It’s Friday, so it’s time for our latest mock draft tracker. This year, unlike almost any year in recent memory, the Cowboys seemed locked into one player for their pick at 10, at least if you buy what the mock drafts are selling.
Almost everybody is on the Patrick Surtain II train. It makes sense. The Cowboys defense was awful in 2020. They let Chidobe Awuzie walk in free agency, opening up a spot at outside corner. Surtain has about as high of a floor as you will find among prospects in this draft.
Add it all up, and the conclusion, shared by seven of our ten mock drafters, is Surtain for the Cowboys first pick in the draft.
ALABAMA • JR • 6’2” / 203 LBS
Surtain is a safe pick for the Dallas defense. The Cowboys have missed a lot at the position in recent years so Surtain should finally add some stability.
Alabama · CB
Surtain will team with Trevon Diggs to give Dallas two good, young cornerbacks.
Dallas Cowboys: Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
The Cowboys will be tempted to upgrade their offensive line, but I suspect that they’ll target a potential shutdown cornerback instead to fix their woeful pass defense.
Son of former Dolphins star cornerback Patrick Surtain Sr., Surtain II was tested early by teams, yet was able to punish opponents for doing so.
Alabama · CB
The first defensive player off the board, and it’s a cornerback to a team in desperate need of help there. Surtain would join his former Crimson Tide teammate, Trevon Diggs, in Dan Quinn’s defensive backfield.
The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most need-driven teams when it comes to drafting, and even with cornerback Trevon Diggs playing well down the stretch in his rookie season, the team still needs a starting corner. In this mock, they have their pick of the position and grab a player with real NFL bloodlines in Patrick Surtain II, whose father was an elite cornerback himself back in the 2000s.
The younger Surtain plays with some of the best control and poise you will ever see at the cornerback spot. He is one of the only players I have ever studied who never gave up a big play on a double move in college. Surtain ticks all of the boxes in terms of athletic measurables and has the pedigree at an elite school in an elite conference. His only flaws are very coachable, and I think he has an incredibly high floor because of that. If the draft unfolded this way, Dallas should sprint to the podium with this pick.
Patrick Surtain II
Thanos: “Little one, it’s a simple calculus. Shutdown corners are finite, the chance to draft them finite. If the secondary is left undrafted, coverage will cease to exist. It needs an upgrade.”
Gamora: “You don’t know that!”
Thanos: “I’m the only one who knows that. At least, I’m the only one with the will to draft on it.”
In general, most of these mocks are saying the same thing in their own way. Surtain represents a need for the Cowboys, but he is also in consideration for the best defensive player in the draft. In most of these mocks, Surtain is the first defender off the board, or at least the first corner off the board. But in some cases, Jaycee Horn is the first corner taken, and we’re seeing that with pick number eight to the Carolina Panthers.
It makes you wonder if there is a reason some mocks are seeing Horn as suddenly the better choice over Surtain, or are they merely sticking with the “Surtain to Dallas” mantra and sliding Horn in for the Panthers.
We do have one mock where the Cowboys take Surtain over a certain other player.
Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama (6-2, 203 pounds)
Surtain vs. Farley as the top corner is a good debate and the Cowboys can’t go wrong with either one to take of care their primary defensive need with one of the two safest defensive picks in the draft.
It’s not Farley we’re talking about as the “certain other player” in this mock. Nope. It’s Kyle Pitts. In this mock, the Cowboys pass on Pitts for Surtain, and Pitts end up going to... gasp... the Eagles.
If it’s not Surtain ending up in Dallas, it’s generally the other corner, Jaycee Horn. Sometimes mockers have the Cowboys choosing Horn because Surtain is already gone.
10. Dallas Cowboys: Jaycee Horn, DB, South Carolina
Ideally, for the Cowboys, Justin Fields won’t slide, which could instead push Patrick Surtan II into their laps. With Surtain off the board though, Horn is not a bad second option for a team that is desperate for help at the cornerback position. The Gamecocks asked Horn to split man and zone responsibilities about half the time, meaning he should be comfortable in the Seahawksian defense Dan Quinn hopes to bring to Dallas.
But every once in a while, a mock will have the Cowboys choosing Horn because they think he is the better option.
Jaycee Horn CB
SOUTH CAROLINA • JR • 6’1” / 205 LBS
Given the explosiveness of his workout, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Horn goes ahead of Surtain — who had a fine workout too but isn’t as twitchy on film.
The only other option that pops up is offensive tackle. If Penei Sewell managed to slide to 10, the Cowboys would have to do that. But can the same be said for Rashawn Slater?
10. Dallas Cowboys
Northwestern OT-OG Rashawn Slater
This will anger some Cowboys fans, and we get it. They need defense! We know, we know. Would they consider South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn here? Maybe — he’d fit Dan Quinn’s preference for longer corners. What about LB Micah Parsons? Another maybe, especially if they’re worried about the health of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch.
But Slater could be a Day 1 starting left guard who eventually moves to tackle. Dallas has done a good job of sticking to its board, especially with first-rounders, so a Slater pick here shouldn’t be stunning. Some teams believe he has a chance to be picked ahead of Sewell.
Should that even be an option for Dallas?