Dallas Cowboys

NFL Mock Draft: Cowboys find Witten's replacement and unique LB prospect

Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin sacks Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham during the Peach Bowl. Griffin is playing in the Senior Bowl this week.
Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin sacks Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham during the Peach Bowl. Griffin is playing in the Senior Bowl this week. AP

Even before the team cut Dez Bryant, our own Drew Davison had the Cowboys providing quarterback Dak Prescott a replacement in the form of Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley at pick No. 19 in his latest Mock Draft.

But there are plenty of other positions that need upgrading.

Dallas has to plug the holes left by the departure of linebacker Anthony Hitchens and the release of cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

The organization must also prepare for a potential future without 35-year-old tight end Jason Witten and even star defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who remains on the one-year franchise tag.

There are a ton of prospects that have been scouted by the team and brought in for interviews over the course of the last few months, but it's possible there could be a surprise or two in-store as well.

Here is our complete NFL mock draft for the second and third round:

Round 2

33. Cleveland Browns: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The organization traded for (and is about to extend) the NFL’s receptions leader from last season in Jarvis Landry. Here the offense gets Landry’s top-off-the-defense compliment for Sam Darnold.

34. New York Giants. Billy Price, G, Ohio State

New general manager David Gettleman likely wants a pass rusher. But Price’s ability to play center and guard fills a need.

35. Cleveland Browns (from Houston Texans). Isaiah Oliver, CB , Colorado

Interceptions can be a fluky stat, but the Browns only had seven last year, which was the second fewest in the league. Here’s what NFL.com said about him: Oliver has a high ceiling as a bump-and-run, lockdown corner, but might benefit from a limited role his rookie season.

36. Indianapolis Colts. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

This team has a revolving door of journeymen at running back. Guice should run wild behind first-round pick Quenton Nelson, who is a moose of a run blocker.

37. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets). D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

Another skill weapon to await Andrew Luck when he returns from injury. Watching defenses trying to match the insane speed of Moore and Hilton would be entertaining.

38. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Isaiah Wynn. G, Georgia

Wynn has the ability to play right away and slide over to the other guard or tackle spots if need be. He’s also considered a first-round talent, so this is a great get for the Bucs.

39. Chicago Bears. Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn

Prince Amukamara, the team’s starting left corner, has never played a full 16 games in a season. Davis’ SEC pedigree and strong test numbers offer a high ceiling.

40. Denver Broncos. Austin Corbett, C, Nevada

He went from walk-on to four-year starter in college. If his run blocking improves, Crobett could help Devontae Booker have a breakout season.

41. Oakland Raiders. Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Starting left tackle Donald Penn is 34 years old. Head coach Jon Gruden finds his replacement and gets the attention he craves for picking a player who plummeted down most draft boards thanks to a poor showing at the combine.

42. Miami Dolphins. Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

After Jay Ajayi was traded in the middle of last season, Kenyan Drake was a suitable fill-in. But Michel is the lead back this team needs.

43. New England Patriots (from San Francisco 49ers). Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

Hurst is 24 years old (due to a stint in pro baseball) and many view South Dakota State prospect Dallas Goedert as the more suitable heir to the Gronkowski mantle in New England . But general manager and head coach Bill Belichick has a long history of courting multi-sport athletes.

44. Washington Redskins. Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan

Their hope here is that starting left tackle Trent Williams can stay healthy enough to tutor the rookie. This pick is definitely an over-reach, but the Redskins have waited too long to address this glaring hole in their lineup.

45. Green Bay Packers. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

He’s not the biggest guy in the world. But he has a chance to really grow playing with Aaron Rogers.

46. Cincinnati Bengals. Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

The current safeties on the roster have been middling at best. And Harrison was a tackling machine on a talented Alabama defense.

47. Arizona Cardinals. Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon

He was plagued by injury problems in college. That shouldn't stop Arizona from adding youth to an older, suspect unit up front.

48. Los Angeles Chargers. Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford

The Chargers need to remedy their aging interior defensive line. If they do, they could have one of the NFL’s best defenses next season.

49. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets through Seattle Seahawks) Josh Sweat, DE, Florida State

The front office finally addresses defense with its third pick of the second round. If he stays healthy and motivated, Indy may have found a steal.

