I Have a Dream (my wish for the cowboys draft)

Cowboys Draft Wish List

Cowboys Draft Wish ListDear Santa,

Please bring me a pony… and a plastic rocket.

This list will not happen. It’s semi-realistic, in that everyone on it is an off-season visitor to valley ranch. I am doing my best to be reasonable about the places I take them. A lot of people will have them higher or lower. I am simply using a variety of sources and exercising my judgement– no system or stats. As Herman Cain might say, “I don’t have the facts to back this up, but” I believe this is what the cowboys should do.

I don’t think Barr or Donald falling to us is realistic.  I think Dallas may want to trade up for Barr, but I don’t think he even falls to the point where we aren’t over paying, and this *is* what I think Dallas should do versus what they will do, so I don’t make the trade. I think Zack Martin goes to the Giants. I don’t want Taylor Lewan (and he wasn’t a visitor anyhow).

Instead, with Odell Beckham on the board, The Eagles offer picks 22 and 86 to try to replace the departing Desean Jackson. Dallas accepts. At pick 22, they select Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State.

At 47, Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence has unfortunately left the building, and the highest ranked pass rusher on their board is Will Clarke, DE West Virginia. They grab him.

At 78, Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State, has remarkably lasted beyond his recent projections and Dallas takes a planned replacement for Doug Free.

With the extra pick at 86, Dallas again goes wide, needing depth and versatility behind their young gun starters and selects Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado.

At 119, Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor, has paid dearly for his humiliation at the hands of Aaron Donald, but he was a projected 1st-2nd round guard based on his college tape, and his value here, especially to a team short on offensive line depth (with a starter whose career could end at any time), is too good to pass up.

At pick 158, Jerrick McKinnon is off the board and, having already addressed several needs, Dallas takes a risk on an undersized but very athletic pass rusher on whom they are quite high, Howard Jones, OLB, Shepherd.

The 7th rounders could go any which way, and I am not at all sure about who I’d like them to take with their final 6 picks, but I’d like to see them take a flier on Garrett Gilbert and Kerry Hyder, assuming those guys are still there.

I suspect we’ll see nothing like this tonight, but we can always dream…

Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft

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This is about as close to the 2014 NFL Draft as we can get and it’s about time to hold a mock draft. Last year when I did this I nailed the Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, J.J. Wilcox and B.W. Webb selections!!!

OK, kidding. I did get one correct, wide receiver Terrance Williams, I actually did have the ‘Boys taking him in the third round. All bragging aside, here is my best guess, which is what we are all doing unless we have access inside the facilities or can get inside the head of Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones or Will McClay. The latter would be especially difficult since rumor has it that he hasn’t left the building in months.

*Please not that I am not an NFL scout and some of the analysis on individual players is from other sites.

Here is the mock, which you are free to mock:

1ST Round: Zack Martin (OL)

The team needs help at Guard and give themselves a possible replacement for Doug Free. This is the last name on their list since I don’t believe the team covets either one of the top 2 safeties and Aaron Donald and Anthony Barr won’t be available. Also, I can’t see the team drafting Timmy Jernigan in this spot…Most likely scenario is a trade back and I’ll throw out the Carolina Panthers as their partner. They move up to draft a WR, which would be a plus since it would mess with the Eagles.

2ND Round: Scott Crichton (DE)

No question the Cowboys need help along the defensive line and they’ll get it in the second round. He has great strength, the frame to get bigger and plays with great effort, which fits the RKG mold.

3RD Round: Terrence Brooks (FS)

Brooks would give the Cowboys the speed and centerfield safety they desperately need. He’s fluid, athletic and plays fast (good recognition). He has a swagger about him the secondary needs and would be an ideal fit since he can recover if the aggressive CB’s Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne get beat. Not a physical presence but the Cowboys already have that type in Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox.

4TH Round: Will Sutton (DT)

Regressed last season because the team asked him to add weight but a disruptive force inside. Had 23.5 TFL’s in 2012, a total that dipped to 13.5 last season, but the ability is there. Athletic, strong and brings a quickness to the position in the same way Aaron Donald does but needs consistency and needs to watch his diet. With some coaching (see: Marinelli, Rod), Sutton could bring outstanding value for a player who’s been overlooked recently.

