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Yes, I know you're tired of mocks. We're less than an hour away from the start of the first round and you're ready to get down to the real thing; so am I. However, I have to get my mock on the record and I haven't had a chance to.
So no fluff, just the meat. Dallas selects... Mark Barron.
I think he makes it to 14 and I think Dallas runs up to the podium. He's everything you want out of a safety, despite all the ridiculous excuses you've heard from your friends over the past three weeks. Also, yes I've heard of the trade that Cleveland just moved up to #3, but what kind of guy cheats on a mock draft? My pick position stays the same.
|5||Tampa Bay||Trent Richardson|
|6||St. Louis||Matt Kalil|
|11||Kansas City||David DeCastro|
|16||NY Jets||Courtney Upshaw|
|18||San Diego||Dre Kirkpatrick|
|27||New England||Devon Still|
|28||Green Bay||Shea McClellin|
|30||San Francisco||Kendell Reyes|
|31||New England||Chandler Jones|
|32||NY Giants||Don'ta Hightower|
So there it is, on the record. Don't say I'm ashamed to embarrass myself.
For more coverage of the Dallas Cowboys draft, make sure to check out Blogging The Boys.
While the Dallas Cowboys are widely believed to be focused on Mark Barron and David DeCastro, it's looking increasingly likely that both players could be gone by the time they are on the clock at No. 14.
That's how SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber sees the first round playing out in his final mock draft, and he has Dallas turning to LSU DL Michael Brockers:
14. Dallas Cowboys, Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
Dallas is a candidate to move up with Barron in their sights. In this scenario they settle for Brockers, a mountain of a man loaded with talent needing some refining.
Brockers, at 6'6 325, has the size to be a nose tackle or a defensive end in the Cowboys 3-4 scheme, the question is whether he will be an effective pass rusher as well, considering that he ran a 5.3 40 at the Combine while getting only 2 sacks this season at LSU.
However, he was part of a deep defensive line rotation for the Tigers and his upside is considered extremely high by most scouts, as he is one of the youngest players in the draft.
Either way, what had seemed like a predictable NFL Draft for the Cowboys is turning into anything but.
Pro Football Weekly breaks down Brockers, ranking him as the No. 21 prospect in the draft:
With many analysts predicting that Mark Barron will be long gone by the time the Dallas Cowboys are on the board at No. 14, ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the Cowboys may be looking to trade down in the first round:
Teams open to trading back for the right offer include Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Miami, Seattle, Dallas, NY Jets, Detroit.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 26, 2012
With a rookie salary-scale now in place, it's much easier financially for teams to move up and down the draft board, which could increase the amount of wheeling and dealing on draft day.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has long been fond of dealing back, even though he hasn't had much history of success when he does.
However, if both Barron and David DeCastro are off the board, Dallas could be choosing through a large group of defensive lineman and secondary prospects, which may give them the confidence to move down and grab whoever is left later in the first.
With the first round coming into place in the final hours before the NFL Draft, there's an increasing amount of speculation that Alabama S Mark Barron won't be on the board when the Dallas Cowboys make their pick at No. 14.
According to a report from Peter King, Barron and Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill are the two players teams are most likely to trade up for, and the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 11 may end up trading down:
It's likely Tannehill goes to Miami at No. 8, obviously. If he doesn't, I don't see how he gets past the 11th pick. Not that Kansas City will take Tannehill; I don't believe the Chiefs will. But GM Scott Pioli will have interest in dealing down from 11 (he moved from 21 to 26 last year for a third-round pick), and if Tannehill or Barron is here, I guarantee he'll get a taker for the pick.
Because there are now team-controlled salary slots for first-round picks, trading up is no longer as risky as it once was, which could mean a significant increase in the amount of draft day dealing in 2012.
If the Cowboys do think Barron is the missing piece, they may have to move up to get him.
In the hours before the NFL Draft, the big question surrounding the Dallas Cowboys isn't the player they would most like to take at No. 14 but who will still be on the board.
Alabama safety Mark Barron, who they are reportedly very high on, has been flying up draft boards in recent weeks, but Mocking The Draft has him available for Dallas at No. 14 in their final mock:
Dallas Cowboys - Mark Barron, S, Alabama - I see the Cowboys getting a very good pick here. Barron has flown up draft boards almost as fast as Chandler Jones. He is a great athlete.
For Dallas, the nightmare scenario is if Cox, DeCastro and Barron are off the board, which would likely put them in the position of choosing between three high-upside but low-production defensive linemen: Michael Brockers (LSU), Dontari Poe (Memphis) and Quinton Coples (UNC).
Concerns about these three players have let Syracuse DE Chandler Jones rocket up mock drafts in the last few days; he goes No. 12 to the Seattle Seahawks in this one.
The final mock draft of the 2012 NFL Draft is up at SB Nation, and the Dallas Cowboys are projected to take LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers and not Alabama safety Mark Barron, although Dallas is considered a contender to make a trade up for Barron:
14. Dallas Cowboys, Michael Brockers, DE, LSU
Dallas is a candidate to move up with Barron in their sights. In this scenario they settle for Brockers, a mountain of a man loaded with talent needing some refining.
The Cowboys' first round pick seems to have shrunk down to a two-man race - stay put and likely take Brockers, a run-stuffer with raw but promising talent, or make a move up to take Barron, who SB Nation projects goes to Kansas City, and with Eric Berry, creates one of the beset secondaries in the NFL.
The Dallas Cowboys are just a few hours away from adding what's assumed to be a defensive piece to their 2012 run for another Super Bowl appearance. The Cowboys have been projected to take either a defensive lineman or defensive back throughout most of the offseason mock drafts, with names like Mark Barron of Alabama and Michael Brockers of LSU being popular picks.
The gang at Blogging The Boys breaks down all the rumored prospects - those who have met in-person with the Cowboys - by their projected draft order, and Barron, Brockers and Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe seem like the likeliest picks.
Date / Time: Thursday, April 26, 7 p.m. ET
Location: Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York
TV: ESPN, NFL Network
Radio: Sirius / XM NFL Network
In agreement with his ESPN colleague Todd McShay, draft guru Mel Kiper has the Dallas Cowboys selecting Alabama Crimson Tide S Mark Barron with the 14th pick in the first round of Thursday's upcoming NFL Draft. Here's what Kiper had to say about Dallas selecting the Tide's Barron:
Mark Barron, S, Alabama No change here from the previous mock. Dallas has been aggressive in targeting the secondary in free agency, and Barron is another big upgrade to what was a really weak unit in 2011. Barron is the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can't go wrong if he's available. Dallas might be tempted on DeCastro if he's still here, but they'll be thrilled with Barron.
ESPN has Barron as the No. 1 Safety available in this year's draft class.
Another day, another 2012 NFL Mock Draft. This time, ESPN's Todd McShay has a full seven-round mock draft up for those with ESPN Insider. McShay projects the Dallas Cowboys to select Alabama safety Mark Barron with the No. 14 overall pick on Thursday night.
This, of course, could be problematic. ESPN's own Adam Schefter appeared on SportsCenter on Wednesday night, saying that the Cowboys will need to trade up if they want to draft Barron. Further, several teams around the NFL view Barron as the sixth best player in the 2012 draft, and if true, then it's virtually impossible that Barron will get out of the top 10.
McShay has the Cowboys going for more secondary help in the second round as well, selecting troubled cornerback Janoris Jenkins from Northern Alabama. Jenkins has run into his fair share of off the field problems, including a pair of marijuana arrests as well as fathering four children by three different women, but has first-round talent.
The folks over at Blogging the Boys are already discussing this, so Cowboys fans should check it out and join the discussion.
The Dallas Cowboys have been linked to Alabama safety Mark Barron in many mock drafts, but suddenly, it doesn't look like Barron is going to be there at No. 14 for the Cowboys to select. According to Tony Pauline, both of SI.com and TYF Draft Insider, several NFL teams have Barron as the sixth best player in the 2012 NFL Draft.
We continue to hear that teams have safety Mark Barron rated as a top ten player. Several teams around the league have Barron ranked 6th on their draft board.
The emergence of the tight end as a weapon in the receiving game may very well have led to Barron's stock increasing. The Buffalo Bills have reportedly been interested in drafting the safety -- and we all know they have their hands full with two pretty talented tight ends in New England.
For more on the Dallas Cowboys, be sure to check out Blogging the Boys and join the discussion.
With the NFL Draft now only a day away, the final mock drafts from around the internet are pouring in. Over at SI.com, Don Banks makes his final picks, with the Dallas Cowboys taking LSU DL Michael Brockers at No. 14:
14DT Michael Brockers LSU Soph. 6-6 306 I feel strangely confident that Brockers, Mark Barron and Dontari Poe will be the next three players off the board in some order, but I can't quite decide the order. In the end, the Cowboys' need for a disruptive front seven player nudged me away from Barron, and while Dallas is said to love the potential-laden Poe, Brockers is more NFL-ready from day one.
Brockers visited the Cowboys training facility earlier in the month, but pre-draft speculation has centered mainly around Alabama SS Mark Barron and Stanford OG David DeCastro over the last few weeks.
Banks has DeCastro going to the Kansas City Chiefs at No. 11. He projects another Cowboys target, Fletcher Cox, a DT from Mississippi State who some believe is the best defensive front-seven pick in the draft, to go to the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 7.
He has three other players linked to Dallas -- Barron, DT Dontari Poe and CB Dre Kirkpatrick -- going right after Brockers, which could make the Cowboys more leery of trading down.
