Kiper NFL Mock Draft 3.0: Dallas Cowboys Reach For A Corner


With free agency starting next week, it’s anyone’s guess what the Dallas Cowboys will do in the upcoming draft pending any signings. Still, ESPN’s draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s has chosen this time to come out with his latest mock draft.

On Thursday, Kiper released his third mock draft of the offseason. And in it, he has the Cowboys adding to their struggling defensive backfield with yet another first round cornerback.

With the 27th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select…

Sep 13, 2014; Logan, UT, USA; Utah State Aggies wide receiver Ronald Butler (18) dives past Wake Forest Demon Deacons cornerback Kevin Johnson (9) to catch the ball during the second half at Romney Stadium. Utah State Aggies won the game 36-24. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Johnson, Cornerback, Wake Forest

Here’s Kiper’s explanation of his selection:

"“Dallas could go a few ways here, because the Cowboys have a need along the defensive line, and safety is also a question mark, but I’m not sure they need anything more than a cornerback who can play right away, and Johnson fits the profile. A standout on a lousy team, Johnson has good length for the position and moves and mirrors as well as any cornerback in the draft. He can make man-to-man coverage look so easy at times, and he’s an active run defender. It’s hard to play while ahead in the NFL if you can’t cover, and Dallas would do well with this pick.”"

The idea of the Cowboys using their first round selection on a cornerback is worrisome. They simple haven’t had very good luck drafting players at that position.

As an example of Dallas’ terrible track record of drafting cornerbacks, here’s a list of all the corners they’ve drafted since 2000: Dwayne Goodrich (2nd Rd., 2000), Kareem Larrimore (4th Rd., 2000), Mario Edwards (6th Rd., 2000), Derek Ross (3rd Rd. 2002), Terence Newman (1st Rd., 2003), Bruce Thornton (4th, 2004), Nathan Jones (7th Rd., 2004), Jacques Reeves (7th Rd., 2004), Alan Ball (7th Rd., 2007), Mike Jenkins (1st Rd., 2008), Orlando Scandrick (5th Rd., 2008), DeAngelo Smith (5th Rd., 2009), Mike Mickens (7th Rd., 2009), Jamar Wall  (6th Rd., 2010), Josh Thomas (5th Rd., 2011), Morris Claiborne (1st Rd., 2012), B. W. Webb (4th Rd., 2013), Terrance Mitchell (7th Rd., 2014).

Out of this group, only Scandrick and Claiborne are still currently on the team’s roster. And only two of these former Cowboys ever made the Pro Bowl: Newman (2007, 2009) and Jenkins (2009).

The above list is evidence that the Cowboys’ front office and staff have a hard time evaluating talent at the cornerback position. But Dallas is not alone.

Just take a look at last year’s cornerbacks selected in the first round: Cleveland Browns’ Justin Gilbert, Chicago Bears’ Kyle Fuller, Cincinnati Bengals’ Darqueze Dennard, San Diego Chargers’s Jason Verrett, and the Denver Broncos’ Bradley Roby. All of these young corners struggled last season.

And part of the reason for those struggles for these young players is becoming accustom to both the physical and mental aspects of playing in the NFL. Unfortunately, first round picks are expected to produce instantly.

As for the Cowboys possibly selecting Johnson, with the poor play of Claiborne and veteran corner Brandon Carr, Dallas certainly has a need for another quality cornerback in their defensive backfield. So, I don’t believe anyone would fault the Cowboys for taking him in this draft. But should it be in the first round?

In fact, there are three cornerbacks selected in Kiper’s newest mock draft before Dallas’ selection at No. 27: Trae Waynes of Michigan State, Marcus Peters out of Washington and Jalen Collins of LSU.

Outside of Johnson, that leaves corners like Florida State’s P.J. Williams, Oregon’s once highly-touted Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Quinten Rollins from Miami (Ohio), Kevin White from TCU and Connecticut’s Byron Jones, who was an athletic freak at the Scouting Combine, all dropping into the later rounds. Is Johnson all that better than these prospects?

In Kiper’s previous mock draft, Johnson didn’t even make an appearance. Walter Football’s latest mock draft has him going at 45th overall in the second round to the Minnesota Vikings.

So what makes Johnson worth the reach? He has good size at 6-1, but only 175 pounds. Last season at Wake Forest, Johnson recorded 43 tackles but only one interception. I’m not sure that screams first round talent. And with the Cowboys other needs, I think they’ll likely look elsewhere.

But ESPN’s Todd McShay actually has Johnson going 14th overall in his latest mock draft. And this is mainly because of his performance in last month’s NFL Scouting Combine.

"“Johnson is an underrated cover corner with excellent change-of-direction skills and good size at 6-foot, and he quietly turned in one of the better overall combine workouts among defensive backs. His 4.52 40 time is slightly above average for a corner, but what was overlooked were his outstanding results in the jumps (41.5-inch vertical, 10 foot, 10 inch broad) and shuttles (3.89 short shuttle, 6.79 long), matching the explosiveness and fluidity he shows on tape.”"

So, who knows? The draft is always a gamble. Do the Cowboys have a need at the position? Certainly. But they also have a pretty bad track record drafting cornerbacks.

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