FRISCO, Texas -- As the NFL draft approaches, mock drafts come in hot and heavy. And on Wednesday, ESPN Insiders Mel Kiper and Todd McShay offered up their two-round mock draft that touched on the Dallas Cowboys’ draft needs.
In Kiper’s mock, he had the Cowboys taking Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans at No. 19 and Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki at No. 50. McShay had the Cowboys taking Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan and Memphis receiver Anthony Miller with those picks.
The Cowboys have linebacker, defensive tackle and receiver needs. Tight end is a need as well but maybe not as much as the other three.
Of the four picks, Evans and Bryan are among the Cowboys’ 30 national visits, which is a plus for both given the Cowboys’ history of taking players that visited their facility before the draft. The Cowboys had a second pro day of sorts with the Alabama players, sending their coaches to Tuscaloosa. At Bryan’s pro day, defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli put the prospect through the paces.
Neither first-round pick would be a bad option, but in Kiper’s mock, he had Boise State’s Leighton Vander Esch still available at No. 19. If that happens on draft night, there could be a good debate between Evans and Vander Esch. In McShay’s mock, Vander Esch did not go until No. 32 to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The second round picks can be up for debate, but Miller’s big-play ability is a huge plus. But in McShay’s mock, he had Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington and SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton available. Washington was a top-30 visitor. Jason Garrett put Sutton through the paces at the SMU pro day.
Gesicki is an interesting prospect, and the Cowboys need to think about the future with Jason Witten entering his 16th season and James Hanna and Geoff Swaim set to be free agents after the season. They also like Blake Jarwin and have another year to see what Rico Gathers might develop into.
The Cowboys have used second-round picks on Anthony Fasano, Martellus Bennett and Gavin Escobar to pair with Witten in the past. None have worked out the way they had hoped -- although some of that wasn’t the player’s fault. Gesicki is more pass-catcher than blocker, and the Cowboys want a do-it-all tight end, which is becoming more difficult to find in college football these days.
Sutton and Alabama safety Ronnie Harrison were still available when Kiper made Gesicki the 50th pick. While a tight end could be selected, there seems to be other needs that will be more pressing.