The Mark Barron bandwagon is all but filled up, as NFL.com's Charlie Casserly, formerly the GM of the Houston Texans, rates the Alabama safety as the second-best prospect at his position since 2004:
For Casserly, Earl Thomas (No. 14 in 2010) and Michael Huff (No. 7 in 2006) can't tackle as well, Sean Taylor (No. 5 in 2004) and LaRon Landry (No. 6 in 2007) can't cover as well, while Donte Whitner (No. 8 in 2006) just isn't as good in any facet of the game.
Eric Berry, the Tennessee safety whom the Kansas City Chiefs took with the No. 5 pick in 2010, is the only player Casserly would have taken above Barron coming out of college.
Before tearing his knee in the first week of the 2011 season, Berry shined as a rookie in 2010, racking up 92 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 interceptions while helping the Chiefs return to the playoffs.
Cowboys fans, who haven't seen a dominant safety since the days of Darren Woodson, can only dream that Barron matches that type of production as a rookie.
Behind the pay wall over at ESPN Insider sits a controversial figure in his own right. Some football fans dismiss KC Joyner's musings, while others think that Joyner's advanced metrics give great insight beyond the stats that are normally found in the box scores. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, and found when he isn't dissecting a player on said fan's favorite team. All stats have outliers, and his metrics are no different. Still, I like what he produces for the most part and therefore pay attention to some of his work; albeit with a critical eye.
Yesterday, Joyner compiled a list of who he saw as overrated prospects for the 2012 draft, and it's an interesting one. Leading the charge is the expected first corner, Morris Claiborne of LSU, whom Joyner describes as more Antonio Cromartie than Darrell Revis. Still impressive, but I'm sure you get the distinction implied. It's due to his allowing 7.5 YPA on targets in the last seven games of the year last season.
Joyner also isn't as keen on this year's wide receiver class as other prognosticators. He has issues with Baylor's Kendall Wright (as do I) and his 16 percent body fat and RGIII's better completion percentage on deep balls to his other targets. He is wary of Notre Dame's Michael Floyd's YPA (my concern is that long striders tend to have issues in the NFL) and even has a small blurb on Justin Blackmon in his honorable mention section based on a game against an NFL caliber corner in Texas' Carrington Byndom.
There are other's on the list, most noteworthy to Cowboys fans would be TE Dwayne Allen of Clemson, DE Nick Perry of Arizona and CB Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama.
Again, you don't have to subscribe (well, to Insider you might have to) to the theories of Joyner; just know that there are folks out there with genuine concerns on some of these prospects.
Earlier this week, I penned a writeup whose topic still sticks in my craw a bit. CBS Sports ran a feature that supposed the Dallas Cowboys have narrowed down their wish list for the 14th pick in Thursday's draft to a final five candidates. Included are some of the last visitors the club brought in before the NFL closed the curtain on that window of opportunity. Offensive Guard David DeCastro of Stanford is the lone consideration on that side of the ball. Safety Mark Barron of Alabama is the lone secondary player being considered, supposedly, and has earned his place as the favorite based on 99 out of 100 mock drafts held over the past 72-96 hours.
Then there are the defensive linemen. Fletcher Cox (Miss. State), Dontari Poe (Memphis), and Michael Brockers (LSU) have all been inevitably linked and not just for Dallas. These three always seem to have their names associated with each other.
The fact that defensive linemen compose 60% of the finalists makes plenty of sense. Over at BTB, we've been studying the visit tracker and it's seemed that Dallas wants to target defensive line in the first round, then interior offensive line in the second round based on the early schedule of visits. Obviously if there is a player that jumps off the board they will take him (read Barron or DeCastro) but all things being equal this would appear to be their methodology.
So which direction will they go? There is concern that an AFC team will leapfrog Dallas in order to select S Mark Barron and DeCastro will probably be snatched up as well. Will Fletcher Cox slide down? Hopeful, but not likely.
For all the fantasies Dallas fans have had over the past month about their pet cats, they may be looking at either Dontari Poe or Michael Brockers name being called on Thursday night; not something that the fanbase will be unified by. I already have a bad taste in my mouth that I can't get rid of.
Chad Reuter has just come out with a mammoth seven-round mock for the 2012 NFL Draft over at NFL.com, and the Dallas Cowboys come up with some significant additions to the team’s defense, including new young additions to the secondary to partner with free agent signing Brandon Carr.
Mark Barron is often rumored to head to the Cowboys at No. 14 overall, where Reuter has him, and the Alabama product is often listed as the best safety in the draft. If the team has Carr and Barron in the defensive backfield, the Cowboys biggest need gets better in a hurry.
Here’s Reuter's complete projections for the Cowboys including round chosen and overall selection in parentheses:
1 (14) Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
2 (45) Derek Wolfe, DE, Cincinnati
3 (81) Ronnell Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma
4 (113) Coty Sensabaugh, CB, Clemson
4 (135) James Brown, OG, Troy
5 (152) DeVier Posey, WR, Ohio State
6 (186) Edwin Baker, RB, Michigan State
7 (222) Chase Ford, TE, Miami
In the last few weeks, seemingly every rumor and mock draft has the Dallas Cowboys looking hard at Alabama SS Mark Barron with their No. 14 overall pick.
However, Dallas isn't the only team eyeing Barron and now there are several reports indicating that the Alabama star may be long gone by the time the Cowboys are on the clock.
According to a report from Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, San Diego may try to jump from No. 18 to No. 13 and pass the Cowboys. Meanwhile, Tom Curran from CSNNE.com is reporting that the New England Patriots, despite their history of trading down in the draft, may consider moving up in order to grab Barron.
Now that he's fully recovered from a late season injury, Barron has become one of the most talked about prospects in the draft, with NFL.com's Mike Mayock rating him as worthy of a Top 10 selection:
"Barron is one of the best players in this draft and I think he's going to go between 10 and 15," Mayock said in a conference call last week. "... There are other teams that could step up. I mean, look at Buffalo with (No.) 10, for instance. They are going to play New England twice a year with those tight ends."
A video profile of Barron from SB Nation's Youtube channel:
With speculation increasing that the Dallas Cowboys are focusing on either Stanford OG David DeCastro or Alabama SS Mark Barron with their No. 14 overall pick, ESPN Insider Todd McShay's recent comments about DeCastro are worth noticing:
"[DeCastro is] as ready as I think I've ever evaluated a player in terms of being ready to come in and play at a high level," ESPN's Todd McShay told the San Antonio Express-News in a conference call.
"I wrote balance down about 90 times when I was watching his tape. Everything's in balance and under control. He's instinctive. He's absolutely just nasty. Tough, physical, just plays with the temperament you're looking for. Competes and is highly respected by his teammates," McShay continued. "He's the elite of the elite when it comes to guard."
The big concern for the Cowboys seems to be that offensive guard is not a premium position and that quality linemen can be found later in the draft.
DeCastro might be the safest choice at No. 14, but can Dallas afford a luxury at the position when they are so deficient in the defensive backfield?
The Dallas Cowboys are still trying to shore up their business in the secondary, as they have done through free agent signings during the off-season. But the first round of the draft is another place they could be looking to fill some holes the way the latest SB Nation NFL Mock Draft shows it.
Mark Barron is Dallas' pick with the 14th selection in the mock draft. At 6-1, 215 pounds, Barron certainly looks the part of an NFL strong safety. Ryan Van Bibber had this line on Barron:
"The Cowboys secondary needs help in the middle. Talk of Dallas' infatuation with Mark Barron has been made abundantly clear lately ... or it's a really involved ruse."
Still, Barron has the physical capabilities to do the job the Cowboys would need him to do. The question is are they really going to take a safety 14th overall.
Read more about the Cowboys at Blogging the Boys.
The Dallas Cowboys might have narrowed down their first round targets to two players in preparation for this week's draft. It could be down to Alabama safety Mark Barron and Stanford guard David DeCastro, with Barron getting the slight edge, according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King.
It's not like Jerry Jones to overload on the offensive line two years in a row by picking Stanford guard David DeCastro; the Cowboys took tackle Tyron Smith in the first round last year. It's more likely they'll focus on Alabama safety Mark Barron at No. 14. He's the darling of the mock draft set -- including in mine -- and is a battle-tested (38 starts under Nick Saban), day-one starter who would fit in well in a needy secondary.
According to a report from CBS Sports, the Dallas Cowboys brought in both Stanford OG David DeCastro and LSU DL Michael Brockers on April 18, the last day teams are allowed to host prospects for official visits before the NFL Draft.
Both were originally scheduled to visit Valley Ranch earlier in the month, but the early April tornadoes made that impossible.
Every one of the team's first round picks since DeMarcus Ware had an official visit, so DeCastro and Brockers' last-minute trip is a pretty good indication that they are both still on the Cowboys draft board at No. 14.
DeCastro is considered one of the safest picks in the draft, an All-American from Stanford with prototypical size for the interior of the offensive line. However, his position isn't considered a premium one by NFL teams, and Dallas may wait until the second or third rounds to bolster their offensive line.
Click here for a thorough scouting breakdown of DeCastro from SB Nation Dallas draft guru Archie Barberio.
Brockers, meanwhile, is one of the most intriguing defensive line prospects in the draft. At 6'6 325, he has the size and speed to play both defensive line positions. However, he only played two seasons at LSU as part of a two-deep rotation, so his ultimate ceiling as a player is still unknown.
But while players with Brockers' size rarely last outside the top of the first round, the Tigers defensive line has sent several All-World athletes to the NFL (Glenn Dorsey, Tyson Jackson) who have never been able to live up to their potential on the field.
A video profile of Brockers from SB Nation's Youtube channel:
The Alabama star could be the answer to the woes at the safety position in Dallas that go all the way back to the retirement of Darren Woodson.
I've said it several times over the last month and a half. I fear that the number 14 slot in this year's amateur draft is dangerous territory; no man's land so to speak. Unless a team is silly enough to draft Ryan Tannehill just because he throws the football (which is quite possible), there is a big chance that the initial Dallas targets might be off the board by the time they make it to the top. For me, that's Quinton Coples, David DeCastro or Fletcher Cox.
