The Cowboys will go defense with their #10 pick in the 2021 draft. That seems to be conventional wisdom, or rather, “need” wisdom. The Cowboys 2021 defense was atrocious and fixing it this offseason is a high priority, just behind signing Dak Prescott to a new deal. They need talent on that side of the ball, so they need to pick a defensive player at #10.
Not so fast, my friend. At least if you put any stock into mock drafts. In our second roundup of mock drafts for the 2021 event, offensive tackle has become the hot property. And the player leading the charge is Rashawn Slater.
Dallas Cowboys: Rashawn Slater, OT/G/C, Northwestern
The Cowboys can’t trust Tyron Smith anymore. He’s been injured far too often over the past few years. The defense must be addressed, but protecting Dak Prescott is most important.
Rashawn Slater can play every position on the offensive line. He some great tape against Chase Young.
The Cowboys don’t have a glaring need at tackle, given that Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are both slated to return from injury, but as last season showed, it isn’t a bad idea for Dallas to add depth to their offensive line. Teams may have concerns about Slater’s size and length outside, but his tape against Chase Young showed that he could hold up against talented edge rushers at tackle. Slater allowed just five pressures over the entire 2019 season.
Slater would serve as an insurance policy for the Cowboys and the oft-injured Smith. He has the flexibility to play inside at guard, too, if that’s his quickest path to the field. After the 2020 season, depth at the tackle position would be a welcome sight in Dallas.
NORTHWESTERN • JR • 6’3” / 305 LBS
Instead of picking a defensive prospect they don’t have valued at No. 10 overall, the Cowboys refortify the offensive line with the fundamentally sound Slater.
The health of the Cowboys two current tackles, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, seem to be the main driver of this selection. It’s been noted that Slater could play anywhere along the line, but if you are selecting him at #10, you would think it’s because you want him at tackle. Taking a guard or center this high would certainly be unusual.
The interesting thing with the Slater pick in some of these mocks is it’s not just a fall back choice because Caleb Farley or Patrick Surtain are off the board. In some cases one of those defensive players is available, along with Micah Parsons at linebacker. It probably all comes down to how much you trust Tyron Smith’s health.
In one mock, the Cowboys go offensive tackle, but with a different player.
Penei Sewell · OT
School: Oregon | Year: Junior
Tyron Smith turned 30 in December and hasn’t played 14 or more games in a season since 2015. Sewell could give the Cowboys flexibility up front, playing either right tackle or guard until it’s time to take over on the left edge for the seven-time Pro Bowler.
Sewell was once thought of as a lock to go in the top five, but with all the quarterback movement going on lately, that could push some players down in the draft.
There are still some mocks sticking with cornerback for the Cowboys. They just can’t agree on who it should be.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
With the Cowboys currently projected to lose both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, corner is a huge priority. Reuniting Patrick Surtain II with college teammate Trevon Diggs would be an appealing combination. Dan Quinn’s defense loves lengthy corners with ball skills, and Surtain fits the bill.
Surtain has been going as high as number five in some mocks, and as low as number fifteen in others. His stock is all over the place, but his attributes do seem like a good fit for the Cowboys.
Caleb Farley makes an appearance in two of our mocks,
Caleb Farley · CB
School: Virginia Tech | Year: Junior (RS)
Given the Cowboys’ defensive woes in 2020, an offseason emphasis on adding playmakers in the secondary results in Farley coming off the board at this spot.
First round, No. 10 overall: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
This ended up being the same pick as our previous mock. Other notable players who were still available at this pick: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle, South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn, Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater, Florida TE Kyle Pitts and North Dakota State QB Trey Lance. The Cowboys need help all over their defense, but especially at cornerback with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis about to become unrestricted free agents. Dallas was able to get great value at cornerback in last year’s draft, selecting Trevon Diggs in the second round. Similar success could potentially be found again this year, but why not take the player many consider to be the top corner in this class?
Brugler: I think that would be a great pick. I’ve been a big Caleb Farley fan since the summer. He has been my Cornerback No. 1 since the summer. Even though he hasn’t played this year, he has still been the guy. I think he has tremendous upside. You’re talking about a player who has the size, has the speed, ball instincts. I think that would be a great pick for the Cowboys at 10.
I think when you look at the other options that are available, first of all, I don’t think they would take Kyle Pitts, but it would be awfully tough to pass on him. He’s one of the top five talents in this class, just a true unicorn with how he attacks defenses and with what you can do with him. It would be really tough to pass on him. Rashawn Slater, to me, is the one that it would come down to Farley or Slater if I’m making that pick. I’m a big Slater fan. I think he can really play all five offensive line positions. He can play guard and tackle, and he’s been working out at center. There’s a lot you could do with a player with that versatility and with that level of talent. He can step in and play guard and then he’s your eventual starter at left tackle whenever that day comes. The chance to fix the offensive line with a high-end talent would do wonders for the offense. Me personally, I think that’s the direction I would go. But if you’re going to go defense, then I think there’s no question that Farley would be the right pick there.
Farley, along with Surtain, has been showing up in Cowboys mocks all through this cycle. But what if both are gone? Like last week, we have a mock going with a third corner.
Jaycee Horn - South Carolina - CB
The Cowboys are desperate for help on all three levels of their defense, and while I think new Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn would prefer a bigger corner like Farley with this pick, Horn would start from Day One in the secondary. Horn is the best athlete of the three corners that sit atop our Big Board. The son of former All-Pro receiver, Joe Horn, Jaycee is the same fiery competitor as his father was in New Orleans. He has the quick-twitch athleticism to blanket opposing receivers, and if you need proof, check out his performance against Auburn this past fall.
This secondary struggled for most of the 2020 campaign, and on top of that, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods are all hitting Free Agency. I’d target Farley over Horn because of his size, but Quinn has adapted his scheme around the talent he has in the past, and I don’t expect him to hold tight to his preference for big corners the way Kris Richard did.
The Cowboys need at corner is probably making Horn a little bit of a reach, but as the testing cycle continues and pro days come, his stock may improve given his athleticism.
We have another week of Team 50-burger!
10. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (6-6, 246 pounds)
The Cowboys could use some cornerback help, too, but this curveball of going for another an offensive skill luxury pick can’t be ruled out for Jerry Jones in “best player availablle” mode. Dallas figures to lock up Dak Prescott and has fine weapons for him in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and 2020 first-rounder CeeDee Lamb. But as much as Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz have flashed, neither is a matchup nightmare tight end. The Cowboys need someone as impactful as prime Jason Witten, and Pitts, a wide receiver hybrid, would be ideal. He posted 770 yards and 12 TDs on only 43 catches, a rare field-stretcher for the position as well as a dominant red zone force.
Pitts is going to make it hard on teams who don’t feature the tight end, or think they have enough talent at tight end. Plenty of draft analysts talk about his ability in terms of generational, and that he could be thought of as a historical top tight end when his days are over. The Cowboys have Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, but neither are ever going to be a transcendent talent. Would the Cowboys pull the trigger on another offensive weapon?
Finally, our wild card draft pick of the week. And this player has been showing up in more and more mocks in the top 15.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
With the top cornerback talent off the board, the Cowboys opt to get the top edge-rushing talent available. Paye has the size and quickness to one day develop into a force at the end of the line of scrimmage. Jerry Jones still needs a corner, though...
This mock passes on Surtain in favor of Paye. The book on Paye is that he is an incredible athlete who is still very raw. If he is coached up and taught the proper fundamentals, he has a very high ceiling. He does have the feel of a boom-or-bust pick given the lack of production during his time in Michigan.