With needs across the roster, there are plenty of names that could come in and produce from the start, but the Cowboys know that it is not that simple. Dallas will need to be ready to change their draft strategy on a pick-to-pick basis.
Disclaimer: In this article, we will focus on how the Cowboys could draft if their option in the first round is at the receiver position. Keep in mind that these picks are not what I would do. Instead, these picks are what I believe the Cowboys will do.
Round 1, Pick 19: Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Alabama
Dallas sent their main brass to the Alabama pro day. Jason Garrett was even in attendance. The Cowboys did just that in the 2016 NFL Draft with Ohio State when they used the fourth-overall pick on Ezekiel Elliott.
With the Cowboys releasing Dez Bryant, Dallas’ receiving group became one of the biggest question marks in football. The addition of Allen Hurns will be a good one in Dallas. He is versatile and can play outside or in the slot, but the Cowboys could use more firepower.
That is where Ridley comes in. He is the perfect receiver in this draft class to fit the Cowboys’ desire of a “Dak-friendly” offense.
At 23-years-old, there is so much refinement and professionalism in Ridley’s game. He is an excellent route-runner and has the speed to go with it. His movements are very particular and he uses that to create separation from defenders. Most rookie receivers struggle to make an impact in the NFL. Because of his skillset, Ridley should be able to perform immediately.
Calvin Ridley's route running is just on another level to any other WR in this class. If he's one on one with a quarters safety, not only is he getting open, but he's probably turning the safety around the wrong way on his break.— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) April 17, 2018
Round 2, Pick 50: Billy Price, Offensive Guard, Ohio State
There were a lot of reasons why the offense took a step back in 2017. Dak Prescott regressed a little bit and the Elliott suspension did not help either. However, the offensive line also had its problems. The left guard play was ineffective, the depth was poor, and the injuries were present. Dallas would benefit immediately from a top offensive line prospect and that is where Billy Price comes into the equation.
One of the best offensive linemen in the conference that is robust with them, Price has a ton of traits that will translate well to guard in the NFL. He is a powerful force who is quite athletic. In terms of measurables, Price does not stand out, but his tape is indicative of a player that can come in right away and learn to develop in his own right next to three All-Pro types of players.
Round 3, Pick 81: Fred Warner, Linebacker, BYU
The departure of Anthony Hitchens in free agency opens up a spot at linebacker to pair with Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith. Dallas signed Joe Thomas in free agency, but he has not dazzled in his NFL career to this point. Adding a linebacker is definitely a priority in this draft and because of how robust the draft class is, they could get a pretty good one in the third round.
Warner embodies exactly where the linebacker position is going. On tape, he looks quite raw and his judgment is a little questionable, but there are not many linebackers in this class that have a better mixture of size, speed, and athleticism.
There will be issues in the beginning because of his rawness. Warner’s best role from the start will be in different subpackages where his coverage skills can be used efficiently. The flashes are there on tape proving that Warner can get in the backfield and make plays for loss.
Ray Didinger's draft sleepers, defense: Nathan Shepherd, DT, Ft. Hays St., Fred Warner, LB, BYU; Travon Henderson, SS, Hawaii..— Glen Macnow (@RealGlenMacnow) April 21, 2018
Round 4, Pick 116: Kyzir White, Safety, West Virginia
The Cowboys already have Xavier Woods, Jeff Heat, and Kavon Frazier on their roster, so safety may not be thought of as an overwhelming priority. But if they do add a safety at this point, Kyzir White is a good choice because of his NFL frame, and his team leadership.
Dallas used one of their 30 pre-draft visits on White, so there is obviously interest there. He is still extremely raw and can be overzealous due to his aggression, but he makes plays and is not afraid to put on big hits. He is a sure tackler who can cover tight ends and create takeaways.
