Mike Fanelli | March 1st, 2020
Entering the 2019 season, the Dallas Cowboys had Super Bowl expectations. After starting the season 3-0, averaging 32.3 points per game, Dak Prescott was looking like the second coming of Patrick Mahomes and well deserving of being the highest-paid quarterback in the league. However, the Cowboys struggled to be consistent on both sides of the ball the rest of the season and went 5-8 over their last 13 games, finishing 8-8 on the year. Unable to clinch the NFC East title in week 16, the Cowboys ended up missing the playoffs.
For the Cowboys, the offseason is all about who to keep and who to let walk in free agency. Prescott will be slapped with the franchise tag if he and the Cowboys can’t come to a long term deal. Amari Cooper‘s faith may depend on if the Cowboys want to pay him top wide receiver money or not. They could use the transition tag on him (assuming there is no new CBA before free agency starts), but that means other teams can still negotiate with Cooper. However, the Cowboys could match whatever offer he gets if they want, but if they decline to, they will not receive any draft compensation.
For this mock draft, I’m going to assume both Dak and Cooper are back in 2020. The Cowboys don’t have a sixth-round pick but do have a late fifth-round compensatory pick. In total they have seven picks, starting with 17th overall. To help with this mock draft, I used the Fanspeak mock draft simulator.
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Round 1, Pick 17: Grant Delpit, SAF, LSU
In the days leading up to the trade deadline, the Cowboys were trying to trade for Jamal Adams. Talks broke down and the trade never happened. However, it’s clear the Cowboys want and need to upgrade at safety. Xavier Woods is entering the last year of his rookie deal and has been solid at the one safety spot. However, the trio of Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier, and Darian Thompson has been a disaster at the other safety spot. Many consider Delpit the top safety in the draft and a potential top 15 pick. His instincts and ability to create plays around the line of scrimmage is second to none in this draft class. Pairing him with Woods would finally give the Cowboys a set of starting caliber safeties.
Round 2, Pick 51: Damon Arnette, CB, Ohio State
Byron Jones is an upcoming free agent and will hit the open market. Many believe he won’t be re-signed as the Cowboys have a higher priority on re-signing other free agents. In addition to Jones, reserve cornerbacks Anthony Brown and C.J. Goodwin are also upcoming free agents. The Cowboys will have a different looking secondary over the next two seasons as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis are scheduled to be free agents after the 2020 season. Arnette got overshadowed at Ohio State by Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade, but he is getting more hype as we get closer to the draft. With Jones out of the picture, Arnette could be the Cowboys’ top cornerback for week one.
Round 3, Pick 82: Curtis Weaver, EDGE, Boise State
Three of the Cowboys’ six defensive ends (Robert Quinn, Michael Bennett, Kerry Hyder) are upcoming free agents. Quinn is expected to be out of the Cowboys’ price range while Bennett didn’t do enough to warrant a new contract with the team. The Cowboys had success taking a former Boise State edge rusher back in 2014 (DeMarcus Lawrence) so why not do it again? Weaver had at least 9.5 sacks in each of his three seasons at Boise State and finished his career as the Mountain West’s all-time sack leader with 34. Pairing Weaver with Lawrence will give NFC East offensive coordinators nightmares.
Round 4, Pick 120: Hunter Bryant, TE, Washington
Jason Witten came out of retirement for one last ride and it didn’t go according to plan. Maybe the Cowboys can re-sign him to a cheap deal as he is a reliable target in the middle of the field for Prescott. However, he will turn 38 years old in May while Blake Jarwin isn’t a starting caliber tight end and Dalton Schultz has 13 career receptions. Bryant is raw but offers athletic upside. After two lackluster years at Washington, Bryant had 52 catches for 825 yards and three touchdowns in his final season. He might need a year to develop but he has starter qualities.
Round 5, Pick 164: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
Even with Cooper back, Randall Cobb and Tavon Austin are upcoming free agents. The Cowboys will likely not put a high priority on re-signing either. However, after Cooper and Michael Gallup, the Cowboys lack wide receiver depth. Last year, Johnson decided to pass on the draft and return to Texas for his senior year. However, he struggled with injuries and only played in half of the Longhorns’ games this season. Despite the injuries, Johnson showed off his athleticism and his ability to make impressive catches in the air. If the Cowboys can grab Johnson here, they will have a steal.
Round 5, Pick 179: Casey Toohill, LB, Stanford
Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch are arguably the best linebacker duo in the league. However, several of their other linebackers are upcoming free agents including long time starter Sean Lee. Even if Lee takes a hometown discount and returns, the Cowboys must add some depth at the linebacker position. In his final season at Stanford, Toohill had 57 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, and eight sacks. Toohill could be used in several ways and would fit the Cowboys’ defense very well.
Round 7, Pick 231: Trevis Gipson, EDGE, Tulsa
In today’s NFL, you can never have too many pass rushers. With several free agents at defensive end, both starters and reserves, the Cowboys need to draft multiple pass rushers if they don’t re-sign or replace any of their free agents. Despite coming from a smaller school, Gipson already has developed several pass rush moves. Over his last two seasons at Tulsa, he recorded 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. To find that kind of production and skill this late in the draft is an absolute steal. Pairing Gipson with Weaver, Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, and Joe Jackson would give the Cowboys a nice group of edge rushers.
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