In case you haven't noticed, the recent flavor du jour for Dallas at 14 is Alabama S Mark Barron. Barron has been sitting as a 18th-22nd ranked prospect through this entire ordeal, until everyone linked him to Dallas, and now he's worth the 14th selection or higher. Well, these guys watch more tape than I do, but I guess new tape has shown up since his Pro Day that hasn't been released to the general public.
Now, if you truly believe that there's a player that is a much better contributor, than you take him. However, if you feel that there is a large group of players at various need positions that all have relatively the same grade, you shouldn't be wary of trading down just because "Dallas doesn't trade down well." Not only is it a scared mentality, does it even really apply?
Now, granted, when the Cowboys traded out of the first rounds in 2007 (selected Anthony Spencer w/ first pick) and 2004 (Julius Jones) to gain multiple firsts in '08 and '05 respectively, things didn't work out exactly how they were planned. They weren't necessarily failed trades, but it didn't work out to the full extent of the possibility with the players that were selected. Marcus Spears has been a disappointment from the 2005 draft and injuries haven't allowed Felix Jones to maximize his potential. Mike Jenkins has bounced all over the inconsistency scale.
However, one important caveat needs to be discussed. Neither Tom Ciskowsi ('08) nor Jason Garrett ('10) had ascended to their current positions at the times those trade downs were made. Stephen Jones also hadn't wrestled as much power away from Jerry Jones yet either. Times are different now.
So can the current regime, the recently well-drafting Cowboys really be held to the pseudo-failures of the previous trade downs? I say no. If there is no difference between 4-6, or even 10, prospects once Dallas is on the clock and an offer arises, don't run for the hills. Take the call, Jerry.
At this point, the buzz surrounding the Dallas Cowboys and Alabama SS Mark Barron is deafening.
In the latest mock draft from SI.com, Don Banks thinks Dallas biggest concern will be a team jumping ahead of them to No. 13 to grab Barron:
I think the Cowboys have been fairly well locked in on the Crimson Tide safety for weeks now. I don't think they'll have to sweat someone coming up to get him at No. 13, but it's at least a possibility, given that Barron makes sense for both the No. 15 Eagles and No. 16 Jets.
This is the reason why NFL teams play so many games with the media during pre-draft season, as if a team gets locked into a player, it gives the teams in front of them and behind them an advantage in how they are planning out their draft strategy.
14. Dallas Cowboys: Stanford: OG David DeCastro
The idea of drafting an athlete like DeCastro and potentially playing him next to 2011 first-round pick Tyron Smith at left tackle has to sound mighty intriguing.
While the interior of the offensive line isn't considered a premium position, DeCastro is one of the strongest guard prospects to come through in a long time.
As the Post mentions, a left side of Smith and DeCastro would solidify the Cowboys offensive line for the next decade.
This could give credence to the idea that the Cowboys really are thinking of trading down from the No. 14 spot, although that has not worked out for them in the past.
A video profile of DeCastro from SBNation's YouTube channel:
Yet another national writer has linked the Dallas Cowboys with Alabama SS Mark Barron, as Sports Illustrated's Peter King put out a mock draft with who he thought each team should take and who he is hearing they will. For Dallas, both answers came up the same:
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Mark Barron, S, Alabama
I wouldn't be surprised to see Dallas trade up to make sure it gets Barron, perhaps with Kansas City at 11. The Cowboys have no identity in the secondary. No big-time players either. Barron would immediately boost a unit that's been beaten down-and provide the kind of tackler at safety that the Boys haven't had since Darren Woodson.
Chatter linking Barron to the Cowboys has been growing for weeks, ever since Jason Garrett attended Alabama's Pro Day, which has traditionally been an indicator of where Dallas is leaning in the first round.
He doesn't have the same upside as some of the pass rushers that could be available, but he's widely believed to be an extremely safe pick who would provide needed playmaking ability in the Cowboys secondary, especially with the NFC East becoming increasingly passing-oriented.
Dallas has been thinking defensively this offseason, as evident with moves of franchising Anthony Spencer the signing of Brandon Carr and Brodney Pool to play in their secondary. This is what SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber had to say about the Brockers pick for the Cowboys:
"Some still think of Brockers as the best defensive lineman in the draft. Rankings aside, he has everything needed to be a difference maker in the pros. Dallas can also afford to ease his transition into the starting lineup."
Brockers is ranked as the second best player at his position by NFLDraftScout.com and the 14th best player in the draft.
With the NFL Draft less than two weeks away, the Cowboys fan community is still hotly contesting a debate of which direction the team needs to go to most impact the franchise. Sitting at pick #14, there will be a bunch of decisions that impact the ballclub that they cannot affect, but once they get on the clock, what will they do?
There is a school of thought that the team will be better served by scooping up the best offensive interior line prospect to come along in a decade. There's another school of thought that the deepest pool of first-round talent lies in the defensive line, and that will allow Dallas' true defensive stars some freedom to truly impact games on more than just first and second down.
Take a gander at the video below, as I lay out the arguments each side is making as we inch closer to draft day.
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With the NFL Draft only two weeks away, it's officially misinformation season across the league.
You never know how truthful front-office personnel are being in pre-draft interviews, but the prospects the Dallas Cowboys like (or at least want the rest of the NFL to think they like) are beginning to leak out.
Over at his personal blog, local radio host Bob Sturm dishes about who he's hearing Dallas is interested in:
I may be affected by smoke screens or poor information that I am being fed, but I think that if Fletcher Cox and Mark Barron are both on the clock at #14, there will be a massive tug-o-war in the war room over which direction they go. Beyond that, I think they are settling and happy, but not over the moon.
That would seem to eliminate Stanford OG David DeCastro, the highest-rated interior offensive lineman, from consideration, leaving the Cowboys looking at players who could upgrade their pass rush or their pass coverage in the first round. Dallas has been linked to Alabama SS Mark Barron for weeks, while there are a huge clump of defensive lineman and edge rushers likely to be available in the middle of the first-round.
A video profile of Cox from SB Nation's YouTube channel:
The Dallas Cowboys have been projected to be taking a defensive back, defensive tackle or an offensive lineman with their first few picks. However, the Cowboys could be looking to take a running back with one of their mid-round picks. Of the 30 players that the Cowboys brought for their pre-draft visits only one was a running back and it was Boise State's Doug Martin.
The speculation comes from DeMarco Murray who is coming back from a broken ankle and Felix Joneswho is in his last year of his contract. Plus, the Cowboys have considered trading Jones to get younger at the running back position.
However, the Cowboys may not be able to wait until the mid-rounds to take Martin. It could possibly take a second round pick or even moving up into the top 40 to grab Martin. NFL Network's Mike Mayock pegs Martin as the No. 2 running back behind Alabama's Trent Richardson, and Maycok also gives Martin a first round grade.
A look at how Martin performed in Boise State's 2011 opener against Georgia:
In NFL.com's latest two-round mock draft, put together by Charley Casserly, the Dallas Cowboys select a safety and a defensive lineman with their first and second-round picks. First, with the No. 14 overall pick, the Cowboys grab Alabama safety Mark Barron.
14) Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, S, Alabama. The Cowboys continue their offseason overhaul of an ailing secondary.
With the addition of two guards in free agency, the Cowboys may not feel the need to select David DeCastro in the first round and the addition of Barron could really help shore up a secondary that struggled in 2011.
Then, with the team's second-round pick, the Cowboys selected Penn State defensive lineman Devon Still.
45) Cowboys: Devon Still, DL, Penn State. Youth is needed on Dallas' defensive line.
Still is a talented defensive tackle that can both stop the run and help rush the passer and you can't have too many guys that know how to do both.
Top prospects tend to have either first-round measurables, in terms of size/speed ratio, or first-round production, being an All-American or even an All-Conference player. The ones that have both are your truly elite prospects, like Andrew Luck. At No. 14, the Cowboys are picking from a huge crop of players lacking in one or the other.
Coples, an athletic 6'6 290 defensive lineman, clearly falls into the first category, with the size to stuff the run and the speed to rush the passer.
However, instead of translating those measurables into a dominant senior season, his production tailed off, dropping from 10 sacks to 7.5. Many scouts questioned his effort level, which is a serious red flag for a player with millions of dollars on the line. After all, if they aren't going to give 100% when they're playing for a contract, how are they going to respond after receiving one?
For NFL.com's Mike Mayock, this question supersedes all the others, which is why he's not a fan of Coples:
"If I'm a general manager I'm not taking him in the first round, and I might not take him in the second round. The bust potential is high, and the earlier you take him the more risk there is inherent in that," Mayock said in an NFL Network special. "So, for me, Quinton Coples is not even a draftable player."
Pass rushers are some of the hardest players to evaluate on draft day: sometimes a raw athlete can become Ebeneezer Ekuban, other times he can become Jason Pierre-Paul. Coples, if he's still on the board at No. 14, could be a huge dilemma for the Cowboys.
It appears the Cowboys snuck in a offensive line visitor this week, right under the radar. According to @ESPNChiBears, University of Illinois Tackle Jeff Allen made a visit to Valley Ranch this week and will also spend some time with division rival Philadelphia.
Allen played tackle in college but is projected to be a guard in the professional ranks.
Illinois OL Jeff Allen, who Mel Kiper currently projects as a 2nd rd. pick, visited Cowboys this week and is scheduled to visit Eagles soon.— Jeff Dickerson (@ESPNChiBears) April 12, 2012
Obviously, Mel Kiper, Jr. feels strongly about his pro potential. Drafttek.com does as well, but only as a guard. They rank him as the 62nd best prospect in the draft as a guard, but if he remains at tackle they see him as a sixth-rounder, number 186 overall. Wes Bunting of the National Football Post agrees, ranking him the ninth best guard prospect, but the 22nd best tackle.
