With the 2017 NFL Draft just around the corner, we try to determine what would be the perfect draft for the Dallas Cowboys in the first four rounds.
The Dallas Cowboys have been hit hard by free agency losses so far this offseason. So much so, their annual need to find a premier pass rusher has been accompanied by serious voids in their defensive secondary and along their offensive line.
In fact, the Cowboys have so many holes to fill now that relying solely on the draft to do so seems nearly impossible. Although Dallas could certainly look to add some bargain bin free agents to the roster for depth, the reality is the Cowboys need to find potential starters in each of the first four rounds of the upcoming NFL Draft.
So, in the below mock, we attempt to find the perfect candidates to fill those needs as they exist right now on the Cowboys roster. And we’ll start in the first round…
Round One, 28th Overall – TACO CHARLTON, DE, MICHIGAN
Vidauntae “Taco” Charlton is yet another in a long line high draft picks that Cowboys fans can pin their hopes on developing into a premier pass rusher in Dallas. But at some point the gamble must pay off right?
Charlton recorded 40 total tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss and 10.0 sacks during his senior year at Michigan. At 6-foot-6, 272 pounds, Taco certainty has the size and leverage you want in a pass rusher. But the fact he only played one season as a full-time starter for the Wolverines is concerning.
Round Two, 60th Overall – JOSH JONES, SAFETY, NC STATE
A terrific showing at the NFL Scouting Combine has risen Jones’ draft status to the second round here. A bit of a reach by Dallas was needed in order to grab the versatile player after Washington’s Budda Baker nearly fell into their laps with this pick.
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, Jones has outstanding size for the position. Combine that with his 4.41 blazing speed and you have your Barry Church-replacement at strong safety. But like the Cowboys Byron Jones, this “Jones” can also play cornerback if needed. As Dallas’ coaching staff covets positional flex, Josh Jones seems like a no-brainer selection here.
Round Three, 92nd Overall – AHKELLO WITHERSPOON, CB, COLORADO
The Cowboys lost starting cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne last week to free agency. With a current starting unit consisting of corners Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown and Nolan Carroll on deck for the upcoming season, Dallas desperately needs more talented bodies to fill out the depth chart. Part of the answer was the selection of Josh Jones in the second round.
If Ahkello Witherspoon lasts to the 92nd selection, the Cowboys can add yet another piece to their deprived secondary. The tall and lanky 6-foot-3, 193 pound corner out of Colorado posted an amazing 19 pass defends during his senior season for the Buffaloes. Witherspoon has the frame and quickness to mirror NFL receivers but the skinny corner’s ability to make tackles is in question.
Round Four, 133rd Overall – JAKE BUTT, TE, MICHIGAN
The depth behind future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten in Dallas is full of questions this season. The soon-to-be 35-year old is in the final year of his contract with the Cowboys and there are currently no plans to extend him.
Second-year tight end Geoff Swaim suffered a pectoral injury that ended his season in November. News broke last week that Swaim had recently suffered a foot injury that will likely have him sidelined until training camp later this year.
And finally, former Basketball star-turned-tight end Rico Gathers is apparently making strides in his development after spending all of last season on the practice squad. But no one really knows how much Gathers will be able to contribute this year.
Enter in Michigan’s Jake Butt in the fourth round. You can not beat the value here as Butt was a projected first-to-second round selection prior to suffering an ACL injury at the end of last year. The 6-foot-6, 248 pound prospect is a solid blocker and excellent receiver. This would be an absolutely steal for Dallas, especially since they clearly have other tight end options in place to allow Butt to heal and develop properly.
As this draft progressed, one thing was made clear to me. Unless the Dallas Cowboys are willing to spend a first or second round pick on an offensive lineman, it’s probably best they find a temporary solution via free agency instead. That’s simply due to the fact this draft class is so weak at those O-line positions. Beyond those first two rounds, there doesn’t seem to be a lineman more talented than what the Cowboys already have on the roster in players like La’el Collins, Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper.