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Cowboys 7-round 2022 NFL mock draft: Trading to secure talent will be big

Looking at a full Cowboys mock draft now that the first waves of free agency have happened.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Cincinnati v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

We’re a month away from the 2022 NFL Draft.

With the bowl games over, the combine over, free agency slowing down, and Pro Day’s starting to wind down, we’re starting to get a better idea of what direction the Cowboys will go in the 2022 NFL Draft. Today were going to do a seven-round mock draft on what we’re thinking the Cowboys will do next month in Las Vegas.

We’ll be using Pro Football Focus’ Mock Draft Simulator to give us a real life feel of how the draft could playout.

Round 1, 24th Overall

Zion Johnson, Boston College, OG/OC

Players available: Kenyon Green, Treylon Burks, Bernhard Rainmann
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Boston College at Syracuse Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s starting to look more and more likely like the Cowboys will be spending the 24th overall pick on an interior offensive linemen. With no left guard currently on the roster (all due respect to Connor McGovern), and most of the starting-caliber guys gone in free agency, all attention turns to the Cowboys first-round pick for Connor Williams replacement. Boston College’s Zion Johnson is a very good option to have. Showcasing some position versatility at OG, LT, and OC, Johnson is a guy the Cowboys do have a lot of interest in leading up to the draft. While the door is still open, it sounds like they may actually prefer Johnson over Texas A&M Kenyon Green, due to his ability to play left guard, center, and having experience at tackle if need be. Johnson’s athletic profile, physical traits, and strength at the position would give the Cowboys a legit day one starter at left guard, and a guy with an ultra-high ceiling given how new he is to the game of football.

Round 2, 56th Overall

George Pickens, Georgia, WR

Players available: Kingley Enagbare, Leo Chenal, Trey McBride, Jalen Tolbert
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl - Cincinnati v Georgia Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Cowboys receiver room is going to look a lot different in 2022. With Amari Cooper gone, it’ll be CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup (likely to miss some time to start the season), James Washington, and Simi Fehoko. Adding a wideout in the top 100 is going to be of major importance to the Cowboys, and they strike gold in the second round in Georgia’s George Pickens. This receiver room needs some dog added to it and Pickens brings just that to an offense. Pickens isn’t an elite route runner or separator, but he’s going to win at the catch point with elite ball skills and body control, he’s going to win after the catch, and he’s going to make defensive backs lives miserable for four quarters. Pickens can play inside and- out, and while his skill-set does resemble both Lamb and Gallup, he brings an attitude and juice that the receiver room currently lacks.

Round 3, 88th Overall

Brian Asamoah III, Oklahoma, LB

Players available: Dylan Parham, Darrian Beavers, Bryan Cook, Sean Rhyan
NCAA Football: Nebraska at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Even with bringing back Leighton Vander Esch, the linebacker position is still a big need for the Cowboys heading into the draft. With Micah Parsons likely spending a good amount of time rushing the passer off the right side, it’s currently Vander Esch, second-year linebacker Jabril Cox, Francis Bernard, and Luke Gifford left remaining in the linebacker room. While there’s a lot of excitement around Cox in year two, adding Brian Asamoah into the fold would be a ton of fun in Dan Quinn’s defense. We saw how much Quinn enjoyed using Jayron Kearse and Keanu Neal in those nickel linebacker roles in 2021, and while Asamoah isn’t a safety convert, he is an undersized, fast, rangy linebacker that can cover, play sideline-to-sideline, and make plays on all three downs in his rookie year. Along with what he’ll offer on defense, Asamoah will make John Fassel very happy as well because of what he’ll being to the special teams room as well.

TRADE Round 4, 122th Overall (Cowboys trade 4:129 & 6:193 for 4:122)

Sam Williams, Ole Miss, EDGE

Players available: Myjai Sanders, Matthew Butler, Dohnovan West, Cade Otton
NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Mississippi at Baylor Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Projecting where Sam Williams goes in this draft is very tricky. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up in the top 50 based on his skills, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he is still available in the fifth round due to his off the field concerns, that carry plenty of weight. Williams is an explosive, twitchy, pass rusher that raked up 12.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss in the SEC in 2021. While his skills on the field are of little concern, his past has some things in it that will likely have him fall down the board a bit.

According to Pro Football Network, In July of 2020, Williams was arrested on a felony charge of sexual battery. He was subsequently suspended for an indefinite period of time by Ole Miss. Little information was revealed regarding Williams’ case, but his charges were ultimately dropped less than two months later — the suspension was lifted as a result.

Outside of this situation, there are rumors about some prior issues with Williams, which ultimately had him end up at Northeast Mississippi Community College, before getting to Ole Miss in 2019. Williams’ background will need to be taken into consideration by whichever team drafts him, but the Cowboys have never shied away from guys with some baggage, especially if they feel like they have a good grasp on the situation.

TRADE Round 4, 137th Overall (Cowboys trade 5:155 & 5:178 for 4:137)

Jelani Woods, Virginia, TE

NCAA Football: Virginia at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

In a draft in which the Cowboys possess nine picks, I’d love to see them be aggressive in moving up for guys they like in that pick 50-150 range. While this draft lacks a lot of the blue-chip talent, there’s a ton of guys who should be available late on day two and even on day three that can play big-roles on NFL teams. Jelani Woods, a physical and athletic freak, is one of those guys.

Woods, while still plenty raw, is one of the freakiest players we’ve ever seen in all of football. Listed at 6-7, 253-lbs, he graded out as the most athletic tight end ever by Kent Lee Platte’s “relative athletic score” grading scale he uses for every prospect with verified pro day or combine metrics. Woods would provide the Cowboys with a legit mismatch in the red zone due to his size, but can do damage in between the 20’s given his size, ball skills, and explosiveness after the catch. Woods may not be ready to step in as a starter in year one, but with Schultz, McKeon, and Sprinkle on the roster, Jelani Woods could play a role, while being allowed time to develop.

Round 5, 167th Overall

Velus Jones Jr., Tennessee, WR

Players available: D’Marco Jackson, Noah Ellis, Bubba Bolden, Sterling Weatherford
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

While the team lacks an ideal slot-receiver as it stands, Velus Jones Jr. is just that, and a fun gadget guy at that. Jones is more known for what he can offer on special teams as a returner (something the Cowboys need with Cedrick Wilson gone), but he showed in 2021 what he can do from the slot and as a ball carrier when given the opportunity. Jones has electric speed (4.31) at 6’0”, 204-lbs, and put that on display for Tennessee in his senior year going for over 800 yards and seven touchdowns. While he needs work as a route runner and with his ball skills, Jones can make an impact right away as a dynamic return man, can play a role on offense in the screen-game, running game, and has the speed to develop into a vertical wideout as he develops his release packages and route nuance.

Round 5, 176th Overall

John Ridgeway, Arkansas, DL

Players available: Obinna Eze, Jack Coan, Zach Tom, Cade Mays
Arkansas v Alabama Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

With the final pick in this seven-round mock, the Cowboys look to beef up the trenches with Arkansas John Ridgeway. Ridgeway is your big, stout, run-defending interior linemen that could fill Brent Urban’s void if he lands elsewhere in free agency. While Ridgeway isn’t known for his pass rush, he is a guy that does provide some pocket-push to make disruptive plays in the passing game. Ridgeway is a better player coming out than what I saw from Quinton Bohanna in the 2021 NFL Draft, and with the addition of Ridgeway that would give the Cowboys nice diversity at defensive tackle with Gallimore, Odighizuwa, Hill, Watkins, Bohanna, and Ridgeway.