CBSSports.com and NFLDraftScout are higher on him as a tackle prospect, ranking him as a third round prospect (#77 overall).
A highlight video from his senior season:
Despite the signing of free agent Brandon Carr earlier this offseason, the Dallas Cowboys are from from complete in the defensive backfield. The cornerback position truly only goes three deep at the current juncture, and none of the safeties on the roster are considered adept at guarding receivers in one-on-one situations. There is no doubt that even though the free agent moves the team has made this offseason have afforded them some flexibility; the franchise will have to select at least one corner sometime in the draft.
It doesn't have to come early, necessarily. If it does, the team would likely target Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama or Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina (who excelled at the metrics below) with the 14th pick. There are other potential fits that fall a bit later in the draft that at least have the measurables to make a significant rookie contribution as a dime defender or injury fill in.
The Blogging The Boys community goes much further than just the front page writers. In this instance, one of our community members did great work comapring the metrics from the Scouting Combine against top corner Darrell Revis; setting benchmarks in key categories to evaluate whether the prospects hold elite athleticism. In Cornerback Help Round By Round, Specific gave us a three names to watch for based on excellence in 40 yard dash time, vertical jump, broad jump, 3 cone drill and 20 yard short shuttle.
Josh Robinson, Central Florida
Rated as a late 2nd, early 3rd round prospect, Robinson bested Darrell Revis in all five categories. Obviously this doesn't evaluate on-field performance, but he has all the physical tools you look for in a corner.
Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma
A 2nd-3rd round prospect, Fleming has decent speed and vertical, but excelled in the other three drills; besting Revis in the short shuttle. Fleming visited with Dallas for Dallas Day.
Coty Sensabaugh, Clemson
Rated as a 5th round prospect, the cousin of Dallas S Gerald was in close proximity of Revis' scores in all five categories, surpassing him in the 3 cone drill.
In SB Nation's annual blogger mock draft, in which each team's selections are made by their respective SB Nation blogs, the Dallas Cowboys, represented by Blogging The Boys, selected Stanford guard David DeCastro.
The Cowboys interior offensive line was a problem last season, and with the release of Kyle Kosier at guard last week, the position is truly in flux. Dallas did pick up a couple of veteran guards in free agency, but the future of the position is still in question. Enter David DeCastro, who many scouts have said is the best guard prospect to come along since Steve Hutchinson. He's got every skill you need and is a fierce run-blocker. Blessed with agile feet, he's extremely good on the move, and in the Cowboys run-blocking scheme the guards are often asked to pull. DeCastro is projected as the kind of player you pencil into the starting lineup for the next decade. Dallas picked up their tackle of the future last year with Tyron Smith, they could do the same at guard this year with David DeCastro.
The Cowboys have had a problem protecting Tony Romo, which is evident by Romo's injury history, and the selection of the draft class' best interior offensive lineman could go a long way when it comes to shoring up the team's line. The Cowboys signed guard Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau in free agency, and with DeCastro they would have some quality depth at the guard position.
The Mark Barron to the Dallas Cowboys rumors continue to grow, as ESPN Dallas' Bryan Broaddus, a former NFL scout with a lot of connections in the Cowboys organization, has the team taking the Alabama SS in the first round:
14. Mark Barron S 6-1 213
Analysis: The Cowboys could trade back here because most of the defensive players they are holding out for are still on the board -- Fletcher Cox, Michael Brockers, Courtney Upshaw and maybe Dre Kirkpatrick. They need a defensive end in the worst way. Cox visited, Brockers didn't. I don't feel as if they really like Upshaw at 14, and Kirkpatrick would have a better shot if they hadn't signed Brandon Carr. No DeCastro means that this is going to be a choice between Barron, Cox and Brockers. They grab the safety now and work on the defensive ends in the second or third rounds.
While the defensive line is considered a more premium position group that the defensive backfield, Barron is far and away the top safety prospect on the board. The National Football Post gives Barron a 7.0 rating, with the next highest SS (Harrison Smith of Notre Dame) grading out a 6.4.
In his senior season, Smith had 90 tackles, including 3 for loss, as well as 10 pass deflections. However, the 6'2 215 safety didn't have a single interception and he ran a 4.55 40 at the Combine, making people question whether he has the top-line speed to match up with NFL WR's in the slot:
Isn't a guy you want to trust to run with receivers down the field. However, because of his solid natural range and instincts, I can see him getting over the top and making plays in a center field type role as an NFL strong safety.
If the Cowboys think the drop-off between Barron and Smith is far greater than the ones in the defensive front seven, it could make their decision on draft day a lot easier.
In contrast to the safety position, there are eight defensive ends with at least a 6.4 grade, and if you include OLB's, the number of top pass rushers in this draft grows to nearly 20.
Smith's highlight tape from the 2012 season:
There have been reports the Cowboys are targeting Poe with their pick, but in Barron they'd be getting a big, hard-hitting safety who can handle run defense and move plenty well enough in coverage. That makes him a very valuable commodity in a pass-happy league, and in a division with quality running backs like LeSean McCoy, Ahmad Bradshaw and Washington's Roy Helu.
While the draft chatter around Barron to the Cowboys has increased in recent weeks, Banks has Dallas taking the Alabama All-American even with Memphis DT Dontari Poe, who he has going to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 15, still on the board.
If Jerry Jones does have to choose between Barron and Poe, it will be an interesting window into his overall philosophy, as Barron's measurables don't quite measure up to his incredible production while Poe could not translate his jaw-dropping physical numbers into much success in college.
SI.com contributor Tony Pauline, who was one of the first writers to report the Dallas Cowboys interest in free agent CB Brandon Carr, passed along an intriguing rumor in his latest notes column on draftinsider.net:
Barron's stock is on the rise as, amongst other things, head coach Nick Saban has given him rave reviews. He's being talked about as someone with a passion for football and a prospect who's skills have been underrated. We hear if Dontari Poe is gone by the 14th pick of the draft, and he's likely to be, the Dallas Cowboys are likely to turn to Barron.
From a needs perspective, Barron makes a lot of sense, as the Cowboys secondary has shredded repeatedly last season while they did very little to upgrade the safety position in the off-season.
If they have targeted the Alabama safety, it would explain their interest in trading down in the first round, as very few safeties are taken as high as No. 14. However, with so many teams looking to get out of the top ten, it remains unclear whether Dallas will find a willing partner.
A product of Nick Saban's NFL factory at Tuscaloosa, Barron would be a safe if not spectacular choice. The question becomes, if the Cowboys stay at No. 14, whether Jones will take a higher upside player, particularly in the front seven.
A video profile of Barron from SB Nation's YouTube channel:
An in-depth scouting report on South Carolina OLB Melvin Ingram, who could be the perfect edge rusher to play opposite of DeMarcus Ware in Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme.
Signing Brandon Carr is a tremendous upgrade at cornerback for Dallas, but there are some who'll be clamoring the Cowboys to pick Alabama safety Mark Barron if he's still on the board here. The defensive backfield was the team's Achilles' heel last year, but the 'Boys could use a big mauler such as DeCastro on the offensive line. Guards got big money in free agency this year. Taking one with the 14th pick in the draft isn't considered too high anymore.
Picking up Carr in free agency allows the Cowboys to grab a guard in the first round to help shore up their offensive line. The Cowboys signed Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, but the selection of DeCastro would put one of these guys in a backup role, providing more depth on the offensive line, which is always a good thing.
The Dallas Cowboys have been making noise about trading down from their No. 14 pick in the first round for several weeks, but there's one big problem with that strategy: there has to be a team willing to trade up too.
In an article for CBS Sports, Rob Rang writes that the Cowboys aren't the only ones trying to trade down in 2012:
While last moment deals are common over the course of the NFL draft, don't fool yourself into thinking that these deals aren't being discussed long before the curtains are raised at Radio City Music Hall. In fact, one NFL executive told me to anticipate plenty of fireworks as "half of the teams in the top 10 are trying to trade out."
Without many prospects considered true blue-chips in seasons past, there may not be as much interest in trading up to the Cowboys at 14 as in normal years.
However, with the new CBA putting a cap on potential salaries for first-year players, there's not much of a downside for staying in place anymore either.
Over at BTB, we've been covering any and everything draft related like a chicken hawk at a Perdue factory. This past week, my fellow front page writers have penned some great stuff, in addition to folks in the community in the Fan Post section. Take a look at some of the best.
Rabble uses PFW's tied system of player ranking within rounds and combines it with Dallas' allotment of player visits to sketch out possible positional target strategies the team may employ. Don't believe in it? Last year, he predicted 1-OT (or JJ Watt), 2-ILB and had a RB in the 4th. Great read.
Dave takes a look at the rise of Mark Barron as the choice pick for the Cowboys at #14. ESPN's Mel Kiper has been on the bandwagon since his first mock draft, and after Alabama's second Pro Day a lot of folks are joining in on the convo. Barron ran an unofficial 4.53 and claims he is at 80-90% health. Dave's write-up looks at what several scribes have to say about Barron.
Knowing that Dallas has recently preferred to talk to their draft prospects, Tom takes a look at the list of interviewees and creates a mock based on projections.
O.C.C. takes a look at how the Cowboys, amongst what seems like every other Top 15 team, might be looking to maneuver in the first round. He also looks at the confusion spewed by DMN's Rick Gosselin whose explanations on why Dallas shouldn't trade up or down seem to contradict each other.
With all of the visits that took place this week and those that are scheduled, the Dallas Cowboys certainly appear to be doing their due dillegence in preparation for the upcoming NFL Draft. In that vein, Dallas traveled north to Wisconsin to attend the private workout of center Peter Konz; a first round prospect who did not work out at the University of Wisconsin's Pro Day.
