I'm guessing we've all been doing much of the same since the Free-Agency frenzy died down. Which is doing as much reading and research as possible to try and figure out what our draft is going to look like. For most of the fans on this site will all agree, the draft is the best way to acquire new and better talent. To further drive the point home, you should check out the recent article from Archie if you haven't already. 'The 2012 Draft must be a Success for the Dallas Cowboys'. Now, this will be a fairly long post, and since we have soooo much time to kill before the draft anyways, here's some food for thought. So sit tight and enjoy, I would love to hear all your thoughts and feedback to my first attempt at a Fanpost!
I am so happy about the Free-Agents that we have signed, I almost cannot believe the transformation of our team that is occuring over just a year and a half since JG took over. Understanding how important this draft (3rd in a row) is to us, I've tried to come up with the best (realistic) plan for our draft. So while in my own zone, reading the best info on our cowboys anywhere in the world here at BtB, I've finally come to somewhat of a consensus in my own mind lol. I must admit, it has been almost information overload. (but I love it!) I have gone from Dre Kirkpatrick (pre-RKG issues), to full on the DeCastro train, then to trading down for pass-rush. I'm sure you all can feel where I'm coming from and I'm sure you've all jumped around quite a bit same as I have. But this is why we love the draft and the NFL.
So please follow me after the jump, I will reveal the draft choices with detailed explanations, with roots of some reasons ranging from players our front-office has mentioned, players brought in for visit and some are just players I simply like and think will fit well in our team and the direction we are headed.
Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks 2012
***The one thing I want to point out about this mock, I'm not exactly going to guess on any trades, but will provide information on possible needs to move up or down for some specific players.***
1st Round - Dontari Poe [NT] - (Memphis) ***can move down a few spots and still possibly target him***
- Athletic for size, versatility for possible 5-Tech, powerful but raw (lacking awareness)
I know I might get some heat for this one, but I have some reasons to support this pick, plus the rest of my draft may change your mind. First of all, I want to point out, I'm basing this pick with the assumption DeCastro is gone already, also keeping in consideration of a possible trade down (2-4 spots). Plus, good ol' Jerr has brought his name to the forefront during his recent interview, so whether it is smokescreen or not, I don't think I'm going out on a limb on this pick. AND...all my NT supporters over the past few years gotta have my back on this one! I quietly but firmly have believed we should be using Ratliff as a DE (doesn't have to be all downs, but for most of our base sets), now we finally have a chance at a NT that's arguably worth a first round pick, with all the possible tools you'd want to draw up in a NT for the current NFL's 3-4 (passing league)... this is the guy! Minus the awareness, but that really is what coaching is all about. So for those that argue getting someone like Fletcher Cox would be better, let me ask you this. Who do you think would be more effective as a 5-tech DE? Ratliff or Cox ...I'd go with Ratliff of course, you may then say on nickle downs we can have Rat and Cox, but than you are saying for sure Cox would be a better nickle DT than Hatcher? I'd say push on that one, but it is arguable. So here's my argument for Poe, he WILL be clogging the middle on run downs (giving Rat the much needed life span) and Poe will be the ONLY Dlineman we have that can actually collapse the pocket for Ware and Spencer (who desperately needs just that!). Don't say Coleman or Spears, they may be strong(ish) but since that's their only move for a pass-rush repertoire, Olineman do not even bother worrying about anything else, they will simply set their base on all pass downs. With Poe he will simply over-power if need be, or use his quickness once awhile to keep Olinemen off-balance, but most importantly the ability to provide what we all watched SF do to opponents last season...collapse the pocket!
2nd Round - Ronnell Lewis [OLB] - (Oklahoma) ***I can see us trading down a few spots in round 2***
- freakishly strong, can set the edge, gym rat/RKG, special teams ace
I've seen mix feelings for Lewis on the blog, but mostly it seems to be accepting of him, maybe not this high? I may agree, at this point we cannot tell who might still be on board as far as pass-rushers go, but my reasoning behind picking Lewis is what he brings to the table. Once again, he is someone we are bringing in for a visit, so legitimate interest or not, I'm going off of something here. Now, what he brings is power, and I hope nastiness (think of the way Woodley attacks the LoS), he has the power as we all know from the incredible bench press reps he did at the combine. Plus most scouting reports seems to agree he's strength is setting the edge and can become productive as a pass-rusher. So my thoughts behind this is Spencer/Butler, we need to find someone that can possibly replace Spencer. And the reason why the coaches and FO do not trust Butler? because he cannot be trusted to set the edge if used as a full-time player, but all rave about his pressure skills. Lewis on the other hand will bring exactly what Spencer is good at, plus possible upside to passrushing, more importantly the nastiness and willingness to play special teams.
