Van Tate’s 2017 Draft predictions for the Dallas Cowboys

FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2017, file photo, Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo talks to Dak Prescott before an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. Now that NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Prescott is entrenched as the starting quarterback for the Cowboys, it will be fascinating to see what happens with his predecessor, Romo. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Dallas Cowboys had one of the better drafts of 2016. What can they do for an encore in 2017? If they are to address needs, then you would expect the defensive side of the football to get help. The Cowboys need playmakers on the defensive line and secondary. They have the 28th pick of the first round.

That pick will probably dictate the rest of the draft for the Cowboys. Do they go with a tough pass rusher like Michigan defensive end Taco Charlton or do they take someone in the secondary like Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. The big question is whether either of those players will be around by the 28th pick. Regardless, it seems as if the Cowboys will go heavy on defensive picks. Here is my mock draft for the Cowboys.

First Round, 28th pick: Takkarist McKinley – DE UCLA

McKinley is a high motor guy who is only 6 foot 2 and tough. He had 10 sacks and three forced fumbles for the Bruins this past season. McKinley had shoulder surgery after the NFL combine to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Not sure if that will make some teams shy away. McKinley has visited the Cowboys and it sounds like he wants to be there as a player.

Second Round, 66th pick: Jalen “Teez” Tabor – CB Florida

Tabor had 33 tackles and four interceptions last season. He also had six passes broken up. His instincts to the ball are really good and could serve him well in Dallas. He did have an off the field incident that led to him missing the season opener for Florida last season. Hopefully, it is a one-time thing.

Third Round, 92nd pick: Ethan Pocic – G/C LSU

At 6 feet and 5 inches, Pocic is tall for a center. That is a selling point because of the size of some of the defensive personnel he will have to face in the NFL. His abilities in pass coverage have been pointed out as a strength. He would fit in nicely with the young and lethal offensive line of the Cowboys.

Fourth Round, 133rd pick: Donnell Pumphrey – RB SDSU

Donnell Pumphrey is the new NCAA Division 1 all-time leading rusher. At 5 foot 9, he is not the biggest guy on the field but, plays that way. He could be a good lightning to Ezekiel Elliott’s thunder. He could also help on special teams, returning kicks or punts. Pumphrey has never had a problem producing.

Sixth Round, 211th pick: Davon Godchaux – DT LSU

Godchaux comes with life skills, having made it through a really tough upbringing. The football field is like a sanctuary when you live a life like the one he has endured. Godchaux has decent speed as an interior defensive lineman but, he also is tested when trying to fight off double teams. He could be a good tough defensive lineman for the Cowboys.

Seventh Round, 228th pick: Fred Ross – WR Mississippi State

Ross was a favorite target of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in college. He has that working for him. The six foot two 205 pound Ross had 934 yards last season and a dozen touchdowns. Dak to Ross worked in college maybe it will work again in the National Football League.

Seventh Round 246th pick: Elijah Lee – LB Kansas State

Lee is an all big 12 linebacker who seems to have a knack for finding the football. Might work out well as a late pick for the Cowboys.

For more on the 2017 draft, check out Mark Ronchetti’s draft predictions »

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