NFL Draft Notebook: Dallas Cowboys Add Instant Contributors in Mock Draft

Sep 4, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Gervon Dexter (9) celebrates as he makes sack against the Florida Atlantic Owls during the fourth quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 4, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Gervon Dexter (9) celebrates as he makes sack against the Florida Atlantic Owls during the fourth quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Gervon Dexter comes off the board early in this Cowboys mock draft, plus a deep dive on Tennessee’s Byron Young, and more NFL Draft topics!

A team who has been active this offseason has been the Dallas Cowboys, who have already brought in several different playmakers. Some of these additions include trading for Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore in addition to resigning some of their own key free agents. While these players fill some key positions, the Cowboys must add a few more difference-makers in the 2023 NFL Draft.

In this week’s NFL Draft Notebook, we take a look at what the Cowboys may do in the 2023 NFL Draft and the following:

  • Scouting Tennessee defensive end Byron Young
  • The top middle linebackers in the 2023 NFL Draft
  • A couple of notes on some Florida Gators
  • And much more!

Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft

Round 1, Pick 26: Gervon Dexter, DT, Florida
The Cowboys need to find a big athletic defensive tackle and Florida’s Gervon Dexter fits that description. Dexter, who comes in at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, moves extremely well for his size. He also does a good job of clogging up running lanes and should be able to contend for a starting job on the Cowboys d-line next season.

Round 2, Pick 58: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah
Utah’s Clark Phillips III might not have the prototypical cornerback size, coming in at 5-foot-9, or speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds, but there is no doubt he is a playmaker. Last season, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year tied for the Power Five lead with six interceptions. He also showed impressive ball skills in 2021 leading the Pac-12 with 15 pass deflections. He should be able to provide depth for the Cowboys next season and slide into the nickel cornerback job in two years.

Round 3, Pick 90: Tak Bigsby, RB, Auburn
In last week’s NFL Draft Notebook, we gave our in-depth scouting report on Auburn running back Tank Bigsby, who has the potential to develop into a starting running back. In Dallas, he will backup Tony Pollard and if the team moves on from Pollard after next season, he should be able to step in as a starter in 2023.

Round 4, Pick 129: Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Even with the Cowboys set at receiver with CeeDee Lamb and Brandin Cooks, they need to add some depth to this position. LSU’s Kayshon Boutte has his share of character concerns but still has the potential to develop into a starter in the NFL.

Round 5, Pick 176: Will Mallory, TE, Miami
Dallas is rumored to be considering the tight end position with their first-round pick, but in this mock draft, they wait until the third day to address this need. Mallory is an athletic tight end who shows the speed to stretch a defense.

Round 6, Pick 212: Stetson Bennett, QB, Georgia
The Cowboys have stated how they plan on drafting a quarterback this year, and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett could be a good day-three pick. Bennett is a proven winner who shows good accuracy and also the ability to make plays both inside and outside the pocket. Landing a back-to-back National Champion in round six of this mock draft presents great value for Dallas.

Round 7, Pick 244: Bumper Pool, OLB, Arkansas

The Cowboys need to add depth at the linebacker position and also someone who can play special teams. Arkansas’s Bumper Pool is one of the more underrated players in this year’s draft, having had elite production the last two years. Jerry Jones dips into the Razorback pool to end this mock draft.

Byron Young Scouting Report

A player who has truly come out of nowhere to become a day-two prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft is Byron Young. While at Carvers Bay High School, he was not a highly thought of prospect and didn’t receive any Power Five offers. This led him to not even go to college coming out of high school but instead working as an assistant manager at Dollar General.

After working at Dollar General for 18 months, Young decided to try out for the Georgia Military Academy football team. In his first season at the school, he posted impressive stats including 11 tackles for loss and seven sacks. He was hoping to follow that up with another strong season in 2020, but unfortunately, that season was canceled due to Covid. However, his strong 2019 season was enough to get scouts’ attention, receiving several SEC offers and being named the No. 11 overall junior college player by

While Young earned offers from schools like Texas, Ole Miss, and Missouri, he ended up going to Tennessee. In his first season with the Vols he made eight starts and tied for the team lead in both sacks and tackles for loss. His best game of that year was likely his effort against Kentucky. Against the Wildcats he was able to get the quarterback twice and come away with four total tackles.

His best season in Knoxville, though, was this past season. Young was named first-team All-SEC and was twice named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week. Overall on the season, he was able to account for 37 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and seven sacks. His sack total this year again led Tennessee and also placed him sixth in the SEC in this category.

Young started the predraft process by having a strong Senior Bowl. In this event, he was even starting to get first-round hype due to his explosion as a pass rusher. He followed that with an even more impressive NFL Combine. His most impressive number at this event was his 4.43 40-yard dash, but he also posted a strong vertical jump of 38 inches and a broad jump of 11’0.

