Dallas Cowboys 7-Round Mock Draft: Defensive Makeover Time

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Dallas Cowboys select…

Pick 174

Patrick Johnson, LB/EDGE


The Dallas Cowboys are a mess at LB. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch have been poor for just about two seasons now and 2021 will probably be their last chance to prove themselves or both could be on the way out.

Dallas could go with linebacker early in the draft and replace one of them now, but I’m hoping and praying they invest in other areas with greater positional value first, and wait to see how their LB corps look behind a decent defensive line.

Either way, they’re sure to hit the LB position later in the draft and that’s what I’m projecting here.

Patrick Johnson is not an off-ball linebacker like Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. He’s an edge player and pretty good one at that (All-time leading sacker at Tulane).

But I’m not so sure those edge skill translate to the NFL great and the 6-foot-3 255lb linebacker is better as a traditional 4-3 linebacker with some 3-4 OLB flex. Tulane has used Johnson in a variety of roles so he’s shown the ability to do it all. He’s strong and fast, just as capable of navigating traffic and making tackles inside as he is turning the edge and attacking the pocket.

He’s even been dropped back into coverage with some success so the transition I’m proposing isn’t as crazy as it sounds. This could be a diamond in the rough for Dallas. He could develop for a year behind LVE and Smith and take the reins in 2022 whether Dallas is showing odd or even man fronts.