Dallas Cowboys mock draft: Latest 7-round 2021 NFL Draft projection

By Matt Johnson

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.

With the help of The Draft Network’s simulator, let’s dive into our Dallas Cowboys mock draft.

Dallas Cowboys mock draft: Projecting targets from 2021 NFL Draft

Read More: 2021 NFL mock draft: Crazy trades spark historic run on QBs, more big surprises

First round, 10th overall: Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern

Dallas Cowboys mock draft
Dec 1, 2018; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young (2) rushes the line (2) in the first half against Northwestern Wildcats lineman Rashawn Slater (70) in the Big Ten conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Plenty of consideration with the No. 10 overall pick should be given to cornerback. Patrick Surtain II is an outstanding player, more than capable of taking over as the No. 1 cornerback in the Cowboys’ secondary as a rookie. But more important than defending the passing attack is ensuring your quarterback is healthy, a lesson Dallas learned the hard way in 2020.

Rashawn Slater isn’t quite on the level of Penei Sewell, but it’s hard for an offensive lineman to be much closer. Even after sitting out this past season, the 6-foot-3 human bulldozer is a top-12 prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft class. He is a great athlete for his size, shows good technique and could be an All-Pro guard at the next level.

There is a valid discussion about whether or not he can play tackle, but it shouldn’t matter to Dallas. Slater can start at left guard immediately, playing alongside Tyron Smith would create a wall on the left side. When Smith eventually retires, Slater could kick outside or remain at guard and he’ll likely thrive regardless. After investing heavily in Prescott, Slater is the insurance for that deal.

First round, 28th overall*: Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech

Dallas Cowboys mock draft
Nov 16, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies defensive back Caleb Farley (3) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the second quarter at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
  • TRADE: Dallas Cowboys send 2021 second-round pick (44th overall), third-round pick (99th overall), 2022 fourth-round pick to New Orleans Saints for 2021 first-round pick (28th overall) and 2022 seventh-round pick

It should take a very unique situation for Jones to trade up, given some of the holes on this roster. Everyone recognizes that even with the additions made, there is still a ton of work to be done on the defensive side. With that said, there was no way to pass up on an opportunity like this in our Dallas Cowboys mock draft.

If he had a clean medical record, Caleb Farley would be a top-10 pick this year. Unfortunately for the 22-year-old corner, that’s not the case. He recently underwent a microdiscectomy, this coming after he sat out the 2020 season. It’s also important to note that he suffered a torn ACL before the 2017 season and dealt with back spasms in 2019.

All of that pushes a top prospect down the draft board. Knowing all of the risks, this is a roll of the dice Dallas should be willing to take. Farley can be the playmaking, No. 1 cornerback in the Cowboys’ secondary. He is arguably better than Surtain II and thanks to compensatory picks, this trade is even easier to make for Jones.

Third round, 75th overall: Richie Grant, S, UCF

Dallas Cowboys mock draft
Jan 27, 2021; Mobile, AL, USA; American running back Chris Evans of Michigan (9) runs against American defensive back Richie Grant of Central Florida (27) during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Cowboys, check out #DallasCowboys rumors, rankings, and news here.

Fourth round, 115th overall: Tyler Shelvin, DT, LSU

Dallas Cowboys mock draft
Dec 28, 2019; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; LSU Tigers nose tackle Tyler Shelvin (72) warms up before the 2019 Peach Bowl college football playoff semifinal game between the LSU Tigers and the Oklahoma Sooners at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After committing so many picks and dollars to improving against the pass, now our focus shifts to containing the run. Dallas allowed the third-highest yards per carry (5.0) in 2020. That’s alarming for so many reasons, including the fact that it helps keep the Cowboys’ electric offense on the sideline.

Shelvin is made for playing early downs in the NFL. He’s a 6-foot-3, 246-pound weapon of destruction who eats up blockers and erases running lanes. He earned a stellar 88.3 grade against the run in 2019 from Pro Football Focus, with the strength, quick first step and ability to move around blockers to become a real problem at the next level. He’ll never be one to be counted on to rush the passer, but he would be the perfect rotational lineman for this Cowboys’ defense.

Dallas Cowboys mock draft: Day 3 targets, finding depth on offense and defense

  • Fourth round, 138th overall: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh
  • Fifth round, 179th overall: Jack Anderson, iOL, Texas Tech
  • Sixth round, 192nd overall: Nick Eubanks, TE, Michigan
  • 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.