-agent departure of Anthony Hitchens to Kansas City. Despite being only a one-year starter and former walk-on, LVE has sideline-to-sideline range, great size (6-foot-4, 256 pounds) and was highly productive (141 tackles) as the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. Per PFF, the athletic linebacker led all FBS inside linebackers in run stops (and percentage) in 2017. And as Tony Pauline notes, Vander Esch "looked tremendous in position drills" at Boise State's Pro Day earlier this month. Pauline went on to write that LVE "was fluid and explosive and once again showed no stiffness moving around the field. For Vander Esch, today’s position drills were the perfect complement to his knockout testing at the combine."

WIDE RECEIVER

Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
SB Nation (Kadar), Apr 16 If teams are down on Ridley because of his slight 189-pound frame, the Cowboys could be the benefactor. After releasing Dez Bryant, Dallas now has a big need at wide receiver. Ridley could step directly into the lead receiver spot and should produce consistently with Dak Prescott throwing him the ball.
The Athletic (Burke/Sturm), Apr 17 In these uncertain Cowboys WR times, I am taking the best route-running receiver in this draft (and angering D.J. Moore enthusiasts). I certainly recognize that the Cowboys may be locked on a linebacker here, but Ridley getting to 19 is too good to pass for me. — Bob Sturm (@SportsSturm)
D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
The Ringer (Kelly), Apr 17 With Dez Bryant no longer in the picture, the Cowboys need to add some playmaking receivers. Moore’s just the type of tool that Dak Prescott could utilize: A standout on “layup throws” like quick slants, curls, digs, and screens, the former Maryland star has extraordinary elusiveness and speed after the catch, capable of taking a short pass and turning it into a big gain on any given snap.
CBS Sports (Brinson), Apr 17 After getting rid of Dez Bryant, it's pretty difficult to imagine the Cowboys not investing in the wide receiver position early in the draft.
CBS Sports (Trapasso), Apr 16 The Cowboys are a team that prioritizes athletic traits in their early-round picks (see: Byron Jones, Zeke Elliott, Taco Charlton), and Moore is a gifted, explosive player on the field. Oh, and he'd fill a major need.
USA Today (Middlehurst-Schwartz), Apr 17 After dispatching Dez Bryant, Dallas has a need at wide receiver too large to ignore. Moore thrives on creating separation and picking up yards after the catch on out routes and screens, which would be a boon for Dak Prescott.
Chicago Sports Tab (Bamford), Apr 15 For the first time, Calvin Ridley isn't the top receiver off the board. Moore is rising quickly and has the look of an elite player who, with the departure of Dez, makes this a strong fit for the Cowboys. Dallas also has needs at linebacker and safety, but they'll go receiver in the first now.
Draft Blaster (Staff), Apr 17 The Cowboys’ offensive line was just not the same this year, but some of that was injuries and developing chemistry. They have enough key pieces that they don’t have to panic and address the position early in the draft. With three of their five positions locked down, they should be looking to add two offensive linemen through the draft and another in free agency and then let the competition unfold. They have found their edge guys on the defensive line, but have a big need in the middle. They also will need to find a WR and TE to replace key players at the end of their careers. D.J. Moore is everything you want on and off the field, and will solidify an already talented wide receiver core.
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
NFL.com (Jeremiah), Apr 17 Sutton is well-liked in personnel departments around the league and the Cowboys have a pressing need at wide receiver.
SEC Country (Riley), Apr 17 Defensive line could be an option, but wide receiver is also a need for the Cowboys. Sutton had a very impressive combine, and given his size, he could be a matchup nightmare for teams.

DEFENSIVE END

Harold Landry, DE, Boston College
The Big Lead (McIntyre), Apr 17 I’ll probably switch this back to WR next week, but remember, in recent years the Cowboys haven’t done the obvious.

GUARD

Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
Bleacher Report (Sobleski), Apr 16 A turning point occurred within the Dallas Cowboys organization when the front office decided to select a future All-Pro guard (Zack Martin) instead of a flash-in-the-pan quarterback (Johnny Manziel). Forget Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The team's strength resides along its offensive line. Yet one position remains unsettled since Jonathan Cooper didn't secure left guard last season. UTEP's Will Hernandez is a natural fit between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick. A connection exists between all three since they share the same agent, according to SB Nation Radio Cowboys reporter Bobby Belt. The group, including Hernandez, spends time together away from training, too. Another big ugly to complete the offensive line is the right move to make the entire team better.