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DraftNerds: 2024 Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft

Do the Cowboys dip into the draft to fill the running back position? Is a Left Tackle in the cards for the 'Boys? @MonCalFF takes a look.

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. A large portion of the dynasty off-season will be spent discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft. It is easy for us to fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver, but a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to ProFootballFocus. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned and are not included in this exercise.

2023 Season Recap

The Cowboys 2023 season started unusually. It was dominated by unexpected game scripts, leading to several head-scratching fantasy results. Box scores betrayed offensive fantasy output, as DaRon Bland broke records with five pick-sixes through the first eleven weeks. By the middle of the season, a narrative had formed that the Cowboys could beat up on sub-.500 teams but couldn’t hold up against teams with winning records.

Adjustments were made during their bye week, and the results paid off, resulting in a tale of two seasons for their fantasy production through the air. The splits are below.

The schedule certainly played a role, but the split is undeniable, and if you held strong with their passing weapons through those first six weeks, you were rewarded with a big payout. The needle didn’t move for Tony Pollard as the run game struggled through the season. Their defense was flukey, sometimes holding high-flying opponents to a single touchdown while still giving up 30+ points several times throughout the year. The season’s disappointment was punctuated by an embarrassing loss to the Packers in the playoffs, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn. And on that note, let’s discuss the players who have since moved on.

Here are the starters they’ve lost this offseason.

  • Tyron Smith, Left Tackle
  • Tony Pollard, Running Back
  • Tyler Biadasz, Center
  • Johnathan Hankins, Defensive Tackle
  • Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker
  • Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver

The Cowboys cut Michael Gallup and Leighton Vander Esch (who was forced into retirement due to a neck injury), but the rest left in free agency. This leaves the Cowboys with several holes to fill with just seven picks. 

1.24 Amarius Mims, OT Georgia

Amarius Mims is a mountain of a man with speed not often seen in someone his size. Even amongst other NFL prospects, he stands out both physically and athletically. At the combine, Mims measured 6’7 ¾” tall and weighed 340 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.07 seconds, which grades high for offensive tackles and especially fast for his size.

His biggest knock is that he’s inexperienced, having started only eight games at right tackle for Georgia. That means he’s raw, but the Cowboys are in a unique position where they may be able to accommodate him, especially if they decide to try him at left tackle.

The Cowboys longtime starting LT Tyron Smith spent most of 2022 on injured reserve. In his place, Tyler Smith stepped up and put up a solid rookie year. In 2023, Tyler moved to left guard and had a Pro Bowl year. While I’m sure the Cowboys would prefer to keep him at guard, he could shift to the outside if Mims were deemed not ready by the start of the season.

Amarius’ pass protection is good in large part due to his size, which allows him to bully most would-be rushers. He’s quick to detach and re-engage second threats, and while his hands and footwork could use improvement, there is no indication that he’s reached his ceiling yet. A gambit on a player with these tools could result in the Cowboys getting an astounding value at a premium position.

2.56 Edgerrin Cooper, LB Texas A&M

Edgerrin Cooper, out of Texas A&M, was the first player designated as one of the Cowboys’ top 30, and when you look at his film, you can see why. At 6’2” and 230 LB, he’s one of the lighter linebackers of this class. On the other side, he has an impressive 80.25” wingspan and ran a blazing 4.51 40-yard dash. On tape, you regularly see him patiently wait for plays to develop before quickly darting through the line to wrap up rushers before they can shift outside.

While he had little involvement during the 2020 season, in 2021, he hit the ground running and continued to grow year after year. In his senior year, he tallied an impressive 17 tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles.

If there’s one weakness, it’s that he hasn’t been asked to drop into coverage. That isn’t to say he isn’t capable. He certainly has the speed for it, but it will take time for those skills to develop. Regardless, he’s a day-one starter at either Mike or Will linebacker. One note, though, is that the Cowboys just signed Eric Kendricks and seemingly promised him the Mike role.

While this class lacks any blue chip IDP prospects, Cooper is very high on my list as he should have a solid amount of tackles any given week with TFL and sack upside often, especially if he’s playing opposite someone like Micah Parsons.

For more on Cooper check out his IDP rookie profile. 

3.87 Mason McCormick, IOL South Dakota State

This pick complements the Amarius Mims selection. With their starting LT and Center leaving and likely needing an upgrade at RT, there’s a lot up in the air, but regardless of how those pieces land, Mason McCormick could slot in and contribute.

