It wasn’t too long ago that Grant Delpit and Xavier McKinney were basically the only two names you needed to know when it came to Cowboys mock drafts. Sure, you could occasionally find another name thrown in there, but the safeties from LSU and Alabama were all the rage for Cowboys mockers.
Instead of continuing that trend and getting to a consensus, things are now starting diverge when it comes to Cowboys mock drafts. New names, new positions, and even a few players on the offensive side of the ball are making appearances.
To kick off our roundup, we’ll stick with a few ol’ reliables. First up, Xavier McKinney.
17. Dallas Cowboys
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
So much about the Cowboys’ offseason is unresolved. Will they sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a huge contract extension? Will they lock up star receiver Amari Cooper? What about free-agent defenders Byron Jones, Robert Quinn and Michael Bennett? Will veterans Jason Witten and Sean Lee return on short-term deals? The good thing is that we’ll know about all of these players before the draft. For now, I’m betting on Jones being the odd man out among the guys who have to get paid this offseason. That opens up holes at corner, of course, but also accentuates the need at safety, where Dallas has struggled the past few years. The versatile McKinney, who had three interceptions and four forced fumbles last season, is my top-ranked safety in this class.
17. Dallas (8-8) — Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama, Jr.
It’s well documented how the Cowboys have attempted to upgrade the safety position over the past couple of seasons, plus All-Pro cornerback Byron Jones will be one of the most sought after free agents in March. McKinney is an elite athlete with prototypical size (6-1, 200) who can play every position in the defensive backfield. Top needs: S, DL, TE
Now, a couple for his rival at safety, Grant Delpit.
Sports Illustrated (Larking)
17. Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Often neglecting the position, Dallas needs to improve its secondary by selecting a top safety. Currently a mid-range issue, the need at safety increases if the Cowboys lose unrestricted free agent Byron Jones in a bidding war. Grant Delpit impressed with six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble during the LSU Tigers’ 2020 National Championship win. Delpit earned First-Team All-SEC honors during his final two seasons and won the 2019 Jim Thorpe award. Delpit is versatile across the back seven and appears to be NFL ready.
Sports Illustrated (Hanson)
17. Dallas Cowboys: Grant Delpit, S, LSU
Outside of Jeffrey Okudah, the Cowboys would have their choice of defensive backs in this mock draft scenario. The Cowboys were tied for the league low in passes intercepted (seven) last season and Delpit is a rangy playmaker with eight interceptions and 24 passes defended in his three seasons at LSU.
With those out of the way, let’s move on to some different names. It seems like mockers are starting to catch on to the fact that Byron Jones may be moving to greener pastures with a contract the Cowboys will be unwilling to match. So picking up a replacement in the first round is gaining momentum, but there is disagreement over who that corner should be.
17. Cowboys — Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama: Byron Jones is poised to command a sum the Cowboys might find too immense to match should he reach free agency, an increasingly likely outcome as Dallas remains in a stalemate with Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. A fitting replacement might await in Diggs, another big corner with head-turning athleticism.
17 Trevon Diggs - CB
School: Alabama | Year: Senior
Diggs is a big cornerback with tremendous ball skills and could replace Byron Jones if he departs in free agency.
Diggs isn’t a name that we’ve seen much of before at this spot. He’s the younger brother of receiver Stefon Diggs and is liked for his size, athleticism and ball skills.
Kristian Fulton is actually a name that has popped up occasionally as a fit in Dallas at pick #17.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Kristian Fulton, CB, LSU
The Cowboys may lose Byron Jones in free agency because they can’t pay everyone. Quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper both are in line for pay days. If Jones bolts than Fulton is the type of experienced college corner that can come in and contribute right away.
Ditto C.J. Henderson, who has also shown up in previous mocks for the Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida Byron Jones could leave the Cowboys in free agency beacuse it will be difficult to sign him, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. Here’s a replacement for Jones.
