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It’s time for a Dallas Cowboys mock draft, following a busy spring that saw the organization commit to a long-term Dak Prescott contract and begin to reshape this roster after a disappointing 2020 season. With Mike McCarthy likely coaching for his job this year, it will be crucial to nail the 2021 NFL Draft.
With Prescott under center for years to come, Jerry Jones and Co. must build far more effectively around their franchise quarterback. Making him one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, with the contracts already on the books, leaves Dallas with little cap space to work with as it rebuilds on the defensive side.
Just as important for this front office, building an offensive line that can protect the franchise quarterback. After years of boasting one of the best lines in the NFL, injuries and retirements led to this unit taking a step back. But as we’re about to show, both of these issues can be addressed in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys draft rumors: Team down to two targets for No. 10 pick in 2021 NFL Draft
With the help of The Draft Network’s simulator, let’s dive into our Dallas Cowboys mock draft.
Updated: April 23, 1 PM EST
Dallas Cowboys mock draft: Projecting targets from 2021 NFL Draft
First round, 15th overall*: Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa
- Dallas Cowboys mock draft trade: New England Patriots send 15th pick, 46th pick and 2022 third-round pick to Dallas Cowboys for 10th overall pick.
The Athletic’s Dane Brugler reported earlier in April that the Cowboys love Zaven Collins and there’s been even more buzz hinting at that in the weeks since. Realistically, though, Dallas probably doesn’t want to reach for him at No. 10 overall. With a top quarterback falling in this mock draft, everything works out.
Dallas slides down five spots and picks up a top-50 pick, along with New England’s 2022 third-round selection. While 15 still might be a little early for Collins, he is the No. 21 player on our draft board. Tulsa’s 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker was ridiculous at his Pro Day with a 4.67 40-yard dash, a 35-inch vertical and a 10-foot-2 broad jump. It was good enough for him to have a 9.55 RAS score, capturing just how athletic he is considering position and size.
Collins can be used everywhere in Dan Quinn’s defense. He is more than comfortable dropping back in coverage, receiving the highest coverage grade from Pro Football Focus (93.0) among draft-eligible linebackers. Collins can also be deployed as an edge rusher, something Dallas still lacks. Cornerback and offensive tackle are more popular picks for the Cowboys, but getting Collins and two Day 2 picks would be a home run.
Second round, 44th overall: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Tyron Smith is not a safe bet to stay healthy in 2021 and it feels like we aren’t too far away from his retirement. When Smith and La’el Collins are on the field, the Cowboys offensive line can get the job done, but there is no depth behind them. Penei Sewell is the dream target at No. 10, Dallas will likely wait to address the position if he is gone. Fortunately, this year’s tackle class is deep.
Notre Dame’s history of developing quality offensive linemen is remarkable. When a team drafts a player who battled in the trenches for the Fighting Irish, it’s a safe bet to say they will be ready for the NFL. Eichenberg’s technique helps him excel in pass protection, but he also packs plenty of power and an understanding for leverage to create running lanes. When a spot at tackle opens, Eichenberg will step in and can thrive for the next decade.
Second round, 46th overall: Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky
It’s finally time to start addressing the Cowboys’ secondary. A few intriguing cornerback options will come off the board early on Day 2, a trend we saw last year. If Dallas can’t land Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn with its first-round pick, expect it to be among the teams snagging defensive backs in Round 2.
Kelvin Joseph is far from a finished product. He got fooled in coverage on plenty of occasions at college, largely because he is still learning to read his opponent and he is too reactionary right now. But this is still a 6-foot-1 cornerback with great length and speed. Defensive backs coaches will see a young player who needs instruction, but the physical tools that could make him a high-end cornerback at the next level.
Joseph wouldn’t be ready to start right away, at least not in a prominent role. While there is a learning curve for all rookies, it will be especially rough for Joseph. But Dallas needs all the help it can get next season and the long-term upside is too hard to pass on. Patrick Surtain II is great, but Collins and Joseph are better for this defense.
Third round, 75th overall: Richie Grant, S, UCF
You can never have enough quality safeties. One of the team’s biggest holes in recent years, the signings of Jayron Kearse, Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal shouldn’t stop Dallas from spending a Day 2 pick on this position. A player that would have drawn consideration from us in the second round, landing Richie Grant in Round 3 is even more perfect.
One of the best qualities of this 6-foot defensive back’s game is his versatility. We saw at UCF that he could line up as a single-high safety, come down toward the box as a blitzer and worked in man coverage out of the slot. That is music to the ears of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who loved having a Swiss Army knife during his days with the Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons.
This would be the piece that really rounds out the Cowboys’ secondary. Farley and Diggs play coverage on the outside, Kazee is the ballhawk at free safety and Grant is the chess piece move all over the field. In a single offseason, one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses would improve significantly.
Third round, 86th overall*: Milton Williams, DT, Louisiana Tech
- Dallas Cowboys mock draft trade: New York Jets trade 86th pick to Dallas for the 99th and 192nd overall picks
Speaking of players the Cowboys’ front office reportedly loves, this is a moment when it’s worth paying a little extra. While trade value charts might determine this is a high cost, Dallas needs more talent on the defensive line and they couldn’t ask for much more than this.
Milton Williams, a 6-foot-4, 278-pound defensive lineman, is an absurd athlete. At Louisiana Tech’s Pro Day, he ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering 4.62 seconds, did 34 reps on the bench press and killed it in the three-cone drill (6.93 seconds). Those numbers are good enough for a 9.94 RAS as a defensive tackle. There is so much potential to unlock here, he just needs NFL coaching. A few years from now, the Cowboys could have one of the biggest steals in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Dallas Cowboys mock draft: Day 3 targets, finding depth on offense and defense
- Fourth round, 115th overall: Ar’Darius Washington, S, TCU
- Fourth round, 138th overall: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
- Fifth round, 179th overall: Jack Anderson, iOL, Texas Tech
- Sixth round, 227th overall: Feleipe Franks, QB, Arkansas
- Seventh round, 238th overall: CJ Marable, RB, Coastal Carolina
So, what do you think of our Dallas Cowboys mock draft? Let us know in the comments below.