Konz is rated by most services and evaluators as a mid-to-late first round pick and is normally the first center listed. As all Cowboys fans know, center might just be a bigger area of concern for Dallas; especially after the club went out and signed two free agent guards in Nate Livings and Mac Bernadeau. The club has several young prospects that could man the spot; including last year's starter Phil Costa, backup Kevin Kowalski and even 2011 draft picks David Arkin and LG Bill Nagy. All are capable of playing center and rumor has it that Arkin was being groomed since the draft for the transition. Whether or not the club saw enough to have confidence in any of these young guys is the big question mark.
Konz has his own question marks; as he has suffered through some medical issues in his life and career. He missed the final two games of the 2009 season when doctors discovered blood clots in his lungs. He missed the final three games of the 2011 season due to a dislocated ankle. But when he played, Konz excelled.
Konz is a very intelligent player with a wide frame that you look for in an interior lineman. He stands 6'5 and weighs 315 lbs; although his 33 inch arms doesn't exactly solve part of the problem that Phil Costa presented. He does however do very well in getting his hands into the defensive lineman quickly. He does pretty well in both pass protection and run blocking.
If Dallas looks to trade down from pick #14, don't be surprised if it's because Konz is one of the options they are considering. Adding a potential second rounder and picking up a starting center wouldn't be to shabby of an early haul.
In what's become an annual occurrence, Jerry Jones has been increasingly weighing the idea of trading down in the first round over the last few weeks.
Trading down helped Jimmy Johnson build a dynasty at Valley Ranch in the early 1990s. But since Johnson's departure in 1994, every trade down by the Cowboys in the first round of a draft seems to have pushed the franchise further away from another Super Bowl.
Jones loves to wheel and deal in the draft room, which is great, if you really know what you are doing. However, the later you pick in the draft, the harder it is to find good players, and the track record of the Cowboys front office after the first round indicates that they don't need to be making decisions any harder on themselves.
In 2009, when Dallas dealt their first and second round picks, they had 12 selections in the final five rounds. Three years later, only three players from that draft are still on the team: QB Stephen McGee, LB Victor Butler and TE John Phillips, and McGee may be on his way out of town as well.
There will be some talented players available at No. 14, and as Gosselin writes, Jones has lost the benefit of the doubt when it comes to being cute on draft day.
I admit it. I know only a few things about Boise State outside of their turf color and Shea McClellin ain't one of them. I know Doug Martin and Kellen Moore; but Shea McClellin... not so much. Apparently, he is a dynamic force of a pass rusher that will excel as a 3-4 outside linebacker (he lined up there multiple times with Boise St.) His highlight films show a nice burst off the line and sure tackling; a nose for the ball and good instincts. The question is, why in the world am I only just hearing about him three weeks before the draft; and how in the world is he now the second best edge rusher?
Why is he, all of a sudden, a full month after the NFL Scouting Combine, become the hottest thing since Wonder Bread pulled that tray out the super oven?
NFL Network's Mike Mayock has moved him up all the way to the second best edge rusher behind South Carolina's Melvin Ingram. Ingram's expected to go Top 10, meaning he would have no problem with McClellin going in the first either. What?
Wes Bunting of the National Football Post has moved him up to fifth on the the list of outside linebackers. NFL.com (whose evaluation statements make little sense) had him as a fifth-round value after the combine.
Drafttek.com hasn't caught on completely yet, still listing him as a end of second-round prospect, 59th overall.
Apparently, McClellin wowed the coaching staffs at the Senior Bowl. My good friend Jimmy K from BloggingTheBeast.com hipped me to the fact that he earned rave reviews there for his versatility. While he did stand up on occastion at Boise, he reportedly ran the linebacker drills (under the Vikings staff) better than all of the linebackers present and caught the eye of one Mike Singletary. He's a strong possiblity for both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes.
But still, where did this guy come from as a first rounder? And the bigger and more important question might have to be, if he is really this good; then why the heck are we listening to anybody that didn't elevate him after the combine as authorities? Boise State runs a Top 10 program. What changed about McClellin?
With the Dallas Cowboys interested in upgrading their talent level along the defensive front seven, the latest mock draft from the National Football Post shows they'll have plenty of options.
While the Cowboys have been very high on Memphis DT Dontari Poe, despite what many people believe is inconsistent game tape, the Post has the workout wonder going No. 9 to Carolina.
However, thanks to the Cleveland Browns reaching for QB Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) at No. 4, Dallas could be choosing between OLB Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), DT Fletcher Cox (Mississippi State), DL Michael Brockers (LSU) and OLB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama):
14. Dallas Cowboys: LSU DT Michael Brockers
Brockers is as talented as any defensive lineman in the draft and is capable of maturing into a real game changer up front. He's got the ability to play all over the Cowboys defensive line early and offers them a lot of versatility in their 34 front.
Brockers has a world of talent, but he's still raw after declaring for the draft after only two full seasons at LSU.
While NFL teams are limited to bringing in 30 national prospects before the Draft, there is no such cap for prospects considered local, either because they grew up in the Dallas Fort Worth area or they played at an area college.
Fleming, a 5'11 205 CB from Arlington, was a two-time All-Big 12 selection at Oklahoma, with 60 tackles, including 10 for loss, as well as 10 pass deflections and 2 interceptions as a senior.
However, he ran a pedestrian 4.56 40 at the Combine, raising doubts as to whether he has the top-line speed to be a starting NFL CB. He's viewed as a second-to-third round pick by most analysts.
A video look at his performance in the 2011 Insight Bowl:
As a senior, he had 30 tackles, including 6.5 for loss, with 6 pass deflections, 3.5 sacks and 2 interceptions.
He's climbed draft boards in recent weeks after an impressive Combine performance where he showcased his athleticism by running a 4.35 40, and he's now considered a third-to-fifth round prospect.
A pre-draft interview with Brooks:
For the latest news and analysis on the Cowboys draft plans, check out SB Nation Dallas' exclusive storystream, while Blogging The Boys is your off-season home for all things related to America's Team.
In the latest round of mock drafts, one name that has been picking up steam is South Carolina CB Stephon Gilmore, with both Rob Rang of CBS Sports as well as Drafttek.com linking him with Dallas Cowboys at No. 14:
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina: The Cowboys awarded free agent Brandon Carr a $50 million contract in free agency but with depth a concern in a division featuring Eli Manning, Michael Vick and soon-to-be Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, cornerback remains a key area of need. Gilmore has the size, athleticism and physicality to be a standout in Rob Ryan's aggressive scheme.
Gilmore, a 6'0 190 junior CB from South Carolina, has put himself in the mix with Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick for No. 2 CB in most draft boards behind Morris Claiborne, whom the Cowboys are rumored to have been considering trading up for.
A four-star recruit out of high school, Gilmore took over one of the Gamecocks CB positions as a true freshman. He was named a Freshman All-American and never looked back from there. In 2011, he had 46 tackles, 7 pass deflections and 4 interceptions.
With excellent size as well as 4.4 speed in the 40, Gilmore is a prototypical first-round CB with both the production and the measurables of an elite prospect.
A look at how Gilmore performed against top competition in the 2010 season:
For the latest news and analysis on the Cowboys draft plans, check out SB Nation Dallas' exclusive storystream, while Blogging The Boys is your off-season home for all things related to America's Team.
As writers, we do our best to offer a combination of reported news and informed opinion when speaking about a team that means so much to the readers. We at least owe them that much of a commitment. When we speak of draft prospects and give our take on whether or not they would be better fits than other prospects, you at least would like to know that we don't just pull names out of a hat; that we've read up on the prospect and watched at least a little game tape to support the assessments of others.
Now some fans view the draft process as a stand-alone sport; following prospects year-round. They can rattle off 40 times, the three best games of a player's season and much more. Then there are fans that love to follow the draft but rely on outside sources to bring them the goods on the targets.
Regardless, draft season is fun for most and entertaining for all. I took to the Blogging The Boys Facebook page to gauge whether the casual fan wanted to see Dallas attack the draft looking for improving the offense, or focusing on a defense that finished in the bottom half of the league in 2011. Here are a few of the interesting responses.
Three weeks and a day until the draft; where do you stand? Make the offense elite or focus on improving a bottom half of the league defense?
-- I hope Barron or Cox is the pick. I want DeCastro the most but he isn't realistic :( -K. Forchetti
-- To quote Deion in his infamous commercial... BOTH! -N. Elder
-- Lets go for the best possible player that will help us the most at that particular time in the draft no matter if its defense or offense. We could stand to get on both sides of the ball. -P. Leathermann
-- Because we havnt addressed the D-line in F/A, I'd expect us to go DE/NT in 2 of the 1st 4 rounds this year. We just need a good draft tho & that includes all picks other than the #14 pick...so we can NOT do (for example) an injured OLB & hope to not only get him healthy, but then try to make him an ILB, when theres a Center from Penn St who could play rite away WHEN we have to cut our 5xPro-Bowl Center. -O. Jay
For more Cowboys draft coverage, check out Blogging The Boys.
While projecting the second round of the NFL Draft is pretty much a fool's errand, it does give an indication of the type of players that could be available.
45 Dallas Kevin Zeitler OG Wisconsin Would be the top guard in the draft class in some years. If Dallas doesn't go DeCastro early, Zeitler fits here.
However, Wisconsin has a solid reputation for running a pro-style offense that churns out road-grading offensive linemen, and Zeitler, an athletic 6'4 315 guard, certainly seems like an excellent prospect.
