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Way-too-early 2023 Cowboys 7-round mock draft: New Year’s edition

The 2023 NFL Draft season is nearly upon us.

Minnesota v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The 27-13 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 propelled the Dallas Cowboys to 12-4 on the year before heading into the regular-season finale against the Washington Commanders. From there it’s on to the playoffs, but whether it’s a short run or a winner-take-all performance is unknown.

With the 2022 season winding down focus will start to shift more and more towards the big event of the offseason, the 2023 NFL Draft. Some teams will start shifting their focus to scouting and evaluating this year’s draft class sooner than others, but whether it’s sooner or later, the NFL Draft season will arrive.

For now, the Dallas Cowboys are zeroed in on the playoffs in the hopes of being the lone team standing when all is said and done. Whether or not that happens though remains to be seen, so in the meantime we might as well start getting to know the 2023 NFL hopefuls to get a jump on the draft process.

Anyway you slice it, the Cowboys have their work cut out for them this offseason. They have several holes to fill in the roster as well as some tough decisions to make such as what they should do about both Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. All in all, it should make for an interesting offseason.

Just for fun, we’ve decided to do a way-too-early 7-round mock draft for the Cowboys using Pro Football Network’s draft simulator. We’ll get an early look at some of the draft prospects who may be available for them with each of their six picks. As things stand right now, they have one selection in every round except the sixth and should add a few compensatory picks as well when they are finally awarded.

Offseason predictions

  • Re-sign RT Terence Steele, S Donovan Wilson, LB Leighton Vander Esch, and DT Jonathan Hankins
  • Renegotiate Ezekiel Elliott’s contract to lower his salary cap hit and let Tony Pollard walk

Round 1, Pick 26 - CB Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Minnesota v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Joey Porter Jr. checks all of the boxes teams look for in an outside cornerback. He has impressive size at 6’2”, 192 pounds and incredible reach/length to go with it. That’s not even mentioning the physicality and attitude he brings to the position. On top of all of that, he it’s the son of former All-Pro LB Joey Porter, which explains his physicality/attitude.

For a team like the Cowboys who are in desperate need of a starting CB opposite Trevon Diggs, the former Nitty Lion could be a Day 1 plug-and-play starter as a rookie and possibly an immediate upgrade. The duo of Porter Jr. and Diggs would be a formidable pairing, and with DeRon Bland in the slot, Dallas would be strong in the secondary.

Round 2, Pick 57 - DT Siaki Ika, Baylor

Baylor v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Siaki Ika is a big man who demands a lot of attention. His size (6’4”, 358) immediately draws the eyes, but his play in the trenches against both the run and pass is equally as impressive. This big-body, behemoth DT has surprising athleticism for a man his size and a nonstop motor that causes all kinds of problems for opposing offensive lineman.

While the Cowboys don’t typically draft defensive tackles this early, Siaki Ika could be the exception. This is a player they could plug into the middle of their defensive front who would immediately help everyone else around him. He’d free up the linebackers playing behind him and help the pass rusher’s around him by demanding extra attention.

Round 3, Pick 91 - LB Drew Sanders, Arkansas

Liberty v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Drew Sanders is a former five-star recruit from Denton, Texas who initially started his collegiate career at Alabama as an EDGE player before transferring to Arkansas and making the transition to an off-ball linebacker. The 6’5”, 232-pound LB is a three-down player with surprising fluidity and range for his size. His potential at the next level is through the roof.

Linebacker is one of the biggest positions of “need” for the Cowboys and Drew Sanders would be an immediate impact player from Day 1 if/when paired with Damone Clark. This young LB duo would be an excellent foundation to build upon and would give the Cowboys defense two athletically gifted players with sideline-to-sideline speed at the position.

Round 4, Pick 126 - OL Andrew Vorhees, USC

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 21 USC at Notre Dame Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Andrew Vorhees is a big (6’6”, 320), versatile offensive lineman who has been a mainstay all across USC’s offensive line. During his time with the Trojans he started it every OL position except center and has not looked out of place on either the right or left side at guard or tackle. His athleticism, strength, power, and scheme diversity should only add to his value.

The Cowboys love versatility in their o-line, but Andrew Vorhees could be Connor McGovern’s replacement at left guard, which is believed to be where he fits best at the next level. He could end up making a nice pairing with Tyler Smith on the left side of Dallas’ OL for the foreseeable future.

Round 5, Pick 157 - WR Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Texas A&M at LSU Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ainias Smith was a multifaceted weapon during his time at Texas A&M and should be the same at the next level as well. The 5’10”, 190-pound offensive weapon is a do-it-all player any offensive coordinator in the league would love to have at their disposal. Runner, receiver, returner, or gadget player, there’s nothing Smith can’t do with the ball in his hands.

Outside of CeeDee Lamb, the Cowboys have been looking for help at WR and may need to replace Tony Pollard next year as well since he could be out of their price range this offseason. In Ainias Smith, they’d have that player all rolled into one. He has the same type of RB/WR versatility as Pollard.

Round 7, Pick 222 - QB Clayton Tune, Houston

Tulsa v Houston Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Clayton Tune is one of the most experienced and productive quarterbacks in the entire 2023 draft class. In his five-year career at Houston he played in 45 games, threw for 11,539 passing yards and 99 touchdowns, and also rushed for 1,307 yards and 15 TDs on the ground. On top of all that, the 6’3”, 220-pound QB has starting potential at the next level.

The Cowboys will probably be looking for a new backup QB considering Cooper Rush likely played himself out of their price range after going 4-1 as a starter while a Dak Prescott was sidelined with a thumb injury. Clayton Tune’s skill set and experience would make him an intriguing option to compete for that backup role as early as Year 1 as a rookie.

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