Mock drafts are fun exercises, but don’t often come even remotely close to what actually happens in the NFL Draft. But they can be decent indicators of some overall trends. Results vary widely depending on the board used and how the team needs are projected, but when the same thing keeps happening over and over, it stands a decent chance of having some actual predictive value. When you plug the Dallas Cowboys into these things, a couple of trends to watch show up. Some are good, some indicate that finesse will be needed, and one is about the best the team could hope for.
To look at this, I ran multiple mocks at Fanspeak, and also did a few at The Draft Network.
Let’s start with the best news: If the Cowboys want a safety at 58, they will have their pick from some really good ones.
Depending on which board was specified for the mock, here are the names I was able to grab, with just about all of them being available multiple times (an asterisk denotes a pre-draft visit to the Star):
- Chauncey Gardner-Johnson*
- Nasir Adderley
- Taylor Rapp*
- Darnell Savage
- Johnathan Abram*
- Juan Thornhill*
The fact that so many of the players the Cowboys had in for a visit were available for them when their first pick rolled around has to be a good sign. It indicates that a lot of other positions are going to be overdrafted, and also fits with the perception that safety is an undervalued position in the NFL. If they were indeed pleased with the four visitors they had in, they should do very well on Friday.
For the other positions, things get a little tougher. Their are some good options available in the third and fourth rounds for wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, cornerback, and edge rusher - but choices have to be made. They aren’t going to get all they want before the fifth round comes around and everything is largely a roll of the dice.
In particular, the defensive line positions are not all that deep, and in most of the mocks, they were flying off the boards. Even at pick 90, the Cowboys were faced with having to either make a bit of a reach or go elsewhere. And while they had some really strong choices at wide receiver and tight end there, both those thinned out considerably by Dallas’ pick at 128. Cornerback is always a hot commodity and it is hard to find a really great value on day two, but it could happen. The team is going to need a bit of luck and some good scouting to get the most value with those two selections.
But the compensatory fourth-round pick at 136 looks like a real sweet spot for a running back. That is another devalued position for the league, of course, but there was a large group of players who would be solid backups for Ezekiel Elliott, something that is certainly a need. There seems to be a run on them in the fifth round in just about every simulation, so 136 just fits things.
OK, those are some general takeaways, with the biggest one that great situation at safety. But part of the fun of mocks is mocking the selections others make. So here are two different ones I did, using the two simulators, and a bit of my reasoning for each.
The Draft Network:
58: S Juan Thornhill. This one looked to be a fairly realistic result, as many boards have Thornhill in this general range. Of all the picks I came up with in multiple tries, this is the name I would be least surprised to get right.
90: DL Renell Wren. Depending on whose evaluation you use, this could be a good value or a bit of a reach. It was a bit of making the best of things in this mock, as no other great options jumped out at me.
128: WR Stanley Morgan, Jr. Morgan seems to be more a route technician and able to work the middle of the field, without the speed to take the top off the defense. Which makes him a potential slot guy who would learn behind Randall Cobb for a year and then be a candidate to replace him in 2020.
136: RB Trayveon Williams. It was, as they say, a target-rich environment. Williams showed the ability to carry a big load in college, along with real big-play potential.
165: TE Trevon Wesco. Described as a blocking tight end, so unless things have really changed with Kellen Moore, he seems to be Dallas’ cup of tea.
241: EDGE Malik Reed. Fast and bendy, but raw, a bit undersized, and not great against the run. But it’s the seventh, so a developmental pass rusher seems a good option.
58: S Chancey Gardner-Johnson. This was one of those picks to make fast, because it seems so unlikely a player of this caliber could actually be around at that spot. He is seen as a borderline first-rounder by many. Amazingly, this particular mock was not the only one where he was available.
90: WR Emanuel Hall. He was one of the last visitors, and that certainly influenced me in taking him.
128: TE Josh Oliver. The opposite of Wesco, Oliver is a real receiving threat who would have to learn a lot about blocking. If he were to really be taken, it would indicate that the Moore era is indeed going to be a bit different.
136: RB Damien Harris. He is a great example of how Dallas can get real value with this pick, as many see him as a third-round talent. He does everything you ask of him competently, but not outstandingly.
165: DL Trysten Hill. The real question here is how he came across during his visit to Dallas. He is seen as an underachiever with legitimate ability. If the coaching staff thinks they can get him on board with things, he would be a great, even outstanding value at this point.
241: EDGE Jamal Davis. Another flyer in the seventh, and that was often how the EDGE position worked out in the mocks I did. Like Hill, a lot depends on what the staff thinks they can do with him, since he needs a lot of work despite some intriguing traits.