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ESPN mock draft sends Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey to Cowboys in round 1

The Dallas Cowboys don’t often use draft capital on defensive tackles but a fresh mock has them opting for Pittsburgh DT Calijah Kancey with their first round pick.

DALLAS — The Dallas Cowboys could see a sure three-technique defensive tackle land in their laps in Round 1 if a recent ESPN seven-round mock draft is to be believed.

According to Jordan Reid from ESPN, the Cowboys might opt to use their No. 26 overall pick in the first round to shore up their defensive line with Pittsburgh defensive tackle Calijah Kancey.

"The Cowboys have had an active offseason with the emphasis around adding proven players to the roster," Reid writes. "They filled their needs at cornerback and wide receiver, and their biggest deficiencies remain in the trenches. Although they have a loaded depth chart at edge rusher, they lack a game-changer along the interior. Kancey would immediately change their ability to get after the passer. His electric first step, quick hands and ability to generate pressure are areas Dallas lacks. He had 14 sacks over the past two seasons."

Kancey comes from the same school that produced three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald. No doubt there would be some comparisons drawn as both are undersized defensive tackles, and Kancey would be playing for the most recognizable and talked about sports team in the galaxy.

The prospect of taking Kancey would be highly unlikely, however, given how the Cowboys have valued defensive tackle throughout the Jerry Jones ownership. The last defensive tackle that the Cowboys took was Arkansas' John Ridgeway in the fifth round last year. 

The last first-round defensive tackle for the franchise was Russell Maryland in 1991, the No. 1 overall pick from Miami. History has shown that the Cowboys value defensive tackle differently than in the beginning of the Jones era.

At the NFL combine on March 1, Kancey told reporters that he is aware he has to play with a high motor given his 6’0”, 280-pound frame.

"I just know I have to play with great technique and use my speed to my advantage," said Kancey. "It's my speed and my quickness. Playing with good leverage, getting underneath the thigh pads of bigger offensive linemen, that's my advantage I have against bigger offensive linemen."

Kancey generated 31 combined tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks through 14 games for the Panthers in 2023.

Other players Dallas nabbed in this mock included TCU guard Steve Avila at No. 58 overall in Round 2, UCLA running back Zach Charbonnet at No. 90 overall in Round 3, and Penn State tight end Brenton Strange at No. 129 overall in Round 4. There were no trades in the mock draft, which, if mirrored in late April, would allow the Cowboys to use their entire seven-pick complement.

Would you be happy to see the Cowboys go with a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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