It’s finally draft week, which has a specific, different description for those who cover the league. Think Dante’s journey. After months of speculation and rumor, things will finally actually take place starting Thursday evening. The Dallas Cowboys currently sit with the No. 10 pick but a world of craziness sitting in front of them makes it difficult to predict how their board will look when they get on the clock.
The club most likely won’t move up to acquire a specific target, but moving out is a real possibility. In this exercise, the chance to solve a current and long-term issue takes precedence as three of their five expected top targets were wiped out before they even hit the clock. In this simulation, run on The Draft Network, the team saw three QBs go in the first three picks and then the three premier pass catchers round out the top six. Things turned disappointing fast as the top two corners went before the fourth QB came off the board to thwart most plans of moving backwards.
Now the Cowboys had to tackle the draft in a whole new light.
1.10. Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
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Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 315 pounds Class: Senior The argument for Slater being the better pick here is a sound one. With Penei Sewell, teams have to project what he can do against the top competition. Slater is already on film shutting down Ohio State's Chase Young on his way to becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft. A move inside for the versatile youngster will be no big deal, as he can play left guard until Tyron Smith retires or he can move out to right tackle and have La'el Collins shift back to left guard. Either way, the Great Wall of Dallas is back and that's paramount for protection of the club's franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. Would the Cowboys consider a trade back here? Certainly, but with the two top tackles here, even losing out on their cornerbacks isn't a huge loss. There's really no way for Dallas to screw this up.
2.44. Payton Turner, Edge, Houston
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Height: 6-foot-5 Weight: 270 pounds Class: Senior Payton Turner feels like a DeMarcus Lawrence clone in his ability to rush the passer and thwart the run. His hand usage is top notch but he just doesn't have the bend or get off to be a first-round pick. Working with Dan Quinn could solve his technical issues quick, fast and in a hurry. A much bigger need than many give credit for, Dallas is not set at the edge position. For one, teams need three bona fide pass-rushing threats for a rotation to be legitimate. For two, there's no guarantee that Randy Gregory's potential he shows when being on the field will be realized with a full workload. For three, Gregory is a free agent at the end of the year and getting someone in the pipeline now to rotate with DeMarcus Lawrence is a huge need.
TRADE ALERT: 3.75. 6.192, 2022 4th to Jacksonville for 3.65
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Cowboys give up the Andy Dalton comp pick to complete the deal.
3.65. Richie Grant, safety, Central Florida
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Height: 6-foot Weight: 194 pounds Class: Redshirt Senior Grant shows amazing instincts as a centerfield prospect with ball skills. He's a bit older and not as athletic as other prospects but his versatility makes him too intriguing to not go grab if he makes it this close to Dallas' selection. He has the versatility to play in the box and as a split safety as well, making him the perfect solution to add to Donovan Wilson and Damontae Kazee.
TRADE ALERT: 3.99, 5.179 to Cleveland Browns for 3.89
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3.89. Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
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Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 190 pounds Class: Senior Adebo seems like the perfect zone corner solution for the Cowboys and Dan Quinn's Cover 3 scheme. Very good ball skills, loose hips and a strong football IQ. If Dallas doesn't go elite prospect early, Adebo is the perfect compliment to Trevon Diggs as a Day 2 pick.
4.115. Alim McNeill, 1-Tech, NC State
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Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 315 pounds Class: Junior From The Draft Network:
A high school linebacker and running back, 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. There is room for McNeill to grow as a pass rusher, but as it stands, his variety of rush moves and rush plan is underdeveloped. For a team in need of a short-yardage and early-down run stuffer that has a ceiling to develop into a more effective pass rusher, McNeill is a terrific mid-round option.
4.138. Anthony Schwartz, WR, Auburn
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Height: 6-foot-0 Weight: 179 pounds Class: Junior From The Draft Network:
Anthony Schwartz has exceptional proactive athleticism, as evidenced by his quickness, body control, and balance. He's a willing stalk blocker but is better off running the defender off. In the passing game, he is a threat due to his explosive speed to threaten a defense before and after the ball arrives. He is a home-run threat and defenders must account for his dynamic ability in the slot. He displays some physical toughness for being a “track guy” and would be a matchup problem in the slot.
6.227. Tay Gowan, CB, UCF
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Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 185 pounds Class: Senior From The Draft Network:
Tay Gowan plays with average reactive athleticism, as evidenced in his short-area agility and body control. In the run game, he is sufficient as a tackler. He is a better, more efficient tackler with receivers. In the passing game, he is better from press than he is off. He struggles to mirror in off coverage and lacks the hips and agility to excel in this regard. He may have some upside as a safety and projects to have good ability on special teams. Ideal Role: Practice squad corner. Scheme Fit: Cover 3 zone scheme.
7.238 - Ernest Jones, LB, South Carolina
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Height: 6-foot-2 Weight: 230 pounds Class: Junior From The Draft Network:
South Carolina linebacker Ernest Jones declared for the 2021 NFL Draft after two seasons as a starter for the Gamecocks’ defense and leading the team in tackles in both 2019 and 2020. He was a team captain and regarded as the vocal leader of the defense. At the next level, Jones projects best as a pursuit-style WILL linebacker in a 4-3 defense where he can take advantage of his ability to take good angles to the football and finish. With that said, he doesn’t have the processing skills or functional strength to be an ideal fit as a MIKE or SAM linebacker. For a defender that is best as a weak-side linebacker, ideally there would be more of an explosive athletic profile and comfort in coverage. Jones has plenty of room to develop and will need to before he can claim a role at the next level. Proving himself on special teams will be critical to buy him time to get stronger and develop as a linebacker.