This year’s NFL Draft will be unique, to say the least, with a lot of adjustments on the fly being made. The Cowboys have done a decent job in free agency of filling roster holes with more than just bargain-bin talents but guys that actually produce. That will take the pressure off the Cowboys being forced to pick at desperation in the first round. It could be argued that cornerback is the top need with a void left by Byron Jones but the Cowboys have capable starters in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis on the roster. The Cowboys can really go in a variety of ways and aren’t tied down to any position. In our fourth mock draft exercise, the Cowboys let the chips fall and come out with a decent haul.
Note: These mock draft exercises are run through the Draft Network simulator for as much accuracy as possible.
PICK 17 - K’Lavon Chaisson, DE, LSU
Why it makes sense: The Cowboys may have high hopes for the anticipated returns of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith, but hope only goes so far. The Cowboys are in need of edge rushers and cornerbacks but one position is deeper than the other in this case. Chaisson is one of the best edge rushers in a very weak class, adding him to rush the passer opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence has potential to wreck opponent’s plans in 2020.
Connor’s Scouting Report: After striking out the last time the Cowboys drafted a pass rusher in the first round,they hit a home run here. When turning on the tape of Chaisson it’s easy to see why he’s loved by so many teams. While his numbers won’t jump out of you, the flashes of elite speed, bend, and the dominance he displayed at the end of LSU’s championship run certainly do. Chaisson is a three down right defensive end for the Cowboys and would give them a consistent speed threat on the outside opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence, who can also defend the run extremely well.
PICK 51 - Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Why it makes sense: This may be a surprise, but the Draft Network sees Diggs sliding and is available at this spot. With the departure of Byron Jones, the Cowboys are in need of some capable cornerbacks to fill out the secondary. What they also need are guys with a little more channeled aggression and guys that attack the football. Trevon Diggs is a master of zone coverage and really understands the concepts of squeezing his area to his advantage. Diggs was a late-bloomer in terms of ball production but he snagged three picks and recovered a few fumbles in 2019. Diggs will need work on tackling technique but he’s a ferocious attacker at the catch point, which will give him some credit with Mike Nolan, the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator.
Connor’s Scouting Report: Trevon Diggs is one of the more polarizing prospects in the NFL Draft. While hearing his names rumored at 17 makes me cringe, hearing it at 51 is great value for a boundary corner with great upside. While somewhat limited athletically, Diggs has excellent instincts and ball skills, and pairs those traits with excellent size and length for the position. Diggs shouldn’t be looked at as a walk-in replacement for Byron Jones, but can be a solid addition in the secondary makeover for Dallas.
PICK 82 - Ashtyn Davis, S, California
Why it makes sense: The Cowboys have an emerging playmaker in Xavier Woods and used to resources to rent the services of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Though safety is not an immediate need, it’s wise for the Cowboys to use a selection on a guy like Ashtyn Davis for the future of the position. Davis is physical and proficient enough to play strong safety and can cover well enough to play free safety. Davis is the versatile type of player that the Cowboys have wanted on the back end. It’s possible that he is long gone by the third round but it wouldn’t surprise to see him in third round. If that’s the case, Davis is a quality pick with tons of upside and tremendous value for the Cowboys.
Connor’s Scouting Report: We’ve started to hear some rumors that the Cowboys are looking to move away from the traditional box safety, and possibly look to have multiple “free safeties” that can cover and take the football away. Ashtyn Davis is versatile enough to play both FS and SS, but his coverage skills, range, and ball skills are the three things he does best. Davis would be an excellent addition to the safety room, it would just be interesting to see who gets playing time, and at what positions with three “free safeties”.
PICK 123 - Essang Bassey, CB, Wake Forest
Why it makes sense: There are plenty of doubters of Essang Bassey but you can’t deny the production he had at the collegiate level. Bassey left Wake Forest with 45 pass breakups, five interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and a pick-six. Is he destined for the nickel cornerback spot? Perhaps, but how many teams are playing the majority of their snaps in nickel these days? Besides, Essang Bassey has the ability to be one of the league’s best nickel corners, with a good track record of getting the job done.
Connor’s Scouting Report: Once viewed as a top 100 player in the 2020 draft class, Bassey has seen quite the fall over the offseason. Playing primary as a boundary corner at Wake Forest, Bassey will be forced to play in the slot at the next level. There’s far too many reps on tape and at the Senior Bowl that showed he struggles against bigger receivers both in coverage and as a tackler. A move to slot CB may allow Bassey to reach his ceiling, but the size and lack of athleticism will limit the impact he can make in the NFL.
PICK 164 - Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida-Atlantic
Why it makes sense: He won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but a route technician at tight end will be a great addition for the Cowboys and Dak Prescott. The Cowboys brought in Blake Bell, “The Belldozer”, to handle some blocking duties and that’s not Bryant’s strength at the moment. However, Bryant is an ascending, hands-catching, mismatch in the making-type of tight end that can make an impact early and often.
Connor’s Scouting Report: In a league where teams use 12-personnel a ton, Harrison Bryant is the perfect day three tight end. Bryant can block, separate in all three levels, and is better after the catch than given credit for. Bryant has one of the higher ceilings out of this weaker TE class, and grabbing him this late to pair with Blake Jarwin would be excellent value.
PICK 179 - James Proche, WR, SMU
Why it makes sense: The Cowboys aren’t desperate for receiver help but you have to take advantage of the deeper positions when the opportunity is right. Taking Proche here might be a tad early but Dallas doesn’t have a sixth-round pick. In the later rounds, you are looking for traits and upside. Proche has elite hands, an alpha mentality, and a highlight reel of crazy acrobatic receptions that would impress Cirque Du Soleil. He’s still very raw and will need time to develop his route tree but there is so much to work with here.
Connor’s Scouting Report: Similar to Bryant, I am much higher on James Proche than most. While the athleticism is certainly a weakness of Proche, the ability to get open and catch everything thrown his way is not. There’s not much there with Proche from an after the catch standpoint, but he’ll be as reliable as they come from the slot for a long time. If you haven’t heard this yet, Proche’s best comparison is Cole Beasley, given how they both do most of their damage underneath, catch almost everything thrown their way, but won’t offer much down the field, or after the catch.
PICK 231 - Robert Landers, DT, Ohio State
Why it makes sense: With the work the Cowboys put in to add Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe to the defensive line, they can afford to look in other areas first. Robert Landers has remarkable first-step explosion and a great knowledge of the importance of using leverage. The big knock on him is that he lacks length throughout his frame and he’s not incredibly athletic. Still, Landers has been an admirable run defender and showed some potential as a pass rusher. He might be a solid piece in a rotation that could help out in a pinch at both interior positions.
Connor’s Scouting Report: Landers is the exact player you take in the sevnth round with hopes he develops into the player he showed flashes of at OSU. Landers has an impressive first step, plays with some quickness in his hands, and offers some pass rush ability from the under tackle spot. While the tape is inconsistent, Landers has a little bit of upside, and fits a need for the Cowboys late on day three.