There's no secret that the Cowboys could use some help on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary. This past season did see marked improvement over the 2010 campaign, but there is a large talent void that needs to be filled with some combination of free agency and the amateur draft.
Of course, player draft projections will change dynamically once the Scouting Combine gets underway later next week. For now, the only thing evaluators have to go off of is that pesky, irrelevant game performance stuff. It's so overrated. [/sarcasm]
ESPN's Mel Kiper has been doing this draft stuff for years. While, as Rabble pointed out in his 'Scouting the Scouts' piece he's never been employed by an NFL front office, he has probably played the largest role in why the draft process has become must-see TV. He's earned his reputation, for better or worse, to be discussed when he releases his mocks.
With his Version 2.0, he has Dallas taking Alabama S Mark Barron. The article is behind the Insider pay wall, so we can't link you to much, but Barron would be the first first-round safety for Dallas since the drafting of Roy Williams.
Dallas got shredded far too often with the passing game in 2011, and while Barron might be a very slight reach here in terms of his current grade, he's a perfect fit for the Cowboys. I have "defensive back" on my sheet as a big need in Big D, meaning they can't go wrong with either the top safety or the top cornerback here, and Barron offers the most value. Better in run support right now than he is in coverage, Barron could get better against the pass, but he's an upgrade for the Cowboys.
Barron is the 22nd ranked player overall according to Drafttek.com, 26th according to NFLDraftScout.com, but ranks high at 15th according to Wes Bunting at the National Football Post.
Follow the jump to see where other prospects that have been linked to Dallas have been slotted by Mel.
According to Mel, Dallas will pass up on the following prospects in order to take the safety.
17. Dre Kirkpatrick, CB - Cincinnati Bengals
20. Whitney Mercilus, DE - Tennessee Titans
21. David DeCastro, OG - Cincinnati Bengals
23. Janoris Jenkins, CB - Detroit Lions
27. Vinny Curry, DE - New England Patriots
29. Peter Konz, C - Baltimore Ravens
So, would you pass up on the players listed above to draft the best safety of a shallow safety class? As I mentioned in the comments section of my One Man's Gang article, there is a deep safety class emerging for the 2013 draft. Do you think Dallas could tread water for another year with Sensabaugh and Elam, or another stop gap free agent?