5TH Round: Jared Abbrederis (WR) 

You didn’t think the Cowboys were going to go the entire draft without drafting a receiver did you? Actually, this is probably a round late but Abbrederis is a player who has the size they covet and with good speed. Has very good hands, runs great routes and brings a toughness to the position despite not having elite physical tools.

7TH Round: Travis Carrie (CB)

Has the size (6-0, 208) that fits the CB mold, with good speed and hands. A good tackler who would fit the Tampa 2 scheme. Only an average athlete and has injury history, which is why he isn’t a better prospect; boom or bust potential.

7TH Round: Bryn Renner (QB)

The Cowboys need a QB to groom and if they don’t grab one in rounds 3-5, which is where they should address it, they find a player with potential in Renner. A smart QB who makes good decisions with the ball and delivers it with accuracy. Doesn’t have great arm strength and isn’t an elite athlete but this is what 7TH round QB prospects look like.

7TH Round: Seantrel Henderson (OT)

Got issues with attitude, injuries and character. But he looks the part of an elite player if he could get his life together. A gamble worth taking when his inevitable slip in the draft happens.

7TH Round: Damien Williams (RB)

In same mold of DeMarco Murray where he looks the part; has the size, speed and hands to succeed. Has maturity issues, lacks feel for the position and doesn’t have the strength to match his physical gifts but the tools are there to be a player.

7TH Round: Karl Williams (FB)

Cowboys showed late in the year that they wanted to get back to the fullback days and Murray was very effective with someone in front of him. Williams brings a compact body and the physicality to blow people off the ball. Aggressive and gives all-out effort on every play.

7TH Round: Jonathan Brown (OLB)

Plays with speed and range to track down the ball. Has great instincts for the game and is a special teams demon but lacks bulk and doesn’t have the ideal physicality for the position. A high motor type who would fit the RKG mold and his skill set also fits the Tampa 2.

There you have it, my mock draft for the Cowboys. I believe the team will trade out of its first round pick, pick up an extra pick or two and make better use of the draft, particularly with the RB or QB positions. No matter what happens in the next few days, the one thing to remember is that Dallas needs to make smart decisions throughout the process.

 

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi  

Late Draft Rumors — There’s Value in the 25-45 Range

Some late draft rumors, fresh from the mill.  It appears the Cowboys would not be short on quality draft options if the team dropped eight to twelve spots.

Aaron Donald
Donald: too rich for the Cowboys’ blood now?

— I was told Cowboys short-lister Aaron Donald could go as early as the 5th pick to the Oakland Raiders.  Donald is apparently in their discussions.

— Following on a rumor that surfaced earlier today, I was told the Rams are in fact seriously considering Johnny Manziel with the 2nd pick.

— Manziel’s teammate Mike Evans looks like he’ll join Johnny Football in the top 10, with Tampa Bay and Buffalo showing interest.

— With Evans and Sammie Watkins looking like top 10 picks, the top OTs, Jake Matthews and Greg Robinson, could slide just a bit towards the bottom of the top 10.

— There’s a growing belief that Derek Carr could be the second quarterback on the board.  That could push Blake Bortles down into the 11-16 range.  If he makes this drop and the Titans don’t claim Bortles at 11, he and not Carr, could be trade-down bait for Dallas.

— I asked how far Timmy Jernigan might fall after reports that he failed a drug test, and was told that he probably would not fall farther than the 2nd round.

— the hot wide receiver, the guy who looks like the third wide-out off the board after Watkins and Evans, is LSU’s Odell Beckham.  He’s another player who could be trade-down bait in the 16th slot.

— Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks is also a late-rising name at the receiver spot and could be the next wideout selected after Beckham.

— Conversely, the receiver whose stock has “taken a beating” is USC’s Marqise Lee.  I was told he’s seen as the 5th receiver on some charts and could fall into the 2nd, where he would be a fantastic value pick for Dallas — or any club– in the 32-42 range.

– Virginia offensive tackle Morgan Moses has some juice and is seen as a likely late 1st rounder now.

