It’s time to start putting together a draft board.
The 2019 NFL Draft is just a month away. Over the next four weeks, suspense will build around who we feel the team will take with their first draft selection – the 58th overall pick. This week, we went through the top four positions where the team has the biggest need and identified three potential candidates for their second-round pick.
On Monday, we looked at the safety position. On Tuesday, we examined defensive tackles. On Wednesday, we checked out edge rushers. And finally yesterday, we identified possible tight ends. Each position, we offered up a long-shot candidate (blue), a player that just might make it (green), and a player who stands a good chance of being available (yellow). As promised, we have now combined all these players together to create a mini-draft board. Here is our 12-player board for these four positions:
The long shots
The chance of one of these players being available at 58 is very slim. Noah Fant most likely won’t make it out of the first round and he could end up being the top tight end taken in the draft if he beats out his Iowa teammate, T.J. Hockenson. And his chance of making it to Day 2 just got worse with the recent news of Rob Gronkowski retiring. The New England Patriots pick at the end of the first round. How convenient.
A player like Taylor Rapp or Dexter Lawrence would be such a steal for the Cowboys should they fall. Both are star caliber players who could immediately fill a big position of need on the defense. While it’s easy to just scoff at the notion of these types of talents being available that late, crazy things happen in the draft and every year teams end up with great picks when players slide. Last year, Connor Williams was 28th on Dane Brugler’s 2018 board and he made it all the way to 50 when the Cowboys picked in the second round. That’s right in the same area where he has Rapp and Lawrence ranked so you never know if one of these guys will fall.
Edge rusher Jachai Polite has the greatest chance to fall. The talent is there, but there are some red flags with him and it could cause his draft stock to slide. If he’s available, there’s a reason for it and the team should proceed cautiously with their top selection of this year’s draft.
Hold your breath players
This is where things get interesting. All these players at this point are projected to go before the Cowboys pick, but it’s not unrealistic to think one of them slips through the cracks. I would be ecstatic if Irv Smith Jr. was still available as he’s one of the premium tight ends in this draft. A year working under Jason Witten would be fantastic and he has the talent to step in next year and play a big role in the offense. That being said, he’s more than likely going to be picked before 58.
Jerry Tillery is another player that has no business falling that far, but it’s a possibility. There are a lot of good defensive tackles in this draft and some really good ones will still be there on Day 2. This would be a great scenario for the Cowboys if the Notre Dame star defender was still on the board.
Jonathan Abram is considered one of the top safeties in the draft, however he’s a box safety and that could turn teams away. The Cowboys need talent at both free and strong safety, but if they got themselves a talented strong safety, they could just move Xavier Woods to free safety and push Jeff Heath to the bench.
D’Andre Walker is more of a 3-4 outside linebacker, but talent is talent. The team isn’t going to throw a blind eye at a good edge rusher just because he’s not a perfect fit. With the recent addition of Robert Quinn manning the right defensive end spot, the team has time to develop a talented pass rusher that offers upside.
Reasonable chance players
If the Cowboys don’t catch a break and get a player from these first two groups, then they’ll still have a good pool of players to choose from. Deionte Thompson could end up being a sneaky-good pick as he’s one of the top coverage corners coming out of the draft. It’s hard to say how the team will rank the top safeties in this draft, but Thompson has the talent to step in and be a starter. Just like the scenario with Rapp, Heath would be pushed to the bench only Woods would be playing the strong safety position if partnered with Thompson.
Jaylon Ferguson is the NCAA’s all-time sack leader and he would be an interesting option in the second round. Any rookie edge rusher will work behind Quinn and have time to learn his craft, but a player like Ferguson could be a nice piece for their future.
Dre’Mont Jones is another talented player that will be pushed down because of the deep class of defensive tackles. Somebody has got to fall and if the team selected Jones, they’d get a good player on the interior of their defensive line.
If the Cowboys were able to add Jace Sternberger, they would have their tight end upgrade. The talent of the Texas A&M star is enticing, but is it a bit of reach to go after him at 58? He could climb the ranks and possibly be off the board before the Cowboys have a shot at him and he’s definitely not going to make it to pick 90.
It just feels like a talented defensive tackle is going to be there when the Cowboys are up. All three on this list give reasons to be excited and when you combine that with how much the team needs help at that position – it’s a perfect fit. I’m going to split the difference and say Tillery falls. If that happens, Cowboys fans are going to be really happy and we can all talk about how this organization can still dominate the draft despite not having a first round pick. Who’s with me?