On Friday, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly released his 2011 big board. Nawrocki's boards regularly are some of the most precise boards published, according to TheHuddlereport.com, and makes him one of the draftniks we hold in high esteem. The board has the disclaimer that "players are ranked according to the likelihood of their success in the NFL, not necessarily in the order Nawrocki believes they will be drafted".
Our own rabblerousr gave Nawrocki a first round grade as a top draft analyst, so when Nawrocki says something about the prospects in the upcoming draft, we at least take a look at what he has to say - especially because the draft board offers up some intriguing possibilities for the Cowboys.
Offensive Linemen: Nawrocki has Anthony Castonzo from Boston College in the top spot at No. 9, slightly ahead of USC's tyron Smith at No.11. Gabe Carimi at No. 16 rounds out the top three ahead of Mike Pouncey (22) and Nate Solder (24).
Defensive Ends: Da'Quan Bowers' injury concerns see him tumble down the DE rankings. Top DE in the 2011 draft according to Nawrocki is North Carolina's Robert Quinn (No. 6). Somewhat of a surprise is the second ranked DE, Aldon Smith (No. 10), who's been quietly climbing the boards over the last few weeks and is a late entry in the Cowboys sweepstakes for the No. 9 draft pick. Yesterday, Wes Bunting made this observation about Aldon Smith and the Cowboys:
Southern Cal OT Tyron Smith is getting a lot of interest from the Cowboys at nine, but I am also hearing they like Missouri DE Aldon Smith a lot and would love to pair him opposite DeMarcus Ware off the edge.
Led by Aldon Smith, Nawrocki has 6 DE's ranked between 10 and 18 on his big board.
Safeties: Nawrocki surprises by having a safety in his top 20, and it is not Rahim Moore, who has long been considered the top safety in a poor class for safeties. Nawrocki has the Longhorn's Aaron Williams listed as a free safety and ranks him No. 20 on the board.
The Cowboys have shown a very high degree of interest in Williams. According to a report by the Star-Telegram's Charean Williams (no relation), four Cowboys staffers attended the Texas Pro Day: secondary coach Dave Campo, safeties coach Brett Maxie, scouting director Tom Ciskowski and college scouting coordinator Chris Hall. Reports are they came away highly impressed with Williams. Williams was also on the list of players invited for a pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch.
Moore is ranked No. 48 on the board, Jaiquawn Jarrett (72) and Marcus Gilchrist (88) are the only other safeties on the board
Quarterbacks: Despite hammering Newton in a recent scouting report as "disingenuous, selfish, enormous ego with a sense of entitlement, lacks trustworthiness", Nawrocki has Newton ranked at No. 23 on his board, behind Blaine Gabbert at No. 8, but ahead of Jake Locker at No. 34. If the Cowboys continue to harbor any hope of getting either of the top ranked players on this board (No. 1 Von Miller, No. 2 Patrick Peterson), they'd better hope that the quarterback vacuum at the top of the draft will make teams reach for passers on draft day and push other prospects down.
The Cowboys have options:
Obviously, the big board is not a predictor of where each player will be picked, but if we look at the five players ranked at or below each of the Cowboys' first three picks, this board could bode well for the Cowboys. Almost any combination of the players on the table below would look like a good draft
|Pick No. 9||Pick No. 40||Pick No. 71|
|9||OT||Anthony Castonzo||Boston College||40||OT||James Carpenter||Alabama||71||C||Rodney Hudson||Florida State|
|10||DE||Aldon Smith||Missouri||41||RB||Ryan Williams||Virginia Tech.||72||SS||Jaiquawn Jarrett||Temple|
|11||OT||Tyron Smith||USC||42||DT||Stephen Paea||Oregon State||73||QB||Andy Dalton||TCU|
|12||DE||J.J. Watt||Wisconsin||43||DE||Allen Bailey||Miami (Fla.)||74||WR||Edmond Gates||Abilene Christian|
|13||DE||Cameron Jordan||California||44||CB||Johnny Patrick||Louisville||75||WR||Jonathan Baldwin||Pittsburgh|
Check out the full big board here.