NFL Draft News & Analysis

Dallas Cowboys 7-round mock draft: Cowboys invest in their interior offensive and defensive lines

2T38CMA Illinois defensive lineman Jer'Zhan Newton rushes the quarterback during an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Dallas Cowboys invest in interior defensive line early: Jer'Zhan Newton would help upgrade Dallas' underperforming interior defensive line immediately.

Trey Benson replaces Tony Pollard: Benson's presence would help Dallas' running game immediately, enabling it to maintain and even improve production without Pollard.

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As we charge toward the 2024 NFL Draft, our seven-round team mock draft series continues with the Dallas Cowboys

Round 1, Pick 24: DI Jer'Zhan Newton, Illinois

Newton, the 2023 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, is listed at only 6-foot-1.5 and 300 pounds, but he often makes up for it in quickness. Few pass rushers get off blocks better than him. He likes to win by getting his hands on a blocker and using a push-pull or arm-over move. He brings a wide variety of pass-rush moves and counters.

In run defense, he shoots his hands up and in and throws linemen aside after getting them off-balance. If he does not immediately win, he can get controlled at his lower weight. His high run-defense grades come more from gap shooting than from holding the line, and he does not hold up consistently against double teams.

Round 2, Pick 56: G Christian Haynes, Connecticut

Haynes was a four-year starting right guard at UConn. He has the ideal build for an interior offensive lineman: shorter in height for leverage but higher in weight with long arms. His weight is also distributed well, especially in the lower half, which allows him to anchor bull rushes and throw down lighter defenders.

He has a good first step off the line of scrimmage, and that makes for some impactful blocks as a puller and a zone blocker. His overall athleticism is good, but he can get off balance when in space. He isn’t as much of a people-mover in a man- or gap-blocking scheme. He also doesn’t sit as low as he should in pass protection.

Round 3, Pick 87: RB Trey Benson, Florida State

Benson’s track speed shows up immediately on tape, as his acceleration and top speed are both excellent. His explosiveness allows him to covert speed-to-power to break tackles.

He is a bit stiff when it comes to changing direction and agility. His athletic advantage is a good thing, but it does affect his mentality, vision and patience for rush lanes. He is overeager to get to the sideline and outrun defenders rather than find a cutback lane.

Round 5, Pick 174: C Hunter Nourzad, Penn State

Even though he's not picked until Day 3, Nourzad is a clean enough prospect that he could vie for Dallas' starting center gig early on in his career. Nourzad's ability to thrive on zone-running plays would be a boon for the middle of Dallas' offensive line.

Round 6, Pick 216: LB Jaylan Ford, Texas

Ford projects as a high-energy depth linebacker as a MIKE who could be a consistent contributor on special teams.

Round 7, Pick 233: S Trey Taylor, Air Force

Taylor has decent all-around size, body control and football intelligence to put himself in the right positions consistently. His lack of a top gear limits how much he can be relied upon as a back-end defender, but he can be a solid depth and special teams defensive back.

Round 7, Pick 244: T KT Leveston, Kansas State

Leveston has the build, strength and movement ability of a starting guard in the NFL, but his hand work must improve.

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