Pro days are winding down, draft boards are being finalized, and it’s just just under a month until the 2021 NFL Draft. Draft season is in full swing, and we’re starting to see this draft take shape. After last week’s trades, it seems pretty clear the top three picks in the draft will be dominated by quarterbacks. But after that, things are as up in the air as we’ve seen in years.
Could we see four quarterbacks go in the first four picks? Could we see three wide receivers go in the top 10? Or could we see a tight end selected in the top six picks for the first time since 2006?
For the Dallas Cowboys, there’s plenty to discuss. Patrick Surtain II, Rashawn Slater, and Kyle Pitts are names that have been linked to Dallas at Pick 10, but where does the draft go after that? Well today, we’re going to break that down and look at three potential Cowboys’ drafts.
For the purpose of this exercise, we conducted three mock drafts via The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator. A pick was made at 10 in all three, but went in different directions in all of the drafts. An effort was made not to duplicate any players so every mock could provide something different.
So, without further ado, let’s break down some mock drafts.
Draft Option #1
|Draft #1 (Pro Football Network)|
|Draft #1 (Pro Football Network)|
|Round 1 (Pick 10) CB, Patrick Surtain II, Alabama|
|Round 2 (Pick 44) OT, Alex Leatherwood, Alabama|
|Round 3 (Pick 75) EDGE, Carlos Basham Jr, Wake Forest|
|Round 3 (Pick 99) S, Ar'Darius Washington, TCU|
|Round 4 (Pick 115) DT, Marlon Tuipulotu, USC|
|Round 4 (Pick 138) CB, Shakur Brown, Michigan State|
|Round 5 (Pick 179) LB, Tony Fields II, West Virginia|
|Round 6 (Pick 192) WR, Frank Darby, Arizona State|
|Round 6 (Pick 227) S, Tre Norwood, Oklahoma|
|Round 7 (Pick 236) LB, Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M|
Analysis: If Patrick Surtain II is available at pick 10, there’s a very good chance he’s the Cowboys selection. The Cowboys’ biggest need is cornerback, and Surtain could step in and start opposite his former teammate Trevon Diggs from day one. The Alabama corner had an outstanding pro day, clocking in with an unofficial 4.42 40-yard-dash. The only real question mark about Surtain was his speed, but this outstanding time could push him up draft boards, and potentially out of reach for Dallas.
Patrick Surtain II thread - starting off with what he excels at - press and press bail on routes that let him use his long speed. Top of your screen here, just absolutely covers up the WR on a deep ball and doesn't panic when the ball is in the air pic.twitter.com/KMdaQCKyw9— jesse stewart (the phantom of football) (@jessedstew) March 25, 2021
In this mock, Surtain was still on the board making him the obvious pick. Here’s what our very own Connor Livesay had to say about the cornerback in his scouting report.
From a press-man coverage perspective, it’s tough to find a better option than Patrick Surtain II. Possessing excellent length, coverage skills, and football IQ, Surtain II was born and raised by his father to be a cover-cornerback and that’s exactly what he is. Surtain’s biggest concerns come with the lack of ideal athleticism and long-speed for the position, putting his ability to cover the smaller, shiftier receivers in question. Even with those questions, Surtain’s length, technique, and physicality make up for a lot of the issues regarding his overall athleticism. Surtain II is a great fit in Dan Quinn’s system due to his size, length, and ability to excel as a man-cover corner, but will need to develop in zone and off-man reps in order to max out his potential.
After selecting Surtain with pick 10, we were freed up to go in a variety of directions in the second round. Sticking with the Alabama trend by selecting offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood. The 6’5 lineman has experience at guard and tackle, and could play right away or be an excellent insurance policy if Tyron Smith or La’el Collins get hurt. Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about Leatherwood.
Leatherwood is a prospect that’s had experience at both guard and offensive tackle. Containing a towering and filled-out frame in many areas, he has adequate strength as a run blocker as he’s able to attach and drive defenders out of desired areas. His aggressiveness is a key ingredient to success in the run game, as he can completely overpower targets that he’s able to square up and land his body cleanly on. As a pass protector, Leatherwood has a clean pass set that’s able to gain ground up the field in order to stymie rushers that simply attack him vertically.
