Merry Christmas Cowboys fans! I’m fully aware that this is April and not December, but it is finally draft day, or as I like to call it “football Christmas.”
Today we begin three days of welcoming new players to the organization.
I released my initial mock draft a few weeks ago, and the rules will be the same for my final draft. For the sake of simplicity, no trades will be included. Hypothetically you could maneuver all 7 picks around. The possibilities are endless, and it leaves the door open for a messy mock.
Available players for each pick are determined by the cbssports.com Big Board. Players must be ranked at or below the value of the pick to be ‘available.’ The player selected at #17 overall must be ranked 17 or lower, and so on.
With all of the technicalities now explained.
Let’s select some new Dallas Cowboys.
1st Round – Pick 17: Kenneth Murray (6’2″/243), LB // Oklahoma
Breathe. Count to 10. Take a lap.
Are we ready to have this discussion now? Good. Listen, I, like most of you would love to have one of the elite wideouts fall here. I’d love South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw, Florida CB CJ Henderson, or even LSU DE K’Lavon Chaisson here. However, I don’t think any of them make it to this selection, and neither does cbssports.com, as they have moved my original selection, Henderson up on the big board out of the Cowboys reach at #16.
Rock, meet hard place. Per the rules of this mock draft exercise, trades are prohibited, so we have to stay in the box and take a swing here. Where there is smoke, fire is usually in the vicinity. There have been a lot of insiders connecting the dots between Murray and the Cowboys. Between concerns about Leighton Vander Esch’s neck, and the recent proclamations of “multiplicity” and “flexibility” on defense for the Cowboys, it at least makes some sense.
My rationale here is, that with Jaylon Smith, and Kenneth Murray, you have two mix and match pieces in the front seven who can both play off-ball and pitch in in the pass rush game. Murray was not used in a large capacity as a pass rusher at Oklahoma, but athletically he checks all of the boxes for the task. Lord knows Jaylon Smith is a better football player moving forward than he is going backward, so maybe Murray can focus on the off-ball work while Jaylon does more of the edge stuff.
No matter how you choose to deploy the guy, Kenneth Murray is an excellent football player. Yes, absolutely, we all want a corner, or a wideout, or maybe a true pass rusher. In this scenario, however, all of the talent at those positions has been snapped up. So what do you do? You take an excellent football player and worry about the application of his talents later. It’ll be fine. I promise.
2nd Round – Pick 51: Bryce Hall (6’1/202), CB // Virginia
I have really loved this player since the first time I watched him (FSU @ Virginia 2019). Bryce Hall is an adequately sized physical corner, who is no slouch in the athleticism department. This guy will absolutely beat you up all night, and for a Cowboys defense short on “tough guys” Hall’s intangibles are appealing.
Hall reeled in just 5 collegiate interceptions but led the nation in 2018 with an eye-popping 24 pass breakups. He knows how to get around the football, and as a former high school wideout, one would hope than the interceptions will eventually come.
From the beginning of the process, Bryce Hall has been the good corner that no one seems to talk about. The Cowboys would be committing grand larceny landing him in this spot.
3rd Round – Pick 82: Davon Hamilton (6’4″/320), DT // Ohio State
The Cowboys added talent to their interior defensive line this offseason with the acquisitions of DTs Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. Talented players, but a bit long in the tooth. You will grow tired of me preaching “turn a strength into a superpower.” The Cowboys will have a nasty rotation inside with Poe, McCoy, and Antwuan Woods. Why not throw another log on the fire, and make interior DL an obscene strength.
Davon Hamilton is a stump. A “trash can full of dirt” inside. When he decides to drop anchor, the shop is closed. In addition to those classic 2-gap traits, Hamilton is an above-average athlete for his size. Like our 1st round pick, Murray, Hamilton screams position flex and multiplicity. This is a player who can probably play both the 1 and 3 in an even front, and whatever you need from a 0 all the way out to 5 in an odd set.
The Cowboys have a solid interior DL group for 2020. The selection of Hamilton solidifies that group for the present and the future.
