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Pat Doney Predicts Cowboys First Three Draft Picks

Positions of need top the Cowboys' 2018 draft wish list

I’ve spent some time the last few days trying to piece together the Cowboys draft needs, the prospects they’ve had in for visits, and the philosophy with which the Cowboys have made decisions in the past.

That led me here, to my prediction of who I believe the Cowboys will draft in the first three rounds Thursday and Friday in AT&T Stadium. Let’s begin...

With the 19th pick in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select:

James Daniels, Iowa offensive guard/center

“Really? Another offensive lineman?!!” Absolutely. The Cowboys discovered in 2017 that it actually requires five good pieces up front to dominate like they did in 2016. Losing Ron Leary (signed with Denver) hurt more than Dallas could have imagined. Drafting an offensive guard like Daniels ensures the Cowboys will have Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin (assuming Dallas signs him to an expected long-term deal soon), and the rookie through the year 2023. The other starter, La’el Collins, is under contract through 2019.

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With the 50th pick in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select:

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James Washington, Oklahoma State wide receiver

Dez Bryant’s replacement? Kind of. But is that even necessary? In 2016, Dez missed three games due to injury, sat in a meaningless Week 17 game vs Philadelphia, and had three other games that finished with just one reception. And the Cowboys won 13 games. Clearly, elite receiver talent is a luxury and not a necessity in Dallas’s scheme. Washington made a ton of big plays at Oklahoma State, but his route running has been questioned. The Cowboys could benefit from adding a deep threat who knows how to go get the football, providing just enough of a threat to keep defenses honest.

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With the 81st pick in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select:

Darius Leonard, South Carolina State linebacker

The Cowboys need to add depth at linebacker, and were interested enough in Leonard to have him in for a pre-draft visit and private workout. Cowboys VP Stephen Jones recently continued his high praise of Dallas LB Jaylon Smith as he continues to return from his knee injury, and Sean Lee remains one of the best linebackers in football when he’s on the field. But there are questions regarding the durability and availability of both players. With Anthony Hitchens off to Indianapolis, Dallas could benefit from a solid prospect like Leonard, who was clearly under-recruited coming out of high school, and finished his senior season with 124 tackles and was named the Senior Bowl’s defensive MVP.

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