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The world changed on Friday. Major moves in the top 10 of the 2021 NFL draft will have a ripple effect on how the entire draft weekend unfolds. With Miami dropping out of the top 10 in a trade with San Francisco, then re-entering at No. 6 in a deal with Philadelphia, everything is different.
Dallas sits at No. 10 and the shift in who picks where leaves an obvious tremor. All week, the discussion I’ve had on Twitter has been about the generational talent that Florida tight end Kyle Pitts has as his ceiling. There’s never a sure thing in any of this, but the discussion on whether a team should focus on the more immediate need or a higher ceiling is full of contentious debate. With the change in who is picking ahead of Dallas, the possibility of Pitts being there at No. 10 is now more realistic. There are still multiple teams which could draft him, of course.
Recently I discussed this possibility of Dallas having the choice between Pitts and Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II on the Cowboys Wire podcast.
And here, it plays out in this mock exercise, run on The Draft Network. If Dallas goes with Pitts, how do they best solve their defensive needs. The hunt is on!
10. Kyle Pitts TE, Florida
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Height: 6-foot-6 Weight: 240 pounds Class: Junior If Pitts falls to Dallas, which is still a low-possibility chance even with the Eagles dropping out of the top 10, the Cowboys have to make this move. Adding Pitts to Cooper and Lamb, along with Gallup for another year, is what teams who want to be elite have to do. There's no mistaking the team needs defense, but the offense is king and defense is inconsistent. Dallas will not be as bad as 2020 no matter what and they can still build on the positions they need later in the draft. Pitts is an unstoppable weapon and when paired with what is already in place, it takes Dak Prescott to the MVP conversation and Kellen Moore into coordinator of the year territory. From The Draft Network:
From multiple platforms he proved to be a dominant option in the passing game as well as a serviceable threat as a run blocker. At 6-foot-6, he plays just as big as his size indicates. More in the role of a big receiver, Pitts can align outside, in the slot, or place his hand in the dirt in-line. As an F tight end, his combination of size, athleticism, and hands makes him a multi-level threat for creative offensive coordinators. As a run blocker, he’s sustainable and willing as a one-on-one blocker, but also isn’t afraid to get his face dirty in the box, either. Pitts will need to go to a team that can use him in creative ways with an outside-the-box thinker orchestrating the offense that allows his assets to shine.
TRADE ALERT: Send 2.44, 4.138, 2022 5th to Cincinnati for 2.38
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Value Chart: 2.38 - 520 pts 2.44 - 460 pts 4.138 - 37 pts 2022 5th - 19 pts
38. Kelvin Joseph CB, Kentucky
(Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via AP)
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 191 pounds Class: Redshirt Sophomore I'll be completely honest. I was fully prepared to trade way up for Caleb Farley in this scenario, sneaking into the end of the first round to guarantee I have a five-year deal to give him a half redshirt season in 2021 due to missing 2020 and then having back surgery that may force him to miss offseason workouts. But then I sat in on this tremendous Youtube broadcast by friends Jeff Cavanaugh, Voch Lombardi, FootsDaKing and Skywalker Steele. The conversation between these draft savants about Joseph potentially being the best corner in the draft was so intriguing I saved some draft capital and took the Kentucky product. 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.
TRADE ALERT: Send 3.75, 6.227 to Detroit for 3.72
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Trade Value Chart: 3.72 = 230 pts 3.75 = 215 pts 6.227 = 1 pt
72. Richie Grant S, 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.
99. Alim NcNeill IDL, North Carolina 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.
115. Israel Mukuamu CB, South Carolina
(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)
Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 205 pounds Class: Junior Mukuamu didn't have the strongest 2020, but injuries seem to be the biggest issue. That causes a potential fall for him to the fourth round where he can become a potential steal for the team which drafts him. TDN:
South Carolina used Israel Mukuamu in a variety of ways including as a wide corner, in the slot, as a deep safety, and in the box. While he primarily played as an outside corner, he does have appealing traits that make him a versatile option at the next level that can serve as a matchup neutralizer against tight ends and big slots. For a team that features a slot safety and/or positionless subpackage defenders, Mukuamu is an intriguing option for those roles in addition to playing wide corner in zone coverage. Mukumua is long, athletic, rangy, and physical. He does well to stay leveraged in zone coverage, has good ball skills, and is aggressive driving forward.
179. Jaelon Darden WR, North Texas
Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports
Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 170 pounds Class: Senior TDN:
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.
192. Justin Hilliard LB, Ohio State
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Height: 6-foot-1 Weight: 227 pounds Class: Senior TDN:
Justin Hilliard is one of a slew of Buckeyes linebackers to be passing through the NFL draft process this season. Hilliard was the de facto LB4 and therefore rotated amongst the likes of Pete Werner, Baron Browning, and Tuf Borland. Hilliard certainly has merits as a prospect and on a different team may have had a greater opportunity to showcase his abilities and drum up more interest. As things stand, Hilliard projects as valued depth and a potential SAM linebacker in a 4-3 under front with the ability to play both flexed out to the hash and on the line of scrimmage overtop of tight ends. Hilliard showed good trigger skills to attack downhill when processing run (Alabama 2020) and developed quite the knack for being in the right spot to create big plays down the stretch for the Buckeyes.
238. Malcolm Koonce EDGE, Buffalo
(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Height: 6-foot-3 Weight: 248 pounds Class: Senior TDN:
Malcolm Koonce is a lanky and long-armed defender who has experience playing from both an upright and 3-point position. He’s efficient with using his length and hands with a consistent club-rip move that has become his go-to tactic as a pass rusher. Demonstrating adequate bend at the hips, he can lower his center of gravity and corner in order to win around the edge. An attacker at the apex of pass rush attempts, he has also shown to be capable of dipping below the hands/arms of matchups prior to initial punch attempts. Constantly showing a high motor, he remains a relentless ball chaser, which helps show off his athleticism. Koonce is fully aware of how to stack-shed and push-pull when necessary. When locking his arms out, it’s very difficult for blockers to get inside of his frame.
Previous Cowboys Wire Mock Drafts (in reverse chronological order)
https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-mock-draft-free-agency-7-rounds-10-picks/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-nfl-mock-draft-7-rounds/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-4-round-mock-draft-2021-nfl-draft-penei-sewell-richie-grant/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-nfl-draft-dak-prescott-tyron-smith-mock-drafts/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-nfl-draft-mock-7-round-defense/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-mock-draft-4-rounds-4-0-caleb-farley-trade-up-nick-bolton/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-mock-draft-4-rounds-3-0-kyle-pitts-asante-samuel/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-mock-draft-4-rounds-trade-back-trade-up/ https://cowboyswire.usatoday.com/lists/dallas-cowboys-2021-mock-draft-nfl-draft-trade-down-first-round-pick-patrick-surtain/