I recently took part in an interactive 7-Round Mock Draft representing the Cowboys. Each team had a representative and picks were posted to a message board. Trades were allowed prior to the draft but not during as we figured it would slow things down too much. I dangled a few players for trade prior and had an offer for Martellus Bennett. I offered him up because he's not seemed to reach his potential, and with the development of John Phillips, he seemed expendable. I was hoping to get a 3rd rounder for him and when I was offered a 3rd by the Falcons, I took it.
I entered the draft with the following picks: 1.9, 2.40, 3.71, 3.91, 4.109, 5.140, 6.171, and 7.210.
Below are my picks and my thinking behind each:
Pick 1.9 - Most of the targets I had for the first round (DT Fairley, CB Peterson, CB Amukamara, DE Bowers, DE Dareus, and OLB Quinn) were all gone. The players I considered were OLB Von Miller, DE Cameron Jordan, and the Tackles Sherrod, Carimi, Smith, Solder, and Costanzo. I like Miller, but felt it would be a luxury pick and would have pushed the positions of true need (O Line, Secondary, D Line) down so far that I wouldn't get an impact player. Next I considered Jordan. This was prior to his superb showing at the Senior Bowl and I felt he was more of a mid-to-late first round pick. Actually I felt that way about the Tackles, too. However, I think O Line is the biggest need and wasn't sure if one of these Tackles would last until the 2nd round. I was right as they were all gone (as were Pouncey, Wisniewski and even Ijalana) before I picked again at 40, so I was glad I picked a Tackle here. (The best Tackle available at 2.40 was DeMarcus Love, who I am not a fan of.) My top Tackle is Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State.
Pick 2.40 - Safety Rahim Moore, UCLA. I couldn't get my card to the podium fast enough. I really didn't even consider anyone else at this pick as I was locked on him for a good 10-15 picks before I was on the clock. I don't think he's going to be a Super Star or anything, but he would be better than anyone we've had back there since Woodson (and maybe 2 years of Thong Williams.) In hindsight, maybe I should have waited on a Safety. Ahmad Black, DeAndre McDaniels, and Deunta Williams were all available in the 3rd round. Instead I could have taken a D Lineman like Phil Taylor, Drake Nevis, Marvin Austin, or Muhammed Wilkerson. Or a LB like Martez Wilson, Quan Sturdivant, or Bruce Carter.
Pick 3.71 - The player I really wanted here was Temple 3-4 DE Muhammed Wilkerson. He went about 10 picks before I was up and I had to regroup. I wasn't crazy about my options here related to their value and my need. For pure value I liked OG John Moffitt, QB Pat Devlin, CB Johnny Patrick, CB Curtis Brown, TE DJ Williams, and the Safeties I mentioned earlier. But ultimately, I went with a guy I thought would be a 2nd rounder who was falling. USC Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey (6-1, 305) could work his way into the DLine rotation and eventually become a starter at End. He just turned 22 and is a bit raw. But he can stuff the run, and can also be disruptive as is evidneced by his 20 TFL and 9 sacks over the past two seasons.
Pick 3.91 - I feel like I've been lucky to this point by addressing my biggest positions of need with good value picks. Now I'm looking for pure value. I actually liked a lot of players at this spot in the draft - OG John Moffitt, NT Kendrick Ellis, TE Luck Stocker, and RB DeMarco Murray were all considered. However, the BPA on my board was CB Curtis Brown from Texas. BPA and fills a need.
Pick 4.109 - The player I was targeting here was Center Kris O'Dowd. I feel he's the 2nd best Center in the draft and a guy who could take over for Gurode and hold the position for 6-8 years. However, another faller caught my attention. He might not be a Pro Bowler, and he's got some injury concerns, but there is no way DeMarco Murray should go this late in the draft. I will assume Marion Barber has either already received his walking papers or this move seals his fate. Either way, I'm happy to welcome RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma with the 109th pick.
Pick 5.140 - I was really hoping a Guard worhty of this pick would be here, but considering I didn't have any linemen ranked in the top 200 available, I had to go in a different direction. Luckily two of my highest rated players were ILBs which I think Dallas needs. Colin McCarthy went a few picks before I was up, so that made the selection of LSU ILB Kelvin Sheppard easy.