Rounding out this mock we found some quality defenders in rounds three and four, selecting Carlos Basham Jr., Ar’Darius Washington, and defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu. Linebacker Tony Fields II out of West Virginia was a steal of a pick in the fifth round, and wide receiver Frank Darby’s traits were well worthy of a sixth-round selection.
Draft Review: He may not be the most exciting pick, but any draft that has the Cowboys ending up with Patrick Surtain is a good one. Pair him with a potential stud tackle like Leatherwood and some defenders who can make an impact in the middle rounds, and Dallas walks away from this draft feeling really good about their haul.
Draft Option #2
|Draft #2 (The Draft Network)|
|Draft #2 (The Draft Network)|
|Round 1 (Pick 10) OT, Penei Sewell, Oregon|
|Round 2 (Pick 44) CB, Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky|
|Round 3 (Pick 75) DT, Tommy Togiai, Ohio State|
|Round 3 (Pick 99) LB, Dylan Moses, Alabama|
|Round 4 (Pick 115) S, Andre Cisco, Syracuse|
|Round 4 (Pick 130) DT, Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA|
|Round 5 (Pick 179) CB, Benjamin St-Juste, Minnesota|
|Round 6 (Pick 227) WR, Josh Palmer, Tennessee|
Analysis: The Cowboys clearly have more pressing needs on the defensive side of the ball, but if a blue-chip offensive prospect falls to them at pick 10, they can’t pass up the opportunity to select him. It just so happens in this mock that very scenario played out, and Penei Sewell, potentially the best non-quarterback in the draft, fell right into the Cowboys’ lap. The former Oregon Duck sat out the 2020 season but is still seen as the top tackle in this class. Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about Sewell.
Penei Sewell aligns at left tackle and is a good athlete overall, as evidenced in his initial quickness of the snap and his body control and balance in his set. In the run game, he demonstrates his physical toughness as an in-line blocker. He comes off the ball with the intent to maul you inside and he’s dominant on combo blocks. In the passing game, he demonstrates his competitiveness and length on the perimeter. He’s rarely on the ground, but has a few reps where his technique falters a bit and puts his body in tough positions. Later in his career, he will easily kick inside to guard if athletic edge rushers start to give him issues. He may ultimately prove to be a better fit inside.
After going offense in round one, addressing the secondary was an absolute must at pick 44. Lucky for us, two second-round cornerbacks were still on the board when it came time for us to pick. It came down to Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph or Washington’s Elijah Molden. Personally, I’d rather have Molden. He’s a playmaker and has the versatility to move around, but his 5’10 frame is not ideal for new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s system. Joseph is 6’1, and would seemingly be a better fit in Quinn’s scheme, so we took him. Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about Joseph.
Kelvin Joseph is a long perimeter cornerback prospect who should have the opportunity to develop into a starting outside option for a team. Joseph, who was an early entree into the 2021 NFL Draft, has the kind of length that is very popular right now in the NFL game and has been exposed to a number of different roles throughout the course of his career. He was charged with periodically following Florida TE Kyle Pitts but also has played deep third coverage against some of the more prominent offenses on the Wildcats’ schedule—including Alabama. Joseph enjoyed a fruitful season at Kentucky and found the football on a number of occasions, illustrating down-the-field ball skills and effective contesting ability at the catch point. A former LSU Tiger, Joseph has about as slim of a resume as you can get; he played nine games for the Wildcats in 2020 after sitting out the 2019 season on account of transferring in from LSU and will take his talent to the pro game with just 20 total games played at the college level. Because of his inexperience, expect sporadic results in coverage and inconsistent recognition skills until he’s able to allocate more reps and increase his route combination awareness and add more polish to his technique.
The more I watch Kentucky, the more Kelvin Joseph stands out on film. Tennessee game was something special. pic.twitter.com/yMgeQhFSnZ— Mike Spencer Hrynyshyn (@MikeH_Draft) March 6, 2021
In this mock, we were also able to grab Ohio State defensive tackle Tommy Togiai, who the Cowboys are reportedly very interested in. Linebacker Dylan Moses and safety Andre Cisco could both make an impact in year one. A trade was made to move back into the fourth round and select defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa. The UCLA product would be the perfect replacement for Tyrone Crawford, providing versatility to play anywhere on the defensive line.
