The wait is almost over as the NFL Draft officially kicks off in a few hours. So now is as good a time as any to survey our front-page writers for their predictions about round one. The Cowboys hold pick 24 in the first round so we wanted to know who they thought would be the pick.
We weren’t doing trades so the criteria was pick a player at 24. We then asked them to make a backup pick in case that player wasn’t available, but make the backup at a different position. So no “Kenyon Green and then Zion Johnson as a backup”. Instead, we’ll pretend that if their first pick doesn’t work out, it was because there was a run on that position and the Cowboys needed to go in another direction.
Here are the predictions. Kenyon Green was almost a consensus first pick, but the backups started to vary. Enjoy!
Danny Phantom: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. There was a point where Green was considered a fringe top 10 prospect, but a poor outing during the combine and affinity for many others have pushed him back into the late first round. While Zion Johnson is my personal favorite of the two guards, Green’s tape speaks volumes as he sets himself wide, attacks with violent hands, and plays with the nastiness that the Cowboys need in the trenches. It is an unsexy pick? Maybe, but don’t allow yourself to get combine-duped like what happened to Orlando Brown Jr. a few years ago. Trust the tape and go Green! It will be good for the Cowboys’ environment!
Backup pick: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State. This is more of wishful thinking than a prediction, but if somehow the star receiver falls to 24, he’d make us all forget about trading away Amari Cooper. Olave is a route-running specialist who releases quickly, maintains separation, and makes ball tracking look easy. His lean frame may cause him to slide, but this smart, fast, high-character pass-catcher would give the Cowboys one of the most dangerous WR trios in the league.
Brian Martin: WR Chris Olave, Ohio State. Call it wishful thinking or just extremely good luck, but whatever it is I have a sneaky suspicion Chris Olave ends up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round pick. I know finding Connor Williams’ replacement at left guard is arguably higher on the to-do list, however, that position can be addressed later with one of the Cowboys remaining eight draft picks. Olave would be just too talented to pass up. Adding him to the mix with CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup would give Dak Prescott a receiving core just as good, maybe better, than he’s ever had in his professional career.
Backup pick: DT Travis Jones, UConn. Travis Jones is a fringe first-round player, but someone who can immediately step in and upgrade the Cowboys defense from Day 1. He’s the big bodied, space eating type of plug-and-play defensive tackle they need to improve their rushing defense and he has a little bit of juice as a pass rusher as well. Best of all, he should help maximize the potential of Micah Parsons by occupying blockers and keeping him clean to make plays.
David Howman: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. I mean, Jerry pretty much confirmed they’re taking a guard here already. It wouldn’t shock me if they went after Olave or Burks if either is still available, but that LG spot is a bigger need than WR right now. Zion Johnson is probably higher on Dallas’ draft board, but I suspect he’ll be gone before 24, making Green a very nice consolation prize.
Backup pick: Wr Treylon Burks, Arkansas. If the Cowboys don’t go OL in the first round, then they really need to take a WR; honestly, they should go that route anyway. Any of these 5 WRs expected to go in the first round would be good, but Burks seems the most likely to be there. As it turns out, Burks is the best receiver in this class in my humble opinion, so Dallas really would be getting another CeeDee Lamb type of steal.
Matt Holleran: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. It might not be a sexy pick, but Kenyon Green and the Cowboys seem like a perfect match. Green will be an instant plug-and-play starter at LG, and will upgrade Dallas’ offensive line in a big way. If Drake London or Chris Olave fall all the way to 24 I think the Cowboys would be very interested, but I just don’t see that happening. Dallas will have their choice of Green or Zion Johnson at pick 24, and they’ll take the former Aggie.
Backup pick: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa. While there has been some chatter about the Cowboys not being a big fan, I think Tyler Linderbaum could end up being the pick at 24. The Iowa center would be a perfect plug and play addition to the offensive line, and would be the anchor on the line the Cowboys have been missing since Travis Frederick retired. Linderbaum looks like he’s capable of being a 10-year starter in this league, and the Cowboys will get a steal taking him all the way at 24.
Sean Martin: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. The Cowboys warned fans that they’re working with a very limited number of first-round grades this year, but whether or not Kenyon Green falls as a one or two doesn’t matter. The positional need is obvious, and the Texas A&M guard plays with the mean streak and toughness the Cowboys need in their run game. It’s not often that early draft predictions stay true right up until the first round, and wide receiver has made a late run as the favorite for pick 24, but protecting Dak Prescott and keeping this offensive line a strength is more important.
Backup pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas. I have a feeling Burks is going to be the first round receiver that slides, possibly right into the Cowboys lap as a team in need of a receiver. The Cowboys offense needs to get better at scheming touches for play makers, with CeeDee Lamb stepping into the top receiver role. Burks would help Dak Prescott spread the ball around, with the long speed to take the top off a defense and vertical ability in the red zone to finish drives.
R.J. Ochoa: WR Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. I think Green is the better player now than Zion Johnson. I know the medical concerns are there, but it feels like the higher floor.
Backup pick: WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas. My favorite non-guard pick is Treylon Burks. I’m a bit nervous on whether or not the Cowboys can fully maximize his skillset, but he gives the offense another elite weapon and will pair nicely with CeeDee Lamb for the future.
Aidan Davis: G Kenyon Green, Texas A&M. This is a chalk pick for the Cowboys, but I do think Zion Johnson should be the pick if he is still available at 24. However, over the last few months Johnson has been rising on draft boards and the odds that he is still available at 24 continues to decline. In that case, Green becomes the seemingly obvious pick.
Backup pick: C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa. But let me make the case for why Dallas might pivot to Linderbaum if he is on the board at 24th. In 2013, the Cowboys were similarly needing both a guard and center. They traded back in the draft and picked a center out of Wisconsin named Travis Fredrick. And Jerry Jones referenced the Fredrick pick when he cryptically discussed moving up. If by luck, Linderbaum and Green are both there at 24, don’t be surprised if the center out of Iowa becomes the newest Cowboy. The only reason that he is not my pick is because I think there is a better chance Green is on the board for the Cowboys than Linderbaum.
Tom Ryle: G Zion Johnson, Boston College. I would go with Zion Johnson as my first pick, simply because the boards I pay attention to have him higher than Kenyon Green. However, I suspect the Cowboys’ board is different and they have Greene as the pick at 24.
Backup pick: EDGE Arnold Ebikitie, Penn State. Pass rusher Arnold Ebikitie would be my choice, since that is a big need imo, plus I feel the WR group is going to be a bit drained by then. But Ebikitie would make me a bit happier if they traded back a bit to get him.
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