DALLAS — The NFL Draft is fast approaching and the Dallas Cowboys have plenty of work to do to bolster their roster ahead of the 2020 season. While Dallas addressed the defensive line and secondary during the initial free agency period, there are still plenty of spots for the team to upgrade.
Despite the free agent additions, the defensive backfield and the defensive line could still be an area where the Cowboys look toward early on in the draft. Wide receiver is also still a position of need.
The good news for Dallas on that front is this upcoming class is one of the deepest at receiver in recent years, so the team is likely to find a quality guy or two later on in the draft. Unless someone extremely high up on their board falls to them at pick No. 17, don’t expect Dallas to address the need at receiver on day one.
There is also the thought that the Cowboys could potentially use their first pick to secure a top end talent such as Jets’ safety Jamal Adams.
Adams is a name that was linked to the Cowboys as recently as last year but the speculation remains merely rumors with no actual conversations having taken place.
With that in mind, this particular mock draft won’t be including any big trades from Jerry Jones and company. The Cowboys have seven selections over the three-day event starting with pick No. 17.
Round 1, 17 overall: Zack Baun, LB/Edge, Wisconsin
The Cowboys obviously have a need for a pass rushing defensive end with the loss of Robert Quinn to the Chicago Bears in free agency. The team still has Demarcus Lawrence on the strong side but they need someone on the weakside to challenge left tackles in one on one situations.
Baun is a performer who can play some linebacker and come up to the line of scrimmage in passing downs to keep defenses honest. Baun is a twitchy athlete that could create disruption in the offensive backfield.
Also considered: K’Lavon Chaisson
Round 2, 51 overall: Bryce Hall, CB, Virginia
The Cowboys need to upgrade their secondary and more specifically their cornerback position. Dallas lost their top cornerback, Pro Bowler Byron Jones, to the Miami Dolphins during the early days of free agency.
With that in mind, Hall would likely come in as an immediate starter next to Chidobe Awuzie. The Virginia senior shouldn’t be expected to play at the same level of Jones or Awuzie immediately, but he has the talent to eventually become that kind of cornerback for the Cowboys under the new defensive staff.
Also considered: Ashtyn Davis
Round 3, 82 overall: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
With the third selection, the Cowboys aim to keep improving their defensive scheme with Chinn. Even as a small-school safety, Chinn has been talked about quite a bit as a fit for the Cowboys.
The former Southern Illinois Saluki would come in and compete immediately on special teams and rotational safety play. Kavon Frazier is still a free agent and the team could potentially lose their two best coverage guys in him and Jeff Heath. Should Dallas opt for a safety this early, Chinn could help fill the void.
Round 4, 123 overall: Collin Johnson, WR, Texas
Wide receiver remains one of the lesser talked about needs on this Cowboys team. With Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup penciled in as starters, you wouldn’t expect the desire to spend draft capital at the position. Once you get past Dallas’ two outside threats, however, the targets for quarterback Dak Prescott become hazy, especially after slot receiver Randall Cobb left to join the Houston Texans in free agency.
Former Longhorn Johnson would allow the Cowboys to move Gallup and Cooper around while also providing a big target on the field. Johnson would give Prescott an option that Dallas can utilize in the red zone and create mismatches across the board.
Round 5, 164 overall: Nick Harris, C, Washington
Center is the newest need for the Cowboys following the sudden retirement of All-Pro Travis Frederick in March. There are those who believe that 2019 third-round pick Connor McGovern could fill that void and Dallas did re-sign interior lineman Joe Looney for a situation just like this.
However, Harris could come in and immediately compete and challenge for a spot on the depth chart and give the Cowboys another option. McGovern did play center at Penn State but he has to show that he can stay healthy and play at the NFL level. Looney started every game in 2018 when Frederick stepped away, but now Dallas needs to upgrade the position.
Round 5, 179 overall: Colby Parkinson, TE, Stanford
Blake Jarwin will finally get his opportunity to shine with Jason Witten leaving for Oakland. The Cowboys do have a need for more tight end depth behind Jarwin, however. Parkinson would come in to compete for the backup role behind Jarwin with fellow former Stanford Cardinal Dalton Schultz.
Parkinson is more of an offensive threat than a blocker, but he could develop those skills as blocking acumen is usually a requirement for the Cowboys at the position. Nevertheless, Parkinson would give Dallas another receiving target of 6’6” plus and he would give Prescott a potential outlet in the middle of the field.
Round 7, 231 overall: Myles Bryant, CB, Washington
Bryant makes up the final pick for Mike McCarthy’s inaugural draft class in this scenario as Dallas double-dips on cornerbacks and Washington Huskies. The 5’9” senior would immediately compete for a spot at the bottom of the roster and would likely have to make the team initially as a special teams contributor.
The Cowboys will likely have an early-round draft pick, Awuzie, Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis as their top four cornerbacks. Should they go with another corner like Bryant in the late rounds, the final spot at the position will likely come down to that selection and free agent signee Maurice Canady.
The NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 23 and runs through Saturday, April 25. Between now and then, the Cowboys will have a lot of decisions to make as they look to put together the roster that they hope will lead them back to the playoffs in 2020.
How would you feel if this mock ended up being the 2020 draft class for the Cowboys? Share your own draft predictions with Patrick on Twitter @PatSportsGuy.