The Dallas Cowboys are once again in win-now mode, making the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft all that much more important. Dallas has done a decent job rounding out their roster, but this draft has the chance to fill some remaining holes while acquiring key players for a season that should end in a playoff run. The Cowboys have plenty of picks, so expect them to make some moves in this years draft and try to add enough talent to push themselves over the edge. This mock draft was constructed using PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator.
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R1/24th pick: OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa
Penning would likely step right in as the Day 1 starter at right tackle. The Cowboys have a huge hole at that position on the offensive line, and Penning is an instant solution. He’s an absolutely fantastic run blocker with a mean streak that owner Jerry Jones will love. Picking offensive linemen is also one of the safer solutions in the first round of the draft, as offensive linemen have a higher success rate from the draft than any other position. Penning may struggle a little bit as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL, but he would still be a plug-and-play pick for Dallas.
R2/56th pick: Edge Drake Jackson, USC
The edge rusher position quietly became a big need for the Cowboys over the offseason. Randy Gregory left for the Denver Broncos, and Dallas didn’t have any real solutions lined up to deal with his absence. Star linebacker Micah Parsons will likely play defensive end in some capacity, but he only spent 41% of his snaps there last season.
That’s where Drake Jackson comes in. Jackson is a great pass-rushing prospect who would be able to handle the role in a rotational capacity. He isn’t the best against the run, but a lot of that can be contributed to his frame. Assuming the USC product is able to bulk up over the course of the offseason, Dallas should be able to count on him as a part-time starter with big potential later down the line. That’s pretty great value for a second-rounder.
R3/88th pick: Center Luke Fortner, Kentucky
This pick is a bit of a reach in the third round, but it does fill a position of need for Dallas. The Cowboys are shockingly thin at the interior offensive line positions after the departure of guard Connor Williams. They are currently set to start Connor McGovern at left guard with no real backups entrenched at the position. Enter Luke Fortner. Fortner won’t wow anyone with any specific skills, but his solid work in pass protection and run blocking make him an appealing prospect. His ability to play center and guard is an added benefit. The former Wildcat is the definition of a high-floor prospect. That is exactly what the Cowboys should be looking at for their offensive line depth.
R4/129th pick: Guard Lecitus Smith, Virginia Tech
Much of the reasoning for the Fortner pick can be applied here as well. One addition isn’t enough to fix a major depth issue on the interior of the line, so doubling down makes a ton of sense. Smith was a three-year starter for Virginia Tech, showcasing his strengths in pass protection. He needs some work in the run game, but the Cowboys won’t be asking him to start right away. If Smith develops into a reliable backup that can start when asked, this pick will be a success.
R5/155th pick: TE Grant Calcaterra, SMU
After the departure of tight end Blake Jarwin in the offseason, the Cowboys are a little thin at the position. They obviously have Dalton Schultz, who’s coming off of a career year, but there isn’t much behind him. Calcaterra could provide Dallas with a potential backup at the position. The former Oklahoma Sooner is at his best catching the ball and running routes in space. That should align with what the Cowboys are looking for at the position. It’s easy to see Calcaterra being used in two tight end sets and giving quarterback Dak Prescott another big, reliable target over the middle. There is some concern with concussion issues, but this is a fifth-round pick. Calcaterra is worth the risk.
R5/167th pick: DL Eyioma Uwazurike, Iowa State
Uwazurike is an appealing project at a position of need for the Cowboys. During his time at Iowa State, Uwazurike was part of some of the best run defenses in all of college football. He’s at his best defending the run, and he can do so from any spot on the defensive line. Dallas has plenty of young defensive tackles already on roster, but none of them are particularly appealing outside of Osa Odighizuwa. Injuries have also been a problem at the position, making this pick even more sensible. Uwazurike is a complete projection, but using a fifth-rounder on him won’t hurt.
R5/176th pick: Safety Sterling Weatherford, Miami (OH)
Weatherford has the chance to be an absolute steal if used correctly. He should come into the league and immediately make a big impact on special teams, which automatically makes him an appealing late-round pick. Weatherford is also capable of playing the role of a box safety or a sub-package linebacker. That adds depth at a position where the Cowboys need additional players. He shouldn’t see the field much in his rookie year, but he’s an appealing prospect that will be a good special-teamer at the very least.
R5/178th pick: RB Pierre Strong Jr., South Dakota State
This pick is a pure flier. Dallas doesn’t need any help at running back, but Strong is too appealing to pass up this late in the draft. He’s one of the must underrated backs in the class. He could also provide value on special teams. Drafting Strong is pretty much the definition of a low-risk, high-reward pick. He should be on every NFL fans’ radar this offseason.
R6/193rd pick: WR Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
Why not add a speed demon with the last pick of the draft class? Thornton ran an incredible 4.28 forty-yard dash at the combine, automatically making him a somewhat appealing prospect. He isn’t a great player right now, but if he could just develop into a one-trick pony using his speed, this would be a home run pick for Dallas. If he doesn’t work out, no one will fault the Cowboys for taking a chance on him in the sixth round.