Another mock draft has washed up on the shores of the Pro Football Network. This time, however, I am not critiquing myself, but instead critiquing the selections made by one Matthew Valdovinos. He wasn’t fond of the Washington Football Teams’ selection of cornerback Eric Stokes. So, how did he do for the Cowboys this time around? This is a Cowboys early 2021 three-round mock review.
What players did the Cowboys select in Valdovinos’ three-round mock draft?
Round 1, Pick 28: Elijah Molden, DB, Washington
It’ll be tough to be upset with anything if the Cowboys are picking 28th overall. After all, it would have been Mike McCarthy’s first season as head coach, in a shortened offseason, with an almost entirely new staff surrounding the team. However, the talent this team already possesses, particularly on offense, means expectations are already high.
With the Cowboys high-powered offense, and the assets required to keep it, defense will more than likely be the plan of attack come April. Molden is in the mold of a lot of the Washington cornerbacks we’ve recently seen. Guys that can flat out cover, but all with little flaws that preclude them from being truly coveted.
Related | Valdovinos’ 3-round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
As Matt Valdovinos stated in his initial mock draft.
“Maybe the best man coverage defender in the class, Molden is a good athlete with very fluid hips and has natural instincts in coverage as well, making him more than capable in zone coverage. He has good ball skills and is very aggressive when it’s in the air, but he lacks natural play strength and can get bullied by receivers that are willing to block.”
What makes Molden an interesting option for Dallas
Matt touched upon the biggest issue with Molden in the pick synopsis. He’s not the biggest or strongest guy out there. In addition to the size concerns, Molden also primarily plays in the slot. That doesn’t automatically eliminate him from contention on the outside, but given his issues with size, length, and strength, it may be tough to match up against some X receivers.
I think he’s a fantastic slot prospect, and that’s fine. It’s even okay to value a primary slot late in the first round, but we must acknowledge that is his best position. So he will not be pairing opposite of Trevon Diggs on the outside, as Valdovinos suggested. Molden will be lined up beside him, sometimes, in the slot.
The issue with the pick arises when we think of the current roster construction. Do the Cowboys try and force Molden to the outside and use Anthony Brown as the slot? Do they move Anthony Brown to the outside and keep Molden in the slot? I’d consider a high-upside pick in Georgia’s Tyson Campbell or Stanford’s Paulson Adebo, depending on how they view Diggs after his rookie season and what kind of coverage schemes they’d like to frequent.
Round 2, Pick 60: Andre Cisco, S, Syracuse
The Cowboys have repeatedly neglected the safety position since before Twitter was a household name. It’s a position, especially with the modernization of defenses, that holds a good deal of responsibility. Cisco could help ease some of the pain from missing out on a player like *insert name here from the past few drafts.*
He’s got good size for the safety position, and his ball skills and aggression in coverage are both outstanding. He’s led the ACC the past two seasons in interceptions with 12 total. With the Cowboys newfound admiration for turnovers, a ball-hawking safety like Cisco would be a dream down at pick number 60.
Could Cisco be available this far into the draft?
Why is he still available at 60 with those ball skills? We know that no prospect is without their flaws, and Cisco is no different. He struggles as a tackler, which for a Cowboy, is not much of a departure if you’ve watched the past few seasons. With the addition of HaHa Clinton-Dix and Xavier Woods in 2020, that is unlikely to change.
Cisco will need to improve his entire attitude toward tackling. He struggles to play off blocks when coming downhill in run support and is consistently opting to ankle bite rather than square up and finish a tackle. Like LSU standout cover safety Grant Delpit, his pursuit angles can be forgettable, and at times, he seems disinterested in run support altogether.
As an overall athlete, it’ll be tough to argue against Cisco. He’s a springy player with hips that should allow him to stay with tight ends and slot receivers if he can continue to hone in on his man coverage ability. And if he becomes more urgent in his backpedal, it will only enhance the outstanding range he already possesses.
Round 3, Pick 91: Levi Onwuzurike, IDL, Washington
Onwuzurike is a really fun player up in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, the Pac-12 won’t have a season in 2020, but based on 2019 film, this would be a fun selection to add depth to a hybrid front defense. If the Cowboys run a three-down linemen front more often, Onwuzurike could be a candidate to play as a four or five-technique as well as pushing down inside, where he most often plays at Washington right now.
His most effective role would be as a gap-shooting pass rusher on the interior. However, he has shown some two-gapping chops at the college level, even weighing sub-290 pounds. If that is going to translate to the next level seamlessly, it would probably be better suited taking on tackles and guards rather than fighting through the scrum in the interior.
This seems to be a bit of a sweet spot in Matthew’s draft. Just after this selection, two other Pac-12 defenders caught my eye. With the uncertainty of Woods’ future in Dallas and the unknown of the outside cornerback spot with the selection of Molden, both Talanoa Hufanga and Camryn Bynum popped out as potential selections.
The safety and cornerback from USC and California, respectively, are both fun players that could help this passing defense. Tufanga would be a solid stylistic complement to Cisco as more of a strong safety type. Bynum’s lack of top-end athleticism would work better in a matched-based coverage scheme defensively across from Diggs.