Star-Telegram’s 3rd NFL mock draft has Dallas Cowboys not repeating miss on Randy Moss

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Will the Dallas Cowboys not make the mistake of ‘98 and pass on Randy Moss again?

That is one of the biggest questions at the Cowboys headquarters at The Star in Frisco heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins with the first round on April 29.

Since the end of the 2020 season, the Dallas Cowboys have screamed from the rooftops that improving the defense would be the primary focus in the draft.

That remains the plan for the 10th overall pick — barring something unforeseen, like Moss sitting there in the form of Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

In 1998, the Cowboys infamously passed on Moss with the eighth overall pick because of off-field concerns and took defensive end Greg Ellis.

Moss became one of the greatest receivers in NFL history and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018. Ellis played 11 of his 12 years with the Cowboys and made one Pro Bowl.

Pitts is considered by many to be the second-best player in the 2021 NFL Draft and a potential generational talent at tight end.

But there is a chance he could fall to 10 because of the expected run on quarterbacks at the top of the draft and the remote possibility of other teams choosing other positions of need.

Team owner Jerry Jones has made no secret about his excitement of the thought of Pitts joining quarterback Dak Prescott and receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup in an already-explosive Cowboys offense.

According to ESPN, Jones is infatuated with Pitts.

And Jones didn’t hide his feelings during a virtual meeting with Pitts.

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“I think he’s certainly giving his view on what a unique football player Kyle Pitts is,” vice president Stephen Jones said of his father’s opinion of Pitts. “He’s a unique matchup player. These mismatched tight end players can certainly make a difference in offensive football. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who knows football personnel in the NFL that can’t see the vision for what problems a player like Kyle Pitts could present.

“I think he’s a unique player that doesn’t come around every year. Certainly, Jerry was just acknowledging that.”

Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II is the player most associated with the Cowboys with the 10th pick.

But the team will have a huge decision to make if Pitts is still on the board.

Here is the Star-Telegram’s third 2021 NFL mock draft:

1. Jaguars (1-15) — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson, Jr.

If both parties haven’t been negotiating then what are they doing? This is the draft’s top no-brainer.

2. Jets (2-14) — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU, Jr.

They lost the Lawrence Sweepstakes, but with Sam Darnold gone, they are taking a QB. This QB.

3. 49ers (6-10) from Dolphins via Texans — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State, Jr.

San Francisco made the big move up for a QB. Fields is the pick here. Ignore the Mac Jones talk.

4. Falcons (4-12) — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State, So.

Yup, that’s four straight quarterbacks to start the draft. Lance is perfect to develop behind Matt Ryan.

5. Bengals (4-11-1) — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon, Jr.

Cincy isn’t drafting a QB, but they’re going to protect the one they have and Sewell is tops here.

6. Dolphins (10-6) from Eagles — Jamar Chase, WR, LSU, Jr.

The Dolphins need to get a No. 1 receiver for Tua, and Chase is the best in the draft.

7. Lions (5-11) — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama, Jr.

QB Jared Goff needs weapons after Detroit lost WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency.

8. Panthers (5-11) — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, Sr.

Carolina acquired Sam Darnold, but it could still take Jones or trade with a team that wants him.

9. Broncos (5-11) — Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern, Sr.

Denver picked up two veteran CBs in free agency. Time to address that offensive line.

10. Cowboys (6-10) — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida, So.

Jerry Jones loves offensive players. If Pitts is still on the board, he’s not passing on “Randy Moss” again.

11. Giants (6-10) — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama, Jr.

If the Cowboys pass on Surtain, the Giants will scoop him up in a New York minute.

12. Eagles (4-11-1) from Dolphins via 49ers — Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama, Sr.

Philly took TCU’s Jalen Reagor in the first round last year, but it can’t pass up the Heisman winner.

13. Chargers (7-9) — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State, Sr.

Parsons is a potential game changer at linebacker. It’s a great pick for a pretty good defense.

14. Vikings (7-9) — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, Jr.

Legal issues of TCU’s Jeff Gladney have cast doubt on his future; Minnesota looks for cornerback help.

15. Patriots (7-9) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame, Sr.

If Owusu-Koramoah is the best linebacker in the draft, New England will help him realize his potential.

16. Cardinals (8-8) — Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, S, TCU, Jr.

The hard-hitting TCU safety will get a chance to play alongside Budda Baker in a good Arizona defense.

17. Raiders (8-8) — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech, Jr.

While he lacks a mean streak, Darrisaw is considered one of the top tackles in this draft.

18. Dolphins (10-6) — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson, Sr.

Etienne is the most explosive back in the draft. He can do it all, as a runner or as a receiver.

19. Washington Football Team (7-9) — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, Sr.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is simply the place holder at quarterback in Washington. Jones could be the future.

20. Bears (8-8) — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota, Jr.

A big target (6-2, 210 pounds) with great hands, Bateman would complement Allen Robinson.

21. Colts (11-5) — Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU, Jr.

Indy traded for QB Carson Wentz. Now they need to get him somebody who’ll catch the ball.

22. Titans (11-5) —Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan, Jr.

NFL Network’s draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks Paye as “the most explosive pass rusher in the draft.”

23. Jets (2-14) from Seahawks — Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT, USC, Jr.

Two-year starter who was used at both guard and tackle. No lineman in the draft is more versatile.

24. Steelers (12-4) — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama, Sr.

Pittsburgh must improve its running game. The powerful Harris is the perfect fit for that offense.

25. Jaguars from Rams (10-6) — Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State, Sr.

With their QB (Lawrence) in place, Jacksonville makes a move to get him some protection.

26. Browns (11-5) — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa, Jr.

They need a boost at linebacker. Collins is a run stopper with size, athleticism and positional flexibility.

27. Ravens (11-5) — Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama, So.

Baltimore needs edge help, but it won’t pass on Barmore and his dominant upside at defensive tackle.

28. Saints (12-4) — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida, Sr.

Receiving help is needed, and Toney will be electric in the slot with the skills to play outside.

29. Packers (13-3) — Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech, Jr.

Farley dropped in the draft due to back surgery, but he will not slip out of the first round.

30. Bills (13-3) — Ronnie Perkins, Edge, Oklahoma, Jr.

A three-year starter, Perkins is an explosive playmaker and game-impacting defender off the edge.

31. Chiefs (14-2) — Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas, Jr.

KC was exposed at tackle in the Super Bowl. The athletic but inconsistent Cosmi has star potential.

32. Buccaneers (11-5) — Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami, So.

The redshirt defender coming off an opt-out season has amazing athleticism and a tremendous upside.