Pro Football Weekly, who rates him No. 26 in the draft, breaks down his game:
Record: 8-8Mark Barron, S, Alabama
Dallas was aggressive in getting a solid corner in free agency with the addition of Brandon Carr, but they still need help at safety to shore up the pass defense. I don't think another corner is out of the question at this spot, but Barron is the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can't go wrong if he's available. I can also see Dallas going offensive line here, as that unit could use some help, but Barron makes sense.
The Cowboys are reportedly very high on several players from Alabama, with Jason Garrett attending the Crimson Tide's Pro Day in March.
Barron is a smart and instinctive player who was a standout in his time in Tuscaloosa. He racked up 66 tackles, including 5 for loss, as well as 2 interceptions and 1 sack as a senior, leading a historically great Alabama defense to a national championship.
However, he lacks top-line speed, running a 4.56 40 at the Combine, which could be a problem in the modern pass-happy NFL where the ability of safeties to read and recover deep down the field is paramount.
A look at Barron's performance in Alabama's regular season game of the century against LSU:
There have been few players hotter in the pre-draft season than Memphis DT Dontari Poe, whom the Dallas Cowboys are rumored to be extremely interested in.
However, while his Combine numbers were eye-popping, he was never able to translate that physical talent into dominant college production at Memphis.
One high-profile analyst whose come out on record against Poe is NFL.com's Mike Mayock, who downgraded the DT after closely reviewing his game film:
"Coming off the combine I wanted to show people what a freak this kid Poe is, and he is a physical freak, no doubt," Mayock said Monday. "However, the tape is very average, so how do you match the two up - potential vs. his actual game footage? When I look at this kid I see a freaky athlete with a good motor. If you have those two things, over time, I believe over time you can develop into a high-quality NFL player. But the key is time ... so I moved Poe back with the expectation that he needs to get into a good locker room with a mentor in that defensive line group who can show this kid how to play football."
Despite playing most of his career in Conference USA, where there are far fewer high quality offensive line prospects, Poe had only five career sacks at Memphis.
The Cowboys have to like their position, because they're going to be in line to fill a need no matter which direction they go. Safety Mark Barron or guard David DeCastro would be solid picks, but in Upshaw they get another edge pass-rush talent to plug into their 3-4 defense.
While Upshaw, who didn't participate in most of the Combine's timed drills, isn't considered an elite athlete on par with other elite edge rushers in the draft like South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, he's a fundamentally sound player and a product of Nick Saban's NFL Draft factory at Alabama.
He had 52 tackles, including 18 for loss as well as 9.5 sacks, in his final season in Tuscaloosa.
A video breakdown of his film from the 2010 season:
For the latest news and analysis on the Cowboys draft plans, check out SB Nation Dallas' exclusive storystream, while Blogging The Boys is your off-season home for all things related to America's Team.
In SB Nation's NFL draft blog, Mocking the Draft's, latest mock draft, the Dallas Cowboys stick with the recent trend, selecting LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers with their No. 14 overall pick.
Michael Brockers | Defensive tackle | LSU: A player with the versatility of Michael Brockers would do wonders for Dallas on the defensive line. They could use an upgrade at defensive end in their 3-4 defense, and Brockers fits wonderfully into that position at the next level.
Brockers has been a popular pick for the Cowboys in recent mock drafts. Since they've picked up a decent amount of players, like cornerback Brandon Carr and guards like Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, the Cowboys may feel that they're in the position to draft the best player available instead of drafting for need when they go on the clock with the 14th overall pick.
Brockers is considered a top-three defensive lineman in this year's draft class along with guys like Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State and Dontari Poe from Memphis, and he could likely contribute right away on the Dallas defensive line.
Over the next two days, the Dallas Cowboys will bring in 30 "national" prospects for visits to their Valley Ranch training facility. Historically, the visiting list has been a pretty good indicator in the Cowboys level of interest in a prospect, as their last six first-round picks all came to North Texas before the draft.
In an interview with the paper, Jerry Jones had nice things to say about Poe, whose impressive Combine performance has sent his stock skyrocketing in recent weeks:
"I'm impressed with him," Jones said. "I'm real impressed. I'm particularly impressed cause he looks like a nose [tackle] and has the skill and has some pass rush about him at the five technique. I'm impressed with him."
On Thursday and Friday, the Cowboys will have Dallas Pro Days for draft prospects who attended high school or college in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Over at Draftinsider.com, Sports Illustrated writer Tony Pauline has this interesting note about what the Dallas Cowboys are thinking in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft:
On the Monday of the combine, when we reported the Dallas Cowboys were the favorites to sign free agent cornerback Brandon Carr, we also posted the team was looking heavily at offensive lineman Cordy Glenn. Several sources have told us in recent weeks the franchise has shifted its focus to the defensive line and as of today Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe is the apple of their eyes.
Poe, a 6'4 345 defensive tackle from Memphis, has skyrocketed up NFL draft boards in recent weeks due to his off-the-charts test results at the Combine.
Despite his ample size, he ran a 4.86 40 and a 1.6 10-yard dash, respectable numbers for an edge rusher or a linebacker, all while bench pressing 225 pounds 44 times.
He seems like the ideal 3-4 DT that would allow Dallas to shift Jay Ratliff over to end, but for all his physical talent, there are many questions about his overall effort level and production in college.
In 2011, he had 33 tackles with 8 coming behind the line of scrimmage and 1 sack.
A video of the 40-yard dash which made Poe an awful lot of money:
The needs for the Dallas Cowboys in this year 2012 NFL Draft vary from improving the offensive line, upgrading the secondary or going after the best defensive lineman available in the draft. Over at CBSSports.com their two draft experts are split between the Cowboys drafting an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman at No. 14.
Dane Brugler has the Cowboys taking offensive lineman David DeCastro from Stanford:
With Pro Days of most of the major prospects completed, SB Nation has released its latest mock draft:
14. Dallas Cowboys, Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
Dallas' defense disappointed everyone last year, it may have even cost Rob Ryan a shot at a head coaching job. Holes in the secondary were obvious, but the Cowboys also need an impact player at defensive end. Brockers is one option for the Cowboys, who might be inclined to trade out of this pick.
Brockers, an extremely talented but somewhat raw defensive lineman from LSU, has been linked with the Cowboys in recent weeks, and he's one of the prospects Dallas will host in the next few weeks at their training facility in Valley Ranch.
In the modern pass-first NFL, the defensive line is considered one of the premier positions, and the best ones rarely fall out of the first round.
A team can never have enough pass rushers, especially in the NFC East which features franchise QB's in Eli Manning and Michael Vick, and most likely, Robert Griffin III.
A look at Brockers' performance in the national title game this season:
Each year, NFL teams are allowed to bring in 30 national prospects to their training facilities for a visit, as well as an unlimited amount of players considered local prospects, either by growing up in that city or playing in a local college.
While the exact lists won't be finalized until next week, the names of a good number of players scheduled to visit the Dallas Cowboys have leaked out:
|Amini Silatolu||OG||Midwestern State||2|
|Lionel Smith||CB||Texas A&M||UDFA|
|Chase Baker||NT||Boise State||UDFA|
|Local Prospects invited for Dallas Days|
|Jeff Fuller||WR||Texas A&M||4-5|
|Nathan Dick||QB||Central Arkansas||UDFA|
Over the last few years, the list of the players the Cowboys have brought in has corresponded fairly well with the players they end up drafting. The last first-round pick Dallas didn't bring for a pre-draft visit was DeMarcus Ware in 2005.
Mock drafts are funny things, in that very few people have the inside info on more than one team (if that) and rarely the goods on team wishes. A lot of times, that's why I prefer sites like Drafttek because they don't attempt to get into the heads of the GMs of each team, they attempt to assign value to the needs of each team and then make picks based on which players are better fits to fill the most needs throughout the draft.
But that doesn't mean that the typical mock draft isn't fun, far from it! The typical mock opens the mind to the various outcomes one can see on draft day; knowing that there isn't one true scenario that captures the future.
The BTB front page writer's mock just concluded it's first round, and with it, gave a bit of a view on what we could see come April 27th.
The writer in charge of Dallas' pick made a bold move and traded down, all the way to 24 with Pittsburgh, and all of a sudden talk of Dallas trading down in real life started picking up steam. Dropping 10 spots is dangerous because a team rarely has that many players with similar grades, meaning the move would cost Dallas a player at a higher tier.
Dallas was still able to get a player often linked to them, Fletcher Cox, at 24 and picked up a second and fifth round pick to boot.
Another thing that this particular mock showed us was that three quarterbacks being picked in the Top 10 is a possibility, pushing a highly ranked prospect down a bit. There were seven edge rushers selected in the first round, so if Dallas wants to make a big impact there, it may look to do it in the first, instead of picking from the next tier in the second round. Here's a look at the positional breakdown for the mock:
For a complete look at how the first round broke down, check out the conclusive post for the top 32 picks here.
For more on the Cowboys' draft plans, check out Blogging The Boys.
While the Dallas Cowboys have been mainly linked to defensive lineman and defensive backs with their first round pick, the latest mock draft from Drafttek.com has Dallas taking South Carolina DE/OLB Melvin Ingram with the No. 14 pick:
For Cowboy Nation at BtB, this one's for you . . . if we're talking about replacing "Almost Anthony", there might be better options at the strong-side OLB. However, if the Honourable Jerral Wayne Jones wants pass-rush, there is no denying the explosion factor of Melvin Ingram . . . and even though HC Jason Garrett attended the Alabama Pro Day, there could be one of two Gamecocks at this choice: Ingram or Gilmore.
Ingram, a 6'1 265 pass rusher most analysts project as a 3-4 OLB in the NFL, was a consensus All-American and first team All-SEC player in 2011. In 13 games for the Gamecocks, he had 48 tackles, including 13.5 for loss as well as 10 sacks.
