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Nate Sanchez’s Dallas Cowboys 2020 Draft Guide

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By Nate Sanchez April 23, 2020 0 Comment
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The Cowboys’ draft scenarios are pretty diverse, but their needs are clear. Here is the 2020 Brawl Network Cowboys Draft Guide, detailing many scenarios and how Dallas could satisfy all of its needs:

The Dallas brass was clear on some of its draft strategy during the pre-draft press conference with McCarthy, Jerry Jones, and Stephen Jones. The team’s biggest needs lie in the defensive line, secondary, and at wide receiver. Despite having these apparent needs, they were adamant that they will be looking for best player available. We’ll dive into these needs in this draft guide.

Picking best player available should be music to Cowboys’ fans ears given that drafting solely for need and fit has resulted in players like Taco Charlton and Trysten Hill being taken. With that being said, given that Anthony Brown is the only cornerback that is under contract for 2021, rubber may meet the road and Dallas will have to take a corner or two in this draft class.

With that being said, I went through each of those needs and looked at all of the potential scenarios. I also looked at other potential draft nuggets to know leading up to this weekend. Enjoy the draft guide!

There’s obviously too many combinations to go through all of them in one draft guide. But there are a handful of guys in the first round connected to the Cowboys with the 17th pick and/or should be considered as a possibility if available. Here are the options:

Draft Guide Scenario One: the top-tier receivers

The first and probably least likely scenario is if one of the three top-tier receivers are available. That would be CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy, and Henry Ruggs. It’s no guarantee Dallas would take them if available, but the sheer talent of each of them would be hard to pass up.

Ruggs’ incredible burning speed has caught teams’ attention. He tested as an explosive and athletic freak at the combine (at least the 94th percentile in vertical, broad jump, and 40-yard dash. His explosiveness could be lethal on an already great Cowboys offense. He also scored a touchdown on a ridiculous 25% of his touches at Alabama.

Ruggs’ teammate Jerry Jeudy could be available for the Cowboys in certain scenarios as well. Jeudy didn’t test nearly as well as Ruggs, but his tape is outstanding and his long list of accolades at Alabama speaks for itself. His route-running is incredible and he would fit perfectly in Dallas

CeeDee Lamb is a flat-out playmaker that can do it all. His production with three different quarterbacks at Oklahoma was unprecedented. 3200 yards and 32 touchdowns in three years is difficult to argue with. His ball skills are elite and has drawn DeAndre Hopkins questions. Lamb is my favorite wide receiver in this class.

The bottom line is if any of the “Big Three” wide receivers are available, it will be difficult for Dallas to pass on any of these guys. With Dallas’ offense already one of the most explosive in the league, one of these three would vault the Cowboys into the elite tier. Problem is, the chances are rather slim of this happening.

Draft Guide Scenario Two: defensive line

Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw are the top two defensive tackles in the draft, and stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. Brown is an incredible player and should be a top 10 pick, but in the event he somehow slid to Dallas, he would be borderline impossible to pass up in my book. He is a flat out game wrecker up front and is going to be a great pro. Don’t expect him to fall close to 17.

Kinlaw could absolutely be a possibility for the Cowboys at 17, as his tape is outstanding. He is incredibly disruptive, as evidenced in his 2019 Alabama tape, when the Tide couldn’t block him. The big red flag for Kinlaw is his medicals. He has struggled with injuries, had to leave the Senior Bowl with knee tendonitis, and there have been reports of an issue with his hip.

Kinlaw is one of the most volatile prospects in the draft because of these medicals, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out all pre-draft medical visits. With a hip surgery in 2018 and chronic knee tendonitis, he carries significant risk.

The other defensive lineman Dallas has been strongly linked to has been LSU outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson. He is an athletic freak who didn’t test at the Combine, but he planned to work out at LSU’s Pro Day. With the pandemic going on, that obviously didn’t happen. It is widely believed that if he had an opportunity to demonstrate just how explosive an athlete he is, he would have shot up draft boards. Alas, he didn’t, and he is probably the most realistic option for Dallas at 17.

Chaisson’s best traits are how explosive and smart he is. He constantly demonstrated a high football IQ. Chaisson would fit right into the new defense as a SAM/DPR with his coverage skills as well. Chaisson took off as a pass rusher toward the end of his first full season and was a leader on LSU’s championship team. He is probably the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the class given his ceiling. I think Chaisson will be a Cowboy Thursday night.

Draft Guide Scenario Three:  cornerback or safety

The name to watch here is C.J. Henderson, the corner from Florida. He tested extremely well at the Combine as a big (6-1, 204 pounds), strong (90th percentile in bench press), and fast (4.39 40-yard dash) cornerback. His performance at the Combine played a big role in why he shot up boards and become largely the consensus number two corner in the draft behind Jeffrey Okudah.

Henderson’s tape from the 2019 season is concerning and raises questions about betting on him to be your number one corner. But overall, he is excellent in press-man coverage, willing in run support, and brings the confidence you want to see from a high-end corner. He also was the only corner throughout all of 2019 that was able to match up with LSU star wideout Jamar Chase. Henderson’s tape against LSU is exciting to say the least. Chase made a lot of really good players look silly, but not Henderson.

The catch is that it is unlikely Henderson falls to 17. Cornerbacks are always valued highly, and there are plenty of corner-needy teams in front of Dallas like the Jaguars, Raiders, 49ers, Broncos, and Falcons. Each of those teams have their own caveats, but Henderson is likely to go sometime before 17. That being said, it’d be shocking if Dallas didn’t take Henderson if he fell into their laps, especially given the dire need for a corner.