4th Round – Pick 123: James Proche (5’11″/201), WR // SMU
The Cowboys needed to go WR earlier than this, but the draft didn’t fall in that manner. Looking at what is left on the WR board, vs. what the Cowboys need, James Proche makes a lot of sense.
Proche is good at most things but great at nothing, and that’s what prevents this from being a “fist bump” type of selection. A just above average athlete, with average size, speed, suddenness, etc. Proche is however and smart and solid football player, who’s floor looks to be reasonably high. The guy plays with his head, knows how to run routes, and is really good at hauling in contested opportunities for a guy of his stature.
Proche is a guy who looks like a natural fit for the slot, and while he is not exactly Devin Hester, he probably becomes your punt returner day one.
5th Round – Pick 164: Danny Pinter (6’4″/306), OL // Ball State
Every time I see “Ball State” in print, I immediately think of Cowboys’ 2005 6th round selection, safety Justin Beriault. I also think about former NBA player Bonzi Wells. I’m fully aware that that means absolutely nothing to any of you. I will get back on track.
Okay, so I wasn’t among those Cowboys fans who were shocked or jarred when C Travis Frederick recently retired. The Cowboys have options. Connor McGovern has the inside track to take over at the pivot. If he doesn’t impress, the Cowboys still have Joe Looney, whom they were able to make the playoffs with starting at center in 2018. There is even a world where you could see Connor Williams getting a shot being the point guard of the offensive line. The Cowboys are okay on the interior OL, but it’s not something I think they need to totally cross off in the draft.
Pinter is a player who could very legitimately be serviceable at any of the 5 offensive line spots. A guy like that is a huge help, especially when deciding the 46 man roster every Sunday. The Cowboys have legitimate needs at swing tackle and G/C interior swing. Having a player who could potentially chip in at either spot would be a major get.
Pinter is a plus athlete. He was 2nd among all OL combine invitees in the 40-yard dash (4.91), 3rd in the short shuttle (4.62), and 6th in the 3-cone (7.76). Pinter was also a high school TE, so it all makes sense. Pinter is touted as a heady player by all those who have been associated with him in his time at Ball State and should be able to handle the mental demands of being ready to jump in at any of 5 spots.
An OL Swiss Army knife selection would be an enormous win at pick #164.
5th Round – Pick 179: Jeff Thomas (5’9″/170), WR // Miami
Not totally smitten with our first crack at taking a wideout, so taking a swipe at another one here at pick 179.
Jeff Thomas ran a 4.45 40 yard dash at the NFL combine, which is plenty fast, but he plays faster. Thomas is twitchy, elusive, and the athleticism is very evident on tape. Just a really smooth and explosive player, who can also return punts.
Miami has been a veritable dumpster fire during Thomas’ entire tenure, particularly at quarterback. He didn’t have the career that many expected, but the flashes flashed. You can see what Jeff Thomas is capable of when you put on the tape. Thomas had some issues with off-field/classroom stuff, and was once suspended during his Miami career. However a late 5th round pick is no major investment, and a dice roll at that spot is reasonable.
7th Round – Pick 231: Tanner Muse (6’2″/227), S // Clemson
Not quite the attention to the safety position that Cowboy fans wanted to be paid, but nonetheless a morsel to the ravenous. What do you want in the late rounds? Upside. Upside. Upside.
Tanner Muse kind of popped as a little bit of a freak at the combine. A 4.41 forty, and a 10 foot plus broad jump at 6’2″/227? Oh, we can do some things with that. Muse was a safety at Clemson, but projects as a sub-package guy and special teamer at the next level. Muse could play as a box safety on early downs, and you could probably plug him in at nickel linebacker if you so chose. I personally don’t think I’d be afraid to let him chase a tight end up the seam, and the dude tackles everything breathing.
At worst case, he is Danny McCray. More optimistic projections would have him becoming Bill Bates or better. At pick #231, I’ll take either with a smile.
The speculation is over in a few hours, folks. Football Christmas is upon us.
Time to see how much of a soothsayer of buffoon I look like for making these projections. Either way, I couldn’t be more excited for the draft to finally be here.
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