4th Round, Pick 99
Chazz Surratt, LB, UNC
I refuse to draft an offensive player! Ok, not really. It just happens to be that the best player available at all these spots are seemingly all defenders. Here in the fourth round, we’ve seen several good offensive linemen find new teams and are left with running backs and wide receivers.
Now is not the time or place for me to select solid prospects at heavily invested positions. (points in the general vicinity of irony)
The linebacker group has been subpar the past two seasons. After a 2018 season that saw Leighton Vander Esch make the Pro-Bowl and Jaylon Smith also play like one, that incredible form has been nowhere the last two seasons. Poor interior defensive line play could be a huge factor in that drop-off but there also seems to be a mental processing issue that has unfortunately graced that area of the defense.
Expecting something similar to occur this season, mocking the Cowboys Surratt might allow them to move on from one of the two linebackers on the team. My expectation is Leighton Vander Esch will resume his duties as the MIKE linebacker and Jaylon Smith will return as a WILL linebacker. If either were to have subpar form, Surratt could line up in either position and displays good athletic ability to cover hook zones and tight ends in man coverage.
Most importantly, he displays solid instincts in run support displaying good patience and physicality to leverage his gaps and identify if runs are breaking outside. Surratt’s transition from QB to LB has been fantastic and after another good season, he’ll make a team happy with his good mental processing and athletic ability. Why not let it be a team that commands a lot from their linebackers?
4th Round, Pick 115
James Hudson, OT, Cincinnati
The first offensive player of this Dallas Cowboys mock draft is James Hudson, the offensive tackle from Cincinnati. I previously mentioned how the best player available at each of the previous picks was a defender, it seems after 114 picks the tune has changed. (I’d hope it would, otherwise, that be some luck)
Hudson was recruited as a defensive end in high school earning as high as four stars. The University of Michigan brought him on and changed his position in his first season. After redshirting and playing only half a season in Ann Arbor, Hudson found himself in the transfer portal. Since Hudson hadn’t graduated with an undergraduate degree, he was required to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer requirements.
In his lone season as a starting left tackle, Hudson anchored a very good rushing offense in Cincinnati. His explosiveness, good play strength, and good hand placement allow him to move edge defenders away from the ball on zone runs. He displays adequate lateral quickness and change of direction and it shows when he gets out of his pass sets as he isn’t able to maintain a half-man relationship and reach his set points against defenders using speed or counter pass rush plans.
Hudson plays with good physical toughness has the requisite play strength to help him, anchor, in pass protection. Because of his movement concerns, Hudson could slide in at guard. He’d likely be successful there too because his good technique and play strength would allow him to swallow bull and other pass rushes.