Cowboys pull off steal of first round in Peter King's mock draft

Central Michigan v Penn State
Central Michigan v Penn State / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

It won't be long now, folks. The 2023 NFL Draft is just hours away and the Dallas Cowboys are hoping one of the 18 players they have first-round grades on (per Jerry Jones) fall to them at the No. 26 overall pick.

The Cowboys love to keep their draft plans close to the vest, though it feels likely they'll address tight end, running back or wide receiver in the first round. Last year, Tyler Smith was widely mocked to Dallas and sure enough he ended up as the 24th overall pick and the offense reaped the benefits.

This year, the popular picks have been Michael Mayer and Dalton Kincaid. The Cowboys appear to have legit interest in taking a tight end early, though they could deploy the best player available strategy akin to 2020 and 2021 when they drafted CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons 17th and 12th overall, respectively.

Might Dallas experience a similar level of luck this time around? It's certainly possible, especially if there's an early run on quarterbacks and another position they don't need.

Longtime NFL columnist Peter King of NBC Sports is of that mindset. In his mock draft published Tuesday, King has the Cowboys taking Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr., who's been mentioned as a player who could fall.

Cowboys take Penn State CB Joey Porter Jr. in Peter King's mock draft

Porter at No. 26 overall unequivocally would be the steal of the first round. Granted, the Vikings got tremendous value in Florida QB Anthony Richardson, but Porter is right there given he's viewed as the best press corner in the class.

The former Nittany Lion entered the pre-draft process as a shoo-in top 20 pick. As King notes, though, there's trepidation around the league that Porter doesn't play with the physicality you'd expect from a player with his frame.

"When the offseason began, I expected Porter—son the of the ferocious former Steeler linebacker—to go somewhere in the teens, latest. But some evaluators think he’s not the physical presence his size (6-2 ½, 193 pounds) would portend, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he fell out of the first round," King wrote.

That evaluation shouldn't dissuade Dallas from ending the Porter slide. He allowed just 68 yards on 106 snaps in press coverage last season and his 40% forced incompletion rate led all Power Five cornerbacks, per Pro Football Focus.

Porter's athleticism jumps off the screen. He's 6-foot-2 and his arm length and wingspan placed in the 99th percentile. He scored a 9.71 relative athletic score (RAS) that ranked 65th of 2,212 CBs that have tested since 1987.

See what we're saying?

Of course, Porter isn't a flawless prospect. He has a propensity to get handsy in coverage and won't get away with that in the NFL. We already mentioned his physicality, or lack thereof, but he likely just needs an adjustment period, which can be said for most defensive backs.

Bottom line: If Porter is available, Dallas can't let him slip through their fingertips. He has shutdown potential and would give the Cowboys the best young cornerback duo in the league with Trevon Diggs.

dark. Next. Favorite to be Cowboys first-round pick feels obvious