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Cowboys news: Who will the Cowboys draft with the 19th pick?

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Your Wednesday morning Dallas Cowboys links.

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Alabama Celebration Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

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Cowboys 2018 final mock draft roundup: It’s Calvin Ridley edging out D.J. Moore - Dave Halprin, BTB

In the last mock draft roundup of this draft cycle, Calvin Ridley is mocked to the Cowboys the most.

We are down to our last mock draft roundup of the 2018 draft season. In our final survey of 16 mock drafts, the potential picks for the Dallas Cowboys have settled into two positions - wide receiver and linebacker. Early on in our mock draft roundups, defensive tackle was the dominant position, with some guards sprinkled in with the receivers and linebackers. Even the occasional cornerback or defensive end would sneak in.

No more. It’s almost all wide receivers with one linebacker making an appearance.

The favorite for the Cowboys in our final survey is Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley. He tops the list by being the choice in seven of our mocks, edging out D.J. Moore who is the pick of five mocks. Courtland Sutton rounds out the receiver trifecta with two mocks.

Predicting Trades, Sleepers and Fallers in New Mock - Mike Tanier, Bleacher Report

Tanier has the Cowboys going with Ridley in round one.

19. Dallas Cowboys: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Remember when the Cowboys went 13-3 two years ago and couldn’t stop congratulating themselves for building a great offensive line and “discovering” Dak Prescott? One year later, they’re fresh off a 9-7 season and are heading in the wrong direction.

Dez Bryant’s departure leaves the Cowboys with one of the NFL’s weakest receiving corps, and their defensive line is thin. Oh, and they lack both the cap space and draft capital to make needed upgrades.

So, Jerry Jones needs to maximize his bang for the buck here. And Jerrah loves: a) players with big workout numbers; and b) prospects who make him feel smart for nabbing them. Ridley’s a burner, and Jerrah can pat himself on the back for getting a playmaker who slipped through the cracks.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has reported the Cowboys have shown serious interest in SMU receiver Courtland Sutton, who likewise meets the Jerrah Criteria. He’ll be plan B if the Ravens draft Ridley like the Cowboys probably expect them to.

NFL draft 2018 wide receiver rankings: Alabama’s Calvin Ridley poised to make instant impact - Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA TODAY Sports

Middlehurst-Schwartz ranks Ridley as the top wideout in the draft, with Moore right behind him.

1. Calvin Ridley, Alabama (6-0, 189): Emerging from the shadow cast by Amari Cooper and other recent Crimson Tide greats, Ridley established himself as a go-to threat capable of handling the Southeastern Conference’s best defensive backs. A run-heavy formula and lack of receiving threats elsewhere on the offense limited his production in the last two seasons, but opposing defenses still showed a healthy respect for his ability. Ridley combines dangerous deep speed with precise and varied route running to create easy separation. His wiry build is the chief concern, as he might find jams harder to beat at the next level. Yet his overall skill set solidifies his standing in a wide receiver class short on surefire talent. Projected: Round 1

NFL Draft profile: Calvin Ridley is more Amari Cooper than Julio Jones - Patrick Schmidt, FanSided

Schmidt wrote a profile on the Alabama target.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Ridley is slightly below the type of prospect former Alabama receiver Amari Cooper in terms of what he projects to do in the NFL. He is a smooth strider who can beat teams deep with his long speed and can be lethal after the catch.

Ridley’s best attribute is his ability to gain separation. There is no wasted motion with his feet in and out of breaks and he is so well-coached that he knows where to find the soft spots in the defense.

The biggest concern with Ridley is his he had a tendency to drop balls in traffic and he can disappear against big, physical corners.

2018 NFL Draft Odds: Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore Favored to Be Top WRs Taken - Scott Polacek, Bleacher Report

Ridley and Moore are the odds-on favorites to be the top two receivers taken on Thursday night.

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley won a national championship in his final collegiate season and is the favorite to be the first player at his position taken during the upcoming NFL draft.

OddsShark shared the latest wide receivers odds, and Ridley is joined by Maryland’s D.J. Moore and SMU’s Courtland Sutton as the three pass-catchers with better than +1,000 odds (bet $10 to win $100) to be taken first among their positional peers:

NFL Mock Draft 2018: 1st-Round Projections and Receiving Prospects on the Rise - Chris Roling, Bleacher Report

Roling has Ridley going to a different NFC East squad.

Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is one of the only guys challenging for the top pass-catching option in the draft.

Ridley standing out in Alabama’s run-heavy attack is impressive in the first place. So is his 967 yards and five touchdowns a year ago on only 63 catches, meaning he had an average of 15.3 yards per reception.

What fans will hear about Ridley more than anything, though, is his best-in-class route running. There’s no higher honor in this regard than finding out NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compares him to Marvin Harrison in his scouting report.

