3 trade backs in 1st round land Cowboys 7 top-100 picks in latest mock draft

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K.D. Drummond
·15 min read
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First things first, I poppa…. no wait. That’s a Biggie Smalls lyric. First things first, it’s important to reiterate that mock drafts are exercises meant to explore the various possibilities of what a draft may look like. While those who take mock drafts quote-unquote seriously like to be as realistic as possible, no mock is going to perfectly capture a team’s thinking nor the opportunities that become available to them.

In our quasi-weekly exercises, we look at multiple scenarios which could present themselves for the Dallas Cowboys in the 2021 draft. Not every mock attempted makes it to publication, but the ones that do we attempt to show various ways things can play out. In this exercise, the list of preferred targets was wiped out by the time Dallas came on the clock at No. 10. This week, all of the top candidates save for one were gone. OTs Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater both went top five while Kyle Pitts and Patrick Surtain sandwiched Ja’Marr Chase from six through eight. Denver took Micah Parsons leaving Jaycee Horn as the default selection for the Cowboys at 10.

Normally this would be the pick, and in the mock world Horn is an easy and obvious choice. But what happens if for whatever reason the Cowboys don’t feel he’s neck-and-neck with Surtain as Draft Twitter does? What happens if they don’t see much, if any gap between he and the other cornerback prospects? What happens if he’s not even CB2 on their board?

Most observers feel that there will be a run on QBs in the top 10, with as many as five being selected. Only three went in this exercise, with no teams moving up to select Justin Fields or Mac Jones. This opened up a unique opportunity for Dallas to capitalize on other team’s needs and to trade down.

TRADE: Send 1.10, 4.115, 5.179 to New England for 1.15, 2.46, 3.99

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Score

Cowboys 1.10 = 1300 pts 4.115 = 64 pts 5.179 = 18.2 pts Total = 1382.2 pts Patriots 1.15 = 1050 pts 2.46 = 440 pts 3.96 = 116 pts Total = 1606 pts The Patriots jump up to take Justin Fields and the NFL world weeps. Some may think that this isn't enough to gain for a team wanting to move to select their QB and Dallas doesn't gain an additional body in the move but adding a top 50 and a top 100 pick in exchange for five places and a fourth rounder is certainly a deal. The value difference, 224 points, says Dallas gained an extra third-round pick in value. The Rich Hill trade value has New England giving up 482 points and Dallas giving up 460 points (mid-fourth round difference).

TRADE: Send 1.15 to Chicago for 1.20, 3.83, 5.164

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Score

Cowboys 1.15 = 1050 pts Total = 1050 pts Bears 1.20 = 850 pts 3.83 = 175 pts 5.164 = 24.2 Total = 1049.2 pts So Horn went No. 12 to the Eagles in this mock, but there was still a QB sitting on the board in Mac Jones. Chicago came calling and offered up a trade worth taking to move down another five slots. The point value is virtually identical and in the move down the Cowboys gain another top 100 pick and replace the fifth-round selection they gave to New England. According to the Rich Hill chart, Dallas gave up 315 points and got back 330 points, gaining a late-fourth round worth of value.

TRADE: Send 1.20, 3.96, 6.192 to Baltimore for 1.27, 2.58

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Score

Cowboys 1.20 = 850 pts 3.96 = 116 pts 6.192 = 13 pts Total = 979 pts Ravens 1.27 = 680 pts 2.58 = 320 pts Total = 1000 pts The last target for the pick at No. 20 was Trevon Moehrig, but Washington stole him at No. 20 so the choice was to try and move back again or make a selection several picks earlier than the next rated guy who filled a position of need. Greg Newsome was gone at 16 and Jaylen Waddle went No. 18 so the short list was wiped out. The Ravens needed to pair a top wideout with Lamar Jackson and came up to grab the Heisman Trophy winner, DeVonta Smith. Will the moves to get down to this point in the draft be a blessing or backfire? Only time will tell in this mythical scenario, but take a look at all of the extra draft capital the Cowboys have. These trade backs leave Dallas with three picks in the top 50 and a whopping seven picks in the top 100. 1.27 2.44 2.46 2.58 3.75 3.83 3.99

1.27 - CB Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky

(Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 191 pounds Class: Redshirt Sophomore After listening to this tremendous Youtube broadcast by friends Jeff Cavanaugh, Voch Lombardi, FootsDaKing and Skywalker Steele I started to be convinced. The conversation between these draft savants about Joseph potentially being the best corner in the draft was so intriguing. At this point in the first round, teams are getting an extra year of control (fifth-year option) for players who are likely seen as second-round grades, of which Joseph seems to be well worth. The Draft Network:

Kelvin Joseph is a long perimeter cornerback prospect who should have the opportunity to develop into a starting outside option for a team. Joseph, who was an early entree into the 2021 NFL Draft, has the kind of length that is very popular right now in the NFL game and has been exposed to a number of different roles throughout the course of his career. He was charged with periodically following Florida TE Kyle Pitts but also has played deep third coverage against some of the more prominent offenses on the Wildcats' schedule—including Alabama. Joseph enjoyed a fruitful season at Kentucky and found the football on a number of occasions, illustrating down-the-field ball skills and effective contesting ability at the catch point.

