The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a rather disappointing 2017 season, but will look to reload in this year’s NFL Draft. Now that all the All-Star games have come and gone, the NFL Scouting Combine is over, and Pro-Days are beginning, I thought this would be a perfect time to bring you a Dallas Cowboys seven round mock draft.

A lot of the talk going around right now is the possibility of Dallas trading out of the 19th overall pick and moving back in the first round to land more draft capital. While I understand the reasoning, the Cowboys’ already own 10 draft picks in the 2018 Draft. If an offer comes in and blows them away, it’s obviously a no-brainer, but if I’m the Dallas front office I want to stand in there and make the pick.

Round 1, 19th Overall: Calvin Ridley, Alabama, Wide Receiver

The talk around Dallas is that Dez Bryant is either going to take a pay cut or he’ll be looking for a new home. The fact of the matter is, Dez Bryant at his current cap hit ($16.5 million in 2018) isn’t putting up the production that warrants that kind of money. But sitting here on March 11th, I think that Bryant and the Cowboys’ come to an agreement to lower his cap number. Bryant is a Dallas native and loves playing for the Cowboys. The problem comes in when we look at the rest of the wide receiver depth chart. Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Ryan Switzer, and Noah Brown all played roles on the active roster in 2017. All four of those receivers combined for 99 receptions, 956 yards, and 4 touchdowns. I don’t think it takes a genius to see that wide receiver is officially a problem in Big D. Calvin Ridley would do wonders for the wide receivers depth chart, third year quarterback Dak Prescott, and the Dallas Cowboys as an organization.

Ridley had a pretty “meh” combine, but has the best tape out of any receiver drafted in the last three draft classes. No, the stats don’t back that up, but that’s normally what happens when you have a quarterback who rushed 154 times, and three really good backs who combined for more than 300 carries in the 2017. Also, if you put more weight into what a guy runs/jumps in his underwear over his tape, then you should probably stop reading here and hit that “x” in the top corner of your screen.

Calvin Ridley is a polished route runner who gets open with ease using his short area quickness and speed to fly by opposing cornerbacks. Ridley is also extremely underrated after the catch, and creates a lot of his yards after the catch by his change of direction, speed, and twitchiness. Ridley would come in and instantly take over as the Cowboys’ “Z” receiver and would be a great compliment to Dez Bryant. With the addition of Ridley, the Cowboys would upgrade the WR2 position and go back to having one of the scariest offenses in the NFL.

Round 2, 50th Overall: Nathan Shepherd, Fort Hays State, Defensive Tackle

The Cowboys’ previous drafts show no signs of drafting smaller school players, but they’d be smart to change that in the case of Fort Hays State Nathan Shepherd. The hype train started picking up steam after a dominant two days of practice at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. But after an extremely impressive combine, the secret is out — Nathan Shepherd is a top defensive tackle in this draft class. Shepherd plays with great explosiveness, a tremendous amount of power, and surprising balance for his size. He also showed at the combine how fluid of an athlete and how powerful he is with his showing in the drills.

While taking a smaller school guy in Shepherd would go against their normal draft plans, his versatility is something defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli loves. Shepherd is probably best suited to play the three-technique in Dallas’ 4-3 scheme, but he has the strength to be productive at the one-technique as well. With the addition of Shepherd, Dallas can finally find a home for Maliek Collins, and allow David Irving to move around wherever Rod Marinelli sees fit, if he is tendered and retained by the Cowboys.

Round 3, 81st Overall: Rashaan Gaulden, Tennessee, Safety

Rashaan Gaulden is another guys whose combine was underwhelming, but his tape is just too good to ignore. Gaulden played all over the secondary at Tennessee, but in my opinion he played his best football when playing in the slot. While I think he could be a great nickel corner in the NFL, I think he could do more than that and play safety. Gaulden showed his range when playing corner in zone coverage at Tennessee along with his physicality to make plays in run support.

Gaulden isn’t a guy who is extremely athletic, but he’s one hell of a football player and brings an attitude and physicality to the position that the Cowboys desperately need if they are going to move Byron Jones to cornerback. With the addition of Gaulden, the Cowboys’ defense would have one of the best young secondaries in the league.

Round 4, 116th Overall: Alex Cappa, Humboldt State, Offensive Guard

Two small schoolers in one draft? YES. Alex Cappa played tackle at Humboldt State, but showed at the Senior Bowl that his home in the NFL may be at guard. Cappa lacks the elite athleticism and quick feet to hold up against quicker speed rushers in the NFL, but he’s an extremely good run blocker and has that nasty attitude that the rest of the Dallas’ offensive line plays with.

I personally think Cappa could start at LG immediately for Dallas, but it may not be a bad idea for the Cowboys to try and retain Jonathan Cooper and allow Cappa and Cooper to battle it out for the starting job in training camp and preseason. It’s also something to note, that Cappa’s experience at tackle could also allow Dallas to develop Cappa into a swing-tackle as well, if he doesn’t win the starting guard job.

