Dallas Cowboys

Mock Draft 3.0: Cowboys coin flip of Calvin Ridley vs. Leighton Vander Esch?

The NFL Draft is less than a week away. Finally.

After months of dissecting college film and putting prospects through rigorous workouts, teams will show their poker hands when the draft gets underway Thursday night at AT&T Stadium.

Plenty has changed since our Mock Draft 2.0, namely the Dallas Cowboys' parting ways with wide receiver Dez Bryant.

That decision has led many prognosticators to have the Cowboys going wide receiver in the first round. Most believe Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the best wide receiver in this draft class, which begs the question whether the Cowboys should trade up for him?

Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin told the Star-Telegram recently that he doesn’t think Ridley will fall to them at No. 19. And the Star-Telegram agrees in this latest mock draft.

But we don’t see the value in trading up for Ridley at this point. Instead, the thought process here is the Cowboys would be better served drafting a linebacker in the first round and then possibly trading up in the second round to secure a wide receiver (Courtland Sutton, Christian Kirk, D.J. Chark) who slipped out of the first round.

Hey, the Cowboys might as well take advantage of having 10 picks in this year’s draft.

With that being said, here’s the Star-Telegram’s Mock Draft 3.0 for rounds 1-3.

First round

1. Cleveland Browns. Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming. Sorry, Sam Darnold slips from the top spot. There’s just too many whispers going around on Allen to the Browns, and that’s too hard to ignore. General manager John Dorsey needs to use this pick on whoever he believes will become a franchise quarterback.

2. New York Giants. Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State. Same as before. The smart long-term play mighty be taking a quarterback, but the Giants could become playoff contenders again with the addition of Barkley. This is a team that ranked 26th in rushing offense a season ago.

3. New York Jets. Sam Darnold, QB, USC. The Jets land the quarterback who's widely considered the “safest” QB choice in this year’s class. They hope Darnold lives up to the hype.

4. Cleveland Browns. Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State. The Browns benefit by the Colts trading out of the No. 3 spot. Chubb is the best pass rusher in this draft and would form a dream pass rush tandem with Myles Garrett.

5. Denver Broncos. Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma. Case Keenum is the starter for the immediate future, and this provides a perfect breeding ground for the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.

6. Indianapolis Colts. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame. Arguably the best player in the draft; the Colts get Andrew Luck more inside protection.

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama. A Day 1 starter at safety will help a secondary that ranked last in pass defense, allowing 260.6 yards a game.

8. Chicago Bears. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State. Shutdown corners don’t grow on trees, and Ward has the makings of being just that at the next level.

9. San Francisco 49ers. Derwin James, S, Florida State. He’s drawn comparisons to Sean Taylor and Ed Reed. Oh, and 49ers general manager John Lynch knows a thing or two about safety play.

10. Oakland Raiders. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech. At just 19, Edmunds is going to be the youngest player in the NFL. But he’s an elite athlete and should become a staple at the start of the Jon Gruden era.

11. Miami Dolphins. Vita Vea, DT, Washington. Ndamukong Suh is gone. Enter Vea, a massive run-stuffing defensive tackle.

12. Buffalo Bills. Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. The Bills might have to trade into the top-five to get their quarterback of choice. But Rosen slides to them in this scenario.

13. Washington Redskins. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia. Smith is a top-10 talent the Redskins would love to see fall to them. This would be an easy pick.

14. Green Bay Packers. Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College. Landry had a disappointing season as a senior in 2017, but he still has the makings of being an elite edge rusher at the next level. The Packers gamble on him over UTSA’s Marcus Davenport.

15. Arizona Cardinals. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville. With no disrespect to Sam Bradford, the Cardinals need to find a future quarterback, and Jackson has upside. New coach Steve Wilks came from Carolina and could see Jackson in a similar light as Cam Newton.

16. Baltimore Ravens. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama. The Ravens had one of the worst passing offenses last season. Quarterback Joe Flacco needs more weapons and lands the top receiving talent in this class.

17. Los Angeles Chargers. Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State. Rudolph has worked out with Philip Rivers this off-season and would love to study under him. Why not make it happen with Rivers turning 37 this season?

18. Seattle Seahawks. Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa. The “Legion of Boom” appears to be a thing of the past, but Jackson could be part of the next era. He had 27 passes defended and eight interceptions for the Hawkeyes last season.

19. Dallas Cowboys. Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State. Yes, wide receiver is a need, but the team addresses it in Round 2. They opt for a linebacker who adds depth to a unit that has been injury-riddled.

20. Detroit Lions. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama. Payne is the best player on the board at this point and is a talent in the trenches who will help every level of the defense. He also has flexibility if Matt Patricia is running a 3-4 or 4-3.

21. Cincinnati Bengals. James Daniels, C, Iowa. Daniels is the best center in this class and maybe since Pro Bowler Alex Mack in 2009. He has versatility to start at any three of the interior line positions and will help the Bengals immediately.

