2012 NFL Draft: Mike Mayock Releases Top 5 Players Per Position

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock released his top five players per position late yesterday. Rotoworld's Evan Silva has the full rankings here, but I’m going to focus on the positions of need for the Cowboys.

First up, the top five interior offensive linemen.

1. David DeCastro, Stanford
2. Peter Konz, Wisconsin
3. Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
4. Cordy Glenn, Georgia
5. Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State

There’s a pretty good chance that one of these guys will be wearing a Cowboys uniform soon. DeCastro is the current fan favorite for the Cowboys' first pick, but if the Cowboys go in a different direction with their first pick, one of the other names could come into play. Of note, while Cordy Glenn has been widely touted as the second best guard in the draft, Mayock likes Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler ahead of Glenn.

After the break, we look at corners, DEs/OLBs and defensive tackles.

Cornerback is easily one of the Cowboys' biggest needs for next year. Like the guard position, this is a need that the Cowboys could and perhaps should address via free agency with guys like Cortland Finnegan, Brent Grimes or Brandon Carr. But nobody is going to complain if the Cowboys pick a corner high. Apropos of high, Mayock is not so high on Dre Kirkpatrick, whom he ranks behind relatively unheralded Leonard Johnson out of Iowa State.

Cornerbacks
1. Morris Claiborne, LSU
2. Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
3. Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska
4. Leonard Johnson, Iowa State
5. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama

Next up are the DEs/OLBs, which may be a position to focus on as a Cowboys fan. The Cowboys were looking very hard at taking J.J. Watt last year and with Anthony Spencer possibly moving on to greener pastures, un upgraded pass rush certainly wouldn't hurt the Cowboys.

Somewhat surprisingly, Mayock doesn't include Courtney Upshaw out of Alabama in this ranking, instead putting him at the top of the inside linebacker ranking. Upshaw did play OLB in Alabama's 3-4 defense, so from a Cowboys point of view he should be on this list, probably battling Ingram for the second spot.

Defensive Ends/OLBs
1. Quinton Coples, North Carolina
2. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
3. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
4. Nick Perry, USC
5. (tie) Chandler Jones*, Syracuse and Andre Branch, Clemson

I’ll also include defensive tackles here because many Cowboys fans like the idea of some big guys in the middle of the defensive line, but it remains to be seen whether the Cowboys have any interest in a top five defensive tackle.

Defensive Tackles
1. Devon Still, Penn State
2. Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
3. Michael Brockers, LSU
4. Brandon Thompson, Clemson
5. (tie) Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State and Dontari Poe, Memphis

Another surprising ranking here. Mayock doesn't appear to be as enamored with Michael Brockers as many others are, and even has Clemson's Brandon Thompson ahead of the Dontari Poe and Fletcher Cox.

Of course, what we don't see in any of these rankings is how big the gaps are between the individual players or which round Mayock projects them for. But it does give us a better feeling for the overall positional rankings. As rabblerousr wrote last year, Mayock is one of the few draft analysts he relies on to "establish my conception of how players should be graded and where they should be slotted", so these rankings do carry some weight for us and it's not unrealistic to expect perhaps two of the names on these rankings to end up playing for the Cowboys.

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