With the release of Dez Bryant, retirement of James Hanna, and the 2018 NFL Draft just a few days away, it looks like the Dallas Cowboys roster won’t look much different on draft day than it does right now on Monday, April 23rd, 2018.

By now, if you consider yourself a Cowboys’ fan you should know most of what the Cowboys needs are entering draft weekend, just in case you don’t I’ll list them below in no particular order:

  1. Linebacker
  2. Wide Receiver
  3. Offensive Guard
  4. Safety
  5. Cornerback

That may seem like a lot, but actually most, if not all of these positions have decent talent all throughout the draft. Enough talking, this will be my final Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft for the 2018 season. In this exercise, I’m going to give two selections at each pick – 1) what I think they will do on draft from what I’m hearing from team sources, and guys around the league, and 2) I’ll give what I would do if I were running the draft for the team. Now sit back and relax and let’s draft.

Round 1, 19th Overall

What the pick will be: Boise State – LB – Leighton Vander Esch

I personally would not be a fan of this pick at all, but I know for a fact that the Cowboys LOVE Leighton Vander Esch. A lot of people take my opinion on what I think of this pick and assume I hate LVE as a player, but that isn’t the case at all. Vander Esch can be an average to above average starting linebacker in the NFL, but he is extremely raw as it stands. LVE uses his elite athletic traits to make plays in coverage and sideline to sideline. Where Vander Esch struggles is as a blitzer, disengaging from blocks, and can play with bad pad and eye level when attacking running backs/blockers in the gap.

What I would do: Alabama – WR – Calvin Ridley

Last year we saw how incompetent this offensive could be without a great offensive line and no real threat of a running game. Drafting Calvin Ridley would not only give the Cowboys’ a long term option as a great “Z” receiver, but it would also take pressure off of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and the offensive line. Calvin Ridley is the best route runner in this draft class in all three levels of the field. Ridley uses his twitched up lower half, eye and headset discipline, and short area quickness to create separation off the line of scrimmage and at the top of his route. Calvin Ridley is the weapon this offense needs in order to have success in 2018.

Round 2, 36 Overall (Trade with Indianapolis Colts)

The Cowboys trade picks 50, pick 116, and pick 137, and next years fourth round pick to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for pick 36.

What the pick will be: SMU – WR – Courtland Sutton

If Leighton Vander Esch is the Cowboys front office true love, Courtland Sutton is a close runner up. Sutton reminds the front office of a younger, less of a headache Dez Bryant and they love that style of receiver. While the SMU WR does have great physical traits, and tested better than most expected, he lacks the ideal route tree, and twitched up lower half to create consistent separation at SMU and definitely in the NFL. Again, this is another pick I’m not a huge fan of this pick, but I know the team really likes the player.

Round 2, 40th Overall (Trade with Denver Broncos)

What I would do: Arkansas – OG – Frank Ragnow 

Trade picks 50, 116, and 137 to the Denver Broncos in exchange for pick 40.

The Cowboys desperately need to sew up the gaping hole at left guard on their offensive line. They can do that by drafting one of the best interior offensive lineman in this draft class. Frank Ragnow out of Arkansas is a mean, athletic, strong interior guy who plays with great technique and is an excellent finisher. Ragnow plays till the echo of the whistle and is great in both blocking and pass blocking. Frank Ragnow brings a blue collar attitude as well as never allowing a sack in his four year career at Arkansas. We also know that Jerry Jones has a soft spot for Arkansas guys, Ragnow would be a great one to get.

Round 3, 81st Overall

What the pick will be: Washington State – OG – Cole Madison

I don’t think the Cowboys value the left guard position as much as most fans do. They only brought in a few interior lineman for official pre-draft visits and Cole Madison was one of them. Madison played right tackle at Washington State, but a move inside would be beneficial to combat his lack of ideal length and athletic ability on the edge. Cole Madison is rough around the edges, but does play with good play strength and does a nice job of blocking in the second level. This isn’t a flashy pick by any means, but may be my favorite out of the first three selections.

What I would do: Southern Mississippi – FS – Tarvarius Moore 

In my opinion the Cowboys don’t have a true free safety on the roster. Xavier Woods is the closest thing they have, but in his rookie season Rod Marinelli primarily used him as a nickel cornerback and strong safety. Unless, they decide to completely change Woods’ role on defense, they will be looking to draft a free safety. Tarvarius Moore would be a great guy to grab late on day two. Moore plays with nice range, instincts, and has elite athletic ability roaming the back end of the secondary. After logging a 4.32 40, 38.5″ vertical, and 133″ broad jump at his pro-day, Moore is gaining late steam heading into draft weekend. Moore may need a year to develop, but getting a guy with his length and athletic traits paired up with Kris Richard would be a match made in heaven.

