If you hang out with the Mothership during the draft, then you know analyst Dane Brugler knows his stuff when it comes to the NFL draft. He works tirelessly throughout the year compiling his notes on college prospects and puts them into his annual draft guide, appropriately named, “The Beast” that can be found over at The Athletic. Last week, he even sat down with Kelsey and Meg on Girl’s Talkin ‘Boys to review the Cowboys exceptional draft haul.
When Dane speaks, Cowboys fans should listen as he’s in tune with how this team operates. A couple years ago, he was dialed in to the LVE pick in the first round...
If LB Leighton Vander Esch is on the board at No. 19, I don’t think the #Cowboys are passing. Dallas likes him quite a bit.
And last year, he had it sniffed out well that Trysten Hill was hot on the Cowboys radar...
There is a good chance the Cowboys get wiped out at safety. DT Trysten Hill (if he is there) could be the top option for Dallas at No. 58.
Of course, as we eventually learned - Hill was a top option despite plenty of the top safeties being available. And guess who he had mocked to Dallas in the second round a couple weeks ago?
51. Dallas Cowboys – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
If the first round played out a certain way, the Cowboys might have drafted Diggs at No. 17 overall. Instead, they land an offensive playmaker in CeeDee Lamb and are able to grab the athletic cover man in the second round.
Time and time again, Brugler’s feel for what the Cowboys go after combined with his overwhelming knowledge of the draft prospects yield some pretty good Nostradamus moments for the sharp draft analyst. So even when he makes some way-too-early draft projections, it’s worth the time to have a look. On Wednesday, Brugler re-visited the 2020 mock draft he published in April of last year, and wouldn’t you know it - a couple of interesting names popped up, starting with the Cowboys steal at 17, who was already turning head this time a year ago.
22. Green Bay Packers – CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
After 1,158 yards and 11 scores as a sophomore, Lamb improved those numbers as a junior with 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior and continued to improve his draft grade. I’m sure many Packers fans would have preferred this scenario to how the first round actually played out.
Drafted: No. 17 overall to the Dallas Cowboys
After adding another 1,000+ yards, double-digit touchdown season, Lamb climbed up the draft charts and was projected to be long gone before the Cowboys were on the clock at 17. While it may have not been the plan for Dallas to go wide receiver there, Lamb was just too good to pass up.
Speaking of too good to pass up, look who Brugler had mocked to the Cowboys with the very next pick...
23. Dallas Cowboys – Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Diggs was expected to push for first-round consideration in the 2019 NFL Draft until a foot injury prematurely ended his junior season and ultimately forced him to return to school. He had a solid senior year and was considered a late first-round possibility before falling to the mid-second. Diggs ended up in Dallas, just 28 spots later than I projected here.
Drafted: No. 51 overall to the Dallas Cowboys
For those keeping score at home, that is two first-round players from last year’s mock that fell right into the Cowboys hands this year. What is great about Brugler’s projections is that the Cowboys top two draft picks this year are players that aren’t just one-hit wonders, but rather consistent performers that were gaining traction prior to this past college season. Fans have every reason to be excited about these guys.
If you want to take a look into Brugler’s crystal ball for next year, he has put out another early mock for the 2021 draft, and he has the Cowboys finding drafting their safety.
27. Dallas Cowboys — *Talanoa Hufanga, SS, USC You don’t need to know Hufanga’s number, just follow the ball and that is where he will be. His aggressive nature will work against him at times, but he competes with outstanding effort and anticipation to make plays versus the pass and the run.
This pick has special meaning to me personally. Talanoa is a local sports star from my neck of the woods, playing his high school ball in Oregon. I work with his father, and I had the privilege of coaching his brother along with my son on their AAU basketball team. Talanoa and my daughter would entertain the crowd during timeouts by running on the court and trying to make a basket. Both of them were so little that they hardly had the strength to get the ball to the rim, but whenever one of them managed to make a basket, the crowd would cheer. It was rather amusing.
Talanoa going to the Cowboys not only would be great in terms of satisfying a big team need, but they would also get a gold-star character as well. The kid is one of the most respectful individuals you’ll come across. He’s had some trouble staying healthy, even dating back to his high school days, but if he can get his body right, he’s got the potential to be a star in the NFL.