Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft
4th Round, Pick 114
Alim McNeill, IDL, NC State
The range on McNeill is all over the place with each draft, but since we aren’t trying to project player landing spots this early on in the draft cycle, I’ll take him with Dallas’ first pick in the fourth round.
Alim McNeill is a 6-foot-2, 315 pound beast of nature that likely is a great fit in Dan Quinn’s 1-gapping system. He displays good upfield burst off the LOS with good explosiveness, competitive toughness, motor, and instincts. Day 3 is all about finding players with athletic upside with the hopes of developing them to be consistent role players.
The former interior defensive lineman for the Wolfpack is more of an athlete currently than he is a football player. He displays a bull rush and a speed/counter rush utilizing his bend and solid lateral quickness but he doesn’t display too much understanding on when to use them or how to use them.
He is a solid run defender displaying good lower body strength to leverage gaps but he is inconsistent at reading and reacting to the running back prevents him from disengaging from his blocker in order to tackle the ball carrier.
Yet for his game not being developed enough, he still 77 total tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, and ten sacks in 36 games with NC State. The production is better than your average fourth-round interior defensive lineman and that’s while being a better athlete than a football player. Take that how you will.
4th Round, Pick 139
Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
Do you want another athlete? WELL, I GOT YOU! Browning was the best linebacker in his high school recruiting class. Standing at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds it’s not hard to see why he was so highly touted. After reportedly running a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and vertically jumping 37 inches, it isn’t hard to see why people wanted Browning to put it all together. A linebacker of his athletic ability with good instincts in the run or passing game don’t come around very often.
Browning developed his instincts in the run game and it helped him record 29 total tackles and 3 tackles for loss this season with the Buckeyes. (Keep in mind Ohio State only played 7 games this season and Browning lines up as a MIKE and WILL linebacker for them)
Browning likely isn’t an ideal fit in Dan Quinn’s 4-3 scheme because of what he asks his linebackers to do. Linebackers in his scheme are required to have good athletic ability, something he has, but are required to drop back in coverage more often. KJ Wright, Bobby Wagner, Malcolm Smith, Deion Jones, and Foye Oluokon have all made money by being athletic linebackers with good pass coverage ability under Dan Quinn.
Based on precedent, a Leighton Vander Esch revival seems likely on the horizon as Vander Esch was a consistent defender in the passing game displaying solid range and good instincts. (Obviously we haven’t seen this version of him in nearly two years but if there was anyone to break out it would likely be him)
However, if there was anything I’ve learned in Dan Quinn’s drafting patterns, it is that he is willing to take prospects with better athletic ability while sacrificing other parts of the game in order to develop them. It helped the five people named above, hopefully, Quinn could do the same magic with Browning in this particular situation.