The Cowboys have been a bit busier than usual in free agency this year, and that’s somewhat affected the team’s approach to the 2020 draft. While they don’t have any one pressing need that could force their hand, Dallas has lots of options.
Here is a seven-round Cowboys mock, facilitated using the mock draft machine on The Draft Network, that features the Cowboys actually trading down in the first round to acquire more picks.
First round (30th overall): AJ Terrell, CB - Clemson
When the Cowboys got on the clock at 17, many of the popular targets for the Cowboys were gone. None of the top three receivers were available, CJ Henderson was chosen at ninth overall, and both Javon Kinlaw and K’Lavon Chaisson had gone right before Dallas at 15 and 16 respectively.
However, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert had miraculously fallen and was still available, prompting a trade with the Patriots that netted Dallas their first-rounder, fourth-rounder, and sixth-rounder. Then, another trade down came at 23 with the Packers, who gave up their first-rounder, fifth-rounder, and seventh-rounder.
Finally, at the 30th overall pick, Dallas picked AJ Terrell from Clemson. Terrell is one of the more highly-touted corners in this draft and is ready to take on starter snaps from an early point. He excels in man coverage and has a knack for tying up receivers on the outside, as demonstrated in this Twitter thread from John Owning.
Good example of AJ Terrell mirroring the WR's break from trail. Does a nice job reading the hips then cutting the WR off to the sideline. pic.twitter.com/sTHjsY4jzb— John Owning (@JohnOwning) March 28, 2020
Second round (51st overall): Brandon Aiyuk, WR - Arizona State
After missing out on Emmanuel Sanders in free agency, the Cowboys still have a need at their third receiver position. So when their 51st pick comes up and a player like Brandon Aiyuk is still on the board, there’s not much argument to be had here.
Aiyuk is a dynamic athlete in every sense of the word, with blazing speed and quickness to go along with his ridiculous wingspan. At Arizona State, Aiyuk was effective as a deep threat, on more possession-style shorter routes, and creating havoc after the catch. Inserting Aiyuk into an offense with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup would form a monster for any secondary, and landing Aiyuk this late in the draft is a total steal.
Brandon Aiyuk's calling card is his gamebreaking ability after the catch, but I think he's got crazy potential to separate before the catch too with his stopping power & speed out of his cuts. Complete deep threat too.— Nick Olson (@NickOlsonNFL) March 23, 2020
Wouldn't hate him in the 1st, would love him in the 2nd. pic.twitter.com/J0usCkUmi5
Third round (82nd overall): Darrell Taylor, EDGE - Tennessee
The Cowboys have yet to address their secondary edge rusher role after the loss of Robert Quinn, and although Randy Gregory seems likely to be reinstated for the 2020 season, his availability as a starter shouldn’t necessarily be counted on.
Enter Darrell Taylor, a versatile edge presence who’s got a fairly high ceiling. Taylor has all the athleticism to become a great second edge rusher, and his experience in a multiple front at Tennessee gives him the ability to work out of both two-point and three-point stances. He needs to grow in his pass rush plan of attack, but does have the tools to thrive opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.
(Thread) Darrell Taylor #19. Athleticism, size, and length make him a prospect worth taking a chance on. He needs to retool his arsenal of pass rush moves and use his hands more consistently in order to win at the next level. If he does that, he'll unlock a whole new level pic.twitter.com/1oOhB28Nh4— Tommy (@TmacSports24) March 27, 2020
Fourth round (123rd overall): Leki Fotu, DT - Utah
The Cowboys signed massive nose tackle Dontari Poe, weighing in at 346 pounds, to a two-year deal last week as part of their mission to get bigger in the trenches. While Poe’s signing is certainly a good way to do that, he’ll turn 30 before the regular season begins and suffered a season-ending injury last year.
Finding a successor to Poe is not a bad idea, and few prospects in this draft fit that bill as much as Leki Fotu. Playing at 337 pounds in college, Fotu is surprisingly agile for his size, and that’s helped him become a dominating presence in the middle during his days at Utah. While Fotu still needs to refine his more nuanced traits, like pass rush moves and leverage, he’s a surefire nose tackle type who could develop nicely beyond Poe for a year or two.
Someone tell Leki Fotu that 330lbs+ men aren’t supposed to be this quick. He’s going to be a load at NT in the NFL. pic.twitter.com/ErinSi6D53— Rob Paul (@RobPaulNFL) October 1, 2019
Fourth round (125th overall): McTelvin Agim, DT - Arkansas
Just as Poe won’t be around forever, neither will Gerald McCoy. Although he has a three-year deal, it’s been structured in such a way that Dallas can cut ties after the second season if they want to, and with McCoy already at 32 years of age, that might be the case.
Some have speculated that McCoy could be the perfect mentor for last year’s top pick, Trysten Hill, but in case the Cowboys aren’t sold on him anymore they could find a similar prospect in McTelvin Agim. Roughly the same size as McCoy, Agim also has some impressive explosiveness that makes him an ideal candidate for a penetrating 3-technique role. With less experience than most at playing defensive tackle, Agim needs time to develop and get more consistent, but the tools are there to blossom into an eventual successor to McCoy.
