Free agency has slowed down to less than a trickle, so it’s time to turn our attention back to the very serious business of mock drafting.
When we last 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. The Cowboys subsequently went out and signed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency, and that appears to have had a big impact on the mock draft community. Of the 50 mocks we’re surveying today, only 5 (or 10%) have the Cowboys taking a safety.
But before we look at the details of the latest mock drafts, I’m going to re-introduce you to the concept of swarm intelligence. Swarm intelligence suggests that the collective behavior of self-organized systems without a centralized control structure can lead to the emergence of “intelligent” global behavior, unknown to the individual agents. In simple terms, the concept of swarm intelligence suggests that the predictive value of many mock drafts is greater than that of a single mock.
Which is why we’ll look at 50 mocks below and see what they collectively have to say about which player the Cowboys might land in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. We’ll do that by looking at where the various mock drafts are slotting which players, especially those players that are slotted somewhere between the 11th and 17th pick. We’ll kick off this exercise with a big table of all 50 mocks, and which player they have the Cowboys selecting:
|Mock Draft||Player||Position||College||Last Updated|
|Drafttek (- -)||CeeDee Lamb||WR||Oklahoma||4/7|
|DraftBlaster (- -)||Henry Ruggs||WR||Alabama||4/7|
|SportingNews (Iyer)||A.J. Epenesa||DE||Iowa||4/6|
|The Huddle (Bonini)||A.J. Epenesa||DE||Iowa||4/6|
|DelawareOnline (Frank)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/6|
|SB Nation (Kadar)||Javon Kinlaw||DT||South Carolina||4/6|
|Draft Network (Reid)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||4/6|
|Cleveland Plains Dealer (Bielik)||Kristian Fulton||CB||LSU||4/6|
|Draft Network (Marino)||Kristian Fulton||CB||LSU||4/6|
|USA Today (Middlehurst-Schwartz)||Trevon Diggs||CB||Alabama||4/6|
|Detroit Free Press (Birkett)||Xavier McKinney||S||Alabama||4/6|
|SI.com (De Lima)||Xavier McKinney||S||Alabama||4/6|
|CBS (Wilson)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/5|
|CBS (Kerr)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/5|
|SI.com (Eisner)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||4/5|
|CBS (Edwards)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/3|
|Buccaneers.com (Vitali&Smith)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||4/3|
|Las Vegas RJ (Hill)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||4/3|
|AL.com (Inabinett)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/2|
|EstablishTheRun (Silva)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/2|
|OregonLive (Arnold)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/2|
|SI.com (Hanson)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||4/2|
|MLive (Raven)||Cesar Ruiz||OL||Michigan||4/2|
|NFL (Davis)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||4/2|
|CBS (Brinson)||Yetur Gross-Manos||DE||Penn State||4/2|
|Penn Live (Gallen)||Grant Delpit||S||LSU||4/1|
|CBS (Trapasso)||Javon Kinlaw||DT||South Carolina||4/1|
|B/R (Miller)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||4/1|
|NFL (Schrager)||Xavier McKinney||S||Alabama||4/1|
|PFF (Palazzolo)||A.J. Epenesa||DE||Iowa||3/31|
|Houston Chronicle (Wilson)||Javon Kinlaw||DT||South Carolina||3/31|
|NFL (Jones-Drew)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||3/31|
|CBS (Fornelli)||Kristian Fulton||CB||LSU||3/31|
|Houston Chronicle (McClain)||Trevon Diggs||CB||Alabama||3/31|
|NFL (Frelund)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||3/30|
|NorthJersey (Stapleton)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||3/30|
|USA Today (Davis)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||3/30|
|DraftWire (Easterling)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||3/29|
|LA Times (Farmer)||Grant Delpit||S||LSU||3/29|
|Star-Telegram (Hill)||Jerry Jeudy||WR||Alabama||3/29|
|Denver Post (O'Halloran)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||3/27|
|NFL (Reuter)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||3/26|
|CBS (Prisco)||Cesar Ruiz||OL||Michigan||3/26|
|NJ.com (Kaye)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||3/26|
|The Ringer (Kelly)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||3/25|
|Yahoo (Edholm)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||3/25|
|San Diego UT (Brown)||Kristian Fulton||CB||LSU||3/25|
|NFL (Casserly)||A.J. Epenesa||DE||Iowa||3/24|
|Rotoworld (Norris)||C.J. Henderson||CB||Florida||3/24|
|CBS (White)||K'Lavon Chaisson||DE||LSU||3/23|
50 mocks is obviously a lot to take in, so here’s a condensed version that’s also easier to read:
|50 Mock Drafts - Summary Results|
|By Position||Mocks||By Player||POS||Mocks|
|3 WRs with one vote each|
For the most part, the mock drafters have abandoned the idea of a safety in the first round for the Cowboys and are now heavily invested in corners and defensive ends, with CB C.J. Henderson and DE K’Lavon Chaisson emerging as the favorites.
But even that doesn’t tell us too much about how the top of the first round could play out. For that, I plotted where seven specific players were taken in each of the 50 mocks. Those seven players are:
- The top three wide receivers, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs
- Two defensive linemen in Javon Kinlaw and K’Lavon Chaisson
- The consensus top pick from the 50 mocks, CB C.J. Henderson
- The consensus favorite from the last mock draft database, safety Xavier McKinney
Here’s how often each player was taken at which spot in the 50 mocks:
|50 Mock Drafts - Summary Results|
Some observations based on the table above:
- Wide Receiver Alley: The collected wisdom of the 50 mocks here suggests there’ll be a run on wide receivers between picks 11 and 13. 44% of the mocks expect the Jets to take a wide receiver, and those percentages are even higher for the Raiders (82%) and 49ers (80%). So if things go according to swarm intelligence, the three top receivers will be long gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock. And if one of the three does fall past the wide receiver alley, the Broncos (50%) are sitting there at 15 ready to scoop up any remaining receiver. If the Cowboys want one of those three wide receivers, the data here suggests they need to move ahead of the Broncos.
- Watch out for a falling Javon Kinlaw. The Jaguars at No. 9 seem to be a natural landing place for Kinlaw, but if he falls past the Jaguars, there’s no telling how far he’ll fall. Could he fall into the Cowboys’ lap by default?
- Those pesky Falcons. C.J. Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson have emerged as the consensus Cowboys favorites at this point. The problem is, they are also consensus Falcons favorites, and the Falcons draft one spot ahead of the Cowboys. Will the Cowboys be happy to take Atlanta’s leftovers, or will they have to move ahead of the Falcons if they want their guy, whoever that may be?
- Default to Xavier McKinney? If everything goes wrong, the mock draft swarm says the Cowboys can still get Xavier McKinney. But would that feel like a win on draft night?
Lots of questions to ponder as the draft comes ever closer. What would your strategy be if the draft plays out like the 50 mocks above suggest? Move up, move down, stay put and take whoever is left, or perhaps take a player I neglected to include on this list?