50. Dallas Cowboys Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

Speaking of steals, the Cowboys would be incredibly fortunate to draft a tight end that has been compared to Zack Ertz. The physical specimen (he's listed at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds) didn't play against top competition in college football.

But he did meet with Cowboys tight ends coach Doug Nussmeier. Jerry Jones and company should pounce at the chance to develop a near-perfect Jason Witten replacement if the opportunity does somehow present itself.

51. Detroit Lions. Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia

Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones each had their moments last season. But Chubb has the potential to be dominant, injury history and all.

52. Baltimore Ravens. Braden Smith, G, Auburn

While we’re on the subject of replacements, general manager needs to find one for the aging Marshall Yanda. He certainly has the size (6-foot-6, 305 pounds) and the strength (35 bench-press reps at the combine).

53. Buffalo Bills. Donte Jackson, CB, LSU

Even if Vontae Davis can stay healthy, the other starting cornerback spot is still a black hole. Jackson spent last season covering the likes of Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk in the SEC, which should ease his trial-by-fire.

54. Kansas City Chiefs. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma

This pass rush only recorded 31 sacks last season (25th in the NFL). His ceiling isn’t too high, but his floor isn’t very low, either.

55. Carolina Panthers. Mason Cole, C, Michigan

33-year-old Ryan Kalil is set to retire after this season. He should make for an excellent tutor.

56. Buffalo Bills (from Los Angeles Rams). Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

The Bills need insurance for Kelvin Benjamen and Zay Jones. Even though St. Brown didn't put up good numbers last season at Notre Dame, he's got intriguing height (6-5, 214).

57. Tennessee Titans. Frank Ragnow, G, Arkansas

Both starters on the left side of the line could be free agents after next season. The former second team all-SEC selection should help keep Marcus Mariotta upright.

58. Atlanta Falcons. Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

Atlanta needs to insert a third pass-catching weapon alongside Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu. And Matt Ryan has the ability to make good receivers even better.

59. San Francisco 49ers (from New Orleans Saints). Darius Leonard, LB, South Carolina State

No matter what level he played at, it’s hard to knock his collegiate production. The Niners are happy his lower pre-draft ratings land Leonard in their lap.

60. Pittsburgh Steelers. Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas

Pittsburgh takes another linebacker. Jefferson’s stock isn’t where it once was, which enables this coaching staff to work on his bad habits.

61. Jacksonville Jaguars. Mike White, QB , Western Kentucky

Despite a run to the AFC title game last season, the clause-ladden contract extension given to Blake Bortles means this franchise is still looking for a long-term answer under center.

62. Minnesota Vikings. Sam Hubbard DE, Ohio State

Everson Griffin isn’t getting any younger. Hubbard has great size and strength that will should allow him to develop into a rotational player then a full-time starter.

63. New England Patriots. Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond

Belichick finds Brady’s successor that some have compared to current 49ers' QB Jimmy Garappolo. And he should have a few years to develop. Or, based on Adam Schefter's report, maybe not.

64. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia Eagles). Geron Christian, OT, Louisville

This is the fifth and final pick this franchise owns in the top 64. It’s hard to imagine that Christian will follow the hall-of-fame hole left behind by Joe Thomas at left tackle, but the organization needs to try.

Round 3

65. Buffalo Bills (from Cleveland Browns) Tavarus McFadden, CB, Florida State

He’s not a burner, but the Bills really need to fill a need in this spot.

66. New York Giants. Arden Key, LB, LSU

He's a good fit for this new defensive coordinator James Bettcher's 3-4 defensive scheme.

67. Indianapolis Colts. Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia

The Colts can afford to take a big swing here after all of those other draft selections.

68. Houston Texans. Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana

He's been without his parents since he was nine years old, which makes him the hard-working type of person Bill O'Brien covets.

69. New York Giants (from Buffalo Bills). Brian O'Neill, OT, Pittsburgh

It's unlikely prized free-agent accquistion Nate Solder will be manning the left tackle position in one or two seasons.

70. San Francisco 49ers (from Chicago Bears). Martinas Rankin, G, Mississippi State

Converted to tackle in college, he'll likely make the move back to the interior line at the next level.

71. Denver Broncos Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

There's still a possibility Emmanuel Sanders could be a cap casualty.

