It’s obvious that the Dallas Cowboys will need to take a cornerback at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft.
The need for a starter opposite Trevon Diggs is glaring, especially since the team watched three-year starter Chido Awuzie walk to the Cincinnati Bengals during free agency.
And while defensive players made up six of of the eight unrestricted free agents signed by the team over the last three weeks, none were at cornerback.
Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II is the highest-ranked cornerback in the draft and is the likely target for the Cowboys with the 10th overall pick.
Things could get interesting if Florida tight end Kyle Pitts or Oregon tackle Penei Sewell fall.
Both will likely be ranked higher on the Cowboys’ draft board and would merit serious consideration —similar to what happened last year with wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, who was taken at 17 despite the team having bigger needs on defense.
The idea of a generational talent like Pitts joining receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Lamb as targets for quarterback Dak Prescott is something that certainly lights owner Jerry Jones’ fancy.
But barring a flashing light falling to them, lock in Surtain to the Cowboys at 10.
Here is the Star-Telegram’s second 2021 NFL mock draft:
1. Jaguars (1-15) — Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson, Jr.
If both parties haven’t been negotiating then what are they doing? This the draft’s top no-brainer.
2. Jets (2-14) — Zach Wilson, QB, BYU, Jr.
They lost the Lawrence Sweepstakes, but with Sam Darnold gone, they are taking a QB. This QB.
3. 49ers (6-10) from Dolphins via Texans — Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State, Jr.
San Francisco made the big move up for a QB. Fields is the pick here. Ignore the Mac Jones talk.
4. Falcons (4-12) — Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State, So.
Yup, that’s four straight quarterbacks to start the draft. Lance is perfect to develop behind Matt Ryan.
5. Bengals (4-11-1) — Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon, Jr.
Cincy isn’t drafting a QB, but they’re going to protect the one they have and Sewell is tops here.
6. Dolphins (10-6) from Eagles — Jamar Chase, WR, LSU, Jr.
The Dolphins need to get a No. 1 receiver for Tua and Chase is the best in the draft.
7. Lions (5-11) — Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama, Jr.
QB Jared Goff needs weapons and Detroit lost WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency.
8. Panthers (5-11) — Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida, So.
Carolina made the move at QB with Sam Darnold. Now, they get him a generational talent at tight end.
9. Broncos (5-11) — Rashawn Slater, OL, Northwestern, Sr.
Denver picked up two veteran CBs in free agency. Time to address that offensive line.
10. Cowboys (6-10) — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama, Jr.
The biggest deficiency is at cornerback. Surtain is the best CB on the board. Your move, Jerry Jones.
11. Giants (6-10) — Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State, Sr.
Parsons is a potential game changer at linebacker. It’s a great pick for a pretty good defense.
12. Eagles (4-11-1) from Dolphins via 49ers — Devonta Smith, WR, Alabama, Sr.
Philly took TCU’s Jalen Reagor in the first round last year, but they can’t pass up the Heisman winner.
13. Chargers (7-9) — Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame, Sr.
Parsons is getting all the hype, but some have Owusu-Koramoah as the best linebacker in the draft.
14. Vikings (7-9) — Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech, Jr.
While he lacks a mean streak, Darrisaw is considered one of the top tackles in this draft.
15. Patriots (7-9) —Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, S, TCU, Jr.
The hard-hitting TCU safety makes a big jump up the board, landing in New England with Bill Belichick.
16. Cardinals (8-8) — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, Jr.
All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson is gone, but Horn fits right in and fills a huge need for Arizona.
17. Raiders (8-8) — Kwity Paye, Edge, Michigan, Jr.
NFL Network’s draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks Paye as “the most explosive pass rusher in the draft.”
18. Dolphins (10-6) — Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson, Sr.
Etienne is the most explosive back in the draft. He can do it all, as a runner or as a receiver.
19. Washington Football Team (7-9) — Mac Jones, QB, Alabama, Sr.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is simply the place holder at quarterback in Washington. Jones could be the future.
20. Bears (8-8) — Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota, Jr.
A big target (6-2, 210 pounds) with great hands, Bateman would complement Allen Robinson.
21. Colts (11-5) — Terrace Marshall Jr., WR, LSU, Jr.
Indy traded for QB Carson Wentz. Now they need to get him somebody who’ll catch the ball.
22. Titans (11-5) — Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern, Jr.
Newsome is a big CB who can play bump and run or zone defense. He’ll make an immediate impact.
23. Jets (2-14) from Seahawks — Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State, Sr.
With their QB (Wilson) in place, New York makes a move to get him some protection in Jenkins.
24. Steelers (12-4) — Najee Harris, RB, Alabama, Sr.
Pittsburgh must improve its running game. The powerful Harris is the perfect fit for that offense.
25. Jaguars from Rams (10-6) — Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama, Sr..
Now that you’ve got Lawrence, you need to protect him. Leatherwood is an ideal left tackle.
26. Browns (11-5) — Zaven Collins, LB, Tulsa, Jr.
They need a boost at linebacker. Collins is a run stopper with size, athleticism and positional flexibility.
27. Ravens (11-5) — Christian Barmore, DL, Alabama, So.
Baltimore needs edge help, but it won’t pass on Barmore and his dominant upside at defensive tackle.
28. Saints (12-4) — Kadarius Toney, WR, Florida, Sr.
Receiving help is needed, and Toney will be electric in the slot with the skills to play outside.
29. Packers (13-3) — Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina, Jr.
The son of four-time Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn has the athletic gifts to be special.
30. Bills (13-3) — Ronnie Perkins, Edge, Oklahoma, Jr.
A three-year starter, Perkins is an explosive playmaker and game-impacting defender off the edge.
31. Chiefs (14-2) — Sam Cosmi, OT, Texas, Jr.
KC was exposed at tackle in the Super Bowl. The athletic but inconsistent Cosmi has star potential.
32. Buccaneers (11-5) — Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami, So.
The redshirt sophomore coming off opt-out season has amazing athleticism and a tremendous upside.