Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
[BLG Note: BIG thanks to w.connell4 for filling in on very short notice and coming up with an explanation for a pick he did not even make in the BGN mock.]
America’s Team boasts a strong starting roster on both sides of the ball heading into 2023. This offseason the Cowboys traded for WR Brandin Cooks and DB Stephon Gilmore while retaining Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch, among others. While CeeDee Lamb’s contract looms, the team’s lack of holes allows Jerry Jones to focus on best player available.
In a class with undersized guards, scarce few X receivers, and a flashy running back sure to inspire a reach, the Cowboys will benefit from watching the draft play out before making their call. The biggest needs, however, are offensive line, wide receiver, and tight end.
To Jerry Jones’ credit, this has always been a position of strength in Dallas. That said, an aging Tyron Smith and an ailing Terence Steele hardly make for a fortified group. With just two pieces expected to be around in 2024-25, investing here boosts depth immediately and resolves tomorrow’s headaches.
CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Brandin Cooks are hardly an eyesore, but Lamb is due to get paid and Cooks is aging. Gallup has not proved to stay healthy, so drafting a true No. 2 to pair with Lamb is essential in this Draft. What this draft lacks is a true X option, and Dallas won’t want to draft a backup with its first round pick.
Dalton Schultz is a Texan now, leaving a gap at the position. Darnell Washington is a popular choice to go first among tight ends in this draft, and Dallas makes sense. That said, if ever there was a class to add a blue-chip tight end on day two, it is the Class of 2023.
With the 25th pick in the 2023 NFL draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars select Drew Sanders, Arkansas.
Kyle Van Noy
“Finding a comparison for Sanders was difficult because nobody plays quite like him. The best comparison might simply be the Tasmanian Devil of “Looney Tunes” fame. Sanders flies to the ball, lining up all across the defensive front to find advantageous matchups.” - Andrew Dixon, The Score
- Former edge rusher who transitioned to off-ball linebacker in 2022. He has linebacker knowledge to protect his zone while keeping eyes on the quarterback, and the burst to blaze past offensive linemen and get the sack. Finished 2022 with 11 sacks. His ability to pursue the quarterback should not overshadow his greatest strength: run defense. He moves laterally at the position and avoids engaging linemen until the back commits to a hole.
Sanders transferred from Alabama to Arkansas, switching positions in the process. His flexibility of position will fit in Dallas’ linebacker scheme that produces sacks from every level of the front seven. His three-cone drill was good (albeit not great), but tape doesn’t lie: he has an ability to accelerate past any defense. Sanders’ main flaw is a lack of positional certainty; transitioning between positions in different collegiate programs leaves questions marks around his role, but Dan Quinn is sure to
Sanders will line up beside Micah Parsons and Leighton Vander Esch to solidify what is easily the best linebacking group in the NFL. Competing in a division against Dallas Goedert and Darren Waller will demand speed at the position, something he is not lacking in whatsoever.
The Cowboys ended the season boasting a top tier defense but were 22nd in rushing yards allowed. Their few losses included notable rushing performances:
- Week 10 loss to Green Bay – 207 rushing yards allowed
- Week 16 loss to Jacksonville – 193 rushing yards allowed
- Week 18 loss to Washington – 155 yards yards allowed
Drew Sanders is Jerry Jones’ ideal pick: a BPA option that addresses multiple needs within the Cowboys’ Super Bowl window. Sanders joins a star-studded roster that can address depth on days two and three while competing to the Lombardi now.
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2023 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Panthers (pheebthegoose): QB Bryce Young
2) Texans (Phoenix X Minimus): QB C.J. Stroud
3) Cardinals (alwaysaphillyfan): EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts (eaglenomics): QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop): DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions (Sam2TheMaximum): DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders (joey2arms): OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons (Kephas): CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears (chewy wellington): OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles (Philly21): CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans (RachAttack): WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans (Domonate): WR Quentin Johnston
13) Jets (JawnJam): OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots (Amish Eagle Lion): CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers (bdawk4ever): QB Will Levis
16) Commanders (the dog did it): OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers (Dr.MidnightGreen): CB Deonte Banks
18) Lions (DreadPirateRocco): DT Adetomiwa Adebawore
19) Buccaneers (Neil Dutton): DT Calijah Kancey
20) Seahawks (wardbell92): DE Myles Murphy
21) Chargers (Brendanekstrom): TE Dalton Kincaid
22) Ravens (Rollinpin): RB Bijan Robinson
23) Vikings (FierceDisc65): DE Lukas Van Ness
24) Jaguars (Leo Bedio): DB Brian Branch
25) Giants (dkays): WR Jordan Addison
26) Cowboys (w.connell4): LB Drew Sanders
27) Bills (EHyungNim)
28) Bengals (mainmanham)
29) Saints (RiverCityEagle)
30) Eagles (ablesser88)
31) Chiefs (Hoosinole)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected in the 2023 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Cowboys pick at No. 26?
This poll is closed
LB Drew Sanders
TE Michael Mayer
TE Dalton Kincaid
TE Darnell Washington
TE Luke Musgrave
RB Jahmyr Gibbs
WR Zay Flowers
WR Jalin Hyatt
OG O’Cyrus Torrence
OG Steve Avila
DT Bryan Bresee
DT Mazi Smith
1) Panthers: QB C.J. Stroud
2) Texans: QB Bryce Young
3) Cardinals: EDGE Will Anderson
4) Colts: QB Anthony Richardson
5) Seahawks: DT Jalen Carter
6) Lions: DE Tyree Wilson
7) Raiders: OT Paris Johnson Jr.
8) Falcons: CB Christian Gonzalez
9) Bears: OT Peter Skoronski
10) Eagles: CB Devon Witherspoon
11) Titans: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
12) Texans: DE Myles Murphy
13) Jets: OT Broderick Jones
14) Patriots: CB Joey Porter Jr.
15) Packers: DE Nolan Smith
16) Commanders: OT Darnell Wright
17) Steelers: CB Deonte Banks
18) Lions: DT Calijah Kancey
19) Buccaneers: QB Will Levis
20) Seahawks: DE Lukas Van Ness
21) Chargers: RB Bijan Robinson
22) Ravens: WR Quentin Johnston
23) Vikings: QB Hendon Hooker
24) Jaguars: DB Brian Branch
25) Giants: WR Jordan Addison