It feels like Christmas morning. The 2017 NFL Draft is finally here, but many Cowboys fans have no clue what could happen over the next three days.
This has been an especially difficult year to project picks, but we’ve given it our best here at Cowboys Blitz. Here are the staff’s predictions for each of Dallas’ picks, with a special contribution by Dan Turner.
1st round (28th overall)
Bobby Belt: TJ Watt, Edge, Wisconsin
In desperate need of an edge rusher, combined with several cornerbacks littered throughout the first three or four rounds, Dallas snags the highest one left on their board.
Laurie Horesh: Takk McKinley, Edge, UCLA
Allegations against Conley push King and Jackson out of range. Marinelli gets an explosive, high effort pass rusher ready for refinement.
Jonah Tuls: TJ Watt, Edge, Wisconsin
TJ Watt is the perfect fit for what Dallas is looking for in a right defensive end with their 4-3 defense. He has the explosion, bend and motor to be a consistent pass rusher off of the edge at the next level. With only one year of experience as a full-time defender, the sky is the limit.
Dan Turner: TJ Watt, Edge, Wisconsin
The last name certainly doesn’t hurt TJ, but it’s the combination of production, athleticism, versatility, and attitude which will have him taken in the first round on his own right.
2nd round (60th overall)
Belt: Teez Tabor, Cornerback, Florida
Trust the tape, as our friends Dane Brugler and Jeff Cavanaugh would say. Tabor has a third round attitude, fifth round athletic testing, but the tape is easy first-rounder. We know how much Dallas historically gambles with this pick, and Tabor was a visitor.
Horesh: Fabian Moreau, Cornerback, UCLA
The Cowboys talk about no red-shirts, but with Moreau on track for a pre-season return from a pec injury, the value could be too good.
Tuls: Marcus Williams, Safety, Utah
Dallas brought in plenty of free safety prospects, but the one that caught my eye the most was Utah’s Marcus Williams. He is a true centerfielder with uncanny sideline to sideline range, instincts and ball skills at the position. Jerry Jones said he wants more playmakers on defense? Look no further than Williams, who had five interceptions each of the past two years.
Turner: Fabian Moreau, Cornerback, UCLA
Rollercoaster few months for my ‘pet cat’ – from a day three prospect, to rocketing into first round consideration after a strong Shrine Game and Combine, before tearing a pec doing bench press at his Pro Day. Fluid cover-corner.
3rd round (92nd overall)
Belt: Shaquill Griffin, Cornerback, Central Florida
Cowboys go back-to-back with corners, getting the opposite athletically of Tabor in round three. Griffin, a pre-draft visitor, lit up the combine with 4.3 speed and a 38-inch vertical.
Horesh: Xavier Woods, Safety, Louisiana Tech
In for a visit, the Cowboys add a safety who hits with a snap near the line and can cover out of the slot.
Tuls: Damontae Kazee, Cornerback, San Diego State
The Cowboys have been connected to San Diego State’s all-time interceptions leader, Damontae Kazee, for a reason. This goes back to the playmaker approach I think Dallas is going to take in this year’s draft with the prioritization of ballhawking defensive backs. Kazee is smaller than the organization would like at 5’10, but he has almost 31 inch arms. This pick would make a lot of sense.
Turner: Justin Evans, Safety, Texas A&M
Cowboys replace JJ Wilcox with someone not dissimilar. The ex-Aggie plays wild at times and his coverage instincts are often lacking, but the motor is always on and he could have success as a box safety.
4th round (133rd overall)
Belt: Jeremy McNichols, Running Back, Boise State
Run, catch, block; McNichols does all the things well that Dallas looks for in a backup running back. It doesn’t hurt that he also hails from one of Dallas’ favorite talent factories.
Horesh: Howard Wilson, Cornerback, Houston
Here comes the double dip. Dallas lands a tall, aggressive playmaker who is experienced playing off (Hi Rod Marinelli).
Tuls: KD Cannon, Wide Receiver, Baylor
It seems as if the Cowboys have been looking for a vertical threat opposite of Dez Bryant forever, but I really think they pull the trigger on one this year. Baylor’s KD Cannon and West Virginia’s Shelton Gibson come to mind with their ability to separate on speed alone. Cannon gets the edge because of his higher upside.
Turner: Jeremy Sprinkle, Tight End, Arkansas
James Hanna and Geoff Swaim are hurt, and Rico Gathers is an unknown. Sprinkle isn’t the prospect his former teammate Hunter Henry was, but his blocking ability will give him significant snaps as an inline tight end.
6th round (211th overall)
Belt: Jeremiah Ledbetter, Defensive Lineman, Arkansas
Cowboys have met with Ledbetter, and he is similar in size and athleticism to the recently-departed Jack Crawford. A tweener who will fit well in Marinelli’s scheme.
Horesh: Eric Saubert, Tight End, Drake
Long, fluid and raw. Saubert provides moldable matchup potential if he’s allowed the time to learn behind Witten & Co.
Tuls: Treston Decoud, Cornerback, Oregon State
Treston DeCoud is a long, leggy cornerback who needs to be played at the LOS to mask his limitations in space. Dallas worked out DeCoud in the draft process, and with his length and ball skills, he is one of the favorites to be a late-round flier for this team.
Turner: Tarik Cohen, Running Back, North Carolina A&T
Quite possibly the most enjoyable film in this draft class. Cohen could immediately take over the Lance Dunbar role on the Cowboys. The tiny scatback will catch everything, make defenders miss, and has the speed to take it to the house.
7th round (228th overall)
Belt: Fred Ross, Wide Receiver, Mississippi State
The favored target of Dak Prescott while at Mississippi State, the two have been working out together for much of the offseason.
Horesh: Stacy Coley, Wide Receiver, Miami
Still missing from Dallas receiving corps? True speed. Coley brings his own hospital wing, but also a high-pointing deep threat.
Tuls: Jeremiah Ledbetter, Defensive Lineman, Arkansas
Jack Crawford is no longer on the team, but I think they can find his replacement with a versatile defensive lineman like Jeremiah Ledbetter. Ledbetter can play in an odd or even front as an end or tackle, and this type of position flex should get Rod Marinelli to stand up out of his seat.
Turner: Fred Ross, Wide Receiver, Mississippi State
Have to believe Dak Prescott will have had a word in the ear of the decision makers about his favourite college target. Ross is a sure-handed, dependable receiver who can play in the slot or as the Z.
7th round (246th overall)
Belt: Jerod Evans, Quarterback, Virginia Tech
A local product who attended Dallas Day, the Cowboys grab another young quarterback to develop as a backup behind Prescott.
Horesh: Tim Patrick, Wide Receiver, Utah
All upside again with this late round receiver. Patrick has size, speed, plucking ability, and a huge catch radius. Want evidence of ability? Go ask Adoree’ Jackson.
Tuls: Jylan Ware, Offensive Tackle, Alabama State
Alabama State’s Jylan Ware is a relatively unknown prospect because of the school he played at, but there is potential worth investing in here. At a massive 6’8, 295 lbs., Ware has the look of a developmental offensive tackle worth taking a look at in the 7th round. In addition, you won’t have to fight for this physical specimen in the daunted PFA market.
Turner: Aviante Collins, Offensive Tackle, TCU
One of the best athletes in this year’s draft. Collins is undersized and extremely raw but the seventh round is all about attempting to find those potential gems.