We can tack on strong praise from an NFC general manager for good measure, per Zierlein: “I haven’t seen them all yet, but I doubt anybody in this class will touch him at that position. You wish he was a little bigger and stronger, but he can get open on just about any route you want. I still think he’s a step below where Amari Cooper was coming out.”


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

On Tuesday, VP Stephen Jones told the media that the Cowboys have “around” 17 first-round grades for the 2018 NFL Draft class. Sisemore does his best to name all 17.

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.

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.

Linebacker a must for Cowboys -- and maybe not just one - Todd Archer, ESPN

Speaking of linebackers...

Archer writes on the need at the LB position.

Draft need: Lee’s health will always be a story. He has yet to play a full season; he could have done so in 2016, but the coaches held him out of a meaningless finale.

Smith’s return from a serious knee injury is amazing, but the Cowboys don’t know if he can handle a larger role in 2018 and are considering giving him time at strongside linebacker.

The loss of Anthony Hitchens in free agency not only removes a good player but a player who can play also multiple positions. The Cowboys added Thomas in free agency, but after Lee, Smith and Wilson they are painfully thin at the position.

That puts linebacker at or near the top of the list of needs as the draft approaches.

Archer predicts a linebacker will be the pick at 19.

Prediction: The Cowboys will take a linebacker in the first round. Not only that, they will take two linebackers in the draft. They’ve taken multiple players at the same position in the past: In 2008, they drafted tailback Felix Jones and cornerback Mike Jenkins in the first round, and then took running back Tashard Choice and corner Orlando Scandrick in the fifth round.


Cowboys should begin to prepare for life after Witten - Mac Engel, The Star-Telegram

What about tight end? Engel believes that the Cowboys need to start preparing for Witten’s retirement.

A player who will turn 36 this year, and is coming off the worst season of his career, is the ideal candidate to be cut, but Jason Witten gets a pass even if he can’t do much when he catches one.

Because there are the Jason Witten Rules, and they apply to but one man.

You aren’t him. Neither was Dez Bryant.

Part of the reason the Jason Witten Rules exist are because he is still good. He’s an adult. He’s a pro. He loves all of it. He’s reliable. He gets it. He’s not a headache. The head coach needs him. The owner loves him.

The notion, however, that he can play until 40 would be historical, and implausible. As much as it pains anyone who watches, or works with, a player who should be a Hall of Famer, the Cowboys need to add “tight end” to their long list of draft needs. And not just one to backup Jason Witten, but to replace him.

Jason Witten understands idea of Cowboys drafting TE early - Sam Quinn, Cowboys247

Witten realizes that there is a possibility that the Cowboys may invest an early pick at tight end.

That is the notion that Witten espoused to Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News on his feelings about the Cowboys potentially using a high draft pick on a tight end. “I understand it,” Witten said, “It’s happened a few times, three to be exact. That’s part of the business. They’re always going to bring in competition. That’s what this program, that’s what this franchise is all about and what this coaching staff tries to create.”

The fact that Witten keeps the number of tight ends that his team has drafted in mind, though, shows that he may be slightly saltier than he is letting on. He outlasted James Hanna, who just retired despite being draft nine years later than he was. Gavin Escobar left the team after four disappointing seasons. That leaves Rico Gathers as the last tight end standing behind the future Hall of Famer.


Dallas Cowboys don’t seem to have given up on Earl Thomas - Sam Quinn, Cowboys247

Can a trade for Earl Thomas really happen?

The Cowboys keep their privacy by being too talkative. Jerry Jones will speak on just about any subject. It’s just not possible to tell what is true and what is false.

But if you read between the lines, it certainly seems like the Cowboys are prepared internally for an Earl Thomas trade. Whether or not such a trade actually comes will depend on the compensation required by the Seattle Seahawks, but in their press conference Tuesday, Jerry and Stephen Jones along with Jason Garrett didn’t exactly shut the door on making a big move.

There are three fundamental factors that go into making any trade. Those factors are need, actual cost and opportunity cost. How badly does the team want the player they are acquiring? Are they willing to give up what the other team is asking for? And would giving that up make it impossible to fill other, potentially more pressing needs? In some manner or another, all three elements of a Thomas trade were addressed in the press conference.

Jerry Jones rules out any chance of return by Dez Bryant to Big D - ESPN Staff

Yeah, that’s definitely not going to happen.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has closed the door on a possible reunion with Dez Bryant, even if the wide receiver were willing to return at a reduced rate.

”We need to move on knowing that we don’t have Dez,” Jones said in a news conference Tuesday.

“I have no thoughts about the timing of when we decided to move on,” the owner said. “For everyone concerned, that was as good a time as any from the end of the season.”


Take a sneak peek at the NFL Draft theater inside AT&T Stadium - The Star-Telegram (VIDEO)

The Star-Telegram’s Lena Blietz takes fans on a virtual tour of what to expect on Thursday at AT&T Stadium.