Evan Silva (@EvanSilva) is the Senior Football Editor for Rotoworld's NFL Page, and Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) leads Rotoworld's college football and NFL draft coverage. Together, they're breaking down every team's biggest needs and offering potential draft-day solutions.
For a breakdown on every team, check out the team-by-team draft preview schedule.
Cowboys Team Need No. 1: Defensive Line
Retaining LE DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag) and DT David Irving (second-round tender) were necessary moves. Dallas’ defense still has a depth problem up front, especially on the interior. Lawrence and Irving are both in contract years, and there isn’t a true weak-side edge rusher on the roster.
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Cowboys Team Need No. 2: Defensive Back
The Cowboys are brimming with youthful potential in the secondary but no locked-in building blocks beyond sophomore RCB Jourdan Lewis, who looks like a hit from last year’s third round. Up-and-down 2016 first-round pick Byron Jones is expected to move to corner, creating a void at safety.
Cowboys Team Need No. 3: Pass Catcher
Linebacker is arguably just as big a need as any position on Dallas’ to-do list. The Cowboys are believed to be interested in a new middle linebacker, moving Jaylon Smith to Sam. I went with pass catcher here because Cole Beasley’s future with the team seems bleak, and neither Allen Hurns nor Deonte Thompson offers a reliable deep threat. The Cowboys’ 2017 pass catchers couldn’t beat man coverage, a flaw exposed especially glaringly during Ezekiel Elliott and LT Tyron Smith’s multi-game absences. A pass-catching upgrade could also come at tight end, where Jason Witten is on his last legs.
Norris’ Mock Draft
Round 1 (19): LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State - I know it wasn’t a top three need that Evan highlighted, but linebacker is a major void. The team just lost their most consistent player (from a health standpoint) at the position. Vander Esch offers uncommon size at the position and tested like the most athletic linebacker at the NFL Combine. There’s still plenty to work on, but the skills are there to be turned into consistent talent.
Round 2 (50): DT Harrison Phillips, Stanford - I know Rod Marinelli wants to feature upfield interior linemen. From a production standpoint Phillips fits (27 tackles for loss over the last two years). While I don’t think that is the foundation of his game, I’m not naive enough to believe others will feel the same. The true upfield disruptors likely will be drafted in the first round.
Round 3 (81): EDGE Arden Key, LSU - The Cowboys have been known to take risks at the edge position. I think Key is destined for a round three selection, if not later. Thus far he has not answered questions or slowed concerns that sidetracked his 2017 season. It is difficult to find third-round plus pass rushers with perceived upside, so Key is likely worthy of this pick.
Round 4 (116): S Tarvarius Moore, Southern Miss - I’m a big fan of Xavier Woods and think he’ll sustain starting caliber play. Moreover, Moore is one of the more talented players at the position I’ve seen in this class. I have a feeling we are catching up on him on the outside, but he has fans inside the NFL.
Round 4 (137): WR Antonio Callaway, Florida - I reported the other day that Callaway would be visiting the Cowboys. It makes too much sense. Callaway is widely viewed as a very good talent, but he needs one team to give him a chance after multiple speed bumps in college.
Round 5 (171): DL Deadrin Senat, USF - Players like Senat are difficult to gauge. I think he is a top 100 talent, but he also presents an undersized frame. Some teams care, some teams won’t. Either way, he offers upfield disruption from multiple interior alignments.
Round 6 (192): OL Cole Madison, Washington State - An offensive lineman who can fill a utility role at tackle and guard.
Round 6 (208): TE Marcus Baugh, Ohio State - I’m a big believer in Rico Gathers, but a concussion kept him out of 2017. Baugh possibly could add depth to the position. It wouldn't be surprising to see the Cowboys attack the position earlier in the draft.
Round 7 (236): WR Robert Foster, Alabama - Foster might be this year’s Noah brown. Big school, athletic and limited production.