<
>

Mel Kiper's 'Grade A' mock off by one for Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas – A week ago, ESPN’s Todd McShay offered up his three-round mock draft and had the Dallas Cowboys taking a cornerback, tight end and safety.

On Wednesday, Mel Kiper Jr. offered up his “Grade A” mock and had the Cowboys going with a defensive end, cornerback and tight end.

Of the two, Kiper’s selections of Derek Barnett, Fabian Moreau and Gerald Everett would appear to be stronger for the Cowboys than McShay’s Quincy Wilson, Adam Shaheen and Justin Evans trio.

Barnett at No. 28 would be a very good thing for the Cowboys. He broke Reggie White’s Tennessee record for sacks. He had big-time production in a big-time conference. He might not be as “twitched up” athletically as some of the other pass rushers in this draft, but he had at least 10 sacks in all three of his seasons and 13 as a junior in 2016. He plays bigger than his 259 pounds lets on because he has strong hands.

On a conference call with NFL Nation reporters, Kiper wondered if Barnett’s skills can translate to the NFL level, but clearly he believes Barnett would be a great value at No. 28.

Moreau is coming off pectoral surgery and could open the season on the physically unable to perform list. Can the Cowboys take another injury risk in the second round the way they did Jaylon Smith in 2016? To me, it is necessary to look at these moves as four-year decisions and not six-week decisions. Yes, the Cowboys need help immediately from this draft, but if Moreau is the player many project then the Cowboys would be happy to take him.

Like with McShay’s mock, my quibble with Kiper’s mock is the selection of a tight end. Everett is not much of an in-line blocker. He is probably more of a receiver than tight end in some respects at 239 pounds.

To me, tight end is not a big need, certainly not a Day 2 need. The Cowboys have James Hanna coming back from a knee injury that cost him 2016. They have Geoff Swaim returning from offseason foot surgery. They drafted Rico Gathers last year in the sixth round and want to see what he can do with a full year of football experience.

Eventually the Cowboys will have to find a replacement for Jason Witten, but he will continue to play 95 percent of the snaps. Taking a tight end that high with what they have on the roster just doesn’t make much sense.

In going over Kiper’s mock, I would look at safety in the third round. He had seven safeties gone before the Cowboys picked in the third round, but two intriguing prospects remained. Texas A&M’s =Evans, whom McShay mocked to the Cowboys in the third round, and Louisiana Tech’s Xavier Woods.

Both players were among the Cowboys’ pre-draft visitors.

If this were my “Grade A” mock, I’d go with Woods and his playmaking ability. Add him to Barnett and Moreau and the Cowboys' defense would be in good shape.