Todd McShay's first mock: Cowboys take Clemson's Christian Wilkins

Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins has the position versatility that the Cowboys look for. Dannie Walls/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

FRISCO, Texas -- At 7-6, the Dallas Cowboys are in the playoff chase, albeit barely, but it’s never too soon to think about next spring’s NFL draft.

ESPN Insider Todd McShay released his first mock draft on Wednesday and he had the Cowboys selecting defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.

Wilkins is 6-foot-4, 300 pounds. He has 47 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 8.5 tackles for loss, four pass breakups and 10 pressures. He has filled just about every defensive stat line.

In McShay’s write up he mentions the Cowboys have to bolster the interior of their defensive line. He mentions Wilkins would be more of a 3-technique than a nose tackle. The Cowboys have played David Irving at the 3 technique with some success but he is probably more suited to play defensive end. If Stephen Paea had not been lost for the season with a knee injury, then Maliek Collins would have handled the 3-technique spot this year after a productive rookie season.

So do the Cowboys need another under tackle? That can be debated. They have clearly not valued the need for a nose tackle, getting by with guys like Nick Hayden, Terrell McClain and Paea over the last few years.

But a quote in this terrific feature on Wilkins stood out to me about how he would fit in the Cowboys’ scheme, provided the Cowboys are actually running the same defense in 2018, from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney:

"It's like a switch-hitter in baseball, a guy that can hit 25 home runs right-handed and left-handed," Swinney said. "There's nobody else that can go and play 3-technique, shade and end, and not miss a beat. Plus, you've got to have the mentality for it. I've been around some ends who could go play D-tackle, but they didn't really have the mentality for it. I've been around a lot of really good D-tackles but maybe not quite athletic enough to go play D-end. He is a rare guy."

Ah, the great position flexibility asset the Cowboys almost always rave about.

The Cowboys have committed high draft assets over the years on the defensive line. Tyrone Crawford was a third-round pick in 2012. DeMarcus Lawrence was a second-rounder in 2014. They took Randy Gregory in the second round in 2015. They took Collins in the third round in 2016. Taco Charlton was a first-round pick in 2017.

There will be a lot of questions to be answered in the future, like the contracts for Lawrence (unrestricted free agent) and Irving (restricted free agent), but for now selecting Wilkins would make sense for the Cowboys.