NFL Draft 2011: Simulating Cowboys Trade Down Scenarios With Drafttek.com

BTB's rabblerousr has kept you entertained with the interviews he conducted with Drafttek's Long Ball so far this week. In the interviews, you've read about Drafttek's Online Draft Simulator (ODS), a free online tool that allows you to compile your own seven-round mock draft.

Last week, rabble proposed a couple of trade down scenarios for the Cowboys. Today we're going to feed some of those scenarios into the ODS and see what the Drafttek supercomputer comes up with.

The Online Draft Simulator (ODS) allows users to produce a computer generated model of the 2011 NFL Draft. The base elements the model works with are Drafttek's Big Board as well as team needs for each NFL team as compiled by the Drafttek staff. The data is regularly updated, and users can either stick with the preset values, or make changes along three key input variables: draft order, team needs and a grab or lockout feature that allows users to bypass the program logic. After making changes (if desired), the user can then generate a 7-round mock draft.

Next week, we'll have a series of posts where I'll talk about different draft strategies and then execute those strategies on the ODS. Along the way, I'll provide a more detailed overview of how the ODS works. For now, I'm not going to bother you with positional priorities, grabs or lockout codes, we'll just run the trade down scenarios against the Drafttek big board and the team needs of 31 other teams competing for the same talent the Cowboys are.

Below are four of rabble's nine trade down scenarios, which I picked because they are all separated by two spots and therefore provide a little more variety in terms of potential draft prospects:

First and a third:

Detroit 13 + 75 (1365) for Dallas 9 + 210 (1358.4)

Miami 15 + 79 + 110 (1319) for Dallas 9 (1350) [Dallas gets less value but two additional picks]

First and a second:

New England 17 + 60 + 92 (1382) for Dallas 9 + 170 (1374)

NY Giants 19 + 52 + 83 (1430) for Dallas 9 + 109 (1426)

Mock 1: Trade with Detroit

(Straight trade with Detroit, no other tweaks in the ODS programming)

1 (13th pick). Tyron Smith, OT, USC - Arguably the tackle with the most upside in the draft. Would be an immediate and significant upgrade on the right side, and may challenge for the LT spot soon. If you have two players that could play both sides, then the better pass blocker plays on the left, the other guy on the right. Often, the guy on the right will be the better run blocker. Which opens up a whole new can of worms on the Cowboys line: Free is a formidable run blocker, but (so far) only an okay pass blocker. He may develop into an elite pass blocker at some point, but as of today I don’t think that Free is a lock on the left side yet.

2. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State Heyward is a very experienced player who would fit the in well as a 3-4 DE. He's generally considered an early second round prospect, but some mocks have had him going as early as the high teens of the first round. Heyward is ready to play right away, and could be a key piece in a re-built Cowboys defensive line.

3. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah - Burton left Utah after his junior season and has been described as a "lockdown corner" by his coaches and teammates. Burton ran a solid 4.5 40 at the Combine and looked good in most of the other drills. The Cowboys are lucky to get Burton in the third, as most scouts project him as a second rounder.

3. (75th pick) Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor - Most big boards have Watkins ranked in the top 50, but in this scenario Watkins is still available with the 3rd round pick acquired from the Lions - perhaps his age (26) did keep some other teams from taking him higher after all. The 6-foot-4, 310 pound guard from Baylor, described as a smart player who plays with a mean streak, would provide an immediate upgrade for the interior offensive line.

4. Chris White, ILB, Mississippi State - White adds some solid depth at ILB and can contribute immediately on ST.

5. Jeremy Beal, OLB, Oklahoma - Beal was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Big 12 pick in 2010, putting up 66 tackles, 18 for loss, 8.5 sacks, six pass breakups and three forced fumbles. He had a very bad showing at the Senior Bowl which sees his draft stock plummet significantly

6. DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami - At the Combine, Van Dyke recorded the third-fastest 40-time for the NFL Combine since 2000 with 4.28. He weighed in at 6-foot-1 and 176 pounds. In addition to the astonishing forty time, "DVD" recorded a 33.5-inch vertical, 10-foot, 1-inch broad jump, and 4.09 20-yard shuttle time.

Mock 2: Trade with Miami

(The ODS awards Tyron Smith to the Cowboys as the first pick in all trade down scenarios through the 19th pick. To make things more interesting, I've locked out Tyron Smith in this and the following mock to see what other options the ODS comes up with.) 

1 (15th pick). J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin - The Cowboys grab J.J. Watt with this pick. Watt had an amazing production ratio in college and further solidified his standing with an outstanding performance at the combine. He placed fifth in the bench press with 34 reps, had the second highest vertical at 37" , third in the broad jump at 10’0", had the third fastest 3-cone drill, and 2nd fastest 20-yard shuffle. Watt is now always mentioned within the top 15 of this draft class and as a five-technique end would fit the Cowboys' need perfectly. Perhaps the biggest impact Watt would have on the Cowboys defense would be the amount of energy he would bring to the defense with his insane motor and mean streak.

2. Marcus Cannon, OT, TCU He’s a giant man with outstanding athleticism despite being 6-6 and 350 pounds. He moved that 350 pound bulk in 5.12 seconds over 40 yards at the Combine. Played both LT and RT in college, and would be an instant starter - and instant upgrade - at RT.

3. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah - Burton is the pick here again. The speedy corner would fit well in the Cowboys' man-coverage schemes and could provide solid depth at the corner position.

3. (79th pick) Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor - The former fire fighter, hockey and rugby player from Canada sticks around in this mock. He plays with exceptional technique and strength, and while he projects as a guard in the NFL, he may have enough versatility to also play tackle in a pinch.

