Michael Lombardi's post today that the Cowboys have shopped or would consider offers for Marcus Spears, Bobby Carpenter, Sam Hurd, Cory Proctor and Pat Watkins give us the clearest -- and oldest -- Cowboys blue print around.
With the exception of Spears, all are "professional backups," guys in their 4th seasons who have never seriously pushed the starters ahead of them for playing time. Proctor, Hurd and Watkins have received extensive reps, but only when injuries put the men ahead of them out of action.
Examine their positions closely: defensive end, inside linebacker, wide receiver, interior offensive lineman, free safety. Positions the Cowboys have shopped this spring:
- DE prospects: Jared Odrick, Tyson Alualu
- ILB prospects: Sean Lee, Brandon Spikes
- WR prospects: Dez Bryant, Arrelious Benn, Damian Williams, Brandon LaFell, Taylor Price, Emmanuel Sanders, Mardy Gilyard
- G/C: Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Iupati, John Jerry
- DB: Devin McCourty, Kareem Jackson, Taylor Mays, Nate Allen, Morgan Burnett, Chris Cook
The names may churn, but these have been the positions of need, along with offensive tackle, all year. In what order will they present themselves to the Cowboy's selectors?
It's hard to say. I see lots of trades, and lots of surprises. The fact that Dallas is getting calls my indicate movement around the board for players of interest.
That said, remember the sage words of Michael Philip Jagger -- you can't always get what you want. The key, in this and in every draft, is coming away with four solid hits. I'm going to try my hand at one last mock, with a primary and a fall-back in each spot. I'm going to assume no trades, and I'm going off the most accurate general board for help.
Round One: Kareem Jackson, CB, Alabama
Sorry folks, but I see all the wow players going up high, where they've been forecast. Dez Bryant? Somebody will take him, be it Denver, Cincinnati or the Patriots. I also see the choice interior linemen long gone by pick 20. Peter King wrote on Monday that Maurkice Pouncey's is the name he hears most in the 15-25 range, with at least a half dozen teams considering him. That gauntlet won't be run. And late this evening came word that the Raiders may pick Mike Iuputi at the 8th spot. I also see little chance that Earl Thomas survives to 27, with so many other teams looking for play-making free safeties.
If the Cowboys remain at 27, I think the best values will come at corner, especially if a Devin McCourty falls, or at defensive end, where Jared Odrick and Tyson Alualu could rival the corners for Dallas' attention. I'm going with Jackson, a late riser who will need some refinement, but who has the skills to start in time. With Terence Newman still running well, the Cowboys can give Jackson that time.
Backup pick: Tyson Alualu, DL, California
Round Two: Vladimir Ducasse, OT/OG, U-Mass.
He could go much higher in the second round, but I've seen a split of opinion on Ducasse, which probably explains his late 2nd/early-3rd composite ranking: many teams project him as a guard, which drops him behind some tackles.
He's got the frame Dallas likes. He's big all over and appears very coachable. He'll need work too, but in time, could offer a replacement for either Leonard Davis at right guard or Marc Colombo at right tackle.
Backups: Bruce Campbell, OT, Maryland and Arrelious Benn, WR, Illinois. Campbell was overrated after the Combine. I was told he didn't belong in the 1st, and would not be considered by Dallas at 27. That doesn't mean they wouldn't consider him in the 2nd. Benn, as you'll recall, fell to Dave and I at pick 59 in our two-round mock last week. There appears to be a chance he'll do it for real on Friday. He might be too big a value to pass up if he does. Dallas is clearly looking for a wideout. If Dallas does not take a D-back in the first, Georgia Tech's Morgan Burnett could go here.
Round Three: Al Woods, DL, LSU
The Cowboys love SEC players and have drafted more players from LSU than from any other major program over the years. Woods is an oddity; he's listed in many places as a "one technique" rather than as a true nose tackle. He's played off centers, in the way Jay Ratliff has. Woods is another raw player, who opened eyes in his single year as a starter, but reads like the type of nose who could blossom with proper coaching. Dallas can afford to bring him along slowly, with Jay Ratliff in his prime. It's time, however to get Ratliff some relief, after he played over 700 snaps last year.
Backup option: Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida. Dallas loves his game. I don't know if he'll fall to pick 90, but if he does, he could well get the nod over Woods, assuming both are available.
Round Four: Marcus Easley, WR, Connecticut
A big player who fits Dallas' prototype -- 6'2", 207 lbs.-- perfectly.
Backup: J.D. Walton, C, Baylor: If Dallas is willing to move Cory Proctor, who will replace him? Duke Preston?