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Cowboys 2021 mock draft roundup: Which player/position is in the lead for the first iteration?

Our first mock roundup of the season for the Cowboys.

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time to start our yearly ritual, a roundup of some of the mock drafts for the Cowboys. Leading all the way up to the draft, we do these on a roughly weekly basis, highlighting the latest projections for the Cowboys at pick #10 in the 2021 draft. Let’s dive right in.

Up first, the cornerbacks. This is a position of need for the Cowboys as long as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis remain unsigned. Even then, the Cowboys need an upgrade and presumably won’t sign both those players.

The most popular player in our roundup is a corner, and that’s Caleb Farley.

Jon Machota, The Athletic

First round, No. 10 overall: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

he best available when the Cowboys went on the clock, according to Brugler’s board, were Farley, Florida TE Kyle Pitts, Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater, Virginia Tech OT Christian Darrisaw and Penn State LB Micah Parsons.

Considering all of the help the Cowboys need on defense, Farley made too much sense. He’d likely start immediately opposite of Trevon Diggs, giving Dallas an impressive cornerback tandem that could be excellent for a while. Farley (6-2, 205) opted out last season because of COVID-19 concerns, but he had four interceptions and 12 passes defended in 10 games as a sophomore in 2019. With Blake Jarwin returning from his knee injury and Dalton Schultz emerging last season, tight end isn’t a major need. Offensive tackle would make some sense, especially considering that Tyron Smith has struggled to stay healthy for the last five seasons. Linebacker could also be in play here, especially if new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is concerned about the position.

Brugler: “Farley checks boxes with his size, speed and reaction skills while also developing his comfort level on defense, which has allowed him to anticipate the action and play ultracompetitive. With only two years of experience at corner, he needs continued work with his route recognition and fundamental muscle memory, but the majority of his flaws are due to inexperience and not inability.”

Josh Schrook, NBC Sports

10. Dallas Cowboys: Caleb Farley, CB

The Cowboys lost Byron Jones last offseason and their secondary was among the worst in the NFL in 2020. Rookie Trevon Diggs has talent but he still needs time to develop. Farley is a physical corner with good length and route-mirroring ability. He only has a few years of defensive play under his belt, but the upside is huge.

Vinny Iyer, Sporting News

10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech (6-2, 207 pounds)

The Cowboys’ secondary has been awful without Byron Jones and Farley would be a good complement to Trevon Diggs. Jerry Jones needs to focus on shoring up the back end first in the process of fixing the defense. Farley was one of the first top prospects to opt out for his final college season. He has great size and solid all-around coverage skills for the position.

Farley has been a ubiquitous pick for the Cowboys in mock drafts this offseason. He fills a need and is certainly rated in the right area to use a #10 pick on. But sometimes he’s the fallback position. In a few of these drafts he is the pick because Patrick Surtain is already gone. But Surtain does show up in a few mocks.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Dallas Cowboys

Patrick Surtain · CB

School: Alabama | Year: Junior

The Cowboys still need to upgrade the secondary. Surtain will reunite with former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs to give Dallas a promising young tandem at cornerback.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

Patrick Surtain II CB

ALABAMA • JR • 6’2” / 203 LBS

PROJECTED TEAM

Late in the 2020 season, the Cowboys had the No. 4 overall pick and there may have been little value in taking a CB that high. Now selecting 10th, it makes a lot more sense — especially since Dallas desperately needs help in the secondary.

The battle between Farley and Surtain for lead position in these roundups will probably go on for a while. But what if both players are taken? You would guess that the Cowboys would be projected to look at a different position since those two seem to be the consensus top two corners worthy of a pick this high. But one mock has them sticking with corner.

Oliver Hodgkinson, Pro Football Network

10) Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, CB South Carolina

Will Dak Prescott be the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021? His contract saga dragged out into the season and then he was lost to a devastating injury. There is a chance they replace him in the 2021 NFL Draft. Investing in the defense would be a wiser decision for a unit that has been one of the worst in the league in 2020. They could use upgrades at the cornerback and safety position at a bare minimum.