 

Round 5, 171st Overall

What the pick will be: Delaware – DT – Bilal Nichols

We know that this front office doesn’t value the one-technique position early, but drafting one on day three would be a smart move by the Dallas Cowboys. Bilal Nichols is a big buy at 6-foot-4 310lbs. Nichols plays with great strength at the point of attack, as well as great pad level. Nichols lower and upper body strength allows him to anchor when defending the run, but he also has the athletic ability and explosiveness to offer some juice as a pass rusher from the nose. For his size, Nichols plays with a ton of effort and can be a force against the run. He also has some of the three-technique versatility that Rod Marinelli loves from his rushmen.

What I would do: Same

Round 6, 192nd Overall

What the pick will be: Southern Mississippi – RB – Ito Smith

This team has talked all off-season about adding a third down back to the roster who can also be a rotational runner as well. Southern Mississippi’s RB Ito Smith is just that. Smith is undersized which will limit him to how many carries he can receive, but he can be a really nice receiver on third downs, and in special packages. Smith has great speed, good elusiveness in the open field, and run with some power as well. Ito Smith really impressed in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, and I know the Cowboys really like him as a day three pick.

What I would do: Same

Round 6, 193rd Overall

What the pick will be: West Georgia – OT – Desmond Harrison

One of the mysteries of this years draft class is where West Georgia tackle Desmond Harrison will go in the draft. Harrison who once started at JUCO, but eventually transferred to University of Texas was suspended from the team after just one season. Harrison is an older prospect with some serious off the field concerns, but has elite size and athletic traits. Desmond Harrison had some really dominate tape at West Georgia, but the lack of competition, and the questions regarding his off the field could push him down to late day three, If he’s around when the Cowboys are on the clock in the sixth, Will McClay will run his card to the podium.


What I would do: Tulane – EDGE – Ade Aruna

We’re starting to hear some whispers that Randy Gregory may be back for the 2018 season if all goes as planned. Even with the addition of #94, adding a player like Ade Aruna would be a smart move. Aruna has ideal size and length at 6-foot-5 262lbs with 34″ arms. Aruna played up and down the line at Tulane, but will scheme as a defensive end in Dallas’ 4-3 scheme. The former Tulane rusher had a dominant combine, and has some really nice tape. If he can develop some counter moves, and learn how to use his length and explosiveness better he could be a nice addition to this defensive line rotation.


Round 6, 208th Overall

What the pick will be: Nebraska – CB – Chris Jones

The Cowboys have showed some interest in Nebraska CB Chris Jones so far in this pre-draft process. Jones has good size, ideal length, and proved to have really nice ball skills playing as a boundary CB at Nebraska. If not for a torn meniscus in 2017 that held him out for almost the whole season, Jones would have been a mid round option due to his measurables and ball skills. For a late day three selection, I really like Chris Jones’ potential to compete with Marquez White for a bottom of the depth chart spot.


What I would do: Alabama – LB – Shaun Dion Hamilton

The knee injuries that Shaun Dion Hamilton have had to overcome over the last few years will weigh heavily on how teams view him as a player. Some teams will likely have SDH off their board completely, some will have him as a late round option. When healthy, Hamilton was one of the best iLB in the Nation at Alabama. He possess great quickness, instincts, and can play in coverage just as well as playing the run. With the durability concerns I really could see Shaun Dion Hamilton hanging around this late, I think it’d be smart move for the Cowboys to invest in the former Crimson Tide linebacker and allow him to develop slowly behind Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, and Damien Wilson.

Round 7, 236th Overall

What the pick will be: N.C. State – DL – Kentavius Street 

Before tearing his ACL in a private workout just a few months ago, Street was looked at to be one of the mid round steals in this draft due to his athletic profile and high ceiling investment. Now likely needing a redshirt year, Kentavius Street will likely be pushed way down the board. With the amount of bodies the Cowboys currently have on the DL, adding a guy with Street’s potential to likely be an IR candidate would be worth the draft pick. While it’s almost certain he wouldn’t make a impact in year one, he could be a sleeper candidate to earn a starting job in 209.

What I would do: San Jose State – LB – Frank Ginda

Normally after the fifth round, you start to draft players who either are elite athletes, had insane production in school, or have elite measurables. Frank Ginda is very familiar with the word production. After leading all of college football in tackles (173) last season, Ginda decided to leave school early to head for the NFL. Ginda is a bigger iLB that plays his best football when coming down hill to plug the run. He has very good size, and plays with a good instinctive awareness. While he is limited athletically he makes up for that with a great motor, and one of the toughest players on the field. Frank Ginda isn’t a sexy pick here in the seventh, but he’s one who will come in and give you everything he’s got to make an impact on special teams and on defense.

Hope you enjoyed! The draft is just a few days away, let me know in the comments below what you hope the Dallas Cowboys do in the 2018 NFL Draft!

 

 

About The Author Connor Livesay

Connor Livesay is a highly sport intelligent NFL Draft analyst. Gaining his passion for football through being a lifelong fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Connor's passion lies in who the high potential players are and where they'll work best. Whether it's the NFL Draft or the Cowboys, Connor provides educated insight about the sport he loves.