Round 1: Preston Smith, defensive end, Mississippi State
In my pre-free agency mock, I also went with Smith at this pick. Based on how the draft simulated up until this spot, he was once again the best selection. Smith is a lengthy specimen at nearly 6-foot-5 and has the size to set the edge at 271. He is a tradional DE in an even-man front like the one that Rod Marinelli runs with the Cowboys. He racked up 134 tackles, 27 TFL and 16 sacks and created seven turnovers over his collegiate career. Smith has unique flexibility for his size and reminds me of Patriots edge defender and former first-round pick Chandler Jones. Jones shot up draft boards up multiple rounds from his original projection, and I can't see Smith getting out round one. Marinelli can use him as a DE or a DT in passing down situations. He offers that kind of versatility.
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Round 2: P.J. Williams, cornerback, Florida State
The pre-draft process has not been kind to Williams. First, he clocked a 4.57 40-time at the combine. Some question if this lack of straight-line speed will hold back from becoming a starting CB at the NFL level. Then, more recently, he was arrested for a DUI. However, his game tape will make you forget about his 40 time. Williams is a smooth and fluid athlete and he has the size — 6 feet, 196 pounds — and prior success to play press-man coverage out on an island. Draft analyst Lance Zierlein believes he can become the best CB in the class. Sterling Moore is gone, and the Cowboys are thin at CB. Their starters have struggled also — Morris Claiborne is an injury risk and Carr gets burned more than he should. The Cowboys skipped over it in free agency, but will address CB in the draft.
Gary A. Vasquez
Round 3: David Cobb, running back, Minnesota
In what is the deepest RB class in several seasons, the Cowboys can wait until round three and find a major talent. Cobb is one of those backs who won't get the credit he deserves due to his lack of straight-line speed, but he profiles like one of those backs that stick in the NFL. Cobb is a smooth runner who can make guys miss, create yards after contact and catch the ball out of the backfield. Cobb also has the size — 229 pounds — to become a plus pass blocker. Cobb is a favorite of draft guru Greg Cosell, and it's hard to blame him after watching Cobb on tape. In 2014, Cobb ran for 1,626 yards on 314 carries — 5.2 yards-per-carry — and tacked on 13 rushing touchdowns. The last RB the Cowboys took in the third round was DeMarco Murray.
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Round 4: Kevin White, cornerback, TCU
Last season, Orlando Scandrick proved that he's a very effective CB on the outside in addition to in the slot. His play on the outside opened up the possibility that the Cowboys could target a slot CB, and White fits the billing. Due to his size limitations— 5-foot-10 and 174 pounds — he is being overlooked and will likely be underdrafted. White is a feisty competitor who projects as a menace in the slot after displaying velcro-like pass coverage at TCU. He has drawn praise from draft analysts Todd McShay and Bucky Brooks, but Dane Brugler made the strongest case for White based on the game tape he has broken down. Don't let the size fool you with this prospect.
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Round 5: Kenny Bell, wide receiver, Nebraska
The WR position may not be the most pressing need, but this draft is rich in WR talent once again, and the Cowboys will likely target their highest-rated player available regardless of position at this point in the draft. A WR too talented for the fifth round will drop, and the Cowboys could look to make Bell that prospect. At 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds, he ran a 4.42 40-time, a 41.5-inch vertical jump, a 10-foot-9 foot broad jump, and a 6.66 3-cone time. Aside from the 40, and he has plenty of straight-line speed, these numbers placed him in the top five in each individual drill among the WR group. He is a freak athlete. These drills test deep speed, leaping ability, explosion, and agility, in the above order. In Nebraska's run-first offense, he wasn't given much opportunity, but the Cowboys present a much better situation.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY SportsBruce Thorson
Round 7: Hutson Mason, quarterback, Georgia
The Cowboys have no sixth-round picks and two seventh-round picks. The team has been hinting at improving Tony Romo's backup QB situation for several seasons, but being forced to temporarily turn to Brandon Weeden last season is likely to enact some movement on this front. The free agent QB class was barren, so expect the Cowboys will look for help through the draft. Drafting Mason allows the Cowboys to address more pressing needs but still reel in an interesting prospect. Mason's arm strength and ability to make the stick throws is a concern, but he was highly productive and a the leader for the Bulldogs in 2014. In their run-first offense, he led the team to a 10-3 record while completing 67.9 percent of his passes with a 21-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
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Round 7: Amarlo Herrera, linebacker, Georgia
In an effort to play more like former Bulldog LB Alec Ogletree, Herrera slimmed down to 235 pounds before the 2014 season. It worked. He ended up with career highs in sacks (3) and tackles for loss (10). In each of his first three seasons, he had more than a half sack or five tackles for losses. He is a smart and instictive LB who can compete for snaps with Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber at OLB or serve as depth and security at ILB behind Rolando McClain. Draft analyst Tony Pauline noted that he rarely makes mental errors. He could step in right away and compete for special-teams snaps.