Cowboys mock draft 2019: Predicting picks, NFL Draft plan, sleepers for Dallas
With only six total picks, the Cowboys do not have much work to do in the 2019 NFL Draft. They will need to compensate for that limited quantity with great quality in their selections.Dallas essentially made Amari Cooper its first-round selection when it traded for the wide receiver last season. That move addressed the Cowboys’ biggest potential need in the draft, and they also are coming off a year in which they nailed their first-round pick, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Final thoughts:Jones does not get enough credit for being a strong talent evaluator in his own right to compliment his willingness to lean on a good scouting staff. The Cowboys have had five solid drafts in a row. Where he gets in trouble sometimes is taking too many risks with boom-or-bust talent after Round 1, some related to injuries or off-field issues. He tends to be well-tuned to his team needs, and lately, there haven’t been too many reaches.Should the Cowboys stick with a defense-heavy draft like their hauls in 2017, 2016 or 2015 in relation to what they need most now, they will be positioned to land at least three key rookie contributors. So what might Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett do starting in the middle of Day 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft? Here we lay out the Cowboys’ draft blueprint in more detail.SN’s NFL DRAFT HQ:Iyer’s mock draft | Live pick tracker | TV scheduleCowboys NFL Draft picksRoundPickSecondNo. 58ThirdNo. 90FourthNo. 128FourthNo. 136 (compensatory)FifthNo. 165SeventhNo. 241Cowboys’ NFL Draft team needsDefensive line: Tackle is the biggest hole. Tyrone Crawford has been productive, but he is entering his age-30 season and is in line for a suspension after an off-field incident. Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins leave the position rather weak in the wake of David Irving’s retirement. At end, the team locked up Demarcus Lawrence, still has 2017 first-rounder Taco Charlton on the other side and traded for Robert Quinn. But there’s not much depth and limited pass-rush punch after Lawrence.Defensive back: The Cowboys didn’t do much to tap into the free-agent safety market, with only the more backup-level signing of George Iloka. They might think safety first, but they also need to find some subpackage help in the secondary.Outside linebacker: Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith will be together for a while as second-level studs, but Sean Lee is 32 and will see a fading role on a one-year restructured deal. With Damien Wilson gone, they need someone who can play the pass on the strong side.Wide receiver: Cooper and second-year man Michael Gallup will start outside, with free-agent addition Randall Cobb replacing free-agent departure Cole Beasley in the slot. But the Cowboys could add depth in the form of a speedy deep threat for the outside.Tight end: Jason Witten is back, but he essentially replaces Geoff Swaim, with neither Blake Jarwin nor Dalton Schultz looking like a long-term answer at the position.Running back: The Cowboys need a capable backup behind Ezekiel Elliott after not re-signing Rod Smith.Cowboys mock draft 2019Second-round plan:No. 58: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, FloridaThis would be a great pick for Dallas in the second round, when several safeties should be coming off the board. The pick would be much like Houston getting Justin Reid in the third round last year — an immediate steal of a starter.Gardner-Johnson, at 5-11, 210 pounds, has ideal size for the position and is athletic enough to cause problems for both tight ends and slot receivers in coverage. He also is a good help defender downfield. He closes on the ball well, and his natural ball skills will fill a void for the Cowboys.MORE: Full NFL mock draft for 2019Second-guessing that plan:Given Gardner-Johnson’s recent rise, there’s a chance he might not last until that pick. In order, the best backup plans for safety are Alabama’s Deionte Thompson and Virginia’s Juan Thornhill. If all three are gone, then Maryland speedster Darnell Savage could also work in a defense to complement track star Byron Jones.The other position to which the Cowboys must pay attention early in the draft is defensive tackle. Should either Notre Dame’s Jerry Tillery or Ohio State’s Dre’Mont Jones last until their pick, they might need to go for some interior pass-rush upside built for their base 4-3.The biggest offensive temptation would be Ohio State’s Parris Campbell, the fastest wide receiver the class, to give the Cowboys some big-play ability for Dak Prescott. Don’t be surprised if …… the Cowboys trade down from No. 58 for more volume. Although that pick the sweet spot to address safety, Dallas sliding down in the round for an extra Day 3 pick and addressing the position a little later with Iowa’s Amani Hooker or Miami’s Jaquan Johnson could also be a smart play.The Cowboys have gotten used to operating with nine total picks, which has been the case for three consecutive drafts. The last time Dallas had only six picks, in 2010, it was able to land Dez Bryant in Round 1 and Sean Lee in Round 2. This year, however, is a bit different with no top-50 pick.Rest of Day 2 plan:If the Cowboys need to pass on safety in the second round, either Hooker or Johnson should be available at No. 90. But in the more likely event that they land neither Tillery nor Jones, then there are two 4-3 defensive linemen to consider in the third round.Both of them are natural ends from in-state schools: TCU’s L.J. Collier and Texas’ Charles Omenihu. Collier (6-2, 283 pounds) relies on power and toughness to disrupt plays in the backfield. Omenihu can hold up as a strong rotational lineman (6-5, 280 pounds) while he refines his pass-rush skills.The Cowboys also can’t forget about running back before Day 3, as two players from a neighboring state standing out: Oklahoma’s Rodney Anderson and Oklahoma State’s Justice Hill. Anderson (6-0, 224 pounds) has an interesting combination of downfield thumping and open-field elusiveness. Hill (5-10, 198 pounds) is a scrappy, relentless back who pushes to find every extra crease and yard. Either would make for high-end insurance for Elliott.Day 3 sleeper:Cameron Smith, LB, USCThere are plenty of strong run-stopping linebackers to consider in this draft, but the Cowboys can focus more on a complementary player to Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith. Cameron Smith does not fly around as well as faster players at the position, but his experience and instincts help him compensate, especially against the pass. He reads the field well and is assignment-sound to the point where he is just as comfortable in the open field as he is in tight quarters. Smith would round out one of the NFL’s best second-level defensive units.MORE: Can you name the Cowboys’s worst-ever NFL Draft pick?