The prospect of a free agent signing now affecting the Cowboys draft plans are pretty slim. There is little chance a signing of significance will change how the Cowboys enter the draft at this point. It looks like there will be a hole at left guard and there will be the need for additional wide receivers. A general upping of the talent on the offensive line or another linebacker are areas that are also in the mix.
The draft isn’t that far away, so as we usually do this time of year, we take a look at some mock drafts to get a sense of what people are thinking about the Cowboys and their upcoming draft. Today we have 10 mock drafts that were done relatively recently. Offensive linemen dominate our mocks for the Cowboys pick at 24, but there are some wild cards thrown in.
Let’s start with the most popular pick (three mocks).
Round 1 - Pick 24
IOWA • JR • 6’2” / 296 LBS
The Cowboys need to get interior offensive line help. Linderbaum isn’t a splashy pick, but he’s the top center in this class. His athleticism at center and the ability to become an impact lineman right away makes the Cowboys offensive line immediately better. Tough to draft for need, but Dallas needs Linderbaum on its roster.
24. Dallas Cowboys | Iowa OL Tyler Linderbaum
Jerry Jones has made it clear that upgrading the offensive line is a top priority, and there just happens to be an interior blocker worthy of this pick still on the board. Linderbaum might not have ideal size or length, but he makes up for it in just about every other area of his game.
24) Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Linderbaum, C, Iowa
The Dallas Cowboys snag Tyler Linderbaum from Iowa, as the “generational talent” at center also has positional versatility. It may be a stretch to have him switch positions to start over Conner McGovern at left guard. Still, his ability to understand leverage and body angles would pay dividends if he moved around the lineup for Dallas. He would also be an immediate upgrade over incumbent Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz.
Linderbaum represents the most popular pick in our roundup and does make some sense. He is the consensus top-rated center in the draft and the Cowboys traditionally like grabbing the highest-rated player at a position if it makes sense for them in that draft. Offensive line is definitely a position of need as the Cowboys are trying to rebuild what was once their strength on offense.
There is little debate about the quality of Linderbaum as a player. His size/length measurements are less than ideal, but everything else about him is worthy of this position in the first round. The question is where does he play? The most natural thing would be for him to replace Tyler Biadasz, but that doesn’t solve the issue of left guard. The Cowboys could stand to upgrade their center position, but they absolutely need a left guard who can start.
Moving Linderbaum over there doesn’t seem like the smart thing to do, and there is really no evidence that Biadasz could play there or that Connor McGovern could. Maybe the Cowboys would have something in mind if they did draft Linderbaum, but while the player is a good value get, there would need to be some tinkering to make it work.
Next up is a natural fit.
Pick 24 Dallas Cowboys
Zion Johnson Boston College · IOL · Senior
Johnson’s a nice fit as a strong left guard for Dallas, possessing the versatility to play tackle or center in a pinch.
24. Dallas Cowboys: Zion Johnson (G, Boston College)
Johnson has good athleticism (5.18-second 40-yard dash) for his size (6’3″ and 312 pounds), and he’s versatile enough to play at tackle or guard.
This has been a popular mock to the Cowboys for a while and it just makes a lot of sense. The Cowboys have a gaping hole at left guard; Johnson is a great candidate to fix it.
And if not Johnson,,,
24. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
Kenyon Green, G, Texas A&M (6-4, 323 pounds)
The Cowboys needed to let Connor Williams leave in free agency and also release La’el Collins. Green would be the ideal strong and athleticism replacement for their scheme to support Tyler Biadasz and Zack Martin inside.
Green and Johnson have been kind of interchangeable for the Cowboys pick at 24 just depending on which player you like better. They both would presumably solve the Cowboys biggest issue heading into the draft.
One other lineman makes our roundup.
Pick 24 Dallas Cowboys
Tyler Smith Tulsa · OT · Sophomore (RS)
Tyron, meet Tyler — and teach him everything you know. The Cowboys are going through a transition across their offensive line, and it’s time to reload with new, young talent. Smith is viewed as being a bit raw, but also as having one of the highest upsides among tackles in this draft. I don’t see him falling out of the top 32.
You could say this is the theory that tackle is more important than guard or center and that the Cowboys need to be thinking now about replacing Tyron Smith while getting a quality swing tackle. This is more long-term thinking. But there are some who believe that Smith could play guard and that could even be his top position in the pros. That would solve the issue in the short-term, and give the Cowboys flexibility down the line. And Smith does get a lot of praise as a lineman.
Now we step outside of the offensive line and look at some wild cards.
Dallas Cowboys: Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas
The Cowboys lost Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, so they’d be interested in another receiver to get the most out of Dak Prescott.
Treylon Burks is a 6-foot-3 receiver with good speed.
The Cowboys are definitely looking to draft a receiver sometime on Day 1 or Day 2. Burks has been one of the most-popular WR picks in mock drafts. We know that the Cowboys have interest so this one should always be in consideration.
24 Dallas Devin Lloyd Utah ILB
The trade between New Orleans and Philadelphia has the potential to spoil Dallas getting one of the players they covet most. Based on the Cowboys’ high level of interest in offensive linemen and wide receivers and the fact that the Saints have similar needs as well as two first round picks to fill them, it makes it hard to believe Tyron Smith’s heir-apparent (Charles Cross or Trevor Penning) or Amari Cooper’s replacement will get to 24.
That left me with two options. I could take one of the options at guard like Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green, or I can go with the top player on the board, something Dallas has done with each of their last two first-rounders. In this case, that was a player the Cowboys are bringing in for a private visit in Lloyd. While the Cowboys did bring Leighton Vander Esch back, Lloyd would be the long-term fit at middle linebacker that allows Micah Parsons to roam the field.
We just recently discussed the Cowboys defense and how the one really thin spot is at linebacker. So this makes some sense. In fact, early on in the mock draft season linebacker was a very popular pick for the Cowboys. With all the talk about the offensive line and the obvious hole there, linebacker has faded from view. But it’s not out of the question.
No Power Five interior defensive lineman earned a higher PFF grade in 2021. Wyatt also earned a grade above 80.0 both against the run and as a pass-rusher — something no other player at the position in the Power Five accomplished.
The former Georgia Bulldog was the most impactful interior defender in the Power Five. That carried through the Senior Bowl, where he led all at the position in win rate during the one-on-ones.
And finally, a real quality player who it seems doubtful the Cowboys would draft. Everyone knows the Cowboys just don’t want to spend a premium draft resource on interior defensive linemen. They have brought in Jordan Davis for a visit, so maybe he is the guy that could get them to do it at pick 24 if he is still available. His teammate Wyatt does offer value, and much more versatility than Davis, but it just doesn’t seem like a Cowboys pick.