72. New York Jets. Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

The McKinney native played his college ball at USC, and could find playing time right away.

73. Miami Dolphins. Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma

Head coach Adam Gase finally finds the tight end he's been searching for to fill his system.

74. San Francisco 49ers. D.J. Chark, WR, LSU

Corner is a need, but they'll finally give Jimmy G. a weapon after spending the last two picks on between-the-tackles players.

75. Oakland Raiders. Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa

This team needs defense, defense and more defense.

76. Green Bay Packers. Rasheem Green, DE, USC

A second-round talent falls right in to their lap.

77. Cincinnati Bengals. Anthony Miller, WR. Memphis.

A.J. Green needs a slot receiver who draws attention from opposing defenses.

78. Kansas City Chiefs (from Washington Redskins). Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State

Washington needs to put major resources into the offensive tackle position.

79. Arizona Cardinals. Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn

They need depth behind David Johnson, who is returning from a lingering wrist injury.

80. Houston Texans (from Seattle Seahawks) Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU

The TCU product lucks out with head coach Bill O'Brien, who loves developing offensive linemen.

81. Dallas Cowboys. Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida

Like Goedert, Griffin did not interview or workout individually for the Cowboys. That shouldn't matter. Neither should the fact that he lost his hand early in life.

As a middle linebacker, he anchored a defense that powered UCF to a perfect 13-0 record last season. His numbers at the NFL combine were also off-the-charts.

82. Detroit Lions. Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama

He's not a natural fit in Detroit's 4-3 scheme, but it wouldn't be surprising to see former Patriots defensive coordinator and current Lions head coach Matt Patricia find a use for this Nick Saban product.

83. Baltimore Ravens. Deon Cain, WR Clemson

His sub-par numbers at Clemson last season are largely a product of inconsistent quarterback play.

84. Los Angeles Chargers. Fred Warner, LB, BYU

A solid tackler who can run like a safety.

85. Carolina Panthers (from Buffalo Bills). Duke Ejiofor

The Wake Forest product makes the quick trip down I-85 and further injects life into an already strong pass-rush.

86. Kansas City Chiefs. B.J. Hill, DT, North Carolina State

He played on an excellent defensive line in college and could grow into a solid starter.

87. Los Angeles Rams Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

He's a little short (5-foot-11), but his 220-pound frame combined with a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine is impressive.

88. Carolina Panthers. Holton Hill, CB, Texas

The front office traded Daryl Worley and it remains to be seen whether second-year player Kevon Seymour is the answer.

89. Tennessee Titans. Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt

Tennessee only needs to go a few miles down the road to help plug the middle of their defense.

90. Atlanta Falcons Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon

Tevin Coleman is on the final year of his rookie deal and could sign elsewhere next offseason.

91. New Orleans Saints. Kemoko Turay, DE, Rutgers

With their second pick in the draft, New Orleans adds a player who could help deal with arguably the best quarterbacked division in the NFL.

92. Pittsburgh Steelers. M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina

He's a physical slot corner who can press and tackle, which fits right in with the Steelers' approach.

93. Jacksonville Jaguars. Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida

In an effort to replace Allen Hurns, the Jags front office gets seduced by his speed.

94. Minnesota Vikings. Jesse Bates, S, Wake Forest

This is simply a case of nabbing the best player available.

95. New England Patriots. Dante Pettis, WR, Washington

His ability to play out the slot and return kicks makes him a potential Danny Amendola replacement.

96. Buffalo Bills (from Philadelphia Eagles) Dorian O'Daniel, LB, Clemson

McDermott's time spent coaching elite linebackers like Luke Kuechley anbd Thomas Davis in Carolina should help here.

97. Arizona Cardinals (Compensatory). Desmond Harrison, OT, West Georgia

Scouts view him as a high-risk, hi-reward player.

98. Houston Texans (Compensatory). Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech

Rotoworld.com lists his player comparison as Vince Wilfork, who O'Brien coached for the majority of the tackle's career.

99. Denver Broncos (Compensatory). Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College

If Yiadom can grow into the third-corner role, the Broncos secondary will remain strong.

100. Cincinnati Bengals (Compensatory). Skai Moore, LB, South Carolina

Vontaze Burfict is a walking suspension waiting to happen.

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