Round 4, Pick 137: P.J. Hall, Defensive Tackle, Sam Houston State
Quicker and shorter defensive tackles are becoming a trend in the NFL and while P.J. Hall is not the biggest player, he is an explosive athlete that displays a ton of strength while anchoring the interior part of the defensive line. His production totals were off the chart at Sam Houston State.
With Hall, the Cowboys could get a player that has immense potential. He has the ability to play both the 1-technique and 3-technique defensive tackle position. Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett should get quite giddy if he were available at this point in the draft.
Check out Jason's sleeper, PJ Hall from Sam Houston State (6'1 310) As he chases the running back 55 yards down the field to make a TD saving tackle. pic.twitter.com/GajBHKpXwI— Practice Squad Podcast (@PracticeGuys) April 16, 2018
Round 5, Pick 171: Ito Smith, Running Back, Southern Mississippi
Despite already having a star in Ezekiel Elliott and a guy who proved himself last year in Rod Smith, the Cowboys are missing an element that many offenses throughout the NFL have. Dallas needs a pass-catching back to make plays and add another dynamic to their offense.
It looked as if Lance Dunbar was going to fill that role at the start of the 2015 season. But injuries and better pastures elsewhere led to his departure. Enter Ito Smith, an unheralded yet talented prospect who can do it all. His size is limited at 5-foot-9, 195 pounds, but he runs like a bowling ball. He is quick in the open field and he displays excellent vision in the open field.
Ito Smith forced 50 missed tackles on carries last season - tied for fifth-most among draft RBs pic.twitter.com/rYla4Ttx3y— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 17, 2018
Round 6, Pick 192: Will Richardson, Offensive Tackle, North Carolina State
The Cowboys need more depth across their offensive line. They could potentially do this by drafting a player who could play guard or tackle. That is where a guy like Richardson could come into play. He has his questions against the pass, but he was a productive blocker in college, and could add depth as a swing tackle.
He faced a team suspension in 2017 and had legal issues in 2015, but Richardson is effective at the line of scrimmage. Because he struggles in space, his long-term fit could be guard. The character concerns are there, but his position flexibility could intrigue the Cowboys.
Round 6, Pick 193: Auden Tate, Wide Receiver, Florida State
At this point in the draft, the Cowboys should take a chance on a receiver they can mold as a project. Think of what they are currently doing with Noah Brown.
Auden Tate was a premier name in Tallahassee. He is not the fastest and most explosive receiver, but where he can win at the next level is in the red-zone. Outside of Plaxico Burress, his mockdraftable comparisons are not spectacular. He is a tough player that has a wide catch radius and could be of impact in the red zone. After all, they did just lose their best red-zone option in Bryant.
Round 6, Pick 208: Skai Moore, Linebacker, South Carolina
Again, linebacker is a big need in this draft. After drafting Warner earlier to give the Cowboys a guy who can blitz and cover opposing slot receivers and running backs, Dallas could double-dip at the position by drafting Skai Moore.
At South Carolina, Moore was a four-year contributor at inside linebacker who displayed unbelievable instincts and showcased awesome production. At 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, and with how he is built, Moore’s skillset will not translate to the middle linebacker spot in the NFL. But with his blue-collar playing mentality, and his ability to play special teams, Moore could intrigue the Cowboys at this point in the draft.
Round 7, Pick 236: Justin Lawler, EDGE, SMU
At this point in the draft, the Cowboys are going to stay committed to Garrett’s mantra of “Right Kinda Guy”. Just a few years ago around this position in the draft, the Cowboys drafted linebacker Caleb McSurdy out of Montana rather than Arizona State’s Vontaze Burfict. Knowing that, Dallas could take a look at an in-state prospect.
A Dallas Day participant, Lawler’s character and desire to learn and excel at the sport could be huge for him. He is not the most athletic player nor does he have the most explosive measurables, but he fits the Cowboys’ defensive end mold at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. At worst, he would be a camp body that could provide competition in the locker room.
What does your “receivers route mock draft” look like?