When scouting Young, the top trait that stands out with him is his ability to get to the passer. In this area, he shows an elite burst off the ball, which routinely allows him to beat the offensive tackle off the ball. He also shows the flexibility to get around the edge and not overrun the quarterback in the pocket. He can pick up sacks with his motor, which will allow him to record coverage sacks in the NFL.

While teams will love his ability to get to the passer, they will have some concerns about how he plays the run, especially if they project him as a defensive end compared to an outside linebacker. The biggest reason for this concern is his lack of strength and bulk, coming in at only 250 pounds. He also will need to use his hands better to hold up as a run defender. One issue with his hand use is he needs to learn how to shed blockers better instead of letting them take him out of the play. One more concern with him is that he is an older player who will be 25 next season.

Overall, Young will likely be a second-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. The reason he will most likely hear his name called in the first 60 picks is his pass-rushing ability, which is a trait NFL teams crave. A couple of the teams who could be a good fit for Young and have already met with him, including the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers.

Top Five Middle Linebackers in the 2023 NFL Draft

Jack Campbell, Iowa
When scouting middle linebackers a few character traits you look for are hard worker, smart, and leader; Iowa’s Jack Campbell has all these characteristics. In addition to having great football character, Campbell also has the physical traits needed to play in the NFL. His top trait is his ability to play downhill and be a strong run defender.

Daiylan Henley, Washington State
The middle linebacker who may have the highest upside is Washington State’s, Daiyan Henley. While Henley is still learning the linebacker position after starting his career as a tight end he shows the physical skills to be a high-end starter. The first trait that stands out is his 4.54 speed which allows him to fly around and make tackles sideline to sideline. He also has the fluid hips to hold up well in coverage and should be able to match up with most tight ends or running backs in coverage.

Drew Sanders, Arkansas
Arkansas’s Drew Sanders had a strong season in his one year with the Razorbacks. He finished second in the SEC with 9.5 sacks and also accounted for 103 tackles. When watching his film it is easy to see why he accounted for so many sacks, as he is one of the best blitzers in the draft. The big concern with him is his lack of power when making tackles. He missed 19% of his tackles last year according to Pro Football Focus.

Noah Sewell, Oregon
Oregon’s Noah Sewell had a disappointing 2022 season after leading the Pac-12 in tackles in 2021. This past season he was only able to come away with 56 tackles, and his game showed several concerns for NFL scouts. The biggest issue with him is his lack of agility, which causes him to have trouble in space especially when it comes to making the tackle. On the positive side, he is a good-sized linebacker who plays with good power.

Owen Pappoe, Auburn
A player who tests better than he plays is Auburn’s Owen Pappoe. Pappoe posted a very impressive 4.39 40-yard dash and 35.5-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine and was Bruce Feldman’s No.8 freak athlete going into the season. The concerns with his game come when you notice how he waits for the ball carrier to come to him instead of attacking downhill. Another concern is that he only shows average instincts and will often overrun plays or be out of position.

NFL Draft Scouting Notes

— I am starting to think the team that drafts Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson will be the Seattle Seahawks. While the team has shown an interest in all four of the top quarterbacks, Richardson seems to make the most sense for them. The first reason for this is where they are picking in the draft, and it seems pretty much a sure thing C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young will be the top two picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Another reason is the team has Geno Smith, who is established as the team’s starter, so there shouldn’t be much pressure to play Richardson as a rookie. The last reason is that Pete Carroll has already shown he knows how to develop an offense for an athletic quarterback, and he should have no problem putting Richardson in the right situation.

— An interesting note on Florida wide receiver Justin Shorter from Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline is that he is getting some looks as an H-back. This could be a good move for him as he has the speed, running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, and the agility to create mismatches in the passing game. He also has the bulk to handle some of the blocking responsibilities that come with this position, weighing in at 234 pounds. A couple of the teams who have shown an interest in him according to Pauline are the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars.

— It is intriguing to see what college football coaches were telling Bruce Feldman about Texas Tech defensive end Tyree Wilson. While they all said he was talented, two of the three coaches were surprised that he was getting top-ten talk. One other coach said he didn’t look good in space and that he is a bit stiff. These are some of the same concerns I have and why I have a day two grade on Wilson.

— A player college coaches that Bruce Feldman talked to were high on who also received a higher grade from me than most people are giving him is Georgia Tech defensive end, Keion White. I currently have a top 20 grade on White, and after seeing how these coaches feel, I am even more confident with that grade. One coach mentioned that he was the top ACC defensive lineman they saw all season and another mentioned “He’s still very raw fundamentally, but makes a lot of plays because he’s so explosive. He has some strong mitts, and he plays really hard. That could take him a long way.”

Quote of the Week

“He’s the most accurate quarterback I’ve ever played against. It’s like he couldn’t have handed the ball to his receivers any better, and they’re 30, 40 yards downfield. He’s got high-level NFL accuracy and NFL vision. I think he understands the game so well and gets it out in under three seconds. He has very high football IQ.”

-A college football coach to Bruce Feldman on Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud

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