Fifth round (164th overall): Harrison Bryant, TE - Florida Atlantic
The Cowboys are making Blake Jarwin their new top tight end, and the signing of Blake Bell is likely intended to bring in competition with Dalton Schultz for the blocking tight end role. But it’s good to have an additional receiving tight end, if only for depth.
Harrison Bryant can do just that; he’s been described as a receiver in a tight end’s body, which means he won’t be asked to block too much but can pose an additional threat in the passing game as a supplement to Jarwin. Bryant offers good value at this point and gives the Cowboys just one more weapon for Dak Prescott to throw to.
Check out our tight end Harrison Bryant. FAU Football !! pic.twitter.com/4N81R93RO1— Dr. Richard Staller (@Dr_Staller) November 24, 2019
Fifth round (175th overall): Tanner Muse, S - Clemson
After signing HaHa Clinton-Dix, safety isn’t as big of a need for Dallas anymore, but both he and Xavier Woods will have their contracts expire after the 2020 season. The Cowboys would be smart to try and find a replacement for one or both of them sooner rather than later.
Tanner Muse offers a lot of upside, especially after his impressive 40 time at the combine, and he’s got the kind of versatility that would make him a weapon Mike Nolan’s multiple defense. He’s a prototypical box safety who could even play a safety/linebacker hybrid role, and has experience playing deep at Clemson, where he picked off six passes the last two years. Those takeaway skills alone should make him enticing, but his upside makes him a good get at this point in the draft.
Fifth round (179th overall): Lamar Jackson, CB - Nebraska
Clinton-Dix and Woods aren’t the only Dallas defensive backs whose deals are up next year. Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie will also be free agents. The decision to lock up Anthony Brown to a three-year deal may have been in anticipation of letting Lewis go, as Brown excels in the slot.
But the other outside corner, opposite Terrell based on this mock, would need someone manning it. Lamar Jackson could potentially fill that role, allowing Dallas to avoid handing out a contract to Awuzie if they so desire. Jackson has the size and length at 6’3” to man the outside, and his five interceptions in two years at Nebraska is equally impressive. If Jackson can spend his rookie year working on technique and learning the defense, he may be able to step into a prominent role by 2021.
I see Nebraska DB Lamar Jackson as a day two or three pick in the NFL Draft. His length (6'3") will be attractive to a lot of teams, but his balls skills are what makes him next level. #WNSFilm pic.twitter.com/dEJf8Z2ASH— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) November 4, 2019
Sixth round (213th overall): Shyheim Carter, S - Alabama
This kind of move would pretty much be a declaration that the Cowboys have no intention of giving a contract extension to either Clinton-Dix or Woods, which is entirely possible. And if so, then there are few moves that could be made here that would be better than nabbing Alabama’s Shyheim Carter.
Xavier McKinney has rightfully gotten a lot of praise, but Carter offers a lot of versatility as well. Recruited to Alabama as a cornerback, Carter transitioned to safety to better take advantage of his football IQ. He filled a wide variety of roles in Nick Saban’s defense, which would be very in-theme with Dallas’ desire to be more multiple with their defense.
CB/NCB Shyheim Carter (Alabama, 6’, 190 lbs). Stats: (34 games) 56 Solo Tackles, 44 Asst Tackles, 100 Combined Tackles, 6 TFL, 3 INT, 2 TD, 18 PD & 2 FF. #ShyheimCarter #4EDraft2020 pic.twitter.com/QH8GOIkw5Q— 49er_Edits (@49er_edits) March 10, 2020
Seventh round (231st): Braden Mann, P - Texas A&M
The Cowboys are taking special teams seriously this year after re-signing Kai Forbath and adding Greg Zuerlein, but they’ve done nothing about the punter situation so far. While it seems they may give Chris Jones one more chance, adding a guy with a booming leg like Braden Mann would be smart.
At Texas A&M, Mann broke the NCAA records for single game punting average, single season punting average, and number of 60-plus yard punts in a season. Plus, he’s got a little bit of the Puntisher in him, too:
A&M has forced four turnovers this season. One of them was caused by the punter, Braden Mann. pic.twitter.com/N9R5wi16us— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) October 13, 2018
Punters don’t get enough love!— thatSECpodcast (@thatSECpodcast) November 23, 2019
Braden Mann with a beauty here: pic.twitter.com/fAxxl5fLEx
Seventh round (242nd overall): Tae Crowder, LB - Georgia
This late in the draft, teams are simply looking for players that they want but don’t want to risk a bidding war in undrafted free agency. Tae Crowder is an intriguing prospect out of Georgia who has a lot of football knowledge to help him out.
Crowder’s a bit slow to react and isn’t as athletic as some other prospects in this linebacker class, but he’s got potential as a rotational linebacker and special teams contributor, something Dallas needs with Jeff Heath joining the Raiders.