- The 2020 NFL Draft is set to begin on Thursday, April 23.
- The Dallas Cowboys are one intriguing team to watch on draft day, holding the 17th overall pick in the first round.
- We analysed 11 mock drafts to get a sense of what experts expect from the Cowboys front office on Thursday night.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The first round of the 2020 NFL Draft will take place on Thursday, April 23.
Barring a trade, the Dallas Cowboys will make the 17th selection of the night, but who they draft will remain a mystery until Roger Goodell reads a name.
We analysed the mock drafts of 11 experts – Mel Kiper Jr. at ESPN,Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso at CBS Sports,Chad Reuter, Peter Schrager, Bucky Brooks, and Rhett Lewis at NFL.com,Danny Kelly at The Ringer,Dane Brugler at The Athletic,Peter King at NBC Sports, and Walter Football – to see if we could find any consensus on how the Cowboys might play the first round of the draft.
What we found was some consensus – all 11 experts had the Cowboys taking a defensive player in the first round – but as to which player it will be, they were split between a few SEC standouts from the 2019 college football season.
Option 1: K’Lavon Chaisson, Edge (LSU)
Why it could happen: The Cowboys defence is losing quite a few players heading into the 2020 season, with the departures of regular starters Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, and Jeff Heath in the offseason. Chaisson’s skillset makes him a fine choice for a team that might ask him to move around a bit wherever needed.
Key expert quote: From Kelly: “Chaisson brings schematic versatility, with the ability to play either standing up or with his hand in the dirt, but is relatively raw as a pass rusher, having played the position just two seasons in high school and two seasons in college. He has a lightning-quick first step, Gumby-like flexibility, and a nonstop motor, but there are times when his pass rush plan lacks nuance and he relies on his speed to run past tackles, knife back inside, or try to bull-rush straight into the pocket.”
Option 2: Xavier McKinney, S (Alabama)
Why it could happen: Both Kiper and King have the Atlanta Falcons taking K’Lavon Chaisson one spot ahead of the Cowboys on Thursday night, meaning he’d be off the board when it’s time for Dallas to make their pick. That said, McKinney is far more than a backup plan – he’s a pro-ready safety that could help immediately fill out the Dallas defence.
Key expert quote: From King: “Trading down low into the round, or even high into round two, and taking Michigan centre Cesar Ruiz as a long-term replacement for the retired Travis Frederick wouldn’t surprise me. But there’s a big hole at safety that must be filled, and McKinney’s the top safety on most boards (apologies, Grant Delpit). McKinney is a sure tackler, proficient in coverage and a very smart player. He’s the type of back-end player who could be the leader of a needy secondary for five or six years.”
Option 3: CJ Henderson, CB (Florida)
Experts who have him going to the Cowboys: 1 of 11 – Rhett Lewis, NFL.com
Why it could happen: All 10 other experts had Henderson off the board by the time the Cowboys get to make their pick, with six of them predicting he lands with the Jaguars as the 10th overall selection. If he falls to the Cowboys at No. 17, he’d be something of a steal.
Key expert quote: From Lewis: “With Chaisson off the board, the Cowboys choose to pass on the third-best edge rusher in favour of the second-best CB. Henderson helps ease the loss of Byron Jones in free agency.”
Option 4: Javon Kinlaw, DL (South Carolina)
Experts who have him going to the Cowboys: 1 of 11 – Chad Reuter, NFL.com
Why it could happen: Should the Cowboys decide they’d prefer to sure up their defensive front before their secondary – a need that could possibly be addressed in later rounds – taking a potential game-breaking pass-rusher in Kinlaw here could prove their best move.
Key expert quote: From Reuter: “There are always one or two teams that use a first-round pick on a player they simply like a lot — even if he doesn’t address a glaring need. Tyrone Crawford’s future with the Cowboys is up in the air a bit due to his price tag (Dallas could save $US8 million against the cap by releasing him) and recent injury (had season-ending hip surgery in October), so could the Cowboys shift Gerald McCoy outside to play next to Kinlaw and Dontari Poe? I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Option 5: Trevon Diggs, CB (Alabama)
Experts who have him going to the Cowboys: 1 of 11 – Dane Brugler, The Athletic
Why it could happen: With both Chaisson and Henderson already claimed in Brugler’s mock draft by the time Dallas makes their pick, the Cowboys could favour Diggs over McKinney as their favourite player from the Alabama secondary.
Key expert quote: From Brugler: “The Falcons break the Cowboys heart because Chaisson is who Dallas wants. And with their top two options (Chaisson, Henderson) off the board, I think the Cowboys’ focus might shift to the Alabama secondary where Diggs or Xavier McKinney make sense.”
Option 6: Kristian Fulton, CB (LSU)
Experts who have him going to the Cowboys: 1 of 11 – Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports
Why it could happen: Trapasso has the Cowboys trading down out of the 17th selection in a move that gives them the Vikings 22nd overall pick along with some extra draft capital. Given how many mock drafts have Dallas just missing out on their top potential picks such as Chaisson and Henderson, maybe the Cowboys decide that the top defensive player left on their board will still be available later on in the first round, opening up the opportunity to move down for extra picks.
Key expert quote: From Trapasso: “After sliding back a few spots, the Cowboys get a super-clean corner prospect in Fulton to immediately step in for Byron Jones.”
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