Another possibility is Alabama safety Xavier McKinney, who is probably one of the lower-ceiling players in the draft. He has a high floor and would be a day one starter. But he lacks certain traits of a special playmaking safety. McKinney is a classic plug-and-play pick with a high floor that you can trust. He is a very smart and versatile player who played all over the field for Alabama.

Dallas has also been strongly linked to Trevon Diggs and A.J. Terrell at 17. Terrell has been a late riser. Diggs has seemed to fall a little bit and could be an option in the second round. Both of these players are legitimate options for Dallas.

Draft Guide Scenario Four: trade down

As evidenced in that above report from Bryan Broaddus, the top targets for the Cowboys are Henderson and Chaisson. Broaddus usually has a good hunch for the Cowboys’ plans. Trading back is a possibility. They could take Terrell, McKinney, or Diggs at 17. But that is likely too rich and more value can be acquired in a trade back scenario.

At least one of these three players should be available later in the mid-20s and could be a trade-back target for the Cowboys. Another trade back target could be Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun, who is a very polished pass rusher and could thrive as a SAM/DPR. 17th is likely too rich, but he is a really good player that Dallas could trade back for.

Beyond Henderson, who is the bona fide number two corner in this class, there is a cluster of corners projected anywhere from mid-first round to mid-second round that could be trade back targets. This includes TCU product Jeff Gladney, Diggs, Terrell, and LSU’s Kristian Fulton. They each have their own warts and are in that range of the draft for a reason. But if the Cowboys don’t like their options at 17 and want more value, they could move back.

The last trade back scenario would be for Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos, a huge defensive end that is projected in the later parts of the first round. Dallas has reportedly been doing plenty of work on Gross-Matos, and he could easily be a target for the Cowboys if their board is wiped at 17.

The hard part about trading back is finding a taker. The Ravens are rumored to an aggressive team in this draft and could be looking to move up from 28. Moving back 11 spots, the Cowboys could grab at least another second-rounder from the Ravens. Teams could be much more timid in their approach in this draft with the unique circumstances. But no one will truly know until draft night.

Day 2 scenarios hinge largely on what happens in the first round:

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the Cowboys could do. But their first round pick seems to dictate what could happen on Day 2, especially if Henderson doesn’t fall to Dallas at 17.

If Chaisson is the pick at 17, the need for corners on days two and three is magnified. They would almost need to come away with at least one corner on day two of the draft. The Cowboys are in a difficult spot. The ideal cornerback selections should come off the board between the 17th and 51st pick. Trading up into the late 30s might have to happen for the Cowboys if they want to come away with a corner they really like.

Given that Dallas should have two extra comp picks in the third round next year, they should have ammo to move up into the 30s if there is a run on second-round corners. Potential second-round corners include Utah’s Jaylon Johnson and Auburn’s Noah Igbinoghene, while there is also potential for any of Diggs, Gladney, or Fulton to slide into the second round. Louisiana Tech’s Amik Roberston, Virginia’s Bryce Hall, and Notre Dame’s Troy Pride Jr. are some of the corners in the third-round range for the Cowboys as well.

If a corner is the pick in the first round, Dallas can really hunt for best player available in the next rounds and look for someone like an impact safety in the second round like Ashtyn Davis from Cal or Antoine Winfield Jr. from Minnesota, or even if LSU’s Grant Delpit slid.

Dallas’ scenarios are much more widespread if the cornerback need is satisfied in the first round. However, selecting an EDGE like Chaisson makes it even more crucial that Dallas lands a quality corner on day two.

Slot receivers:

With the departure of Randall Cobb, there is now a hole in the slot for the Cowboys. Cobb’s performance in 2019 landed him $27M from the Texans, and Dallas simply couldn’t match that price. This class is very deep, so the Cowboys need a receiver at an opportune time.

Dallas asserted that wide receiver isn’t a prime target early on, but the board could have value. There are plenty of guys that could fit well on the Cowboys in each round. Bryan Edwards or Laviska Shenault are real options in the second round. Second or third-round players like Van Jefferson from Florida, Ohio State’s K.J. Hill, or Texas’ Devin Duvernay have real potential in the slot. A popular day three pick for Dallas in the fourth or fifth round is Desoto native and  SMU’s own James Proche, who has outstanding hands.

The Cowboys have plenty of options at multiple junctions in the draft for guys that they like in the slot.

Linebackers:

Dallas has been strongly linked to Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray and also liked LSU linebacker Patrick Queen. I personally don’t like this scenario for the Cowboys. Given the current situation at linebacker, there are much more pressing needs. The 17th pick seems really rich for both of these players. If Murray really is the Cowboys’ guy, trading back would be the best way to maximize the value.

A much more cost-effective way to restock the linebacker group would be Logan Wilson, the Wyoming linebacker who Dallas reportedly loves. He would likely go somewhere in the third or fourth rounds. Wilson is a legitimate possibility for Dallas at pick 82 in the third round.

Mid-to-late round quarterbacks:

Mike McCarthy loves to draft young developmental quarterbacks in the later rounds, and Dallas reportedly loves Florida International’s signal-caller James Morgan. He has a huge arm to work with but lacks instincts you want to see from an NFL quarterback. He would be a tremendous project. Other late-round quarterbacks that might be targets are Washington State’s Anthony Gordon or Hawaii’s Cole McDonald.

My final 2020 Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft:

 

After months of anticipation and quarantining the draft is finally here!

I obviously couldn’t get every scenario in this draft guide, but these are some possibilities for the Cowboys this weekend. In a strange time without sports the draft should be an awesome escape for football fans everywhere. Hopefully you enjoyed my 2020 Cowboys draft guide and Happy Drafting!

 

 

 


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