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Cowboys 2018 mock draft: The offensive guard route

This mock focuses on what the Cowboys could do in seven rounds by drafting an offensive guard early.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Georgia vs Auburn Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next few days, we’ll be releasing several mock drafts. The purpose of these mock drafts is to look at the different directions the Dallas Cowboys can go in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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 guard 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: Isaiah Wynn, Offensive Guard, Georgia

Quenton Nelson is getting all of the attention, as he deservedly should. However, Wynn is a pretty spectacular player himself. Wynn’s stock blew up after he participated in the Senior Bowl. In college, Wynn was the Bulldogs left tackle, playing an important role for quarterback Jacob Fromm.

DBut due to his short and powerful frame, Wynn’s long-term outlook will be from the guard spot. With Wynn, there is a lot of refinement. It is clear with his form and technique that he was well-taught. Wynn is an athletic guard that will have no issues of moving laterally and getting to the next level to block linebackers.

On top of his future at left guard, Wynn also has the versatility to step down and play tackle if needed. Tyron Smith had his injury concerns in 2017. If they continue, Wynn could slide down to fill that void.

Round 2, Pick 50: Nathan Shepherd, Defensive Tackle, Fort Hays State

Dallas not only used one of their 30 pre-draft visits on Shepherd, but they also held a private workout with him, so the interest is clearly there. Dallas is not the only team who has shown interest in Shepherd either. He could go within the first two rounds of the draft, so if he is available here, Dallas might punce.

At 6-foot-5, 315 pounds, Shepherd has come a long way. He has continuously put on weight in college. And while Shepherd has packed on the pounds, he has not lost a step in terms of his athleticism.

He is definitely raw, but the athletic tools that are capable of being molded are all there. Given his motor, quickness off the ball, and his potential, Rod Marinelli could transform him into a special type of talent.

Round 3, Pick 81: Tarvarius Moore, Safety, Southern Mississippi

Another pre-draft visitor, Moore is a name that could surprise people on draft day. With unbelievable ball skills and athletic ability, Moore could go somewhere in the middle of Day 2, regardless of the fact that he played against lesser competition and is still very raw.

Despite how athletic he is, Moore was not offered an invitation to the combine. So at this pro day, he ran a 4.32 40-yard dash and had a 38.5-inch vertical jump. At Southern Mississippi, Moore dominated, albeit that was only in one season. Dallas has some options to play at safety with Xavier Woods, Kavon Frazier, and Jeff Heath. But if they are looking for a project to work with and develop, Moore could just be that guy.

Round 4, Pick 116: Shaquem Griffin, Linebacker, UCF

Everyone knows the story and everyone knows of his combine, but there is much more than just that. Griffin is a freakishly-athletic talent who is going to find a niche somewhere in the NFL. He is electric to watch on film, showcasing the ability to make plays from sideline-to-sideline. He hits hard and makes his impact felt.

He can get in the backfield by using a variety of moves and while there are concerns over his size, his play speed is off the charts. He may struggle to get off of blocks in the NFL, but his technique, pursuit angles, and football acumen are all worthy.

By drafting Griffin, the Cowboys will have a guy who fits Jason Garrett’s mantra of “Right Kinda Guy”. He could be used in a variety of subpackages, playing closer to the line in a pass-rushing role or in space as a weak-side linebacker.

Round 4, Pick 137: Daurice Fountain, Wide Receiver, Northern Iowa

Playing at Northern Iowa, Fountain did not receive the national attention to the point where he warranted a combine invite. That is a real shame because Fountain put up a 42.5-inch vertical jump and a 4.46 40-yard dash at his pro day. He also was a state champion hurdler in high school, so there is definitely some curiosity as to what he can do at the next level and in a role where he can be best utilized.

To go along with his athletic intuition, Fountain has ideal NFL size at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. That is typically the criteria of size and frame that the Cowboys look for in the receiver position. Dallas has used a pre-draft visit on him, so there is already some interest.

Fountain is extremely raw and while he has potential to play somewhat of an intriguing offensive weapon role, there is going to be some experience needed for him to succeed. In Dallas, he will have that opportunity to sit, learn the playbook, and work with Sanjay Lal.

Round 5, Pick 171: Kalen Ballage, Running Back, Arizona State

One of the more explosive and athletic running backs in all of the draft, Ballage has seen his stock rise since the end of the collegiate season. His production totals were not great, as the Sun Devils used a running back by committee approach.

At 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, Ballage has unique athleticism. He isn’t a three-down back in the NFL, but he is the type of player a team can utilize in a variety of ways on third down as a pass-blocking protector and an explosive weapon out of the backfield.

When watching Ballage play, the comparison that jumps out is Jerick McKinnon for their athleticism and explosive play-making ability. McKinnon is going to be a unique talent in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Dallas would be wise to add a player like Ballage to spell Ezekiel Elliott and work in with Rod Smith.

Round 6, Pick 192: Toby Weathersby, Offensive Tackle, LSU

At 6-foot-6, 310 pounds, Weathersby is a road-grader. Despite his size, Weathersby is not the strongest player at his position. He did not test well at the combine either. However, Weathersby is a versatile offensive lineman who played both tackle positions throughout his time at LSU.

Weathersby is quite slow and his legs are heavy, which limit him from keeping pace and staying with smaller and quicker defensive ends. But for what the Cowboys need, he could be a depth player that eventually works toward a bigger role.

Round 6, Pick 193: Marcell Frazier, Defensive End, Missouri

Another player who was not invited to showcase his athletic measurables at the combine, Frazier is a guy that could interest the Cowboys. His size at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds aligns right within the criteria Dallas looks for in their defensive ends.

He is not the most athletic player, but he has a terrific motor that never stops. Frazier is quite erratic with his motions once the football is snapped, but he uses that style to his advantage to get into the backfield. In Dallas, Frazier could play somewhat of a depth role. At this point in the draft, Dallas could also look to ship this pick and the next pick to move up for a player that may still be high on their board.

Round 6, Pick 208: Oren Burks, Linebacker, Vanderbilt

Dallas could benefit by adding more competition to the linebacker position. At Vanderbilt, Burks made a name for himself for being “the guy” on defense. With unique athletic features like long arms, range, and change-of-pace speed, Burks has the makings of a player who can roam around and make plays across the field.

In Dallas, he could provide depth across the second tier of the defense. He is a competitive player who shows off his motor on each play. He is much better in space, telling me that if he does indeed make it in the NFL, it would be on the weak-side.

Burks needs to bulk up and shed blocks better, but he can contribute right away on special teams, something that the Cowboys like out of their draft picks, especially ones that are more of projects from the start.

Round 7, Pick 236: Steve Ishmael, Wide Receiver, Syracuse

An underrated receiver who led the ACC in receiving yards, Ishmael is a player that will find an NFL home. He is a humble player who goes out and competes regardless of if he comes out of the slot or lines up outside.

Ishmael is not the most explosive athletic. He does not have elite separation speed or crazy athleticism. But he is a gamer and a player that can get open using his craftiness and his competitive bravado. It would not hurt to add another receiver in the draft and Ishmael is a guy that could find a role in Dallas thanks to his playing nature.

What does your “offensive guard route mock draft” look like?

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