— Mississippi State guard Gabe Jackson has some low-frequency buzz and has some strong advocates who feel he’s a better prospect than Zack Martin at guard and would be a quality pick in the 2nd.

— Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo and Zach Mettenberger are getting a lot of buzz ‘for very different reasons. The West Coast teams who run more of a controlled short-passing game love Garoppolo and the teams that are looking for a potential starter with a bigger arm, who are passing on a quarterback in the 1st round, are looking at Mettenberger in the 3rd.”

I have one last chat scheduled for Wednesday evening and will update with late-breaking draft stories then.

Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft v3.0

Time for a Mock Draft Update, if for no other reason than “why not”. Seven rounds, including the round seven “mini-draft” that will make this draft unique insofar as the usage of that boon will determine the immediate and probable value of the entire draft as a whole. It’s an entire draft, it has to.

This time around we are using the Walter Football 2014 NFL Draft Ratings on the FanSpeak draft system in order to conduct the draft. Everyone is aware of the current team schema. Let’s see how the possible plans talked about here on CowboysNation.com pan out in a virtual world. There will be no trades this mock, it’s still to early, Jerry is not happy.

Round One: Mike Evans left at eight to Minnesota, Calvin Pryor, Zack Martin, Anthony Barr and Aaron Donald were taken in rapid succession soon after. Let’s make this short, there were three top DT’s on the board. So was Clinton-Dix. I believe there is depth at other positions. Safety, not so much.

1st – S Clinton Dix – Alabama

Round Two: Scott Crichton is there and outside edge pressure is getting talk in the room as Van Noy was passed up in the first. All sorts of talent all over the board but one name stands out and the Cowboys get their man. Marinelli is ecstatic.

2nd – DL Ra-Shede Hageman – Minnesota

Round Three: Safety hopefuls Brooks and Loston went off the board early and CowboysNation smiles with Dix on board. There are offensive linemen available but again edge pressure is screaming at me. Hageman can be played anywhere but we need pressure. Unbelievable the number one player, BPA on the board fits the bill and is a value in this round. Da’Quan Jones is left on the board and OG Dakota Jones is snatched away late in the round as we address edge pressure.

3rd – DE Scott Crichton – Oregon State

Round Four: Almost all – nay all of the guys I were hoping to drop in the fourth went. But I am smiling. It is nice to fill needs but as long as you are adding talent who can complain? 

4th – RB Charles Sims –West Virginia

Round Five: Again, not the area you want but sticking with adding talent at any position and another defender is added in a Mincey clone. The Cowboys stand with their current QB rotation and leave Fales on the board.

5th – DE James Gayle – Virginia Tech

Round Six: And we wait and watch a lot of really talented players go off the board. A trade may very well happen here in reality. We have ammunition even though the extra picks can’t be used as part of a deal.

Round Seven Mini-Draft

WR – L’Damian Washington – Missouri 
FB – J.C. Copeland – LSU
OLB – Denicos Allen – Michigan State
OT – Justin Britt – Missouri
OL – Wesley Johnson – Vanderbuilt
CB – Carrington Byndom – Texas

I really wanted to get a top tier offensive linemen but am ecstatic at Justin Britt and versatile Wesley Johnson in the seventh. CB Byndom has instinct and skills, it’s his body that needs work. Very lucky OLB Denicos Allen was available but wanted some inside help as well, UDFA target. FB Copeland and WR Washington should be the top two talents from this tier.

There it is, sans Jerry Jones trades, which I see as very plausible given the level of talent that was on the board in the sixth. I can also see both WR Washington and FB Copeland going late in the sixth. Regardless the above is what we got this Mock draft day. What would you say if Garrett came away with the above draft haul? I know what Marinelli would say. As an interesting exercise, grade this as two separate drafts with the seventh standing on it’s own as well as the complete group in it’s entirety

What say you Cowboys Nation?

Another Left Coast Cowboys Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over

Cowboys 2014 Draft Chat, Part 39: More Guard Choices

Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft

The next edition of Cowboys Nation’s guard breakdown looks at Clemson guard Brandon Thomas, who suffered a torn ACL today, as well as other later-round options.

