4-Round Mock Draft 3.0: What a no-trade back haul looks like for Cowboys

K.D. Drummond
·9 min read

Two months ago, when a top-five draft pick seems ordained for the Dallas Cowboys, the mission was clear. The club, with a 2020 season marred by injury to key performers on offense and hole after hole on defense, would be better served by trading back from their lofty perch to accrue more selections and address more needs. Two months later, and the team finds itself on a three-game winning streak and with a chance to go to the playoffs if things break right in Week 17.

The wins have been great for those invested in the team’s positive vibes, and a catastrophe for those on Team Tank. Dallas went from a shot at the No. 3 overall pick to currently sitting 11th. Even if they miss the playoffs, they could drop down to 16th depending on other team’s results on Sunday. So that brings another interesting aspect to the land of mocks. What happens if Dallas is in a position where no one wants to trade with them, or they don’t want to bail at all?

Trading down is a foregone conclusion in mock drafts. Algorithms are created where value charts and logic rule war rooms. There’s almost always a trade to be made. That certainly isn’t the case in real life, however, and there’s a good chance that Dallas could be in a situation where they leave the draft with their assigned lot of picks. That’s what we’ll do in this iteration, draft according to the positions Dallas is given.

We run mocks to help give a clearer sense of where players could be available, how going after one position early can mean missing out on a different position later and all that comes with the myriad of decisions front offices have to make.

The Cowboys have a variety of needs entering 2021, and although money is tight free agency will certainly impact this list prior to the draft. For now, here is the way we see each position, followed by our four-round haul.

Team Needs

Using Drafttek's methodology of rating team needs, a pressing, gaping hole gets ranked a 1, and a position where Dallas doesn't need much help at all gets a 9. Quarterback: 9 (Assuming Dak contract/tag) Running Back: 9 Wide Receiver: 9 Tight End: 4 Offensive Tackle: 5 Offensive Guard: 5 Center: 5 Defensive End: 4 1-Tech/Nose: 1 3-Tech: 3 5- Tech: 6 Off-ball LB: 4 Cornerback: 3 Strong Safety: 4 Free Safety: 1

Top 10 Picks

Running our simulation on The Draft Network, here's why trading out of the pick is difficult at No. 11. While there are always players who teams fall in love with that could inspire Dallas to move down a couple of spots, the top prospects many see as fits for the Cowboys this high are gone. The two cornerbacks may not be worth hanging around for and this mock is sprinkled with guys who left 2019 with a few questions and didn't play in 2020 to answer them. That leaves Dallas with a bit of a conundrum, especially if the focus is on defense. That's why the pick ends up being...

1.11 - Kyle Pitts, Tight End, Florida

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6-foot-6, 239 pounds There's a misconception that because Pitts is such a tremendous receiving weapon, that he brings nothing to the table as a blocker. As the process moves forward, that will prove not to be the case. He certainly is the tight end of the best kind and while he's not going to win any awards for his blocking out the gate, folks shouldn't act like he's a human turnstile. From Jordan Reid's profile on TDN:

Versatility: Pitts has the ability to align at any spot in a formation and have a profound impact. As an outside receiver, he has the IQ and athleticism necessary to win against cornerbacks, but he’s a true matchup problem in the slot where he causes lots of troubles for outside linebackers, strong safeties, and nickel corners because of his frame, wide catch radius, and length. Pitts’ blocking isn’t bad enough to call it a weakness, as he’s unafraid to play in-line and mix it up with defensive ends as the end man on the line of scrimmage. While he won’t generate a considerable amount of movement, his feet remain active, and he keeps his body in positions to create winning run lanes for ball carriers. Competitive Toughness: As a blocker, Pitts isn’t a liability by any stretch of the imagination. His competitiveness shines as he’s often asked to hold up against edge rushers in full slide and man-to-man protections. As a route-runner, he was frequently tasked with defeating man coverage. During those occurrences, he proved to be an ultra competitor as he uses his hands, feet, and technique to keep defenders from getting a beat on his routes.

2.43 - Asante Samuel, Jr., Florida State

5-foot-10, 184 pounds From Joe Marino, TDN:

Sticky man corner that thrives in off-man coverage. Patient in his pedal and he naturally feels route stems and stays connected. Does well to stay leveraged over routes and he doesn’t easily concede leverage. Maintains a firm base with leveraged hips that enable him to easily transition. Fluid ability to flip his hips, turn and run. Florida State trusted him on an island against top wide receivers and asked him to carry them vertically with no help. Plays under control, doesn’t guess and mental errors are limited. Super aggressive planting and driving downhill on the football. Lightning quick click and close ability but does so with good control and balance. Aims low and grabs when tackling - not many whiffs in the games I saw. Has some experience playing in the slot in addition to wide. Son of four-time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel.

3.75: Christian Barmore, IDL, Alabama

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6-foot-5, 310 pounds From Reid:

Barmore has an already rock solid and mature upper body that makes it hard for blockers to engage and stick against his body. The Alabama interior defender possesses outstanding raw power combined with active/busy and powerful hands that enable his frame to remain clean and disengage when necessary. Excellent with executing swim/arm over moves that allow him to make plays behind the line or in his gap as a run defender. As a redshirt freshman, he was treated mostly as a third down specialist prior to the final four games of the season. He has the versatility to play 1 or 3-technique in an even front, but he’s spent most of his time as a base 4i/4-technique in Alabama’s odd front. This is a prospect that’s only scratching the surface of what he could become and with an expanded role in 2020, it shouldn’t be surprising to see him skyrocket up draft boards.

3.99: Hamsah Nasirildeen, Safety, Florida State

6-foot-4, 215 pounds From Marino:

Physically gifted. Features great length and an ideal build with good thickness throughout his frame. Explosive and fluid mover in all directions, rounding out his highly appealing physical skill set. Has some impressive flashes of a quick trigger and attacking downhill. His natural athletic profile enables him to make plays on the ball despite not necessarily having the best ball skills. Natural athlete that is comfortable in space. Can play as a deep safety, in the slot and down in the box. Takes correctly calculated angles in pursuit. Physical tackler that arrives with intent. Looks to separate the football from the ball carrier. Urgent in pursuit and is always around the football. Does well to weave and navigate through traffic in pursuit. Has impressive reps in the slot showcasing his ability to plant and drive.

4.112: Ar'Darius Washington, Safety, TCU

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

5-foot-8, 179 pounds From Reid:

Although a smaller safety prospect, Washington is a very physical player in all departments of his game. Possessing a fluid back pedal 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. While not afforded opportunities to play it often except in the red zone, he’s shown to be adequate in man coverage as he has the smoothness and athleticism to cover slot options. Ball skills galore and he attacks the ball out of the air. Highly competitive at the catch point and many of his turnover opportunities have come from coverage awareness or following the eyes of throwers to take him to intended throwing locations.

4.136: Keith Taylor, CB, Washington

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

6-foot-3, 195 pounds From Drea Harris, TDN:

Keith aligns both inside and outside for the Husky defense. He adds some value in his versatility in his ability to be used in the nickel slot where he blitzes and plays in coverage, outside or even the back end. He is a sufficient athlete overall due to his agility and mobility for a defender with his size. In the run game, he's a willing and effective tackler. In the passing game, his best asset may be in his versatility. He can literally play every position in secondary in sub. He uses his good length on the edge In press man coverage. He demonstrates some range as a low hole zone defender and can also blitz off the edge. He can also align as the money LB in sub and cover backs out of the backfield. He also projects with sufficient special teams upside, as well.