As the NFL draft gets closer, there are a few changes from the first mock draft attempt two weeks ago. Still, expect the Dallas Cowboys to focus on defense.
This was prior to the defections of cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. Since the writing was on the wall, however, I chose to address the void of bodies in the secondary. With the 28th pick in the first round, I went with the selection of UCLA corner Fabian Moreau.
Since that time, Moreau tore his pectoral muscle during his pro-day while going through the bench press drill. Another top option, Washington’s Sidney Jones, blew out his Achilles tendon during his pro day.
Other injuries to defensive prospects like Alabama LB Reuben Foster and UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley further extend the minefield.
This draft is certainly deep when it comes to defensive selections. Still, watching two of the top six cornerback prospects incurring injuries like this, it may force the Cowboys hand.
COO Stephen Jones, aka one quarter for braintrust for this team, recently emphasized the need for a defensive draft. When asked, he was quite clear about the priorities of the Cowboys next month.
"“…certainly our focus in the draft is going to be on defense,” Jones told DallasCowboys.com Sunday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. “You don’t ever want to say that’s all we’re going to take. The best player still applies. At the same time, we’ve made some moves to shore up some of these, especially on offense, so we don’t necessarily have needs on the offensive side of the ball…the blanket stance on the defense is the No. 1 priority is get more pressure and right there with it is 1-A, make more plays on the ball, turnovers.”"
I feel like the large majority of Dallas Cowboys fans would agree that the focus should be defense. Yes, you always have to keep your options open if a rare talent falls to you inexplicably. By and large though, expect a defense-heavy draft.
Taking this into consideration, here is my second mock draft:
ROUND 1, PICK 28: CB Gareon Conley – Ohio State
When it came time to pick at 28, there were five quality corners to choose from, however Conley stood out above all. At 6’0,” 195 lbs., Conley ran a 4.44-40 yard dash while posting a time of 6.68 seconds in the three cone drill. The latter was third best at the entire combine.
Conley finished his career at Ohio State with six interceptions and 13 pass break ups. Playing along side fellow top 10 pick Marshon Lattimore, Conley helped lead the Buckeyes to a seventh ranked FBS pass defense.
At the end of the day, after having Moreau as my choice in the first attempt, I feel like Conley is an upgrade over that pick.
ROUND 2, PICK 60: S Desmond King – Iowa
ROUND 3, PICK 92: DE Jordan Willis – Kansas State
These picks remain the same from the first mock draft and for good reason
I am officially on record as saying that King is my draft crush of 2017. I will legitimately be disappointed if he’s not a Dallas Cowboy after day two is through. With eight interceptions in his junior year and 14 in his career, to go along with 33 pass breakups, King is the ballhawk this team has desperately been searching for quite some time.
As for Willis, he would be considered a slight steal in round three. He definitely fills a need for getting after the quarterback. Willis leaves college with 26 career sacks and 40 tackles for loss. Under the watchful eye of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, he could flourish at the next level.
ROUND 4, PICK 133: TE Jake Butt – Michigan
Butt represents the exact type of best player available scenario that you have to always keep in mind. I chose to pass on options such as cornerbacks Corn Elder and Damontae Kazee, another personal favorite. Instead, I have the Cowboys taking a chance on a possible understudy for Jason Witten. The two ACL tears scare me but in round four, I’m more open to taking the risk.
ROUND 6, PICK 211: DE Dashawn Bower – LSU
Bower was the best available edge rusher left to choose from. He would be a developmental type with upside. I prefer to look for guys with major college experience over smaller schools. LSU absolutely fits that bill. As for the player, Bower could be a David Irving-type. Bower finished his career with a three sack performance. It could be just the tip of the iceberg.
ROUND 7, PICK 228: CB Jeremy Clark – Michigan
ROUND 7, PICK 246: RB Tarik Cohen – North Carolina A&T
In the final round, you’re really just hoping to get lucky while filling certain voids. Clark is another big school product. At 6’3″ and 220 lbs., he’s got the size to be a dominate press coverage corner. He also has the athleticism to play in different schemes so it’s worth the kick of the tires, so to speak.
As for Cohen, I picked him in the last mock as well. I don’t care what the level of play is, if you finish a career with 5,619 rushing yards and 60 total touchdowns, you can play. At worst, he could be a nice replacement for Alfred Morris who appears on his way out after just one season.
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