3rd Round - Brandon Brooks [OG] - (Miami-Ohio)
- Athletic for size, can power or pull, still raw (has upside)
Here is where I get some love! I know most of us on BtB love this kid, 'Mensa if I remember right has been high on this kid since the beginning. I've seen him range from 2nd rounder to 4-5th rounder. I did not want to reach for him in the 2nd, but also didn't want to take the chance on losing him by waiting. I don't really need to provide too much reasoning behind why I like him and why I'm high on him, but I want to point out how I see he fits. I think free-agency really painted a vague picture for us as far as what our Oline will look like in 2012. But from the great breakdowns from our front page writers and some from PFF, it seems like Bernadeau (bernie) and Livings are 2 different type of guards. If you paid attention to the details, Bernadeau though known for being the strongest man (athlete) is more athletic, likes to pull and is good-ok out in space, but may not be the best technician when it comes to pass-blocking. Where as Livings though bigger, is a better pass-blocker. Livings can be dominant but also inconsistant, based on his deal's numbers, we may assume he is penciled in as starter. I mentioned before based on his strength, it would be great to play him at RG (whatever side we want to power run from, not pulling him much). Basically we have 2 type of guards, the mobile (pull) guard and the power (base) guard, please remember we drafted David Arkin last year, and from most if not all accounts he is still a Guard, who coming out was known for a mean-streak and ability out in space. Since we already have a project at the (pull) guard position, Brooks is the perfect (base) guard to add to our depth and future.
4th Round - Markelle Martin [FS] - (Oklahoma State) ***we may trade up a bit to catch him sliding***
- fast, around the ball (possible ball skills), can be rangy but lacks technique (false steps), solid box tackler
This is a guy I've had my eye on since our season had ended and I decided to take a peek into the upcoming class. Earlier he had grades as high as the 2nd best safety next to Barron, but slowly and quietly sliding into day 3 of the draft on most recent big boards. I really would like to know MORE about him, I feel like I do not know enough. (help Birddog!) But there aren't many other fast FS types in this class, only other one I like is brandon taylor (LSU) but I really feel Martin has more upside. Think AOA but from a big time school and actual production. So I'm gonna close-off this pick with a simple question, without downing Brodney Pool (because I'm actually high on him), but how many strong safeties do we have on our team? now how many actual free safeties? .5 and that's Pool, even he was listed as SS for half his career. Let's finally get a Free Safety that can play please!
4th Round - Cam Johnson [OLB] - (Virginia) OR Casey Heyward [CB] - (vanderbilt)
6'5 268lbs ****** 5'11 190lbs
Johnson - played 5-tech (some OLB/DE), ex-defensive back (can drop and cover for size)
Talk about perfect size for a 3-4 OLB, especially for the strong side, general scouting reports all say he has the tools and talent, maybe not quite the 'quick-twitch' athlete but has potential to be a good starter with definite upside. I'm not sure if he is RKG, was he under utilized or did he under perform? how much potential does he have? I'm not certain on that and would love Birddog's 2cents on him. But from his athletic background I would take a chance on him. Can't be any worse than the brandon williams project right?
I added the possibly for Casey Heyward, depends on which one falls to us at the supplimental pick, since it cannot be moved. We need CB depth, Heyward is instinctive and is around the ball, could be a good fit.
5th Round - Phillip Blake [C] - (Baylor)
- experienced, able to decipher blitz pick-ups, good size for base vs NTs
I did not research too deeply into Blake, I have him and Ben Jones rated fairly similar, so depending on which one falls further I guess. I would like to pick up 1 of them, insert into our starting Center competition. We all know about the current starter Costa, most of us like Kowalski and even Nagy, but there 'may not' be too much upside to either. (solid at most?) So injecting some talent into this competition but without reaching is best way to go.
6th round - Cyrus Gray [RB/KR] - (Texas A&M) OR Dwight Jones [WR] - (North Carolina)
5'10 200lbs ****** 6'4 225lbs
At this point the draft is completely a blind guess, I basically just looked at the BPA on some of the big boards available, these are the 2 names that lasted long enough to possibly be picked up this far down and still hit a possible need. Competition for our 3rd WR spot vs A. Holmes and Radway OR a much needed return specialist we sorely lack.
7th round - Marcel Jones [OT] - (nebraska)
Has the size needed for OT in NFL, comes from good program, competition for Parnell and depth.
Undrafted rookies (pet cat) - Adrian Hamilton [OLB] - (Praire View A&M) ? lol
6'3 255lbs - 22 sacks in DivII, so it may not mean much, but that is still producing facing whatever competition handed against you, possible upside? I have no idea.
In closing of my Mock Draft, I would like to show you visually the Roster/Depth this would create, and the transformation of the new cowboys in just 2 years.
QB - Tony Romo | kyle orton
RB - DeMarco Murray
RB - Felix Jones
FB - Lawrence Vickers
WR - Dez Bryant | andre holmes / raymond radway / dwight jones?
WR - Miles Austin | kevin olgetree / dwayne harris
TE - Jason Witten | john phillips
TE - [leonard pope] - I'm drafting with assumption TE is addressed via FA
LT - Tyron Smith | jeremy parnell
LG - Mackenzy Bernadeau | david arkin
C - Phil Costa | KK vs nagy vs blake
RG - Nate Livings | brandon brooks
RT - Doug Free | marcel jones
RDE - Jason Hatcher | marcus spears
NT - Dontari Poe | josh brent
LDE - Jay Ratliff | sean lessimore
ROLB - DeMarcus Ware | victor butler
MiLB - Sean Lee | dan connor
MoLB - Bruce Carter | orie lemon
LOLB - Anthony Spencer | ronnell lewis | cam johnson?
CB - Mike Jenkins | casey heyward OR free-agent (after draft forces cuts)
FS - Brodney Pool | markelle martin
SS - Gerald Sensabaugh | barry church | danny mccray