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Seven-round Cowboys mock draft: Cowboys go heavy on defense in days two and three

Mock draft season is officially in full swing.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Oklahoma State at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s officially draft season, which means one thing. Mock drafts galore. It’s always entertaining to run through the simulator and see how things may play out when the draft comes around in April.

For this mock draft we used The Draft Network’s simulator which should hopefully keep things realistic. Let us know your thoughts about the picks in the comment sections at the end of the article.

(Note: all trades were proposed using the NFL Draft Trade Value Calculator)

TRADE: Cowboys send pick 1-10 to the San Francisco 49ers for pick 1-12 and pick 3-102

We start our mock draft with a trade. When it got to our pick, cornerback Patrick Surtain II was still on the board. Seems like the obvious choice to go with the Alabama corner, right? Not so fast. It just so happened that North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance was still available for the picking as well. This led the quarterback hungry San Francisco 49ers to offer us a trade. We move down just two spots and pick up an extra third-round pick.

Ohio State v Northwestern Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Round 1, Pick 12: Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern

The 49ers went ahead and selected Lance, followed up by the division-rival New York Giants selecting the aforementioned Surtain II. So the Cowboys sit at pick 12 with the top two cornerbacks off the board. Instead of going with a potential reach on a defender, we went ahead and selected the second-best offensive tackle in the draft, Northwestern linemen Rashawn Slater.

Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about the big tackle.

Rashawn Slater is a scheme diverse and positional flexible prospect who should offer a little something to everyone depending on what specific needs and traits are prioritized for any given franchise. Slater, who opted out of the 2020 college season and has not played since the end of the 2019 campaign, is well regarded for his fundamentals and functional athleticism along the front. Slater manned the left tackle position for the Wildcats. For teams that don’t prioritize certain measurable thresholds, he appears to be a viable candidate to do the same in the NFL—based specifically on his work against 2020 No. 2 overall pick Chase Young in pass protection. But Slater’s ceiling is likely lowest on the edge and the further into the heart of the line he transitions, the higher his potential is to become a perennial Pro Bowl player and potential All-Pro candidate in my eyes. Slater has tremendous cutoff abilities and clean, patient footwork working space and the necessary functional strength to hold his own on the interior. The position flexibility he offers ensures he can be a part of any NFL offensive line’s combination of best five players to start up front from Day 1.

Despite the offensive line not being an immediate need for the Cowboys, right now, Slater is still an extremely solid pick. After missing 17 games in the past two seasons, it’s hard to believe Tyron Smith will be healthy throughout a 16 game schedule. If Smith is forced to miss some time, Slater could step in and be a considerable upgrade over the Cowboys’ current backup tackles, Brandon Knight and Terence Steele.

There’s also a possibility Slater could step in and play right away. In his recent mock draft, John Owning of the Dallas Morning News mentioned that he believes Slater could slide inside and start at left guard, moving Connor Williams to the swing tackle role.

The Cowboys are in a unique spot where they can really find out where Slater fits best, as he could initially slide into competition with Connor Williams at left guard in addition to fulfilling the swing tackle responsibilities. Therefore, when Tyron Smith and/or La’el Collins inevitably get hurt in the future, Slater’s presence would give Dallas a viable tackle who should limit the drop-off the Cowboys usually see when Smith and/or Collins misses time.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 05 Oklahoma State at TCU Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 2, Pick 44: Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU

With an offensive pick in the first round, it was a lock we needed to pick a defender here. Surprisingly, UCF safety Richie Grant was still on the board, but we opted to go with a guy who some believe is the best safety in the draft, TCU’s Trevon Moehrig. The 21-year-old playmaker could step in and start immediately in Dan Quinn’s defense.

Here’s what our very own Connor Livesay had to say about the safety.

In Dan Quinn’s Cover 3-heavy defensive scheme, TCU free safety Trevon Moehrig is a match made in heaven for his defense. Showcasing elite coverage skills (in man and zone) with the ability to cover hash-to-hash, he makes plays on the football at the catch point and has fluid athleticism, making Moehrig the top rated safety in this class and one that would look great wearing the star. Moehrig is extremely efficient in man-coverage against slot receivers, tight ends, or running backs, and is consistently in position to knock the football away, and will take it away when given the opportunity (seven interceptions and 21 passes defended in three years at TCU). His hips and feet are loose and fluid, and it shows when he has to flip and transition in route-phases. An assignment sound and disciplined back-end defender that doesn’t get caught with his eyes in the backfield, he rarely lets receivers get behind him when in deep coverage. He’s an adequate run defender that is more than capable of filling alleys. Moehrig is more of a consistent, wrap-up tackler, than the big-hit style of safety. Trevon Moehrig was the no-doubt leader of the TCU defense, consistently lining guys up correctly, and recognizing offenses tendencies pre-snap for the Horn Frogs.

Quinn and Moehrig seem like a match made in heaven, and the Cowboys finally would have the great cover safety they’ve been searching for.

Georgia v Arkansas Photo by University of Georgia/Collegiate Images/ Getty Images

Round 3, Pick 75: Tyson Campbell, CB, Georgia

The biggest reason the Slater pick in round one can work is because of the depth of this cornerback class. Even if the Cowboys don’t select Farley or Surtain in the first round, there are plenty of second- and third-round options that can still make an impact. One of those guys happens to be Georgia corner Tyson Campbell.

Campbell is an ideal prototype of what Dan Quinn looks for in a corner. The Pro Football Network raved about Campbell’s size and athletic ability in their draft profile on the cornerback.