Strong consideration was given to taking Caleb Farley at No. 20, but it just didn't feel worth the health risk. https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/https-cowboyswire-usatoday-com-lists-dallas-cowboys-patrick-surtain-ii-scouting-report-2021-nfl-draft/

2.44 - Safety Richie Grant, UCF

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6-foot Weight: 194 pounds Class: Redshirt Senior Despite all of the signings of the last week, the Cowboys still need to grab themselves a long-term solution at single-high safety. Grant has the instincts and the IQ to flourish in Dan Quinn's system. His Senior Bowl week was amazing and pairing him with Donovan Wilson is the start of something special. From The Draft Network:

UCF safety Richie Grant enjoyed a productive college career that featured exciting ball production. The Knights played Grant in a variety of roles including as a deep single-high safety, split zones, man coverage from the slot, and occasionally as a box safety. His best role at the next level comes as a free safety, but he is fairly interchangeable. Grant brings good size and athleticism to the table and doesn’t have physical limitations. The best components of Grant’s game are his ball skills and versatility. He’s an urgent football player that is always around the ball.

https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/richie-grant-vs-jamar-johnson-which-safety-makes-more-sense-for-cowboys-in-the-draft/

2.46 - WR Rondale Moore, Purdue

Height: 5-foot-7 Weight: 180 pounds Class: Junior The Cowboys just can't escape the second round without taking an injury-flagged player. This time though, he's only one of three second-round selections. After not getting Pitts and knowing how much more important and stable offense is, there's no way Dallas is leaving without selecting a weapon. Moore is an insane talent who in a different way, will add an element missing from the Cowboys already potent offense; blazing speed (4.31u 40-yard dash time). He's only lined up for seven games the last two years but when he plays he's an absolute game wrecker. The majority of his work comes from short-distance passes, but he seems to have the ability to do more than what he was asked as a Boilermaker. Adding him to the slot as the eventual WR3 behind CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper is going to be unfair to defensive coordinators.

2.58 - CB Asante Samuel, Jr., Florida State

(AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)

Height: 5-foot-10 Weight: 184 pounds Class: Junior How does a team fix a problem area? Firebomb it. Dallas got their high-upside corner in Round 1 and safety earlier in Round 2 but aren't satisfied. They really bombard the secondary with a corner who can work with and learn from Jourdan Lewis and then take over as the slot starter in 2022. Samuel, Jr. is capable of and spent much time on the boundary in college, so he's not the type of defender who has to be hidden in a defense. From Dane Brugler's Draft Guide:

A three-year starter at Florida State, Samuel lined up at right cornerback in defensive coordinator Adam Fuller’s scheme, playing mostly man (press and off) with some zone coverage mixed in. After a rough start when he arrived in Tallahassee (six touchdowns allowed in 2018), he settled in the last two years with 24 passes defended and only two touchdowns allowed over his last 20 games. Samuel plays with outstanding reaction quickness and ball awareness to turn and locate or drive on throws in front of him. His lack of size shows up in coverage and against the run, but he is a heady player who trusts his skills, very similar to his Pro Bowl father. Overall, Samuel’s smallish frame isn’t ideal, but he is twitched up with the fluid athleticism and play confidence to stay connected to routes (flashes Jaire Alexander-type ability). He projects as an NFL starter capable of playing inside or outside.

https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-asante-samuel-jr-scouting-report-2021-nfl-draft/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-greg-newsome-ii-asante-samuel-jr-2021-nfl-draft/

3.75 - LB Pete Werner, Ohio State

Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 242 pounds Class: Senior Werner emerges from Ohio State's recent linebacker factory which will see multiple members selected in this draft. While LB isn't an immediate need for Dallas, getting someone in the pipeline to replace either Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch is essential as either or both might be out in 2022. Werner is coverage-capable, a must in this day and age and can also play forward based on his size and athleticism. https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-draft-baron-browning-pete-werner-ohio-state-buckeyes-linebacker/

3.83 - DT Alim McNeill, NC State

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 315 pounds Class: Junior The big run-stuffing nose tackle who is able to create pressure on early downs when pass heavy. From The Draft Network:

Alim McNeill has developed nicely at defensive tackle where he only has three years of experience. While there is some rawness that shows up to his game when it comes to technique and processing skills, McNeill is a powerful interior defender that is capable of controlling and resetting the line of scrimmage with his heavy hands and functional strength. While he wasn’t often asked to shoot gaps, he also has positive flashes of gap-penetration skills during his time at NC State.

