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Cowboys draft 2018: Stephen Jones says Cowboys view 17 players as first rounders, who are they?

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Let’s try to guess the 17 first round grades the Cowboys have on their board.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As we move closer to the draft, if you have your ears to the ground, you can pick up some tidbits, hints, clues, or whatever word you prefer. Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones, and Jason Garrett have an annual pre-draft presser, in it, they have a tendency to throw a bone or two every now and then:

Well, that’s about the typical average for first-round grades if you follow draft guys like Dane Brugler and Bryan Broaddus. In the spirit of rumor and innuendo, let’s take a stab at who those guys will be. First, two notes to consider before we give our best educated guess:

-Keep in mind that their visits weigh heavily on their construction of the board.

-Just because a guy didn’t visit doesn’t mean he’s not on considered, there is a pure approach with first round grades not based solely on the Cowboys needs.

Putting my best guess together, here’s what I believe the Cowboys’ first-round board could look like:

Rank Player/ Position School
1 Quenton Nelson, OG Notre Dame
2 Saquon Barkley, RB Penn State
3 Sam Darnold, QB USC
4 Bradley Chubb, DE N.C. State
5 Josh Rosen, QB UCLA
6 Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB Alabama
7 Roquan Smith, LB Georgia
8 Derwin James, S Florida State
9 Tremaine Edmunds Virginia Tech
10 Denzel Ward, CB Ohio State
11 Harold Landry, DE Boston College
12 Calvin Ridley, WR Alabama
13 James Daniels, OL Iowa
14 D.J. Moore, WR Maryland
15 Mike McGlinchey, OT Notre Dame
16 Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA
17 Leighton Vander Esch, LB Boise State

If you’ve been following my colleague DannyPhantom’s draft board construction process, he’s laid out the final board, with his latest only showing 14 first round grades. Stephen’s comments about 17 first round grades rolls right in line with the past three times BTB has leaked the Cowboys draft boards. Still, it’s been said that this draft is more about quality as a whole. Personally, I tend to agree with my partner, it’s not necessarily a jam-packed first round, though the Top-10 is pretty solid.

So, first impressions of these guesses to get the conversation flowing:

Hope there’s more love at Quarterback

You will first notice that we have only two quarterbacks but the Cowboys probably don’t have all five quarterbacks in their first round grades. The hope is that other teams do and the trade ups that have already occurred suggest so. The Cowboys really want to see as much quarterback love as possible because it’s going to send good players closer to striking range.

Heavy on the O-Line

The feeling is that Quenton Nelson does his job better than any other player at their respective position, so he gets top billing. After him, you don’t see another lineman in the Top-10. James Daniels has risen to the top of the potential Cowboys’ pick list because the athleticism and skill set is very great fit with their scheme. This isn’t the best tackle class we’ve seen in recent memory but Mike McGlinchey is widely considered the top tackle.

Linebacker at 19 lacks value

There are only three linebackers with first round grades but only one that has a realistic shot to be the pick at 19. Leighton Vander Esch is rumored to be highly-regarded and the feeling suggests they view him as first-round worthy. The value of taking a linebacker in round one just doesn’t add up if you’re not getting one of the top two guys.

Honorable mentions:

Only one defensive tackle, but Vita Vea is viewed as a three-down player.

Watch for slides in the first round and Denzel Ward might see some slippage.

No news at receiver, only two are truly worthy of a first, Courtland Sutton isn’t one of them.

Only six of the 17 guys on this list had some sort of pre-draft interaction with the Cowboys. With 11 of them not being visits, it shows that the Cowboys aren’t confident that they’ll get a true first-rounder at 19? Does this suggest lots of trade options,up, down and all around? It certainly seems so.

So, BTB community, we would love for you to give us your best guesses in the comments, who’s in and who’s out of the mysterious 17 first rounder’s list?