After an impressive showing at the Combine, where he ran a 4.79 40 and had a 34' vertical jump, he has risen up draft boards in recent weeks.
Selecting Ingram would likely mean the end of the Anthony Spencer era in Dallas, as the 2007 first round pick has never developed into a consistent pass rusher across from DeMarcus Ware.
Sports Science breaks down Ingram's incredible lower body strength:
The Dallas Cowboys are picking Nick Perry of the USC Trojans with the 14th overall pick in the latest SB Nation NFL Mock Draft. There were reports that the Cowboys were considering trading up for the fourth overall pick, but no action on that so far.
Here is what the crew at Mocking the Draft had to say about Perry:
"The Cowboys need a corner, but corners are not as highly valued as pass rushers. Perry jumps ahead of Courtney Upshaw because of Pro Day performance, and because Perry projects better as a 3-4 rush linebacker."
Perry had 49 career tackles at USC, which included 16.5 for losses, with 12 sacks and 10 career starts.
Read more about the Dallas Cowboys at SB Nation Dallas and also check out Blogging the Boys. For more on the NFL Draft and additional news and analysis around the league, visit the SB Nation NFL hub page.
The Cowboys interior offensive line was a problem last season, and with the release of Kyle Kosier at guard last week, the position is truly in flux. Dallas did pick up a couple of veteran guards in free agency, but the future of the position is still in question.
Enter David DeCastro, who many scouts have said is the best guard prospect to come along since Steve Hutchinson. He's got every skill you need and is a fierce run-blocker. Blessed with agile feet, he's extremely good on the move, and in the Cowboys run-blocking scheme the guards are often asked to pull. DeCastro is projected as the kind of player you pencil into the starting lineup for the next decade. Dallas picked up their tackle of the future last year with Tyron Smith, they could do the same at guard this year with David DeCastro.
As they point out in the article, interior lineman are some of the safest picks in the draft, especially early. Picking DeCastro would give Dallas one of the best left sides of the offensive line for the next decade.
It might not be the flashiest selection, but there's a lot less downside than going for potential with one of the raw defensive lineman that could be available at No. 14.
In the latest mock draft from Todd McShay, the ESPN Insider projects the order of the entire second round as well, and he has the Dallas Cowboys taking OG Aminu Silatolu from Midwestern State with the No. 45 overall pick:
45 Cowboys Amini Silatolu OG Midwestern State
Despite playing for Division II Midwestern State, located right outside of the DFW metroplex in Wichita Falls, Silatolu's size and athleticism has had him steadily creeping up draft boards over the last few months.
The runner-up for the Gene Upshawn Division II Lineman of the Year Award in 2011, the 6'4 311 Silatolu played left tackle at Midwestern State, but he doesn't have the wingspan or height that NFL teams want on the edge.
As a result, he will likely be moved to an OG position, which is why he isn't considered a first-round prospect, as NFL teams generally only draft truly elite interior lineman in the first round.
A highlight video from his time at Midwestern State:
Under Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys have typically been one of the more active teams in terms of trading up and down the draft.
While Jones has openly speculated about trading down recently, the latest rumors from the Huddle Report, a widely respected NFL draft blog, have the Cowboys possibly trading up to the Cleveland Browns spot at No. 4 to take LSU CB Morris Claiborne:
ESCH: Hearing Cowboys are talking to Browns about moving from 14 up to 4.Target would be LSU CB Morris Claiborne.— The Huddle Report (@TheHuddleReport) March 28, 2012
Claiborne, the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award winner at LSU, is considered the top CB prospect in the draft by most analysts.
With elite speed and coverage skills at 5'11 180, he was one the lynch-pin of one of the most dominant defensive backfields in recent college football history.
However, while Claiborne may be as close to a can't miss prospect as you can find, trading up 10 spots to select him would cost the Cowboys most of the rest of their 2012 draft class, a steep price to pay considering they just forked over $50 million for free agent CB Brandon Carr.
Record: 8-8 | Top needs: 3-4 DL, G, CB, RB, 3-4 OLB, TE
Fletcher Cox*, DT, Mississippi State
Stanford G David DeCastro and Alabama S Mark Barron are possibilities here, but I like what Cox could bring to Rob Ryan's defense. He has the versatility to play anywhere along the defensive line and can provide pass-rush production from the inside.
An athletic 6'4 295 defensive lineman, Cox has the ideal size to be a 3-4 DE and could see snaps at both defensive line positions in the NFL.
Last season at Mississippi State, the junior had 56 tackles, including 14.5 for loss and 5 sacks, in 12 games.
Throughout the season, he showcased tantalizing glimpses of talent, but many draft analysts think he didn't quite put it all together enough to be worthy of a Top 10 selection.
A comprehensive breakdown of his 2011 game against Wake Forest:
Leary, a 6'3 325 offensive linemen, has been moving up draft boards recently due to his positional versatility and athletic ability.
In an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal, Leary's agent, Adasi Bakari, said his client will be likely be a mid-round draft pick:
''He is being looked at primarily as a guard,'' Bakari said. ''Guards tend to fall off the board in numbers starting in the third round. I would expect him to go somewhere between rounds 3 and 5.''
''Ron is that guy when you are trying to narrow down that 45-man active roster, he's a guy you can count twice,'' Bakari said. ''He can play inside (at guard) or outside (at tackle). You can carry an extra defensive back or receiver because you have two linemen in one.''
Leary started the last three seasons at Memphis, playing as a left tackle in 2009 and 2010 before moving to the interior in 2011 due to numerous injuries on the Tigers' line.
He is expected to visit the Cowboys training facilities in Dallas at some point in the next month as well.
The only video of Leary I could find on the interwebs:
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is set to attend Alabama's Pro Day on Thursday, March 29:
"Alabama had a pro day earlier in the month and a number of their players were not able to work out cause of injury," Garrett said. "We felt it was worth while. Logistically it made sense. I am here. I'm going back to Texas. We are going to fly right over Tuscaloosa. It made sense for me to stop there and go to this workout tomorrow."
If history is any guide, Garrett's decision to attend Alabama's Pro Day, and not any others, could mean a lot in terms of who the Cowboys are focusing on with their first round pick.
In 2011, the only Pro Day Garrett visited was USC's, where he watched future Cowboys first-round pick Tyron Smith.
The Crimson Tide have at least four likely first-round picks: RB Trent Richardson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, S Mark Barron and LB Courtney Upshaw. Upshaw, Barron and Richardson did not work out at the school's first Pro Day, while Kirkpatrick has been linked to the Cowboys throughout the pre-draft season.
For the latest news and notes about the Cowboys NFL Draft plans, stay tuned to SB Nation Dallas' exclusive storystream.
In a wide-ranging interview with the local media on Tuesday, Jerry Jones talked about how the Dallas Cowboys busy free agency period affected their draft board:
Jerry Jones said there is a chance the could trade out of 14. If they stayed there they would more than likely target a defensive player— Clarence Hill (@clarencehilljr) March 27, 2012
Jones has been quite fond of trading down in the draft over the years, although the results have been mixed at best.
With Dallas right on the outside of the range of what many people consider the true blue-chips in 2012, dealing with a team who has fallen in love with a particular prospect makes sense, but the Cowboys checkered draft history would indicate that the front office shouldn't unnecessarily restrict their options in the first round.
In the interview, Jones also indicated that Dallas isn't as interested in Stanford OG David DeCastro as some of the pre-draft rumors have indicated, mostly because the team doesn't think drafting an interior offensive lineman is a great way to extract value out of the No. 14 overall pick.
Of course, with the hype and buzz surrounding the NFL Draft increasing every year, there's no way to know how much of what Jones is saying is for the benefit of the fans and how much is a smoke-screen for the other 31 NFL teams.
In the last week, the buzz around the Dallas Cowboys pursuing a pass rusher with the No. 14 pick in the first round has been growing.
Jerry Jones did little to squelch that talk in an interview Friday with the Dallas Morning News:
"I wouldn't want to get into it," Jones said when asked about the players the team is eying. "But certainly there are some people that can help teams in the NFL as an outside linebacker-type pass rusher. Yes, there are those."
By filling holes in their offensive line and defensive backfield in free agency, Dallas opened up room to go after the best available player on their board in the first round.
And as Jones notes, pass rushers are always at a premium, especially in the modern pass-first NFL.
If the Cowboys want to make a deep playoff run in the NFC, they're going to have to go through Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Unless you have Deion Sanders lining up in the secondary, it's going to be a lot easier to beat an elite passing QB by hitting him in the face than running with his WR's.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Dallas' NFL Draft storystream for in-depth scouting reports on some of the pass rushers Dallas might target in the first round and check out Blogging The Boys for all your up-to-the-second analysis about America's Team.
The Dallas Cowboys are all set for the 2012 NFL Draft, with the 14th overall pick and several more sliding down the draft order. On Monday, Dallas was awarded a fourth-round compensatory draft pick by the league, which will be the final pick in that round and 135th pick overall. That is the Cowboys' second pick in that round alone.
Here is a complete look at the official NFL Draft order, and below is a glance at where the Cowboys will be picking come draft time.
1st Round: No. 14
2nd Round: No. 13 in the round and 45th overall
3rd Round: No. 19 in the round and 81st overall
4th Round: No. 18 in the round and 113th overall, No. 40 in the round and 135th overall (compensatory pick)
5th Round: No. 17 in the round and 152nd overall
6th Round: No. 16 in the round and 186th overall pick
7th Round: No. 15 in the round and 222nd overall pick
Read more about the Cowboys at Blogging the Boys.
Sometimes, even with dirt on you, the sun shines through. Today at the owner's meeting, the Cowboys were awarded a fourth-round compensatory pick, #135 overall according to DallasCowboys.com's Rob Phillips, in exchange for losing 3-4 DE Stephen Bowen to rival Washington (along with WR Sam Hurd to Chicago) last offseason.