Update:  I got a message from TD mid-day, after he watched more tape of Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson overnight:

“Watching Gabe Jackson … 1st-round grade to me.  He’s awesome, perfect fit for the Cowboys.”

I asked him a question I’ve received from a few readers, who asked to compare Jackson to Larry Warford, a 2nd round guard of interest for a lot of fans last year.  I got this:

“Jackson has better bend, more snap, plays lower.  He’s more physical.  He’s better than Warford by far.  After watching his tape, if you wanted a guard only, I would take Gabe Jackson over Zach Martin.”

    *     *     *     *
Back to the chat.
Cowboys Nation:  Talk about Brandon Thomas. He’s another guard we have not discussed at all.
TD: I’d say one of those guys you can consider in the top 60 picks, in that 2nd/3rd round range.  (This chat was held Sunday, before Thomas’ injury.)  He’s a nice hybrid.  He’s an athletic guy. He’s got some snap to his game. He’s got some pop.  He’s not dominant in any area. I don’t want to make him out like the second coming of something, but when you’re 6’3″, 315, you’re flexible, you have leverage, you’ve got length and decent athleticism…
Now, bigger guys will be able to overpower him.  The real athletic guys will beat him into the slot.  But for the most part, he can handle anybody else in-between there. I think he’s a fringe starter in the NFL. I’m not as high on him as others but I think he can be a starter in the NFL.
CN: Looking at other guards in this crop.  You rate them as Pro Bowl talents, starters, dirty starters, potential starters.  We’ve covered the top five guys in this class with Martin, Su’a-Filo, Yankey, Thomas and Jackson.  How do the guys behind those five stack up?
TD: I think Zack Martin is the day one starter.  On my old scale I would give him my lowest 1st-round grade.  Just because he’s solid and I know what I’m getting.  
Gabe Jackson I would probably give him my highest 2nd round grade, because he’s got a ton of upside,.  He’s not as well-developed and clean as Zach Martin but if he was, he would be rated higher, because he’s a more physical, more talented kid.  
Su’a-Filo, Yankey, they’re in the next tier.  I would put Martin 1A and Jackson 1B.  Martin in the 15-30 range, Jackson in the 25-40 range.  The next guys in the 2nd round, with better fits.  
Thomas in that 3rd round range.  I think you might feel better with him as your sixth starter, but he could definitely start for you.  
CN:  Anybody after that in the 4th-5th round range who deserves attention?
TD:  One guy whose reputation took a beating was Cyril Richardson from Baylor. He’s 6’5″, 335.  He’s a powerful, powerful guy. He can hit you at the point of attack.  When he hits you and gets his hands on you and sinks his hips he can anchor.  
He plays stiff-legged though.  When you play stiff-legged you get upright, you lack anchor strength and you lack lateral agility.  Now, they played in that spread at Baylor where he played in space, and the ball came out so quickly that he could sit and he could punch and get overextended.  Now when you do that in tight areas, people can get around you with a jab step, then you’re trying to recover and you get turned around.
Or, if you stand upright, he gets pushed around like when Aaron Donald got underneath him and rode him to the ground at the Senior Bowl.  You know, those are technical things.  He’s never been coached that way. He’s not a great athlete, but he is naturally powerful. He’s got long arms and in the right scheme with a lot of coaching, he could end up being a solid player.  
I would put him in that 4th round range 5th round range because you have a lot of tools to work with.  But you’re going to have to teach him pretty much from scratch how to play in the NFL.  He played in a 2-point stance.  You know the Texas Tech guys, Manny Ramirez, guys like that, had to learn to play in a 3-point stance once they got to the pros.
CN:  You bring up a good point.  Ramirez has become a solid player, but it didn’t come overnight for him. 
TD:  When you play in the spread, your bad habits almost work for you, because if the guy opposite you has to change direction, you’ve bought your QB time and the ball comes out so quickly. 
He would be a nice mid-to-late round potential target for the Cowboys because of his power and his upside.  They’ve had success with big physical guys like Ron Leary.  Richardson is a similar type player physically.
— A couple more guys I like are Jon Halapio from Florida. In my earlier days doing this I would have written him off as a late-round, free agent pick, but I think he’s got a future in the NFL because he’s balanced, he’s powerful, he can extend his hands. He plays hard and through the whistle.  
Athletically, he’s not special.  He’s got enough but he’s not special.  He has balance.  He’s got a mean streak to him.  He’s got a good punch and he plays with some leverage.  He was a guy that I took a liking to.  I know it’s tough to get excited about guards, but he’s a guy you could get late in the draft and maybe in two years you’re looking at him saying, “Halapio is starting for us and he’s giving us decent play.” 
— Penn State has another one, John Urschel.  6’3″, 315. Plays hard, through the whistle.  Good hand placement. 

