It’s hard to tell if Mel Kiper Jr. and ESPN are just trolling Dallas Cowboys fans with their recent mock drafts. Or maybe they know something we don’t. Perhaps they’ve looked ahead in their crystal ball and discerned just what Mike McCarthy will need to run his version of the Cowboys offense. Because Kiper’s last mock draft, and his new one, certainly go against the conventional wisdom of what Dallas needs.
In his last mock, Kiper gave the Cowboys Bijan Robinson. As we noted at the time, there is nothing wrong with the player and his talents, just his position - running back. With Dallas currently in the midst of dealing with their issue of drafting a running back in the first round, and then giving him a way-too-big second contract, it just doesn’t seem feasible they will go back to the well.
It feels like the Cowboys are reluctantly learning the lesson that many NFL teams have already internalized - running backs can be found much later in the draft and are pretty disposable when it comes to today’s NFL. Plus, they could be bringing back Tony Pollard on a one-year franchise tag.
In Kiper’s newest draft, he has the Cowboys taking a tight end. If you take a tight end in the first round, you better be sure he’s an absolute lock to be a stud. Because similar to running back, some of the best tight ends around can be found in later rounds. Travis Kelce was a third-round pick, George Kittle was a fifth-round pick, Darren Waller was a sixth-round pick. Even our own Dalton Schultz was a fourth-round pick.
Plus, the Cowboys have two prospects at tight end, Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot, who deserve a look in 2023.
Here is Kiper’s pick and reasoning.
26. Dallas Cowboys
Dalton Kincaid, TE, Utah
Let’s replace Dalton Schultz with another Dalton. Schultz, who played on the franchise tag in Dallas last season, could leave in free agency, in which case the Cowboys must find a replacement. Kincaid, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound player with great hands, could step in and be a comparable pass-catcher from Day 1. He caught 106 passes and had 16 scores for the Utes over the past two seasons, and he makes tough catches look simple. He torched defenses down the middle of the field, and he has improved as a blocker. Dak Prescott would love Kincaid’s ability to find space. Kincaid might even be the first tight end off the board.
I thought again about running back Bijan Robinson (Texas), but I think I found a better fit to get Robinson into Round 1 ...
Again, just like with Bijan Robinson, this isn’t an argument against the player. Dalton Kincaid is a fine prospect. But the position he plays, combined with the current needs of the Cowboys, just argues against this type of pick. If the Cowboys want to give Prescott a weapon, it seems obvious that their first choice should be at receiver, not running back or tight end. In both of the latter cases, they have pretty good prospects on the team (Ferguson, Hendershot), or they can keep a player (Pollard).
Kiper may be sincere here, but nonetheless, it feels like he’s trolling Cowboys Nation.