Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: 2019 Post Combine Edition (Reid 3.0)

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ARLINGTON, TX – NOVEMBER 05: The Dallas Cowboys defensive line poses for a photo in the end zone after a fumble recovery against the Tennessee Titans in the first quarter of a football game at AT&T Stadium on November 5, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

3rd Round, Pick 90

DT Khalen Saunders

Western Illinois

One of the biggest Senior Bowl/Combine standouts this winter was the explosive defensive tackle Khalen Saunders from Western Illinois. Just about every team site is talking about him and discussing what it would take to get a guy like Saunders on their team. The pick is so popular, I almost wanted to avoid it altogether…except he’s such a great fit.

On paper he initially didn’t look like the best fit. The 6’0” 320lbs bucket full of dirt has the build of a 1-technique (someone Rod Marinelli doesn’t invest in) but he has the game and explosiveness of a 3-technique (someone Marinelli values highly and happens to be in need of).

Related Story. How Rod Marinelli should impact free agency and the draft. light

Saunders grabbed the nation’s attention at the Senior Bowl when he skipped the birth of his child in order to build his value and compete against more established talent. Also turning heads were his jaw-dropping back-flips that seem to defy the laws of physics (dudes that big ain’t supposed to do back-flips).

At Western Illinois Saunders primarily played NT in their 3-4 defense. He 1-gapped and 2-gapped regularly and even moved out to play the edge on occasion (another thing big guys aren’t supposed to do). Saunders doesn’t just have the power the Dallas Cowboys covet inside but he also has explosion.

He explodes off the ball, has excellent short area quickness, agility, and pursuit. In short – he’s the perfect under tackle. The main problem is he didn’t play against top-end talent in college and is relatively raw in technique and hand work.

Something Joe Marino pointed out in his evaluation is how well Saunders responded to coaching at the Senior Bowl and how he applied it in the game, logging a sack and multiple plays of disruption. If coaching is all it takes for Saunders to go from good to great, Dallas is a great place for him.

He’s a Day 1 contributor with sky-high potential. He’s raw but still extremely useful given his rare power, quick twitch, and athleticism.