Dallas Cowboys 7-Round Mock Draft (Final): A Key Trade Up

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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dallas cowboys
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Just one more day before the excitement begins! It has been a long four months, but the 2021 NFL Draft is finally here and the Dallas Cowboys will be making a selection in the top 10 for the first time since 2016.

On Tuesday, CEO Jerry Jones, VP Stephen Jones, and Head Coach Mike McCarthy had their annual pre-draft press conference. These press conferences are great because the organization usually tips their tendencies when answering questions. Last year, the Cowboys sounded very keen on drafting LSU outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson before… well you know.

In this Dallas Cowboys 7-Round mock draft we wheel and deal and read between the lines

As documented by Lead Editor for USA Today’s CowboysWire, KD Drummond, the Cowboys seem to follow a set of rules and it generally does a pretty job of predicting the positions the Cowboys will target. This year in their press conference, the Cowboys once again tipped they are targeting a defensive player. Jones stated they would likely have their choice of one of the top two defensive prospects because of a projected early run on offensive players.

After last year’s happenings, the Cowboys seem set on the idea of drafting the best player available in the first round. However, Jerry Jones also said his “infatuation” for Florida TE Kyle Pitts was misconstrued really just adding more questions as to who they view are the best prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Outside of these important points, McCarthy mentioned there would be an added emphasis on selecting defensive prospects and that the team wanted to play fast on that side of the ball. This would be quite contradicting to Commandment No. 8 of Drummond’s piece, but the same seemed to take place last year likely meaning the front office understands their team’s strengths.

Need I say any more at this point. The event is one day away, let me just carry on with the draft.

1st Round, Pick 10

Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama

The front office made it pretty clear they wanted a top defensive prospect. I can only imagine this means the discussion is between South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn and Surtain II. With the Carolina Panthers showing interest in Horn, Surtain felt like the natural pick here.

You likely know Surtain’s collegiate biography at this point, an important note of which Cowboys current CB Trevon Diggs was his teammate. Hopefully, history can repeat itself in the Metroplex as Surtain and Diggs can form a dominant duo in Dan Quinn’s Spot Drop Cover 3.

Surtain was the highest-graded cornerback in the country last season allowing only one completion of over 20 yards all season and with a forced incompletion percentage of 27.3 percent which put him at third amongst SEC cornerbacks.

He displays good competitive toughness to win with consistent effort and aggression. He can fight through blocks in run support and be effective when blitzing the QB when lined up at the line of scrimmage. In coverage, he displays good toughness to knock the ball out of the receiver’s hands and shows a willingness to tackle much like his Alabama teammate.

As is important for the most dominant of cornerbacks, Surtain displays good mental processing. His calling card is his range in zone coverage covering the deep thirds of the field reading and reacting to QB eyes and possessing the awareness to effectively communicate assignments with other defensive backs in order to match receivers through their routes. There was a greater need to read and react to WRs and Tuscaloosa because of the match-style defense, but his proficiency in that department should translate nicely at the professional level.

The instincts continue in man coverage where he looks incredibly smooth reading and reacting to the receiver’s hips to mirroring WR and TEs throughout route stem, breakpoint, and catch point.

Surtain is obviously pretty good in press-man coverage. He has good athletic ability and possesses the necessary agility, change of direction, and foot speed to mirror receivers in man coverage. He is consistent at mirroring the receiver off the line of scrimmage displaying good footwork and use of hands to maintain leverage against the wide receiver and force him toward the boundary. Through the route stem, he displays the change of direction and agility to mirror receivers through their cuts not losing leverage or allowing separation.

On film, Surtain struggled in off-man coverage. He tested well in both jumps not confirming my priors of concerns with his explosiveness and arm length. As Jaycee Horn mentioned, perhaps it’s the way he plays the position.

Surtain is a great prospect and will hopefully be the next dominant cornerback to appear in a Dan Quinn-led defense.