With the NFL draft a week away, favorites for the Dallas Cowboys’ first-round pick have emerged. But what if the most appealing options are gone by pick 17?
Check your calendar. There’s only a week left before the NFL draft. By now, a consensus has emerged for who the Dallas Cowboys should pick in the first round, at least among draft commentators.
Most of the draftniks out there seem to be picking one of the following players for the Cowboys with 17th overall selection:
- Javon Kinlaw, defensive tackle, South Carolina
- C.J. Henderson, cornerback, Florida
- K’Lavon Chaisson, edge, LSU
- Wide receivers CeeDee Lamb from Oklahoma, or Jerry Jeudy from Alabama
In truth, there are other players that have been mocked to the Cowboys, but these five appear to be the players who have evoked the most excitement. And for good reason. Most of these players will likely be gone before pick No. 17.
The other option that many pundits and fans get excited about is trading down. Nabbing an extra second or third-round pick sounds pretty good.
But what if the Cowboys get unlucky on the first day of the draft and none of those options are available? Let’s say those five players have already been taken, and Dallas can’t find a team willing to trade. What if the only option is to choose the best player available at that point?
It’s an interesting dilemma, isn’t it? In that case, here are the other players that have been mocked or suggested to the Cowboys in the first round in the last few months:
- Safeties Grant Delpit of LSU, or Xavier McKinney of Alabama
- Cornerbacks Kristian Fulton of LSU, Trevon Diggs of Alabama, or Jeff Gladney of TCU
- Linebacker Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma
- Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State
- Wide receivers Denzel Mims from Baylor, Laviska Shenault from Colorado, or Tee Higgins from Clemson
- Center Cesar Ruiz from Michigan
If you’ve been watching mocks, all of these names should be familiar to you, except for maybe Cesar Ruiz. His name has popped up on the radar in just the past few days. According to NFL writer Peter King, the Cowboys “love” Ruiz, and are thinking about trading down to get him.
To Cowboys watchers, this sounds an awful lot like years past when a rumor arose that Dallas loved a certain player in the last few weeks before the draft. Last year the name was defensive tackle Trysten Hill, and in 2018, it was linebacker Leighton Vander Esch.
In both cases, the Cowboys drafted said player with their first pick in the draft. (Hill was a second-rounder in 2019. Dallas had already traded their first-round pick away.) So don’t be surprised if Dallas picks this center on day one of the draft of next week.
But Ruiz is not the only player that sounds good in a trade down situation. Given the right compensation, say an extra third-rounder or even better, all of these players sound good.
But what if that’s not an option? What if the Cowboys have no choice but to choose one of these players at pick 17?
All of these players are likely to be eventual or immediate starters, exactly what you’d expect from a first-round draft pick, but the receivers, safeties, and the center are most likely to start immediately. The Cowboys lost starting slot receiver Randall Cobb and safety Jeff Heath to free agency, and All-Pro center Travis Frederick unexpectedly retired.
Taking any of the three cornerbacks would definitely help the team in future years, as both Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie will be free agents next year. But they could also potentially upgrade one of those spots this year.
Meanwhile, drafting Murray would provide insurance if Vander Esch doesn’t recover fully from his neck injury last year. Gross-Matos is probably the riskiest of all the choices, simply because defensive end is one of the hardest positions to learn in the NFL.
Given all of this, if you were the Dallas Cowboys general manager and were faced with this dilemma, which player would you choose? Tell us in the comment section below.