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Mock Draft Database: What 50 mocks tell us about how the first round could play out for the Cowboys

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Where 50 of the latest mock drafts are slotting which players and what that could mean for Dallas.

NFL Draft Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

When we first published a mock draft database in late February, we surveyed 32 mocks and found that 19 of the 32 mocks (60%) had the Cowboys picking a safety. In our second mock draft database from early April, interest in a safety waned after the Cowboys had gone out and signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency, and C.J. Henderson (28%) and K’Lavon Chaisson (24%) emerged as the co-favorites. Two weeks later, and the tables have turned yet again.

Two weeks ago, C.J. Henderson was available at pick 17 in 20 of the 50 mock drafts we surveyed, but he’s moved up quite a bit since then: today he’s only available for the Cowboys in 12 of the 50 latest mocks. Which means that two days before the draft, the Cowboys have a consensus favorite in K’Lavon Chaission, who is the Cowboys’ pick in 23 of the 50 latest mocks mocks (46%).

And while it’s interesting to understand who the consensus favorite currently is, I think it’s more interesting to look at the mocks and see what the consensus opinion is on how the draft might play out on Thursday. For that, I plotted where 10 specific players were taken in each of the 50 mocks. Those 10 players are:

  • The top three wide receivers, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs. All are likely to be gone before the Cowboys pick, but where they are picked could have an influence on how the middle of the first round plays out.
  • Two defensive linemen in Javon Kinlaw and K’Lavon Chaisson.
  • Two cornerbacks in C.J. Henderson and Kristian Fulton. Henderson is the consensus No. 2 CB behind Okudah, and Fulton is a proxy for a large group of similarly graded CBs populating the second half of the first round.
  • Possible alternatives (and possible trade-down options) in safety #1 Xavier McKinney, #3 EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos, and #1 center Cesar Ruiz.

Here’s where each player was taken at which spot in the 50 mocks:

Mock Draft Date CeeDee Lamb Jerry Jeudy Henry Ruggs Javon Kinlaw C.J. Hender-son K'Lavon Chaisson Xavier McKinney Kristian Fulton Y. Gross-Matos Cesar Ruiz
CBSSports (DeArdo) 4/21 12 11 13 18 17 16 15 20 27 32
SportingNews (Iyer) 4/21 11 12 13 15 16 17 18 36 27 32
SI.com (Breer) 4/21 15 12 13 16 14 20 17 32 27 - -
NFL.com (Davis) 4/21 13 12 15 9 16 17 18 - - 27 - -
NorthJersey (Stapleton) 4/20 11 9 13 12 16 17 - - - - 27 23
Cleveland Plains Dealer (Bielik) 4/20 10 12 11 16 14 20 19 17 23 26
The Big Lead (Phillips) 4/20 12 13 15 9 16 18 17 19 - - 27
NBC Sports (King) 4/20 12 15 21 14 9 16 17 19 27 31
SI.com (Parson) 4/20 13 12 15 16 17 18 27 20 28 32
SB Nation (Kadar) 4/20 12 15 21 16 13 17 18 - - 20 - -
Mock Draft Date CeeDee Lamb Jerry Jeudy Henry Ruggs Javon Kinlaw C.J. Hender-son K'Lavon Chaisson Xavier McKinney Kristian Fulton Y. Gross-Matos Cesar Ruiz
NFL (Lewis) 4/20 11 12 13 19 17 16 21 - - 22 - -
Detroit Free Press (Birkett) 4/20 14 16 15 9 12 17 21 19 - - - -
CBS (Wilson) 4/19 12 13 15 16 9 17 18 29 - - 32
Philadelphia Inquirer (Domowitch) 4/19 12 13 15 16 9 17 24 - - - - - -
New York Post (Serby) 4/18 12 15 13 16 9 17 26 - - 27 28
CBS (Edwards) 4/18 16 12 13 14 15 21 17 42 27 41
Atlanta Falcons (Tabeek) 4/17 11 12 15 13 21 18 20 34 22 17
OregonLive (Arnold) 4/17 12 13 15 9 19 16 26 - - 27 17
LA Times (Farmer) 4/17 12 9 15 13 17 16 28 20 - - 18
Seattle Times 4/17 11 8 13 12 16 17 21 19 27 31
Mock Draft Date CeeDee Lamb Jerry Jeudy Henry Ruggs Javon Kinlaw C.J. Hender-son K'Lavon Chaisson Xavier McKinney Kristian Fulton Y. Gross-Matos Cesar Ruiz
SI.com (Hanson) 4/17 12 13 15 9 17 16 26 19 29 32
Yardbarker (Trachtman) 4/17 12 13 15 14 16 17 18 20 27 42
NFL (Reuter) 4/17 12 21 13 17 9 16 - - 29 25 43
Athlon Sports (Fischer) 4/17 12 13 14 11 15 16 22 - - 17 - -
Las Vegas RJ (Hill) 4/17 12 11 13 9 16 17 19 20 27 - -
CBS (Brinson) 4/16 12 8 15 9 13 27 - - 23 - - 17
CBS (Trapasso) 4/16 13 10 11 9 15 17 16 22 44 31
CBS (White) 4/16 12 14 15 16 11 17 23 29 31 - -
San Diego UT (Brown) 4/15 12 13 15 20 9 16 26 22 27 17
NFL (Schrager) 4/15 12 15 13 16 9 20 17 - - 27 32
Mock Draft Date CeeDee Lamb Jerry Jeudy Henry Ruggs Javon Kinlaw C.J. Hender-son K'Lavon Chaisson Xavier McKinney Kristian Fulton Y. Gross-Matos Cesar Ruiz
Drafttek (- -) 4/15 12 7 13 15 16 17 26 - - 27 - -
USA Today (Middlehurst-Schwartz) 4/14 12 13 15 14 16 17 - - 19 26 32
CBS (Fornelli) 4/14 13 11 12 16 17 18 21 19 27 - -
NFL (Brooks) 4/14 11 12 21 13 15 17 23 22 27 - -
SI.com (Ventras) 4/14 13 12 15 14 16 17 18 31 27 - -
Star-Telegram (Hill) 4/14 9 11 12 13 17 16 - - 25 28 - -
Penn Live (Gallen) 4/13 12 11 13 19 15 16 18 17 25 32
NJ.com (Giglio) 4/13 11 12 15 19 16 17 13 - - - - 32
The Ringer (Kelly) 4/13 7 8 14 12 15 16 26 37 29 39
Chicago Tribune (Biggs) 4/13 12 11 17 7 15 14 19 22 25 43
Mock Draft Date CeeDee Lamb Jerry Jeudy Henry Ruggs Javon Kinlaw C.J. Hender-son K'Lavon Chaisson Xavier McKinney Kristian Fulton Y. Gross-Matos Cesar Ruiz
NESN (Cox) 4/13 15 12 14 19 22 17 18 16 29 - -
FoxSports (Klatt) 4/12 12 11 13 9 16 17 26 31 - - - -
DraftWire (Easterling) 4/11 12 11 13 15 17 16 27 25 - - - -
EstablishTheRun (Silva) 4/10 15 13 12 9 16 17 20 32 26 - -
Atlanta JC (Ledbetter) 4/10 12 11 13 16 17 20 15 - - 27 - -
SI.com (Roto) 4/10 17 12 15 14 13 16 - - 32 28 - -
NFL (Rank) 4/9 11 12 15 13 16 17 19 - - 29 - -
NFL (Jeremiah) 4/7 11 12 13 15 16 17 - - - - 18 32
Houston Chronicle (McClain) 4/7 15 13 12 9 16 17 13 19 27 - -
Houston Chronicle (Wilson) 4/7 15 12 25 17 13 11 - - - - 28 - -