Henderson totaled 11 passes broken up and 33 tackles in 2019. He also missed three games with a leg injury. Henderson does a good job in coverage, blanketing receivers. Henderson is big, fast and athletic to run the route and prevent separation. However, he is an awful tackler and very soft as a defender.
In 2018, Henderson totaled 38 tackles with two sacks, seven passes broken up, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. He was really impressive as a freshman, demonstrating excellent coverage and ball skills. Henderson totaled four interceptions with four passes broken up and 22 tackles that season. Henderson has excellent size to go along with speed and cover skills. He possesses a ton of upside as a cover corner, but he needs to improve his tackling and run defense.
The Cowboys secondary is an issue, especially if the Cowboys lose Byron Jones. But there is also the school of thought that the Cowboys need more of an interior presence on the defensive line. We’ve discussed how new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan likes big defensive linemen, and Javon Kinlaw certainly fits the bill.
Javon Kinlaw DL SOUTH CAROLINA • SR • 6’6” / 310 LBS
There are already reports that Dallas wants to move up and make a splash in the 2020 NFL Draft. Perhaps they would consider allowing Amari Cooper to walk and then draft either CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy? Nonetheless, they are able to stand firm at No. 17 overall and still make a splash with Kinlaw. He is the No. 7 overall prospect according to our rankings, so the Cowboys are adding great value.
Kinlaw is a favorite of many Cowboys fans.
There is a defensive lineman from Auburn likely to be taken in the first round, Derrick Brown, but he will go too early for Dallas. In a curveball pick, SB Nation has Dallas picking a different Auburn lineman.
17. Dallas Cowboys: Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
The ideal pick for the Cowboys is probably Kinlaw. They’ve needed a pressure-creating defensive tackle for several years. But if he goes a few picks before Dallas comes up, things will get interesting. This may seem early for Davidson — and it probably is — but never, ever forget that strange and unexpected things happen in the draft. Davidson is a unique player. He started four years at defensive end for Auburn and played standing up a lot last season. But at 280 pounds, he has some intrigue as a gap-shooting interior player.
Davidson has bulked up to closer to 300 pounds to become a tackle in the NFL. Given his body type and athleticism, edge rusher just wasn’t in the cards for Davidson at the pro level. He’s an interesting prospect as a guy who has good skills rushing the passer who will transition to tackle, but this feels like too much of a reach for the Cowboys.
Now we get to the real left field picks. Could the Cowboys actually use their top draft pick on an offensive player? Wide receiver seems to be the new infatuation. This may have to do with the uncertainty of the contracts for Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb.
Round 1, Pick 17: Laviska Shenault, WR Colorado Buffaloes
... the Cowboys could be entering 2020 without a true WR1 thanks to the potential loss of Cooper, and a hole in the slot with the loss of Cobb. At pick 17, there is one player who could help alleviate some of what Dallas will be losing this offseason, Laviska Shenault. Taking Shenault means that the Cowboys will be selecting a WR in the first round for the first time since 2010 when they selected Dez Bryant.
In only nine games in 2018, Shenault had 86 receptions for 1,011 yards and six touchdowns. He also added five rushing touchdowns as well. However, he took a step back in 2019, only catching 56 passes for 764 yards and four scores, while also adding only two rushing TDs in 11 games. Although his stats fell off a bit this past season, a lot of that had to do with injury and how Colorado decided to use him.
Or maybe the Cowboys go for speed at the WR position.
17. Dallas Cowboys — Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III
Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are about to get paid, so why not go all-in with the offense. Dallas has a ton of upcoming pending free agents and could go several directions here from corner to safety to an edge rusher.
Ruggs is a potential game-changer to fill the hole left by Randall Cobb. He fills in with Cooper and Michael Gallup while maximizing the likely mammoth investment into Prescott. Ruggs is a game-breaking type of threat averaging 9 yards after the catch with some speculating he could run in the 4.2s in the 40-yard dash.
So BTB, which pick is the best in this roundup?