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Cowboys 2022 mock draft: Dallas goes against the normal trend with trades and early picks

What!? The Cowboys draft a safety and defensive tackle early?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 09 Michigan at Nebraska Photo by Nick Tre. Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Love it or hate it, the Dallas Cowboys had a plan in mind as to how they approached free agency. Their top priority was obviously to re-sign the majority of their pending free agents, while also filling a few holes to the roster with a couple of outside additions. So far, that’s exactly what they’ve done, which has set them up for the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.

Today we are going to attempt an unconventional mock draft for the Dallas Cowboys. We all know the positions they avoid or refuse to draft in the early rounds, but that trend has to end sooner or later, right!? With that in mind, we are going to use The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator to attempt to make this Cowboys mock draft as realistic as possible.


*TRADE*

Cowboys send 1.24 to Chiefs for 1.29, 3.94

1.29 - S Daxton Hill, Michigan

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The last time the Cowboys drafted a safety in the first-round was 20 years ago in 2002 when they selected Roy Williams eighth overall. By trading back with the Kansas City Chiefs - who traded up for WR Treylon Burks - Dallas breaks the 20-year first-round safety drought by selecting the uber-talented and versatile defensive back Daxton Hill.

The former Wolverine safety would immediately upgrade and solidify the Cowboys secondary, also giving them an insurance policy in case Malik Hooker reverts back to his injury prone self. In Hill, Dallas would be getting a versatile DB who can play just about anywhere in the secondary, whether it’s a free safety or in the nickel.


*TRADE*

Cowboys send 2.56, 3.94 to Cleveland for 2.44

2.44 - DT Travis Jones, UConn

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 Holy Cross at UConn Photo by Williams Paul/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Using their original No. 56 pick in the second round and the extra third they picked up from the Chiefs earlier, the Dallas Cowboys trade up to land a player who will immediately beef up the interior of their defensive line. In doing so, they break a 30-year drought of selecting a defensive tackle in the Top 50, which hasn’t been done since 1991 (Russell Maryland).

The 6’4”, 325-pound Travis Jones is an athletic, big, space-eating defensive tackle who would send a positive ripple effect throughout the Cowboys defense. Not only would he immediately upgrade their porous run defense, but his ability to impact the game from the trenches would help everyone around him, especially the LBs playing behind him.


3.88 - WR Alec Pierce, Cincinnati

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 Cincinnati at Notre Dame Photo by Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With Amari Cooper no longer part of the equation, and Michael Gallup possibly not being 100% early in the season, the Cowboys would be rolling out CeeDee Lamb, James Washington, Simi Fehoko, and Noah Brown as their starting receivers. Because of that, WR is absolutely in the cards at any point in the 2022 NFL Draft, quite possibly the first round.

For whatever reason, Alec Pierce isn’t a WR prospect who’s getting talked about enough. But that’s good news, because the Cowboys were able to land him here at No. 88 in the third. With him and James Washington challenging defenses vertically, and CeeDee Lamb doing everything else, Dak Prescott should be one happy QB until Michael Gallup can return.


4.129 - C/OG Luke Fortner, Kentucky

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Kentucky Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

As of yet, the Cowboys haven’t addressed the issue as to who will replace Connor Williams at left guard in 2022 and beyond. A free agent addition is likely, which is why we went with Daxton Hill in the first round, but when and who fills that void is still the ultimate mystery. But, the solution could even come in the mid-rounds from a player like Luke Fortner.

The 6’4”, 307-pound former Kentucky iOL is one of the more experienced and versatile interior players in the entire 2022 draft class. The three-year starter has logged over 600 snaps playing both left and right guard and center over the course of his career. With the need for more help at both positions, adding him to the mix would be a win-win for the Cowboys.


*TRADE*

Cowboys send 5.176, 5.178 to Carolina for 4.137

4.137 - LB/DE Jesse Luketa, Penn State

Indiana v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Cowboys wheelers and dealers are obviously filling their oats and decided to make yet another trade, their third, in order to land Micah Parsons’ former teammate and friend Jesse Luketa. At this point in the draft teams are looking for players with certain traits they can develop and Luketa has that in spades.

Jesse Luketa started his career at Penn State as a linebacker before transitioning into more of a defensive end over the past few years. Fortunately for the Cowboys, he plays two positions that they can stand to upgrade and add more depth. For Dan Quinn, he’d be getting another versatile chess piece to deploy as he chooses.


5.155 - TE Charlie Kolar, Iowa State

Texas v Iowa State Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images

With Dalton Schultz playing on a one-year franchise tag and with just Jeremy Sprinkle, Sean McKeon, and Ian Bunting behind him on the depth chart, the Cowboys are in desperate need of upgrading the tight end position. Luckily for them, one of the most underrated, and perhaps most intriguing, TEs fell right into their lap in the fifth-round of this mock draft.

Charlie Kolar still being available on Day 3 would be a dream come true for the Cowboys. An argument could be made he has a really good chance of being the best tight end to come out of the 2022 draft class, so to get in this late would be a steal. If added to the mix, don’t be at all surprised if the 6’6”, 252-pound TE ends up pushing for playing time as a rookie.


5.167 - LB Malcolm Rodriguez, Oklahoma State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Kansas at Oklahoma State Photo by William Purnell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cowboys may have added a versatile LB/DE earlier in the draft in Jesse Luketa, but in no way should that prevent them from trying to further upgrade and add depth to the linebacker position. And that’s exactly what the selection of Malcolm Rodriguez with the last of their fifth-round draft picks would do.

Although he’s a little undersized (5’11”, 232), the former Oklahoma State Cowboys LB is an intriguing prospect who could help the Cowboys defense. From an athleticism standpoint he checks all the boxes and strength isn’t a concern either after putting up 36 reps of 225 pounds on bench press at his Pro Day. Can’t ask much more from a Day 3 draft pick.


6.193 - WR Jalen Nailor, Michigan State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 30 Michigan at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With their lone remaining pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Cowboys double dip at the wide receiver position to not only hopefully upgrade the depth, but also provide a little special teams help as well. With CeeDee Lamb transitioning into the No. 1 WR role, Dallas needs to find a new punt returner and Jalen Nailor could provide that and much more.

Jalen Nailor may never be anything more than a depth WR in the NFL, but he is someone who has an intriguing skill set that can do a lot of damage at the next level. Whether it’s as a gadget player, a deep threat, or maybe even a return specialist, the former Michigan State WR is someone who is a danger to take it to the house anytime he touches the ball.