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Cowboys Draft 2020: Dallas fills holes on defense in Dane Brugler’s latest mock draft

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NFL Combine - Day 6 Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Now that we are past the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, many are coming out with their latest mock drafts. Some of that includes combine performances, while some of it also includes talk in Indy.

The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released his latest 2020 three-round mock draft, and the Dallas Cowboys addressed the defensive side of the ball in all three rounds. After an explosive season on the offensive side of the ball, it does make sense to upgrade the other side of the ball in Mike McCarthy’s first season in charge.

First Round, Pick 17: C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida Gators

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 05 Auburn at Florida Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The expectation is that Byron Jones will walk in free agency, as the Dallas Cowboys will prioritize the contracts of franchise quarterback Dak Prescott and number one receiver Amari Cooper over their star cornerback. Therefore, it seems reasonable for the Cowboys to have eyes on the top corners in the draft class.

Ohio State’s Jeffery Okudah is the consensus top player at the position and will be a top-5 selection in the draft. Behind Okudah, there are a few different names that have been ranked as the draft’s second best corner: namely Florida’s C.J. Henderson, LSU’s Krisitian Fulton, and TCU’s Jeff Gladney.

The combine may have just separated Henderson from the other group, putting his stock closer to Okudah’s. Henderson’s performance at the NFL Combine was excellent, as the former Gators defensive back showed off his elite speed, strength, and athleticism. Per mockdraftable, Henderson was 80-percentile or better in five different categories:

  • 6-foot-1 (81%)
  • 204 pounds (88%)
  • 4.39 40-yard dash (84%)
  • 127” broad jump (82%)
  • 20 bench press reps (90%)

Henderson already had the film worthy of a first-round pick, and he tested extremely well. Because of that, Henderson’s stock may be out of range of the 17th overall selection in the draft. Brugler wrote this on the potential selection:

17. Dallas Cowboys – C.J. Henderson, CB, Florida

Henderson has a chance to be drafted in the top 10 so this might be the latest he comes off the board. With Byron Jones destined to reach free agency, cornerback shoots near the top of Dallas’ draft needs. Henderson needs to be a better playmaker at the catch point, but he is a plus athlete with the size to blanket receivers.

The Cowboys will soon be in need of a corner. Will Henderson be the pick at 17?

Second Round, Pick 51: Justin Madubuike, DT, Texas A&M Aggies

NCAA Football: Auburn at Texas A&M John Glaser-USA TODAY Sports

In this scenario, the Cowboys would have filled a need in the secondary; however, there are more places that they need to address on the defense. In round two, Brugler has Dallas drafting an interior defensive lineman to shore up that area of the unit.

There is no secret that Dallas needs to bring in talent at the defensive tackle position. Madubuike is a player that has experience playing against some of the best competition across college football while playing for Texas A&M in the brutal SEC West.

The former top-100 recruit was a productive player for the Aggies during his three seasons in College Station, totaling 105 total tackles, 24.5 tackles-for-loss, and 11 sacks. Madubuike’s final collegiate season was perhaps his best, as the McKinney native reached career-highs in tackles (45), TFLs (11.5), and sacks (5.5).

Brugler had this to write on the A&M product in his pre-combine defensive tackle rankings article:

An active competitor, Madubuike strikes with power and pad level, showing the heavy hands to work his way through bodies. While his initial quickness can be too much for blockers to handle at times, his pass rush stalls and he must expand his bag of tricks and rush plan. Overall, Madubuike isn’t a refined player right now, but he is a power-packed athlete with twitched-up muscles to win the point of attack, projecting as a three-technique tackle with upside.

Third Round, Pick 82: Malik Harrison, LB, Ohio State Buckeyes

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Texas Christian Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It was not too long ago when we thought that the Cowboys were set for years at the linebacker position. Leighton Vander Esch looked like the next great linebacker in the NFL, and Jaylon Smith showed the flashes he had at Notre Dame as he flew all over the field. Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistent play has this position in question.

Brugler addresses the question marks surrounding the position by grabbing Ohio State’s Malik Harrison in the third-round, passing on adding a wide receiver or a safety.

Harrison fits the mold of what we have come to see from McClay and company: a productive player on a major program. The Columbus, Ohio, native turned in a very good three-cone drill (6.82) that ranked 88th-percentile on mockdraftable and his 122” broad jump was 81st-percentile.

This is Brugler’s eval on Harrison from his linebacker positional rankings before the combine:

Harrison is an alert, gap-sound player who explodes as a tackler at contact. He flies around the field and constantly chases the action, but his occasional false steps prove costly and there are questions about his man coverage skills. Overall, Harrison is a terrific height/weight/speed prospect and with his ability to mirror, take on contact and finish, he is one of the better run defending linebackers in this draft class.