Pick 6.171 - I solicited opinions for this pick on this website, and thanks for all those who responded. Opinions varied as there was support for FBs (although Owen Marecic was taken a few picks prior to my selection), Kicker Alex Henery, OT Derek Hall, NT Ian Williams, WR Jeff Mahael, and WR Niles Paul. I narrowed my choices down to CB Chykie Brown from Texas and Ohio State Guard Justin Boren. I had already taken both a Safety and a Corner, however every scouting service I looked at had Brown rated as a better overall prospect. He is the pick.
Pick 7.210 - Again, I posted my options and asked for feedback. There was support for FBs Stanley Havili and Henry Hynoski, Kicker Alex Henery, Guard Justin Boren, and Receivers Jeff Maehl and Niles Paul. I knew some of these guys would be available in free agency after the draft so I decided to select the player I thought had the greatest chance to be selected in the remaining 13 picks of the draft. I selected K Alex Henery. He might be the best kicker to come out of the draft in the last 5 plus years. I would like to put the revolving door we've had at that position to rest for a while. This kid could do it.
UDFA - I think my strategy for the last pick was successful. The consensus 2nd best kicker was taken at the end of the draft, so I will assume that pick would have been Henery would he have been availble. That being said, three guys I was considering were also taken in those final picks of the draft. OT Derek Hall was taken, as were both FBs I liked Havili and Hynoski. However, there are still some good players left. I'm going to break them down into two categories: Priority Free Agents and Secondary Free Agents.
Priority Free Agents - I'm going to assume Dallas would have a 75% success rate in signing these players. That's based on interest, opportunity, and prestige. Interest - I'm going to deploy a personnel guy to these kids's homes as soon as we make our last pick. They should be at their door a few hours after the draft with a contract in hand. Opportunity - The position of these players will give the kids ample opportunity to make the team. These are all positions in which we need help. Prestige - Love them or hate them, this is the Dallas Cowboys. We are one of the (if not the) highest profile teams in the league. These kids want to be on TV, and want to be known.
So, I'm putting 4 players in this category: OG Justin Boren, Ohio State; WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon; WR Niles Paul, Nebraska; and FS Brian Lainhart, Kent State. Based on the odds, I'm going to say Dallas signs Justin Boren, Jeff Maehl, and Brian Lainhart.
Secondary Free Agents - I'm going to assume Dallas has a 40% chance to sign these players. We don't go after them as hard, but still have the prestige factor of playing for the Cowboys and some of them would have a decent opportunity to make the team. Those guys are: RB Steven Ridley, LSU; FB Charles Clay, Tulsa; WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee; TE Cameron Graham, Louisville; TE Mike McNeil, Nebraska; OG Andrew Jackson, Fresno State; C Chase Beeler, Stanford; C Ryan Pugh, Auburn; DT Terrell McClain, South Florida; DE Brandon Bair, Oregon; DE Adrian Taylor, Oklahoma; OLB Tom Keiser, Stanford; ILB Josh Bynes, Auburn; CB Talmadge Jackson, Oregon; and FS Jermale Hines, Ohio State.
Based on those odds, we will get 6 of these players. I'm going to guess we get: FB Charles Clay, WR Denarius Moore, TE Cameron Graham, C Ryan Pugh, DT Terrell McClain, and OLB Tom Keiser.
So there you have it. The draft netted:
1.9 OT Derek Sherrod, Miss St
2.40 FS Rahim Moore, UCLA
3.71 DT/DE Jurrell Casey, USC
3.91 CB Curtis Brown, Texas
4.109 RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
5.140 ILB Kelvin Sheppard, LSU
6.171 CB Chykie Brown, Texas
7.210 K Alex Henery, Nebraska
FB Charles Clay, Tulsa
WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon
WR Denarius Moore, Tennessee
TE Cameron Graham, Louisville
OG Justin Boren, Ohio State
C Ryan Pugh, Auburn
DT Terrell McClain, South Florida
OLB Tom Keiser, Stanford
FS Brian Lainhart, Kent State
So, what did we learn? These type of exercises, especially when its not just one person's opinion of which players should go where, are useful to show trends in the draft. I picked up a few. My first observation is that Dallas might not be able to wait on a top rated O Lineman. As I mentioned, all the good Tackles and Guards were gone by the time Dallas was on the clock at #40. It might be nice to pick a Amaukamara or Cam Jordan in the first round, but what does that leave us in the 2nd? Maybe not much. Also, the safeties fell. I'm thinking one should be there in the 3rd that can help this team. I'm now thinking picking one any sooner is not wise.
Ok, your turn. Have I set the franchise back 10 years? Did I set us up for a dynasty? I suppose anything in between is an option as well. Looking forward to your comments.