They signed S Abe Elam last offseason as well and that formula worked out to the fourth round pick for the franchise.
It may not seem like much, but the pick could easily turn out to be a player for Dallas, as many times the fourth round is where you select players you may have had second and third round grades on that for some reason have slipped through the cracks.
Unfortunately, you cannot trade your compensatory picks, so they cannot be packaged to move up a few slots in another round, but in essence it does give you flexibility for your fifth round pick should you want to package that. Whomever you were targeting at 145 will obviously be there at 135 and you can now trade away that fifth with no remorse.
For more on the Cowboys, visit Blogging The Boys, the SB Nation home for all things Cowboys.
Compensatory picks in the 2012 NFL Draft will be announced by the end of Monday, and the Dallas Cowboys should be expecting a fourth round pick
The NFL awards these picks to rosters impacted substantially by the previous year's crop of free agents. The squads that lose more talent than they bring in are awarded extra draft picks, with a special formula based on the given player's playing time and salary being used to determine which round the given team will gain a pick in.
Dallas gets its fourth-pick for the loss of Stephen Bowen in free agency to the Washington Redskins. With the Cowboys taking such a hit in salary cap for supposedly over-spending during the uncapped year, the extra draft pick for the Boys helps some
Most Dallas Cowboys fans will be thrilled if the latest mock for the 2012 NFL Draft holds up from SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber. That's because he has Michael Brockers of LSU as the Cowboys first pick at No. 14 overall.
The defensive tackle is often listed as a top ten player in many mock drafts, so to have such a strong defensive presence in the interior slide this far would be a must-grab for Rob Ryan's defense:
Dallas' defensive front has served adequately enough, but it needs youth and talent. Rob Ryan will more than happy to have Brockers manning a five-technique spot on his defensive line.
This is a departure from what some believe to be the Cowboys' greatest need in the secondary and if Alabama's Mark Barron is there as the top strong safety on the board, it would be difficult to pass up. However, the Cowboys could address that need later for the sake of grabbing a value pick like Brockers.
In the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, one of the hottest names has been former LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers, who is set to visit Dallas in the midst of a tour of almost all of the teams in the top 15.
Brockers is one of the most physically impressive prospects in recent years, a 6'6 322 defensive end with 35 inch arms who ran a 4.97 40 at his LSU Pro Day.
However, he is also still fairly raw as a player, having played only two seasons in Baton Rouge as part of a deep defensive line rotation while racking up 2 sacks and 54 tackles as a sophomore.
He reminds SB Nation Dallas columnist and draft guru Archie Barberio of former Cowboy DE Chris Canty, an almost ideal 3-4 DL who can shuttle between both positions. A highlight tape from his 2011 season:
Jerry Jones has always loved projectable athletes in his time in Dallas, although he has been burned by going after raw defensive lineman like Ebeneezer Ekuban before.
Brockers may be long gone by the time the No. 14 pick comes around, but if he isn't, it could make for an extremely interesting decision for Jones and the Cowboys brain trust.
While the Dallas Cowboys have been mainly linked to offensive lineman and defensive backs in most of the mock drafts circulating around the interwebs, the Cowboys free agency splurge may have changed their plans.
Even with the Brandon Carr signing in free agency, the Cowboys could opt for another cornerback like Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick, South Carolina's Stephon Gilmore or North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins. But as a potential top-10 pick in the eyes of many draft analysts, Coples is simply too high to pass on. His inconsistency aside, Coples has pass rush skills, and you can't find those in the middle of the first round.
Coples, a 6'6 290 defensive end with elite athleticism, is one of the most talented players available in the draft, but he has been dogged by whispers about his effort level and motor in college.
However, he would be the perfect fit in Rob Ryan's 3-4 scheme as an end or a tackle, and if Dallas believes they can tap into his vast potential, he could become one of the steals of the first round.
A video breaking down game film from his junior season:
With the signings of Brandon Carr, Brodney Pool and Nate Livings in the first week of NFL free agency this off-season, the Dallas Cowboys don't have as many pressing needs headed into the draft as they did two months ago.
As a result, they are free to select the best player available instead of going for a need, which is why the latest SB Nation NFL Mock Draft has Dallas looking at OLB Melvin Ingram out of South Carolina:
Salary cap punishment or not, Jerry Jones filled his hat with free agents, most notably Brandon Carr. They also used the franchise tag to keep Anthony Spencer. Adding another pass rusher would only help the defense stay competitive in the NFC East.
Ingram is the No. 9 overall prospect according to NFLDraftScout.com, and is coming off a strong Capital One Bowl performance against Nebraska, where he had four tackles and one sack.
The latest NFL Mock Draft at SB Nation has the Dallas Cowboys taking offensive lineman David DeCastro from the Stanford Cardinals with the 14th overall pick. This is clearly a move to provide more protection for Tony Romo, who Jerry Jones' reputation has been directly tied to for a few seasons now.
Romo had a successful 2011 season, but was still sacked 36 times which included six sacks in the season finale to get into the playoff against the eventual Super Bowl champion New York Giants. Romo was sacked 11 times in the last four games.
As the Mock Draft noted, the Cowboys are just dying to upgrade their secondary. But if Romo doesn't have time to throw the ball, the Dallas defense has much bigger problems, as they'll likely spend more time on the field:
"Children in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area still cry when they think about the Cowboys' secondary. Nobody cries more than Rob Ryan, whose head coaching career hit a speed bump because of that unit. Jerry Jones cares about children and Rob Ryan; ergo, he will spend big bucks on Brandon Carr or Cortland Finnegan in free agency. Jones has his own reputation staked on Tony Romo. DeCastro gives Romo a little protection and some more help via the running game."
DeCastro is entering the draft after his junior season at Stanford, where he protected the most coveted quarterback in college football and the consensus overall No. 1 pick in this year's draft, Andrew Luck.
For more information on the Cowboys, visit Blogging the Boys.
It's the silly season, where every NFL analyst and pundit, professional or amateur, takes a stab at predicting how the draft will unfold. We all know that they are fruitless exercises, but none the less, we love to see how someone else envisions the thought processes of 32 General Managers; sometimes without knowing more than a little about that teams overall needs.
Last year, with the Cowboys picking at slot nine, it was a bit easier to predict the handful of choices. For one, Dallas had a huge, glaring need; offensive tackle. Marc Colombo was one of the league's worst tackles two years running.
We knew that certain prospects would be gone before Dallas selected; Cam Newton, Von Miller, AJ Green and Julio Jones were almost assured to be gone before Dallas hit the clock. This year, at 14, things are a bit different. We know the two quarterbacks will be gone (Luck and RGIII) and the best tackle (Matt Kalil), but there are many more slots before Dallas' comes up.
With several needs, the Cowboys could go in multiple directions. They need help on the interior of the offensive line, in the secondary, the linebacking corps needs depth and the defensive line could use some supplements.
Please, no Braun jokes, urine a lot of trouble if you use a bad Braun joke amigo.
Jason Garrett has stated that the club will adhere to the BPA approach; selecting the best player available. But what happens if that player is at a position of no need, or overkill? How true is that statement? If Trent Richardson falls to 14, does Dallas select him, or auction the pick? If Luke Keuchly is the BPA, does Dallas really select an ILB after going back-to-back second-rounders in '10 and '11 (Lee and Carter)?
What happens if CB Dre Kirkpatrick is gone? Does bad boy Janoris Jenkins become a possibility? Just like with the mock drafts, the direction of the club will start to make sense as free agency plays out, starting next week. Before then, everything else is pure conjecture; but fun as hell.
SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber has a look at the 2012 NFL Draft as it stands before free agency changes the landscape, and no team's draft needs seem as unpredictable as the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas is in the market for both offensive linemen and defensive backs, but could solve one or both issues depending on a variety of factors (the likely availability of coveted Saints guard Carl Nicks now that Drew Brees has been franchise tagged is a huge one).
For now, Van Bibber has the 'Boys addressing their O-line needs through the Draft, with one of three (!) Stanford players predicted to go in the first round:
14. Dallas Cowboys, David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
Dallas seems intent to find help for their secondary in free agency. Of course, they could also go all in on Saints' free agent guard Carl Nicks. Whatever they do, it could shape their pick here. For this mock, we assume they sign one of the top cornerbacks, Cortland Finnegan or Brandon Carr in free agency. DeCastro then beefs up their interior line, giving Dallas an elite protector that will be a focal point of their front five for years to come.
If you don't already know, I pull double duty for SB Nation, covering the Cowboys here on SBN-Dallas as well as over at the Cowboys blog, Blogging The Boys. My cohorts over there have been doing an incredible job looking at any and all things NFL draft this past week.
I figure this would be a great time to introduce you to some of their points of views, so you know that you have multiple sites to get your Cowboys fix in, now and during the season.
Here are this week's best posts, thus far... and it's only Wednesday.
BTB's newest FPW checks in with a great post comparing Poe's workout numbers to Haloti Ngata and Paul Soliai; the gold standard and a free agent for the NT position with comparable height/weights. Extremely interesting comparison's and a telling assessment from Poe's college coach.
Our resident cyborg, OCC takes a look at the possible replacements for Anthony Spencer, should the Cowboys stop pretending they are considering franchising him. He lays out all the requisite measurements and explains some of the advanced stats that teams use to help dissect who is the cream of the workout crop.
BTB's draft guru, Chia lays down all of the information on Arizona State's Nick Perry; a possible replacement for Anthony Spencer. Chia rose the ranks at BTB cranking out intense and thorough Fan Posts on draft prospects and continues his fine work.
For continued draft coverage, and all things Cowboys, check out Blogging The Boys.
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