Draft Review: Yes, defense is the bigger need, but it’s hard to argue with the Cowboys ending up with Penei Sewell. Granted, the Cowboys likely will have to figure some things out on the defensive side of the ball if they go offense in round one, but adding Sewell to their offensive line could make the Cowboys’ offense the best in football. Sometimes your best defense is offense, and that would be the idea if you pick Sewell at 10. Still, walking away with Joseph, Togiai, Moses, and Cisco in rounds two through four is a good outcome and would beef up the defense in a big way.
Draft Option #3
|Draft #3 (The Draft Network)|
|Draft #3 (The Draft Network)|
|Round 1 (Pick 10) TE, Kyle Pitts, Florida|
|Round 2 (Pick 44) S, Richie Grant, UCF|
|Round 2 (Pick 60) CB, Ifeatu Melifonwu, Syracuse|
|Round 3 (Pick 99) DT, Tyler Shelvin, LSU|
|Round 4 (Pick 115) OT, D'Ante Smith, ECU|
|Round 4 (Pick 149) CB, Ambry Thomas, Michigan|
|Round 6 (Pick 192) WR, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa|
|Round 7 (Pick 236) EDGE, Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State|
Analysis: There’s probably about a 10% chance Kyle Pitts falls to pick 10, but if does, boy it would be hard to pass him up. Pitts is a generational talent. At 6’6, 240 lbs, he recently ran a 4.44 40 at his pro day. Pretty insane. The Florida tight end is a matchup nightmare and is only getting better. The great Dane Brugler of The Athletic and The Draft Show has Pitts as his second-rated player on his top 100 big board. Here’s what he had to say about Pitts.
Guards aren’t normally drafted high, but I had no regrets about ranking Quentin Nelson as my No. 1 player in the 2018 draft. Similarly, tight end isn’t generally valued as a position worthy of the top of the draft, but Pitts is the best non-quarterback in this class. Just like Nelson was a unique case, so is Pitts. No need to overthink it.
Here is every single Kyle Pitts touchdown for Florida.— James Simpson (@JS_Football) April 1, 2021
If the Cowboys somehow ended up with Pitts at 10, as we did in this draft, they may need to be aggressive in moving up to help address the secondary. After selecting UCF safety Richie Grant at 44, a trade was made to move back into the second round at pick 60, and the pick was Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu. The trade cost some serious capital, including a 2022 third-round pick, but it was necessary to acquire a starting cornerback opposite Trevon Diggs. Melifonwu actually could be one of the steals of this draft. Here’s what The Draft Network had to say about the cornerback.
Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu is long, rangy, athletic, and physical, making him a toolsy prospect that is an ascending talent. At the next level, his best fit is as a zone corner where his length, ball skills, ability to read the backfield, and leverage routes shine. He is also an above-average run defender and can be relied upon to make tackles should his 2020 campaign be the norm moving forward. He does have some appeal in press-man coverage where his physicality, quick feet, and length are assets. While his ball production in college was modest, he has the potential to be very disruptive at the catch point in the NFL. The most notable room for Melifonwu to grow is in terms of his route anticipation skills and becoming a touch more consistent with coverage spacing. I would understand the idea that his best fit at the next level could come at safety or even as a big nickel that is somewhat of a positionless sub-package defender. Melifonwu has the potential to develop into a terrific starter as he becomes more consistent and solidifies his technique.
Despite having limited picks after the trade, we were still able to get a nose tackle in Tyler Shelvin, and backup developmental offensive tackle in D’Ante Smith, and a cornerback on the rise in Ambry Tomas. Sixth-round wideout Ihmir Smith-Marsette also has some serious potential and has been a popular pick to the Cowboys in many mock drafts.
Draft Review: While the top three of this draft is solid, trading away some current and future picks to move up and get a cornerback is a high price to pay. Pair that with the unlikelihood Pitts falls to 10, and this one may be more unlikely, but hey, we can dream, right?
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