Round 4, 137th Overall (Compensatory): Tegray Scales, Indiana, Linebacker

With Anthony Hitchens likely signing elsewhere in free agency, and the uncertainty surrounding Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee’s health, linebacker HAS to be addressed somewhere in this draft. Tegray Scales in the fourth seems like a perfect fit for both parties. Scales isn’t being talked about like some of the other mid-tier linebackers in this draft class, but he’s just as talented.

Scales is an undersized linebacker who could play any three of the linebacker positions in Dallas. Scales has incredible instincts and great sideline-to-sideline speed and motor that allows him to always be involved in the play. There’s no doubt in my mind that Scales could contribute at either spot right away, but if Smith proves he’s ready for the workload, and Lee stays healthy, Scales would be an upgrade over Damien Wilson at the SAM linebacker position, and would be a great special teams player as well. I really like the thought of Tegray Scales wearing a star on his helmet.

Round 5, 171st Overall (Compensatory): Jack Cichy, Wisconsin, Linebacker

Taking back-to-back linebackers may sound crazy, but in this case the Cowboys would be landing a second round talent based on his tape at Wisconsin. Jack Cichy is an interesting story. In his four years at Wisconsin, Cichy has only played in 20 games. He redshirted his 2014 season, and missed his entire 2017 season with a knee injury.

When on the field, Jack Cichy is instinctive, fast, powerful, and strong in coverage. Actually, Cichy reminds me a lot of what Sean Lee was coming out of Penn State in 2010. If you took away his injury concerns, Cichy would be a second round player on most team’s boards. Even with the injury history, I have Jack Cichy in my top 75. Using a compensatory fifth round pick is perfect for a guy who could potentially be a starting linebacker if he can stay healthy.

Round 5, 173rd Overall (Compensatory): Nyheim Hines, N.C. State, Running Back

The running back position is in excellent shape as long as Ezekiel Elliott is on the field, but as we saw last year, that isn’t something we can count on. With Alfred Morris set to hit free agency, Rod Smith will be the only other back on the Cowboys’ roster. Nyheim Hines would be bring a speed dynamic to the depth chart that they haven’t had in some time. Hines showed off his speed at the combine last weekend with a blazing 4.38 40 yard dash. Along with helping running the football, Hines can also catch the ball out of the backfield in certain situations. If all goes as planned, Hines won’t see the field very often, but he would be quality insurance and add some dynamic speed to the position for a change of pace style of back.

Round 6, 193rd Overall: Ade Aruna, Tulane, Defensive End

In the later rounds, a lot of these draft picks are spent on prospects who have the right kind of “traits”. Ade Aruna fits that narrative perfectly. Aruna is a very raw player who is still learning the technical aspect of the position. But he is extremely fast, extremely strong, and has the ideal measurements to be successful at the next level. Aruna weighed in at 6-foot-6, 262 lbs, and ran a 4.6 40 yard dash at the combine — so he fits the size prototype that Dallas loves. He also offers some versatility in his ability to rush from the interior in certain situations. Aruna probably isn’t ready to contribute early on, but he has a high ceiling and has developmental traits that the Cowboys’ front office will fall in love with.

Round 6, 208th Overall (Compensatory): Avonte Maddox, Pittsburgh, Cornerback

With Orlando Scandrick likely to be playing elsewhere in 2018, the Dallas Cowboys will need to add another nickel cornerback to the roster to add some depth behind Jourdan Lewis. Avonte Maddox is just the guy for the job. Maddox is an extremely physical slot cornerback who is great in coverage and can make plenty of plays in run support as well. While he is undersized at 5-foot-9, 180 lbs, Maddox’s physicality and coverage ability flies off the tape. After a great showing at the East-West Shrine Game along with an impressive showing at the combine, Maddox is starting to fly up draft boards. He’d be a nice addition to the young secondary and could help out as a kick returner as well.

Round 7, 236th Overall: Tyler Conklin, Central Michigan, Tight End

With Jason Witten returning for year 200, I think it’s silly to spend a top 100 pick on a player who will rarely see the field. But drafting a guy like Tyler Conklin — another “traits” guy — would be of great value for the Dallas Cowboys. Conklin is intriguing; he has the size, the speed, and is a very good receiver. Conklin needs to develop as a blocker, but is willing and isn’t completely lost. He would be a player who can make plays down the field as a tight end and take over for James Hanna, who will likely be released before the start of the 2018 season. The Cowboys coaching staff has no interest in replacing Jason Witten right now, so upgrading the TE2 position may be the smartest move for now.

Let me know what you think of the Cowboys’ haul below and what you would do different. Tried my best to keep this as realistic as possible. The 2018 NFL Draft is about a month and a half away, it’ll be here before you know it. Hope this gives you a decent idea of some of the players and positions the Dallas Cowboys will be looking at.

 

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.