4. Greg Jones, ILB, Michigan - Jones had a very productive college career but saw his stock plummet after a disappointing week at the Senior Bowl. According to MTD, Jones may not be the sexiest of linebacker picks, but will make an impact early in his career and is the kind of player an NFL coach will love.

4. (110th pick) Dejon Gomes, FS, Nebraska - Gomes recorded 99 tackles at Nebraska in a DB/LB hybrid role last year. With a 4.50 he had one of the fastest 40 times among strong safeties at the combine. He'll be an immediate contributor on ST, and could perhaps see some early game action in nickel packages and against faster receivers

5. Ricky Elmore, OLB, Arizona - Elmore led the Pac-10 Conference in sacks for the past two seasons, piling up 21 1/2 sacks over the past two years. May see some action as a pass rusher on third downs early on.

6. DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami - DVD returns to this mock lineup thanks to his blazing speed.

7. Scott Tolzien, QB, Wisconsin - With their seventh pick the Cowboys take a flyer on Tolzien, a career 68.1% passer with 8.8 YPA in a pro-style offense in Wisconsin. Tolzien is the winner of the The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to the best senior quarterback in the nation.

Mock 3: Trade with New England

(Tyron Smith locked out once again) 

1 (15th pick). Anthony Castonzo, Boston College - The Cowboys have had their eyes on Castonzo for a long time. Boston College was the first NCAA game Dallas scouts attended last year, and the interest at Valley Ranch hasn't waned since. Castonzo is widely described as the most NFL ready left tackle, and like we saw earlier with Tyron Smith, having Castonzo on the roster might lead to a reshuffling of positions down the line.

2. Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State A potential top five pick on some very early mocks, Heyward has seen his stock slide significantly. When the Cowboys see him available with the 40th pick, it's wham, bam, thank you, ma'm.

2. (60th pick). Curtis Brown, CB, Texas - The 6-0, 184 pound corner has great speed and great hands. Brown is easily a top 5 corner, but his campaign was not helped by the Longhorns' 2010 campaign. Brown is a recent riser on many draft boards after posting very good Combine numbers. He'll see a lot of action on special teams and in nickel/dime packages, and may be Newman's successor as early as 2012.

3. Tyler Sash, FS, Iowa - Sash is probably the second best strong safety in the draft after Clemson's DeAndre McDaniel. Sash played in a pro-style zone defense and would likely challenge for a starter spot immediately. At 211 pounds he may need to add some weight, but he has good speed and is a solid tackler. He's also shown that he can lead a defense.

3. (92nd pick) Mark Herzlich, ILB, Boston College - Herzlich battled Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of cancer found in his leg, but announced in 2010 that he was cancer free and played most of the 2010 season. Herzlich has an outstanding work ethic, but his performance at the Senior Bowl and at the Combine have seen his draft stock take a dive.

5. DeMarcus Love, OG, Arkansas - Despite a weak performance at the Senior Bowl, this is a steal in the fifth. He may not be fast, but could be a solid guard for a long, long time.

6. DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami - DVD is so fast he manages to jump into this mock as well´.

7. Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson - Harper is a big back at 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, and could be an ideal short-yardage battering ram. Harper is also a good receiver but would likely see immediate action on short yardage and goal line situations.

Mock 4: Trade with Giants

(Tyron Smith is still available here, and it would be silly not to take him at 19) 

1 (19th pick). Tyron Smith, OT, USC - The Cowboys breath a sigh of relief that their gamble paid off. While Castonzo went to the Patriots with the 17th pick, the Cowboys are just as happy taking Smith with the 19th pick.

2. Mike Pouncey, OG, Florida - The Cowboys are sitting on their 40th pick pondering their options when the phone rings. The Eagles would like to trade up from the 54th spot and are offering the 83rd pick as well. The Eagles had grabbed Jimmy Smith with their 23rd pick, and desperately need help on the O-line. The Cowboys look at their board and see Mike Pouncey, Marcus Cannon, and Chris Hairston still available. The Cowboys do the only right thing and pick Mike Pouncey (Cannon goes to the Texans at 42, Hairston to the Vikings at 43 and the Eagles 'settle' for Ijalana at 54).

Pouncey's size and versatility make him the top guard in the draft and the Cowboys are delighted to get him in the second round.

2. (52nd pick) Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa - Another top prospect from a deep DE class that's still available for the Cowboys in the second round. Clayborn lost a lot of money by staying in school last year, where his sack total dropped from 11.5 sacks in 2009 to 3.5 in 2010. Doesn't project as the best pass rusher, but could help solidify the Dallas D-line

3. Brandon Burton, CB, Utah - Burton has flown under the radar but has a lot of talent and a very strong, physical game despite a lean frame.

3. (92nd pick) Sione Fua, DT, Stanford - Fua played 3-4 NT in Stanford and could be an option for the Cowboys at this spot, although they would likely be reaching for him here.

5. Jeremy Beal, OLB, Oklahoma - He played both defensive end and linebacker in college and has had some success both in pass rushing and coverage. Described as a guy with a relentless motor, not putting in enough work or preparation will never a be a problem with this guy.

6. DeMarcus Van Dyke, CB, Miami - DING, DING, DING, a home run for DVD! He's the only player to show up on all four mocks, and I think the Cowboys could do a lot worse in the 6th round than selecting DVD.

7. Jamie Harper, RB, Clemson - Harper ran a 4.48 40 at his Pro Day, where he also recorded a 10-2 broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 23 times.

On Monday next week we will continue this series with a number of posts looking at different draft strategies the Cowboys could employ. Each post will feature an ODS-assisted mock that reflects the specific draft strategy.

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