It’s a running theme with the people over at ESPN. Instead of mocking players to the Dallas Cowboys that the team has already telegraphed as holding interest, they keep using their own biases and likes to give the Cowboys the players they want. Mel Kiper is the latest to fall into this trap.
24. Dallas Cowboys
Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
McShay is getting tired of me talking up Ebiketie, but I’m a fan. I wanted to find a fit for him in Round 1. The Temple transfer really improved last season, putting up 9.5 sacks. He has a powerful lower body and knows how to use his hands. The Cowboys have to find a way to replace Randy Gregory, and Ebiketie could help. They could also target a guard or wide receiver here.
Okay, let’s break down this pick. In the abstract, it’s fine. Maybe it’s a reach at this point in the draft but guys who can rush the passer are always in demand. On that level, fine.
But let’s look at it in the context of what the Cowboys have done and said this offseason.
First is the 30 pre-draft visits. It’s well-known that the Cowboys generally use their first-round pick on a player they have invited to their place before the draft. The great OCC recently summed it up this way:
Here’s why we watch the official pre-draft visits so closely: Since 2006, all but two of the Cowboys’ top picks in the draft all visited with the Cowboys prior to the draft. This even includes Jason Williams (‘09, third round) and Trysten Hill (‘19, second round), who each were the top picks of their draft class.
In 2012, Morris Claiborne became the first Cowboys top pick since DeMarcus Ware in 2005 who wasn’t invited to Dallas prior to the draft.
In 2020, CeeDee Lamb was not part of the Top 30 visits to Dallas.
That is about as obvious a clue as you can have. And Arnold Ebikete was not a pre-draft visitor to the Star. In fact, no EDGE player who is expected to go in the first round was among the visitors. That should tell mockers a lot if they bother to find out.
Next, we have Jerry Jones basically blurting out that the Cowboys will draft an offensive lineman unless a “Lamb or Parsons” drops to them. Jones was a little bit joking there, but anybody who has followed Jerry Jones for any amount of time knows that he is just too candid when it comes to the Cowboys plans. He just can’t help himself.
And if you look at the pre-draft visitor list, the Cowboys have four offensive linemen on it who are potential first-round picks, the most of any position group. Three of them are still available in this mock but Kiper passes right over Zion Johnson, Kenyon Green, and Bernhard Raimann.
As for getting somebody to replace Randy Gregory? The Cowboys seem to think they have done that to some extent. They re-signed Dorance Armstrong and added Dante Fowler. Sure, you could easily argue that is not enough but the Cowboys seem to be signaling it is enough for 2022.
This doesn’t preclude them from drafting an EDGE in the first round. If a Jermaine Johnson or someone similar fell to 24 they would have to consider it. Call it the “Lamb or Parsons” rule Jerry Jones spoke of. Otherwise, this Kiper pick seems to make no sense.
In round two, Kiper goes with:
56. Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys released La’el Collins and think Terence Steele, a former undrafted free agent, can be the starter at right tackle. Let’s add some competition, though. Lucas impressed at the combine, and he stonewalled edge rushers on the right side for the Cougars. If he doesn’t start at tackle, he could move inside to guard. The O-line is a clear area to upgrade for Dallas.
There is the offensive lineman the Cowboys are looking for, and this guy could project to guard right away according to Kiper. That makes some sense. But then look who is drafted just three picks later at #59. Myjai Sanders, EDGE.
Sanders was among the pre-draft visitors to the Star, and arguably was the highest-ranked EDGE player the Cowboys brought in. So the Cowboys could have picked up either Zion Johnson or Kenyon Green in the first, and Myjai Sanders in the second. That would have fit perfectly with everything they have been telling us and showing us this offseason. Maybe it just made too much sense.