If you define cornerback play purely on interception numbers alone, then Jaycee Horn probably isn’t on your radar as a first-round pick. However, Horn led South Carolina in pass breaks ups in 2019 and in doing so, showcased the ball skills he presumably inherited from his former NFL wide receiver father. At 6’1”, Horn has the size that NFL teams covet, as well as the fluidity in his movements to succeed at the next level.

Would you be willing to make this pick to add to the corner position or this just a reach for need?

Another pick making the rounds lately is Rashawn Slater. The working theory here seems to be that Tyron Smith’s days are numbered because of health issues and the Cowboys would be wise to strike now.

Mel Kiper, ESPN

Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

Heading into the 2020 season, the Cowboys’ offensive line looked solid on paper, and that was after center Travis Frederick retired in March. But then injuries hit: Right tackle La’el Collins missed every game, left tackle Tyron Smith played just two and guard Zack Martin missed six. And what you saw was a poor Cowboys offense, even before quarterback Dak Prescott was lost for the season due to his ankle injury. That’s why I think Slater fits in Dallas, where he could play either tackle spot or move inside to guard. Todd McShay thinks Slater could excel at center, too. He was another prospect who opted out, but he didn’t allow a single sack playing left tackle in 2019. This is a spot to watch for Surtain as well because Chidobe Awuzie could leave in free agency.

Eddie Brown, San Diego Union-Tribune

10. Dallas (6-10) — Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern, Sr.

Injuries and age are starting to erode what was once the Cowboys greatest strength, it’s offensive line. Slater handled Chase Young as a junior while playing left tackle and didn’t allow a single sack the entire season. He’s versatile and talented enough to play all five offensive line positions. Slater opted out of this season due to COVID.

Top needs: Edge, DB, OL

If Farley and Surtain are off the board, the Cowboys could just turn to a BPA strategy. That’s what they do here in this draft from Jon Owning.

John Owning, DMN

Round 1: Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama

With cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Caleb Farley off the board in this scenario, I opted for the best player available (BPA) in Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. This selection would likely mean Michael Gallup’s days in Dallas are numbered, but Waddle is worth it because of what he can add to the offense.

Listed at 5-10, 182 pounds, Waddle is a little light for the NFL, but he more than makes up for it with game-breaking speed. We see fast receivers every year in the NFL, but Waddle‘s ability to accelerate and run away from coverage is the closest thing to Tyreek Hill that I’ve seen in recent years.

It would be interesting if the Cowboys chose a wide receiver with their first pick two years in a row when in both those years it wasn’t considered a need. But that’s BPA. That’s putting talent over need.

To conclude, a draft that has Surtain gone, but the Cowboys do not opt for Farley.

Charlie Campbell, Walter Football

Dallas Cowboys: Gregory Rousseau, DE, Miami

The Cowboys go with the best defensive player available and take an edge rusher to go across from Demarcus Lawrence.

Rousseau (6-6, 260) was one of the best edge defenders in college football during his redshirt freshman season. For his breakout 2019, he notched 15.5 sacks with two forced fumbles and 54 tackles. Rousseau has an excellent skill set with upside to improve, but his development could be slowed down by his decision to opt out of the 2020 season. There is no substitute for experience and a year of refining pass-rushing moves, getting off blocks, and improving technique. Thus, Rousseau will enter the NFL as a 1-year wonder who could require more developmental time. He might still be a top-10 pick, but he will be more raw and underdeveloped compared to other recent high first-round defensive ends like Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garret, Bradley Chubb and the Bosa brothers.

The Cowboys previously went with a one-year wonder in Taco Charlton at EDGE and got burned, but they are two different players. What is missing in this evaluation is the fact that Randy Gregory is opposite Lawrence, and possibly Aldon Smith. It’s never a bad thing to have more pass rush, but is Rousseau transcendent enough to bypass a need like Farley?