It’s time we put on our GM hats and get serious about who the Dallas Cowboys could draft with each of their 10 selections in the 2021 NFL Draft. Playing around with all of the different mock draft simulators is a fun exercise, but for the most part a little unrealistic due to the ease with which trades can be completed.
That’s why today we’re doing away with the simulators and pretending to be Jerry Jones. I’m drafting the players I’d like to see the Cowboys target in each round. Since there’s no way to accurately predict what trades may take place, there are no trades, even though it’s unlikely Dallas does the same.
And away we go…
Round 1, No. 10: CB Jaycee Horn, South Carolina
Jaycee Horn is hands down my CB1 and should be the Cowboys’ as well. Not only does he have more versatility and better ball skills than Patrick Surtain, but arguably a better connection as well. In a roundabout way, he can be linked to both Mike McCarthy and Dan Quinn.
McCarthy coached his dad (Joe Horn) during his time as OC for the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2004. Quinn was the DC at Florida (2011-2012) under best friend and head coach Will Muschamp, who was Horns’ HC at South Carolina throughout most of his college career. It would be unwise to discount that kind of connection.
Round 2, No. 44: EDGE Joe Tryon, Washington
The lack of depth behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory should be a big concern for the Cowboys. They should draft a promising EDGE prospect like Joe Tryon at #44. He has the desired size (6’5”, 259) and athleticism to develop into a starting caliber DE, but he’s still a little raw and may need a year or two before he’s ready to step into that job.
Round 3, No. 75: CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford
Even after taking Jaycee Horn with the 10th overall pick, Dallas should double-dip at CB by drafting Paulson Adebo. The Cowboys need more outside CB depth and with Horn, Adebo, and Trevon Diggs they’d be in excellent shape for the foreseeable future. Adebo could also factor in at FS as well, even though it’s not a position he’s played in the past.
Round 3, No. 99: DT Alim McNeil, NC State
Alim McNeill would be a plug-and-play 1-tech with the Dallas Cowboys as a rookie. His ability to set and reset the line of scrimmage in both the running and passing game would get him involved early and often as a rookie. With him and Brent Urban, the middle of the Cowboys DL would be upgraded from what they deployed at the position just a year ago.
Round 4, No. 115: OT D’Ante Smith, East Carolina
It’s time to start thinking about life without Tyron Smith. D’Ante Smith is exactly the type of developmental OT the Cowboys should target to become his eventual replacement. He has the required length (35” arms, 85” wingspan) and athleticism to play the position, but from a technique standpoint he could use a little more time to develop his craft.
Round 4, No. 138: LB Derrick Barnes, Purdue
Derrick Barnes played a variety of defensive roles during his time at Purdue. He played inside LB and played along the DL as a designated pass rusher as well. With the Cowboys, he projects best as a MIKE and core special teams player. He has the desired sideline-to-sideline range, athleticism, and competitive toughness to compete for starting reps early on.
Round 5, No. 179: S James Wiggins, Cincinnati
James Wiggins would be a perfect fit as a single-high free safety in Dan Quinn’s heavy Cover 1-3 scheme. He’s a starting caliber FS prospect who plays with the desired range, toughness, and athleticism. Sadly, injuries have been a problem for him throughout his career at Cincinnati. Despite that, he could push Damontae Kazee for the starting job as a rookie.
Round 6, No. 192: WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Iowa
Ihmir Smith-Marsette is a smooth moving WR with natural speed to challenge defenses vertically. He has inside/out versatility and is an experienced gadget player (reverses, end arounds, jet sweeps). He’s also a dangerous kick returner. All in all, he has the versatility to play a variety of roles with the Dallas Cowboys early on.
Round 6, No. 227: DT Tedarrell Slayton, Florida
Tedarrell Slayton is the big bodied, space eating DT that Dallas’ defensive line hasn’t had in what seems like forever. He’s surprisingly athletic for a player his size (6’4”, 330) and flashes some impressive raw power at the point of attack. With him and Alim McNeill, the Cowboys 1-tech position would be solidified for the foreseeable future.
Round 7, No. 238: LB Nick Niemann, Iowa
This late in the draft you’re looking for players with developmental traits and special teams ability. Nick Niemann definitely possesses those traits. He has above average athleticism and has played both MIKE and WILL LB during his time at Iowa. He’ll be mainly a core special teamer early on, but could develop into starting caliber player in the not-too-distant future.