There is no doubting that Georgia cornerback Tyson Campbell passes the eye test as an NFL Draft prospect. The NFL is in love with tall, long cornerbacks and he certainly meets that criteria. At 6’2″ Campbell has the requisite size to be a successful cornerback in the NFL. Additionally, he brings a little versatility having played safety at high school. Although he projects to play purely on the outside in the NFL, that prior experience has additional benefits. Campbell has showcased a tough tackling ability that was no doubt honed from his exploits in the center of the field. He wraps up well when tackling as well as flashing strength beyond his slight frame.

As a high school sprinter it is no surprise that Campbell’s best attribute is his speed. He can go toe to toe with any speedy receiver down the length of the field. He has also showcased the ability to utilize his speed to blitz from the cornerback position. In addition to his speed he is extremely agile with loose hips. These are the things that NFL teams will absolutely love about him.

Campbell not turning 21 until May gives him some tremendous upside. He would add some much-needed speed to the Dallas defense and could step in and play right away.

TRADE: Cowboys send picks 3-99, 4-115, and 7-232 to the Miami Dolphins for pick 3-80

We pounce at a chance to grab another impact defensive player and make a deal with Miami. We have to ship out a third-, fourth-, and seventh-round pick, but it’s well worth it to get another quality defender.

Arizona v Stanford Photo by David Madison/Getty Images

Round 3, Pick 80: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford

It’s very hard to project this cornerback class. There’s no real consensus after the first three players on the board, but the depth of the group is a huge positive for Dallas. Even after taking a cornerback just five picks prior, getting a chance to get back into the third round and select Adebo was too intriguing to pass up. The former Stanford Cardinal is another tall, lengthy cornerback that would fit perfectly in Dan Quinn’s defense.

Here’s what John Owning had to say about Adebo.

Listed at 6-1 and 190 pounds, Adebo is one of the more effective press-man cornerbacks in the class, possessing notable patience and a knack for disrupting receivers at the line of scrimmage with his length. In addition, Adebo has proven to be comfortable and capable as a deep-third defender using bail technique, something that will be used often in Quinn’s scheme. The cherry on top for Adebo is his ball skills — eight interceptions and 24 pass breakups in two seasons — as he possesses receiver-like ability to attack the ball and win in contested catch situations.

Adebo would provide Dallas with another long, physical cornerback who can play press, protect the deep-third and make plays at the catch point. Not bad for a third-rounder.

Syracuse v Florida State Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Round 3, Pick 102: Marvin Wilson, DT, Florida State

Injuries and a poor 2020 campaign have hindered Marvin Wilson’s draft stock, but he’s an excellent pick here at 102. The defensive tackle participated in the Senior Bowl, hoping to once again raise his draft stock. Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about Wilson.

Marvin Wilson was a highly-touted high school recruit and had exciting flashes of next-level potential throughout his time at Florida State. He aligned primarily on the interior for the Seminoles but played some 5-technique in 2020. His best fit at the next level comes for an even front defense that features him on passing downs where he illustrates good hand usage, quickness, and urgency when rushing the quarterback. Wilson is a capable run defender but has some issues with anchoring and contact balance due to a top-heavy frame and narrow lower body. It’s apparent that Wilson has natural athleticism and power, but his body composition and playing with inconsistent leverage rob him of those qualities. He would be well-served to clean up his frame to allow his natural gifts to shine with more consistency. It’s clear that Wilson can take another step forward and develop into a balanced defender that is a featured part of an NFL defensive line rotation if everything comes together.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 30 Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Round 4, Pick 139: Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Pittsburgh

Weaver could add to the Cowboys’ rotation of pass-rushers and could help soften the potential blow of losing Aldon Smith in free agency. Here’s The Draft Network’s profile on Weaver.

After logging 47 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks in 2018, Pittsburgh EDGE Rashad Weaver missed the entire 2019 season with a knee injury. Picking up where he left off, Weaver collected 34 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks in nine games in 2020. Weaver is a long and powerful defensive end that has upside in the NFL as both a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense or as a base end in a 4-3 defense. As a pass rusher, Weaver has sufficient rush variety and his length is a major asset. With that said, he lacks burst and flexibility and he’s a slow-burn rusher, which limits his ceiling at the next level. As a run defender, Weaver is a good processor and is capable of squeezing gaps. He would benefit from adding functional strength to hold up better against drive blocks and he has to be more careful committing to inside gaps and being more mindful of his modest flexibility and lateral mobility to avoid getting cornered by the ball-carrier on outside runs. Perhaps another year removed from the knee injury will reveal a more dynamic athletic profile, but Weavers projects as a rotational defender in the NFL.

Round 5, Pick 179: Jalen Darden, WR, North Texas

Despite being the last pick of this draft, it may be the most exciting. Despite standing at just 5’ 9”, Darden is an electric mismatch on offense. The wide receiver could serve as a gadget player in year one, then potentially take over the slot role if Michael Gallup departs after the season. Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about Darden.

North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden is a dynamic, explosive threat with the football in his hands. Darden’s stature is likely to limit him to more of a complementary role in an offense, but his vertical receiving skills and ability to generate yards after contact with his slipperiness is difficult to overlook. Darden would benefit from playing in a spread offense that spaces the field and minimizes the congestion he’ll have to run through at the NFL level—and teams would be wise to implement him most often on quick “now” screens, bubbles, out breaking patterns, and targets vertically down the field. Darden, as an added bonus, has two years of primary punt return duties on his resume (2017 and 2019) and can contribute on the special teams units as an added boost to his 53-man roster outlook. Darden is a natural in making the first arriving defender miss and teams who need depth and help creating explosive plays would be wise to look his way in the middle rounds of this year’s 2021 NFL Draft.