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

Yesterday, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock released an updated version of his top five players per position heading into the Combine. You can find the full rankings here, but we'll focus only the positions of need for the Cowboys and any changes to the ranking since Mayock's initial version from January.

Defensive Ends/OLBs: An improved pass rush is an obvious position to focus on as a Cowboys fan. Anthony Spencer's future with the Cowboys is still up in the air, and with the amount of interest the Cowboys showed in J.J. Watt last year, an upgraded pass rush will certainly be one of the offseason objectives for the Cowboys. Whether this upgrade will happen at OLB or DE is the topic of much debate, but since Mayock conveniently lumps the two together, we'll talk about both in one go.

Rank Previous Ranking (1/24)
Updated Rank (2/14)
Change
1 Quinton Coples, North Carolina Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
2 Melvin Ingram, South Carolina Quinton Coples, North Carolina
3 Whitney Mercilus, Illinois Andre Branch, Clemson
4 Nick Perry, USC Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
5 (tie) Chandler Jones, Syracuse Vinny Curry, Marshall
Andre Branch, Clemson Nick Perry, USC

Most mocks and rankings have Coples as a top ten prospect and Ingram going somewhere in the second half of the first round, so it comes as a slight surprise to see Ingram move up ahead of Coples. Perhaps Mayock is already anticipating a better Combine performance by Ingram.

The same thing could probably be said of mock draft favorite Vince Curry, who is expected to put up some pretty impressive combine numbers, and rises accordingly. Overall, there's lots of movement in this positional ranking, and if you're wondering where Alabama's Courtney Upshaw is, Mayock put 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 and Coples for the top spot.

After the break, we look at offensive linemen, corners and defensive tackles.

Offensive Linemen

Rank Previous Ranking (1/24)
Updated Rank (2/14)
Change
1 David DeCastro, Stanford David DeCastro, Stanford
2 Peter Konz, Wisconsin Peter Konz, Wisconsin
3 Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin
4 Cordy Glenn, Georgia Amini Silatolu, Midwestern State
5 Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State

No change in the top three in Mayock's updated list. He does move Cordy Glenn out of the guard group into the tackle group and replaces him with Amini Silatolu out of Midwestern State, who's seen his draft stock rise in many rankings.

Either way, chances are that one of the five guys on the list will be a Cowboy after the draft. David DeCastro remains the fan favorite for now, the other names are also worthy of consideration in a trade down scenario or with second or perhaps even third round picks.

Cornerbacks

Cornerback is easily one of the Cowboys' biggest needs for next year. And with multiple spots needing to be filled, it's likely that the Cowboys will address this position both in free agency and the draft.

Rank Previous Ranking (1/24)
Updated Rank (2/14)
Change
1 Morris Claiborne, LSU Morris Claiborne, LSU
2 Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
3 Alfonzo Dennard, Nebraska Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama
4 Leonard Johnson, Iowa State Trumaine Johnson, Montana
5 Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama Leonard Johnson, Iowa State

Dre Kirkpatrick makes the biggest leap in this ranking, while Alfonzo Dennard drops out of the top five completely after his lackluster showing at the Senior Bowl practices. Cornerback is likely believed to have some of the best depth in this draft, so the Cowboys may well go after corners in the later rounds also, but these are some pretty enticing names on Mayock's top five list.

While there is little discussion about the top three corners on Mayocks list, his choice of Trumaine Johnson and Leonard Johnson at numbers four and five is interesting. Wes Bunting lists the two at 11th and 15th respectively, CBSSports has them 6th and 9th and Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline lists them as the 9th and 12th best cornerbacks. Mayock does not provide any explanations for his his selections, and while it would be interesting to see why he likes the two Johnsons more than Stephon Gilmore or Brandon Boykin, the differences in opinion among these draft analysts may very well be a sign of the depth at this position.

Defensive Tackles

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.

Rank Previous Ranking (1/24)
Updated Rank (2/14)
Change
1 Devon Still, Penn State Michael Brockers, LSU
2 Jerel Worthy, Michigan State Jerel Worthy, Michigan State
3 Michael Brockers, LSU Dontari Poe, Memphis
4 Brandon Thompson, Clemson Devon Still, Penn State
5 (tie)
Fletcher Cox, Mississippi St.
Fletcher Cox, Mississippi St.
Dontari Poe, Memphis Kendall Reyes, UConn
- -
Brandon Thompson, Clemson

Mike Mayock makes it official and jumps on the Michael Brockers train. That a player heads this list who has played 27 college games, and recorded only 2 sacks and 11 tackles for loss in those games, heads this list is nothing short of astonishing.

In other developments, if you were harboring uncouth thoughts of drafting Dontari Poe as a NT for the Cowboys in the second round, now is a good time to think about other second-round targets.

It's not clear how big the gaps between the individual players on these lists are, or which round Mayock projects them for. But it does give us a better feeling for the overall positional rankings.

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