A more digestible table with a summary of how often each player was available at No. 17:

Player Available at No. 17
CeeDee Lamb 2%
Jerry Jeudy 2%
Henry Ruggs 10%
Javon Kinlaw 16%
C.J. Henderson 24%
K'Lavon Chaisson 64%
Xavier McKinney 90%
Kristian Fulton 98%
Y. Gross-Matos 100%
Cesar Ruiz 100%

Based on the above, this is how I think the draft could play out:

  1. Forget about the top wide receivers. None of them are going to make it to pick 17, and some of the mocks having Henry Ruggs dropping past the Cowboys are simply doing it to have him land with the Eagles.
  2. Cowboys should have their eyes on DT Javon Kinlaw and CB C.J. Henderson. If these mocks are anything to go by, those two are the top-ranked players that could slip to within the Cowboys grasp. The chances of that happening are not good though. There’s only a 6% chance (three out of 50 mocks) that both are available at pick 17. The chances are better that at least one of them will be available (17 out of 50 mocks, 34%), but those chances are not great. So what’s the alternative?
  3. K’Lavon Chaisson is the likely Cowboys pick at 17. There’s only a 10% chance (5 out of 50 mocks) that Kinlaw, Henderson, and Chaisson are all gone at 17. If these mocks are anything to go by, and if these are the top three prospects on the Cowboys’ board, then this is good news, as the Cowboys will likely have the option of picking at least one of the three. But what’s the plan in the event that all three players are gone?
  4. Settle on Xavier McKinley. He’s the consensus #1 safety in the draft, so there’s that. But do you really want to spend a first-round pick on a safety? The good news is there is not a single mock in the 50 surveyed that has Kinlaw and Henderson, AND Chaisson, AND McKinley gone at 17. But would McKinley really feel like a win on draft night?
  5. Trade down. Which players will be available in a trade-down scenario depends on how far the Cowboys trade down, but there should be a host of corners available in the second half of the first round, DE Yetur Gross-Matos should be available in the mid twenties, and center Cesar Ruiz should be available in the late twenties.

One such trade-down scenario was proposed today by Jonathan Jones of CBSSports, who has the Patriots trading up from 23 to 17:

Cowboys receive picks 23, 87 and 125 in exchange for No. 17. Madness! With his medicals, Tagovailoa sees his value drop to the middle of the first round. And whaddayaknow ... it’s Bill Belichick. New England has to get ahead of Miami, Jacksonville and Las Vegas for the ‘Bama QB, and Jerry Jones is willing to slide back six spots to pick up an extra third and fourth-round pick.

The Cowboys go on to pick a cornerback in Jeff Gladney. A bit small for my taste, but there would likely be taller and similarly-graded corners available at 23.

Remember that teams are going to pick who they know the best. Well, the Cowboys trade down and still get a fantastic cornerback prospect out of Texas Christian in Gladney, who loves to play physically and has a swagger about him that demands he wear the star.

So, which scenario is it going to be for you?