Cowboys 2014 Draft Chat, Part 38: BIg Options at Guard

Guard Gabe Jackson

We resume our draft chat series with Cowboys Nation’s draft analyst TD by breaking down the guard position.

Cowboys Nation:  Let’s start with guards.  It’s one position we have not broken down, but it’s one that will definitely be high on the priority list.

Last year was probably the high-water mark for guards in recent years with Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack going in the top dozen picks.  Is there anybody of their caliber in this group of guards?

TD:  No.  I still think Zack Martin from Notre Dame is the top guard in this class. I hear from a lot of scouts that they view him that way as well.  Some don’t.  He’s 6’3″, 305 lbs.  Usually with these squattier offensive tackles you like them at 6’4″ about 315-325 lbs. and to have 34-35 inch arms.

Martin, at 6’3″, 305 with shorter arms just looks like a more athletic guard inside. He has great technique. He doesn’t have those really long arms but he has the best hand placement of anyone in his group. He can move laterally.  He can anchor.  I think he’s a 1st round guard, and the only one in this draft.

CN: He played left tackle his college career, correct?

TD:  Yes.

CN:  With his feet and his ability to contain edge rushers at the college level he seems like an ideal left guard, who can pull and run the power counters that every pro team as in its playbook.

TD: I would agree.  He’s got that lateral pulling ability for power OT, where you can have the right guard block down and the left guard come across the formation and kick out whoever is in the hole.  He’s also got the short-area quickness to get out in space if you want to run zones to the perimeter on his size.  I think he’s fool-proof. He’s got good power, not great, but he moves people.  And nowadays, you have to win in the pass game and he’s the type of guard the center can leave alone in pass protection.  You have some guards that are big and nasty but when you pass the center has to shade to their side.  Martin is a guy the center can leave alone.

CN: That’s ideal in the Cowboys world.  If you put him at the left guard position you would be starting him between Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, and that would give Dallas the luxury of having a left tackle, left guard combo  who can handle pass blocking duties on their own.

TD:  Sometimes you find guys who have athletic ability and can run, but they lack balance.  He has both.  This is a problem I see with a lot of athletic guards who have come out recently.  The scouts say it and I’ve seen it.  If a guy lacks great balance, it can take a while for him to develop. So, there’s a lot to say about a prospect’s balance, maybe more than about his athleticism.

CN:  Martin sounds like a very safe pick.

TD: I’d say he’s one of the safest.  He’s not sexy, but he’s one guy you can plug in right away who can give you 8-12 years of starting experience. I’d feel good about drafting him.  I think you can start him at guard from day one and go about your business building your team.

CN: What is his ceiling?

TD: A Pro Bowler.  I don’t know if he’s going to be one of the all-time great guards but I think it’s in the realm of possibility that he’s a 5-year Pro Bowler during his career and is always in the discussion. He’s a solid guard prospect.

CN:  In the next tier, we probably have Stanford’s David Yankey.  Who else fits in his group?

TD: Xavier Su’a-Filo from UCLA.  Brandon Thomas from Clemson.  He’s a guy I like.  He’s short, squatty.  He plays with good power.  He’s one of those guys who I think can play on both the left and the right hand side. He’s got some snap to his game.  He’s got balance in short areas.  He’s not a great athlete, but he’s a good athlete.  His balance is what stands out about him.