22. Buffalo Bills. Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame. They traded away Cordy Glenn to the Bengals and fill that void with a player, McGlinchey, who can be a Day 1 starter at right or left tackle.

23. New England Patriots. Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA. Nate Solder bolted in free agency and the Patriots address that with a pick acquired in the Brandin Cooks trade. Miller isn’t the cleanest prospect, but has the makings of becoming an elite left tackle in the pros.

24. Carolina Panthers. Justin Reid, S, Stanford. The Panthers released Kurt Coleman, and Reid would step in as a Day 1 starter. He is a versatile player who had five interceptions last season for the Cardinal.

25. Tennessee Titans. Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA. Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo are set to become free agents after this season, and Davenport could develop into an elite rusher after piling up 15 sacks the past two seasons at UTSA.

26. Atlanta Falcons. Taven Bryan, DT, Florida. Bryan has drawn comparisons to Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox. A prospect with that much upside has to entice a coach such as Dan Quinn, who spent time at Florida as the defensive coordinator and D-line coach in 2011-12.

27. New Orleans Saints. Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State. Drew Brees gets another weapon in hopes of making another push for a championship. After failing to bring back Jimmy Graham, Gesicki gives the Saints a big target at 6-foot-5, 247 pounds, especially in the red zone. It also doesn’t hurt that he tied for first in the 40-yard dash (4.54 seconds) among tight ends at the Combine.

28. Pittsburgh Steelers. Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama. A physical linebacker with power and speed who had 13 tackles for loss last season. Evans makes sense for the Steelers, particularly after the scary spinal injury Ryan Shazier sustained last year.

29. Jacksonville Jaguars. D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland. The Jaguars didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver, and the leader in touchdown receptions was veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis with five. They need more playmakers for Blake Bortles.

30. Minnesota Vikings. Connor Williams, OT, Texas. The have to protect their biggest investment, Kirk Cousins, and Williams is versatile enough to play guard or tackle. That’s good for a team that saw longtime right guard Joe Berger retire last month.

31. New England Patriots. Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville. Alexander is a corner with speed and ball skills. He’s certainly a suitable replacement for Malcolm Butler (who is now with the Titans).

32. Philadelphia Eagles. Derrius Guice, LSU. The Eagles have a stocked roster and add another playmaker to their offense in Guice, who was among the Eagles’ pre-draft visits. Guice provides stability at running back, too, with Jay Ajayi entering the final year of his contract in 2018.

Second round

33. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland Browns). Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

The Cowboys trade up to get a player who has the potential to match Dez Bryant's rare mix of size and speed, not to mention his ability to catch the ball in traffic. But the move comes at the cost of their second and third-round selections in this year's draft. Time will tell if he can fit into the more "Dak friendly" offense.

34. New York Giants. Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

The slot receiver pairs nicely with Odell Beckham Jr., who primarily plays on the outside. If the team adds Dez Bryant, too, then look out.

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.

36. Indianapolis Colts. Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

He has the traditional physical makeup of a 4-3 defensive tackle. Plus, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh knows how to prepare his players for the NFL.

37. Indianapolis Colts (from New York Jets). Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

More protection for Andrew Luck. Brown can't be as bad as his combine numbers suggest, right?

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 background and strong test numbers offer a high ceiling.

40. Denver Broncos. Billy Price, G, Ohio State

Price’s ability to play center and guard fills a need. He also has an excellet pedigree coming out of Ohio State.

41. Oakland Raiders. Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State

He's the most physically gifted tight end prospect in the class. And Jared Cook has never lived up to his potential.

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 overreach, 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. Cleveland Browns (from Dallas Cowboys). Mason Cole, C, Michigan

At Michigan, he played at center and left tackle, which isn't a common occurance. The Browns are going to need to try fill the hole left by Joe Thomas' retirement.

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 Ozzie Newsome 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. Austin Corbett, C, Nevada

He went from walk-on to four-year starter in college. If his run blocking improves, Crobett could help an already talented Panthers' backfield have a breakout season.

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

The Bills need insurance for Kelvin Benjamin 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. Mason Cole, C, Michigan

Another tweener who can play multiple positions. Cole won't play right away, but this team's dominant ground game is reliant on a powerful offensive line.

62. Minnesota Vikings. Sam Hubbard DE, Ohio State

Everson Griffin isn’t getting any younger. Hubbard has great size and strength that 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.

Third round

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 9 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 past 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 into 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. Indianapolis Colts (from Dallas Cowboys). Shaquem Griffin, LB, Central Florida

This might be a bit high. But even though Griffin only has one arm, he still anchored a strong UCF defense and dominated the NFL combine.

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, DE, Wake Forest

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. He dominated the game in Fort Worth's Armed Forces Bowl.

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, high-reward player.

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

Rotoworld.com lists his player comparison as Vince Wilfork, whom 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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