https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-alim-mcneill-2021-nfl-draft-scouting-report-prospect-profile/

3.99 - OT James Hudson, Cincinnati

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 304 pounds Class: Redshirt Junior From Draft Network:

A 4-star recruit as a high school defensive lineman, James Hudson was originally a member of the University of Michigan where he began transitioning to offensive tackle in 2017. Hudson transferred to Cincinnati and was expected to be a starter in 2019 but was forced to sit out almost the entire season after having a hardship waiver denied. Hudson started at left tackle for the Bearcats in 2020 and showcased an exciting skill set. While Hudson is unquestionably raw at the position, his blend of size, length, power, mobility, and aggressiveness makes him an exciting piece of moldable clay to develop. Make no mistake about it, he has considerable work ahead in improving his hand technique, footwork, weight distribution, and timing, but his ceiling is notably high should it all come together. Hudson may not be a contributor early in his career but has the makings of being a starter by Year 3. Despite notable room for growth, Hudson shines when it comes to the “developmental offensive lineman” label and he could pay big dividends for the team that is willing to draft and develop him. Ideal Role: Developmental offensive tackle. Scheme Fit: Zone rushing attack.

TRADE: Send 4.138, 2022 fourth rounder to Detroit Lions for 4.112

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Score

Cowboys 4.138 = 37 pts 2022 fourth = 37.5 pts Total = 74.5 pts Lions 4.112 = 70 pts Total = 70 pts At this point in the draft with seven players in tow, the front office feels fortunate and complete and is willing to go after players who they identified as great fits and are now willing to trade up to pursue. Trading up earlier was out of the question, but at this point finding prospects seen as great values makes all the sense in the world.

4.112 - Safety Ar'Darius Washington, TCU

(AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Height: 5-foot-8 Weight: 179 pounds Class: Redshirt Sophomore Pretending Damontae Kazee, coming off an achilles injury, along with Darian Thompson provides the club single-high safety depth is a risky and short-term proposition.Washington's upside is too monstrous, his only weakness is his height. Add him to Grant and prosper. From Draft Network:

Although a smaller safety prospect, Ar'Darius Washington is a very physical player in all departments of his game. Possessing a fluid backpedal in zone coverage, he has a great eye for passing concepts and the exact plan of attack from offenses. His change of direction/hips are clean when transitioning in and out of his breaks. Washington can turn and run when asked to, even though the Horned Frogs incorporate lots of two-high and three-safety looks on the back end. Physicality as a run supporter shows up often and he’s often been able to save the day as the last line of defense.

https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-trevor-moehrig-ardarius-washington-2021-nfl-draft-jeff-cavanaugh/

5.164 - Edge Rusher Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State

Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 254 pounds Class: Redshirt Senior Good edge prospect who gets the job done and would be rotational early in career with Bradlee Anae. The Draft Network Profile Notes:

There’s something in the water in Columbus with these pass rushers. I don’t know what it is, but they’re a different breed out of Ohio State. Cooper isn’t the next Chase Young or Bosa brother, but he is a breath of fresh air to study in 2020 after a high-ankle sprain bogged down his 2019 campaign. Cooper was one of the pass rush spark plugs for the Buckeyes defense this year and turned in quite an impressive year, showcasing speed to power, urgent hands, refined counters, and a persistent motor in pursuit. Cooper isn’t the most explosive, he isn’t the longest, and he isn’t the most powerful, but Cooper absolutely made the most of his decision to redshirt the 2019 season and return this year by becoming a more fluid and complete player. Cooper projects favorably as a designated pass rusher and in a system that features savvy stack linebackers behind him—perhaps even an NFL starter.

TRADE: Send 6.227, 7.238 to Buffalo for 6.213

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Johnson Trade Value Score

Cowboys 6.227 = 1 pt 7.238 = 1 pt Total = 2 pts Bills 6.213 = 4.6 pts Total = 4.6 pts

6.213 - WR Jaelon Darden, North Texas

Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 170 pounds Class: Senior Serves two immediate purposes. Allows team to still have elite speed should Moore be injured. Gives immediate special teams boost as punt returner as CeeDee Lamb evolves from that role as his importance to the offense grows. The Draft Network Profile Notes:

North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden is a dynamic, explosive threat with the football in his hands. Darden’s stature is likely to limit him to more of a complementary role in an offense, but his vertical receiving skills and ability to generate yards after contact with his slipperiness is difficult to overlook. Darden would benefit from playing in a spread offense that spaces the field and minimizes the congestion he’ll have to run through at the NFL level—and teams would be wise to implement him most often on quick “now” screens, bubbles, out breaking patterns, and targets vertically down the field. Darden, as an added bonus, has two years of primary punt return duties on his resume (2017 and 2019) and can contribute on the special teams units as an added boost to his 53-man roster outlook.

https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/gallery/dallas-cowboys-2021-free-agency-remaining-players/

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