Yankey is just a big, strong guy.  He has some athletic limitations.  I’m not going to deny that.  He’ll get overextended, but he’s big.  He plays to the whistle. Typically when you have guys with athletic limitations inside, I downgrade them a bit.  But he’s one of those guys who can get movement in the run game, and he can hold his own and anchor in the pass game.  I think he’s a starter who can maybe be a Pro Bowler down the line.

He’s one of those down-and-dirty, meat-and-potato guards who every team needs to win inside.  I’d probably be more comfortable with him as a right guard than as a left guard.

CN: Where does Thomas rate?

TD:  2nd round.  I’d say, Martin in the 1st, then you have Su’a-Filo, Yankey, Thomas and Gabe Jackson from Mississippi State.  I have not watched him a ton, but I know he’s gotten a lot of play with scouts.  He’s big, he’s tough inside and can move. He’s 6’3″, 335 and I hear he can be a top 60 pick as well.

CN: If you’re looking for a 2nd-round guard, it appears the Cowboys will have real options.

TD:  Yeah, and Jackson is a guy who some people think can be a late 1st rounder as well.

CN: We have not talked much about either Thomas or Jackson.  Can you say more about them?

TD:  Yeah, Jackson is big, talented.  He plays in the SEC.  He’s squatty but his weight is well-distributed through his lower half.  And he’s sneaky athletic as well.  He’s got good balance.  When you’re 335, you’re not a great athlete, and are not going to have great range but he plays quick in short areas and he can keep his weight under him.  He’s powerful.  He’s got some snap off the ball.  He’s just not a space player, but I heard from a few scouts that he could sneak into the 1st but is probably a very solid 2nd rounder.

One scout who I really respect think he’s the number two guard behind Zach Martin.

CN:  Let’s stay with that.  The Cowboys, going back to their heyday, when they had five Pro Bowlers on their offensive line, got a reputation as being a sluggo team that just mauled you with size.  And they did to an extent, because the had a lot of 330 pounders on that front.  However, they were a hybrid team.  They did run a lot of man blocking, but they also ran a lot of zone plays.  They were fortunate to have a unique set of players who went 325-335, like Larry Allen, who could beat on you, but also run and play in space.

Right now, they still have big guys.  They’ve gone down a little bit in size, into the 310-320 range, but they have guys like Tyron Smith and Doug Free at the tackle position, Free being a bulked up college tight end.  They took Travis Frederick, who played 330-340 in college and slimmed him down to about 318.

They want to run more zone.  That’s been their focus recently.  Rate these guys on their ability to fit into a zone scheme and on their ability to play in a hybrid scheme.

TD:  I think Zach Martin would be fine.  Su’a-Filo is the guy you think would be the most athletic of the bunch.  Just because he’s got the frame to be the most athletic.  He’s 6’4″, he’s 295. He’s a natural bender.  He plays in space.  He’s explosive, he gets off the ball well.  He sticks on contact. I think he’s the best if you’re looking for a pure zone scheme guy.

Now if you’re looking for the best hybrid fits, I think Gabe Jackson is more athletic than David Yankey. I would say even though he’s 335 and Yankey is 315 that Gabe is more explosive. Now, the farther he has to get up the field the less he’s going to get to, but Jackson plays well in short areas. And I would not be afraid to play him at left guard as well.  So if you’re looking for a good hybrid player, I would say Jackson is a more powerful player than Zach Martin as well.  Martin is the more finished product.

From everything I’ve heard, and I was just turned on to this guy recently because I have not been looking at guards before then, I think Gabe Jackson has the most upside. So, worst-case scenario, Gabe Jackson looks like a guy who can start in the league, and he’s a guy you’re always hoping could give you a little more.
Best-case scenario, he’s the best guard in the draft.

CN:  If he came to Dallas he would have good line coaches to work with.  He would have Bill Callahan.

TD:  And Callahan is the man for that.  From a pure upside standpoint, I think Gabe Jackson has the most.  Zach Martin has the highest floor,  Yankey is a solid player a lunch-pail guy.  He’s down and dirty and you can win with him.

I like all of these guys,, they just fill different roles.

Next:  More on Clemson’s Brandon Thomas and mid-round prospects. 
Tuesday:  We roll out wide receivers on our exclusive Cowboys Nation short draft board.