Through a process of elimination, I’m going to predict who the Dallas Cowboys will select in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
I’m going to be honest here, I have about a 25 percent hit rate when it comes to predicting who the Dallas Cowboys will select in the first round of the NFL draft since 1997. That is when I became pretty obsessed with the whole NFL draft coverage thing.
Every time I guess wrong, I go through the thought process of what I think the Dallas Cowboys front office was thinking when they made their selection. Most times I agree but there have been some head-scratchers mixed in.
I’m going to take everyone through my afterthought process and predict what the Cowboys will do if they stay at No. 17. I’m sure not everyone will agree with it although I hope you understand my thinking.
Before I begin I’m working under the assumption that Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is either signed or has the franchise tag applied to him. I am also going to assume that wide receiver Amari Cooper is also retained in some manner but cornerback Byron Jones has departed via free agency. Let us begin.
I can rule out the quarterback position almost entirely out of the first round. Unless the Cowboys front office unexpectedly falls in love with Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, I have to rule him out as well as LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as I think latter two being top five picks.
With Amari Cooper retained in this scenario, I doubt the Cowboys would invest so heavily in the wide receiver department no matter what prospect falls to them. This draft is so deep with wideouts that the best option would be to wait.
The exact opposite is true when it comes to tight ends. I like some prospects but I do not love any. Certainly not enough to take a tight end in the middle of the first round. The top tight end, in my opinion, is Notre Dame tight end Cole Kmet and I have him rated as a day 2 selection.
The offensive line and the running back position are sort of the same for me. I’m not sure anyone can come in and unseat the starters so I’m just going to say that they will not select either position with their first pick.
When it comes to the interior of the defensive line, I can see the appeal. I would personally love to see Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown fall but I think he will be gone before 17. Strength is going to be a concern for most other rookie candidates so I can definitely see a veteran lineman being signed instead of drafting one in the first round.
The defensive lineman that I have being available with the 17th pick is going to be a pass for me. That player is South Carolina Defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw. Intriguing pick but it takes a bit for a defensive lineman to get going and I believe the Cowboys want an instant impact player.
Unless linebacker Leighton Vander Esch‘s neck injury is career-threatening, I think the Cowboys will pass on the traditional linebacker spot and wait until the later rounds to select one. Even if LVE was lost for a period of time, I’m not sure there is an inside linebacker worth spending the 17th pick on.
I’m not sure what happens to defensive end Robert Quinn so pass rusher is an option. Whether it is a defensive end or a pass-rushing outside linebacker, I think this is the kind of position you fill with that 17th pick. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young will be long gone before the Cowboys select but I think there is a kid that is climbing up draft boards.
Wisconsin outside linebacker Zack Baun is a disruptive pass-rusher who plays the run equally as well. If you have questions about his play, just put on his game tape against the University of Michigan and he might win you over. I’m going to consider Baun at this point.
Now comes the defensive backfield. I have been on record showing love to both LSU Safety Grant Delpit and Alabama safety Xavier McKinney. Both players would certainly fill a need on this defense. I just do not think that the front office will pull the trigger on a safety.
No matter the name, this team has just refused to acquire a safety. Whether through trade, free agency, or the draft, this team has ignored the position and I think they will continue to ignore it.
Cornerbacks are a premium in this league which baffles me on why the Cowboys are allowing Byron Jones to leave. Nevertheless, there will be a cornerback available that is worthy of the 17th pick. No, it isn’t Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah who I believe is the second-best overall prospect behind defensive end Chase Young.
The prospect I am talking about is Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson. The six-foot-one 202-pound cornerback is a pick-six machine that plays the right position. If a rookie can come in and play decent football, I would think analytics plays a part in why you would allow a Pro Bowl cornerback walk in free agency.
So my scenario has two players available that you could select with the 17th overall selection. Wisconsin pass rusher Zack Baun and Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson. Does new Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan prefer a coverage guy or someone who affects the quarterback? A very tough decision which could end up being a toss-up but I think I have my answer.
With the 17th pick, the Dallas Cowboys select C.J. Henderson, cornerback from the University of Florida.