Who will be holding the '1' come April 2012? We have our trackers on already!
Personally, I think I'm going to choose Swarovski over Strass. I tend to favor their intricate site lines over the simplistic nature of the glass... wait, not that kind of Crystal Ball? Oh, we're looking into the future! With the 2011 draft now history, the draftnik contingent of the sports world is already looking ahead to next year's crop of amateur entrants. These exercises are more than futile, especially without any of the free agents on the roster; we know that will eventually happen and holes will be filled.
Forecasting Dallas' needs are pretty simple for these types of things. You look at what you thought Dallas needed heading into the 2011 draft, see what they missed, and then check the 2012 forecasts and plug them in. With our atrocious pass defense during the 2010 season and not drafting a secondary player until Buffalo's Josh Thomas in the fifth round, you can imagine where everyone thinks Dallas will go with the selection. Also included in these 2012 early mocks, are where people that specialize in draft knowledge, forecast where Dallas will end up after the 2011 season.
In reality, we should just look at these exercises to start to get familiar with the rising juniors and sophomores that we should track over the next college football season.
Draft prognostication has become it's own sport, really. The actual draft is the culminating event the 'masses' tune into.
That's what I tweeted yesterday afternoon to budding draft superstar Shawn Zobel of Draftheadquarters.com, to which he wholeheartedly agreed. During Bill Parcells special on ESPN, he noted how scouts are already compiling data on the thousands of prospects that could be eligible for 2012. Follow the jump for the predictions on the Cowboys.
Just because I can, I'm going to start with the picks made by people that have a positive outlook on Dallas' 2011 chances.
Dallas rank 29th (lose NFC Championship game)
29. Dallas Cowboys — Andre Branch, DE, Clemson: Welcome back to the playoffs, Cowboys. With a healthy Tony Romo, Dallas makes it back to the postseason, beating the Saints in a divisional-round shootout, only to fall to the Packers up in Lambeau Field in the NFC championship game. With the defensive line needing a young talent up front, Jerry Jones and company grab Branch, the 6-5, 260-pound talent out of Clemson.
Dallas ranks 26th
26. Dallas Cowboys *Robert Lester, FS, Alabama
Dallas might still be looking for a free safety next April, and Lester's height, speed and ability to find the ball in the air should strike owner Jerry Jones as a high-impact pick at a typically low-priority position in the first round.
22. Dallas Cowboys: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
The Cowboys ignored the rush linebacker position in the 2011 NFL Draft, so they're going to give Anthony Spencer another chance. If Spencer disappoints yet again, he'll need to be replaced. A projected rush linebacker at the next level, the 260-pound Courtney Upshaw notched 14.5 TFL and 7.5 sacks in 2010.
ESPN's Todd McShay:
#21 Dallas Cowboys Cliff Harris*, CB, Oregon
2010 record: 6-10 | DE, S, CB, ILB, C
Harris has a lot of work to do as a corner, but few individuals in college football show more explosiveness and big-play ability than he does. Harris is also one of the most dangerous return men in the nation.
20. Dallas Cowboys: Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas. Running back lacks clarity in Big D, and Davis looks like an ascending star from a school that Jerry Jones is very familiar with.
(He also has San Fran picking Andrew Luck at number one, despite trading up to take Colin Kaepernick... I'm sure you can guess how I feel about this mock).
11. Dallas Cowboys: Cliff Harris, CB, Oregon
Harris is a bit undersized, but will fill a need here and can possibly be an explosive returner. He's similar to a young Terence Newman. (that's funny, as the Cowboys have never known a young Terence Newman)
So have at it BTB - what do you think of these prospects and projections?