Mason McCormick shattered any questions on that front during the Shrine Bowl and then again at the combine. At Shrine, coaches had him play center for a day. He picked up snapping the ball quickly and already had experience calling coverages in college. You can likely see where I (and the NFL) are going with this.

The Cowboys could draft him to be their center, with the idea that they could slot him in at guard if needed. But there’s more than just his versatility. In fact, there’s one very key metric to call out.

Mason McCormick ran a 4.45 shuttle. This isn’t prophecy, but that outlandishly high hit rate indicates some correlation. Perhaps it’s representative of other athletic traits of those individuals, which Mason also has in droves. He scored a 9.97 RAS, making him the most athletic guard in the class. But what happens if we run him as a center?

That’s right; he becomes a 10/10. Now, there are other centers in the draft who might be more experienced at the position, but none with his athleticism or versatility. Even if he fell short of being a starter, finding a backup who can play any IOL spot is a nice consolation prize.

5.134 Isaac Guerendo, RB Louisville

With Tony Pollard signing to the Titans, the Cowboys running back room is rather sparse. While they have been tied to Jonathan Brooks, he’s expected to go near the end of the second round. I don’t think they can afford to spend that kind of capital on a running back.

Some vague rumors exist of Ezekiel Elliott returning for an encore with Dallas. He hasn’t fallen off entirely but he’s 29 and two years removed from his last 1000-rushing-yard season. There are a few other running backs still on the market. If not a higher-end guy, they’ll almost certainly pick up a few depth guys. That said, they could do well with drafting a guy like Guerendo.

Guerendo spent four years at Wisconsin, where his workload was rather small. That is understandable, considering he played behind Jonathan Taylor and Braelon Allen. In his fifth year, he transferred to Louisville, where he managed to put up over 1000 scrimmage yards for the first time. A one-year wonder who didn’t break out until his fifth year is undoubtedly a risk, but we are still seeing the secondary effects of COVID-19 rules, and this kind of production is a little more forgiving because of it.

On film, he looks like a typical “ground and pound” back but is fluid when it comes to receiving. He lacks the ability to stop and start quickly, but once in space, he’s able to pull away from defenders. He’s also not afraid of contact and has the size and speed to make lighter defensive backs think twice.

Thankfully, at 6’0 and 221 pounds, he can take those hits and get back up. While he wasn’t asked to catch all that often, he racked up 22 receptions. Big-bodied running backs who can catch are a weakness of mine. They tend to have a solid floor and an incredible potential upside. In the fifth, it’s unlikely he’ll be a long-term bellcow, but he could certainly make a fantasy impact.

6.216 Ryan Watts, CB Texas

The Cowboys re-signed Jourdan Lewis, alleviating their immediate need for a cornerback, and could still potentially re-sign Stephon Gilmore. That said, round six is all about taking shots, and the Cowboys often have intimate knowledge about Texas players.

Watts is a bigger corner who specializes in perimeter zone defense. Having Watts there would allow the Cowboys to shift DaRon Bland inside more often. If they’d prefer, they could also use Watts as a free safety. For IPD, he’s nothing more than someone to keep on your radar as a potential streamer should the opportunity arise. That said, if you’re targeting a DB in this defense, it will be DaRon Bland.

7.233 Gabe Hall, DL Baylor

Gabe Hall is exceptionally strong and has a very good arm length. While I’m mocking him here based on PFF’s draft rankings, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him go significantly higher. He’s light and explosive but does have some stamina concerns. His technique is inconsistent, with some being quite rough and others being league-ready. It may just be a matter of the proper coaching and reps to get him into a well-rounded player.

7.244 DeVaughn Vele, WR Pittsburgh

The Cowboys have a thing for late-round and UDFA wide receivers who are tall with a large wingspan. Most often, they don’t work out, but they seem to like taking shots on them regardless. At 6’4” and 205 pounds with a 79.375” wingspan, he’s the most obvious choice for their type. As an added bonus, he’s had some success returning punts. With late-round fliers, that’s a bonus as it’s a good way for them to earn time on the field. He’s not worth rostering unless your league has absurdly deep benches.

So there you have it—maybe not many new fantasy weapons, but much-needed reinforcement for existing ones. Hopefully, the Cowboys will be able to keep Dak clean long enough to feed Lamb, Cooks, and maybe even Jake Ferguson. It will be interesting to see what they do at running back. If they decide to draft a rookie and not reinforce their depth, we could see massive spending on draft day.

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