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Cowboys 2018 mock draft: The linebacker route

This mock focuses on what the Cowboys could do in seven rounds by drafting a linebacker early.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few days, we’ve be releasing 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 linebacker 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: Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker, Boise State

Dallas has used plenty of draft resources on players from Boise State. Orlando Scandrick, DeMarcus Lawrence, and Tyrone Crawford all hail from the school with the blue turf. Dallas currently has two linebackers slated to start and adding another one is a need.

Vander Esch is a player with rising stock. He was somewhat of a one-year wonder at Boise State, but he has excellent athleticism that should translate to the NFL. He is always around the football and while he could put on some more muscle to help take on bigger blockers in the NFL, his production totals were high last year and he can cover receivers as well. Vander Esch is a player that could very well be the Cowboys’ guy at No. 19.

Round 2, Pick 50: Anthony Miller, Wide Receiver, Memphis

Dallas will surely look to address their receiver situation at some point in the draft. It could be in the first round with options like Calvin Ridley or D.J. Moore. However, they could get themselves a really good prospect around this time in the draft in Memphis’ Anthony Miller.

Due to his speed, quickness, and agility, Miller consistently won at the collegiate level. He does not have spectacular size at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, but he is a workhorse who consistently outworks defensive backs. Obviously he is not the tallest, but he is awesome at the catch point. He will beat cornerbacks from the snap with his quickness. If Dallas can be creative with how they deploy him, he could be a very productive receiver, contributing to the Cowboys’ hopes of making the offense more “Dak-friendly”.

Round 3, Pick 81: DeShon Elliott, Safety, Texas

Another area the Cowboys will look to address at some point in the draft is the safety position. Dallas has some options in the defensive backfield with Xavier Woods, Jeff Heath, and Kavon Frazier. However, the Cowboys could benefit from adding another safety and Elliott has positional flexibility, mainly thanks to his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame.

New defensive backs coach Kris Richard loves defensive backs that are bigger and that is Elliott’s M.O. He is likely more of a strong safety at the next level, but Elliott could be an intriguing player due to his ability to cover near the line of scrimmage and sniff run plays out in the backfield.

Round 4, Pick 116: Deadrin Senat, Defensive Tackle, South Florida

Dallas needs a space-clogging type of a defensive tackle. And because this class is so robust with defensive tackles, South Florida’s Deadrin Senat is not receiving a ton of buzz.

The Cowboys are looking for a 1-technique defensive tackle and Senat would do well in a role like that. There is a lot of power packed into his short frame at 6-foot-1, 310 pounds. He is awesome off the snap, thanks to his powerful hands. Senat is not this athletic defensive tackle that will make sacks in the backfield, but he will be Rod Marinelli’s anchor in the middle that opens things up on the outside for your blue-chip guys like DeMarcus Lawrence and David Irving.

Round 4, Pick 137: Wyatt Teller, Offensive Guard, Virginia Tech

The Cowboys took a step back last year in the progression of the offensive line. Using stopgap players like Byron Bell, Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper unfortunately because of injuries, the offense as a whole was affected. By drafting an offensive guard like Wyatt Teller, that could change.

He is a blue-collar type of a player who needs a great supporting cast around him to come into his own and develop. There is a lot of power and potential tapped into his 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame. By drafting Teller, the Cowboys can regroup their offensive line and get back to their identity.

Round 5, Pick 171: Nyheim Hines, Running Back, North Carolina State

Dallas has shown interest in a few running backs in this draft, but none have seen more interest from the Cowboys than NC State’s Nyheim Hines. A future offensive weapon in the NFL who can contribute on third downs in the passing game, Hines is a player that would be awesome next to and behind Ezekiel Elliott.

While Elliott is a bruising running back who is perfect in the Cowboys’ scheme, Hines is a player that brings an element of agility and versatility that this offense does not have. At 5-foot-8, 200 pounds, Hines is a playmaker that can score whenever the ball is in his hands. The Cowboys could use Hines in a Lance Dunbar-type of role while also utilizing him as a return man.

Round 6, Pick 192: Kendrick Norton, Defensive Tackle, Miami

Son of former Cowboy Ken Norton, Kendrick is a little different than his father. Norton will not be a sexy draft pick by any means, but, similar to Senat, he will win in the middle and do the dirty work. Dallas needs anchors in the middle who can take on multiple blocks.

Due to the nature of this position and the strain it puts on players, the Cowboys would benefit from double-dipping at the defensive tackle position. He is a two-down player in the NFL, but he would be a nice player to work in on running plays.

Round 6, Pick 193: Joe Ostman, Defensive End, Central Michigan

A linebacker-turned-defensive end, Ostman was quietly a very good player at Central Michigan. He was the leader on the Chippewas’ front, showcasing a nonstop motor, strong hands, and a lot of technique despite being new to the position.

The athletic measurables do not check unfortunately, but the Cowboys are going to like a player with his character. And at his size at 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, the Cowboys could find interest in Ostman, as he fits in with what the Cowboys look for at the position.

Round 6, Pick 208: Greg Senat, Offensive Tackle, Wagner

It will be important for the Cowboys to add depth across the offensive line through this draft and in the undrafted free agency period. They lacked depth in 2017 and it hurt them, as evident by their offensive play throughout the second half of the season.

Senat is an intriguing player in the later part of the draft. He was a basketball player at Wagner, but transitioned to football. Rather than playing tight end like most basketball converts do, he was placed at tackle and has since turned into an NFL prospect. He has the frame to add more muscle at 6-foot-7, 300 pounds, but once he understands the nuances of the offensive line, he could develop into a starter in the NFL.

Round 7, Pick 236: Darren Carrington II, Wide Receiver, Utah

You may recognize the name from his time at Oregon. There are the concerns of his past, considering he was suspended for a failed drug test and arrested for a DUI, but he has a lot of potential. There are not many taller receivers who run as fluidly and willingly as Carrington II does.

He has speed to go along with his size. On top of that, he has excellent tracking and catch-point abilities, which led to his success in Oregon’s spread-out offense. He will need to improve as a run-blocker to receive starting snaps in the NFL, but he could add a unique element to the Cowboys’ offense thanks to his size and speed, similar to the role Brice Butler had.

What does your “linebacker route mock draft” look like?

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