Cowboys Nation: The readers have a solid base of information so I don’t want to take them through the same positions. I want to focus on ratings. Do you have a list?
Wes Bunting: No. What I do is look at all the players from D-I and Division II and I assign numerical grades to them. But I don’t make a list because I don’t want my opinions swayed. I just grade them as I see them and let the list make itself.
CN: Let’s play a game then. I’m Bill Parcells and I’m giving you the grocery list. I’m sending you to the supermarket to shop for rookies. I’m calling the game 5-10-15. The Cowboys are 2-7. Those losses are in the bank and the schedule is still hard. Even if they got hot under Jason Garrett, I think 8-8 is still optimistic. But assuming they do and finish 7-9 or 8-8, that puts them around 15. If they split the games, they’re picking around 10. If they struggle some more, maybe 4-12, 5-11 and they get a shot at the top 5.
Picking at 5, 10 and 15, I want you to prioritize by these positions: offensive tackle, free safety, cornerback, defensive end, though I think those last two are interchangeable, and finally, guard.
Say for starters, they’re picking at 5. Say Jon Kitna gets hurt and they’re still in the top 5. Looking at the players you know, looking at pick five, start at OT. If there’s an OT there, let’s hear about him. If there isn’t an OT worthy of that pick, move down to FS. If there’s nobody there, move to the next position and so on.
WB: You’re going to make me work today. At five, I don’t think there’s a tackle who’s worth your time. There’s no free safety that makes sense that high. There’s no guard who makes sense this high. This is where defensive line and cornerback fit.
I could see Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara. I’d probably go Amukamara here. I think he’s the safer pick. If we’re looking DEs in the top five, Marcell Dareus makes a lot of sense.
CN: That Amukamara pick might surprise some people. We have some Peterson partisans in our threads. Why would you take Prince over Peterson, if both happened to be available?
WB: He’s just the better, more seasoned cornerback at this stage. Does he have Patrick Peterson’s God-given physical abilities? No. But he’s not too far off and he finds the football a little better. He’s a little cleaner in and out of his breaks. He’s a little bit smaller. Peterson does have phenomenal fluidity for his size and has more upside. At the same time, he’s gonna struggle to get out of his breaks as opposed to a guy who’s a little shorter.
I just like Amukamara a little better in that respect. He’s a physical guy. He’ll tackle, though Peterson will too. I think Peterson’s more a man-guy who needs to play in press. I think Amukamara can do that as well but he can play in zone, he can play off-man better. [Amukamara] is just a bit more savvy, has better ball skills when its in the air. Now, we’re splitting hairs here, they’re both excellent players, but I like Prince a little more.
Another defensive end who’s really shot up draft boards is Cal’s Cameron Jordan. He might be better than Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn now. I don’t know if he’s top-5 material, but he’s up there in the top 10-15. If his former teammate Tyson Alualu can go nine, this guy could go up there. I think he’s better than Alualu.
CN: So Jordan’s definitely a guy who could slot in at 10?
CN: I watched Cal-Oregon, and Jordan was a monster in that game. He was a big reason why Oregon struggled so much to score.
WB: And he’s done that all year long. He gives you some versatility. He’s powerful, has a good punch. You talk to evaluators but you also talk to players. I was talking to UCLA’s Logan Paulsen last year. He was a big tight end and people thought he might move to OT. He was on the Redskins’ active roster last year. I asked him what it was like to block Alualu and he said, “man, that guy is good. It’s tough.” But he also said, “honestly, Cameron Jordan was much harder to block,” and that was last year, when Jordan was a junior and Alualu was a senior. Alualu then went 9th overall to Jacksonville.
People think highly of this kid and he’s a heck of a football player.
CN: What impressed me, besides having a complete game, was that Jordan did it from both sides. Cal would line him up one series over the right tackle, then flop him to the other side a few plays later and he gave both the Oregon tackles fits.
WB: And Cal will even move him inside when they go to a four-man line. He’s going to be a really good three-down player for someone.
CN: So at five we see the two corners and Dareus as the prime targets?
WB: Yeah, I think those are the three guys who makes sense there.
CN: And moving to ten, we start with Cameron Jordan?
WB: Yeah, I think Jordan makes some sense. I think Derek Sherrod, the offensive tackle from Mississippi State comes into play here. It might be just a bit early, but I think Anthony Costanzo, the OT from Boston College also makes some sense here.
CN: Would Costanzo make more sense at 15?
WB: He would make more sense at 15, but he’s a good football player, we don’t know who’s picking in what order, and the better OTs have a tendency to rise a bit on draft day.
I’d say DE Adrian Clayborn [Iowa] also makes sense at 10. I think he’s a better fit at 15, but he’s a possibility in the 10 slot.
CN: There are no safeties in this range, and no guards at this stage?
CN: That’s a good set of names to play with.
Tomorrow: Wes plays 5-10-15 for the second round, compares two Clemson safeties and gives us some small-school names who are rising up the charts.
Follow Wes Buntings’ draft stories at The National Football Post.