This is my first fanpost here, and its not as if we have not had enough mock drafts, but what else is there to do ?? I have a slightly different approach towards the draft, looking at major needs for this team while also taking into account the depth of the draft class. I have not taken into account any trades because that makes the mock draft much easier since i can move around and grab whoever I want. So without further ado, my take on the draft:
First Round: Mark Barron - Safety
If the cowboys want a starting safety in this draft, the only one they are going to get is Barron ( Harrison Smith is not going to make much of an impact in my opinion). The cowboys have needed safety help for a long time and they will get that with Barron. He was the leader of the Alabama secondary and has experience in a complex defense which will help him get accustomed to Rob Ryan's defense. He can help in run support while also roaming in the secondary. If the cowboys can trade back a few picks and still get him (doubtful) while acquiring additional picks this would be even better. But I do not consider him a reach at 14 and his presence would greatly upgrade the secondary.
Other Names : Quinton Coples ( if he slides ? ) Dontari Poe ( Upgrade the D-line* ) and David DeCastro (Upgrade O-line)
Second Round: Kevin Zeitler - Guard
This round is the most intriguing to me. I believe there will be at least one first round talent that slides into the second round. Janoris Jenkins or Peter Konz could be available in the second round, in addition to a borderline first round talent that has also slipped. Even though in this scenario the cowboys drafted for the secondary in the first, if Jenkins ( a top 10 talent ) slips to the second I would not hesitate in taking him , probably even trading up a few picks to grab him. He is less of a risk in the second, plus the cowboys can never have enough corners.
However, I do not want to get too creative here, so I'm going with Kevin Zeitler. I believe this guard class is deep, which is why DeCastro wont go at #14 to the cowboys. Zeitler can also come in and start right away and upgrade the interior of the offensive line.
Other Names : Any First round talent that slips, Vinny Curry - OLB
Third Round: Alameda Ta'amu - NT
He probably wont be available here, but if he is I'm going with Ta'amu. I believe the D-line is a strength of this team**, but having a healthy rotation on the line is very good for the team. Ta'amu can play NT, which kicks Ratliff out to end and helps preserve his freshness late in games and late in the season. Who wouldn't want a 6'3" 348 pounder in the middle of the line ??
Other Names : Jamell Flemming - CB
Fourth Round : Chase Minnifield - CB and Michael Egnew - TE
Quality Backups that could develop into starters. Minnifield brings competition to the CB position and could be the teams fourth corner unless one is drafted earlier. Egnew could also come in a compete with John Philips for the second TE spot.
Other Names : Philip Blake - C
Fifth Round: Vontaze Burfict - ILB
This guy was supposed to be a first round pick. However, his stock has went severely downhill and he should be available in the 5th round. Some might even consider him a reach here. We need depth at the ILB position and I'm hoping that he can provide that at least. Also, imagine the hits this guy can lay on special teams.
Other Names : Tank Carder - ILB
Sixth Round: Cliff Harris - CB
Another guy that has some issues. He could come in and compete for a backup CB spot and he could probably win one. He needs to have learned from his past mistakes and be willing to take the next step forward. This guy can also return punts, so he has some special teams upside also.
Seventh Round: Akiem Hicks - DE
Big guy with measurables and size. He is a project, but this is the 7th round. This is where projects are taken.
The cowboys' needs going into the draft are interior O-line, backup TE, 3rd WR, safety, and backup ILB and corners.
Through my mock draft, the cowboys have upgraded:
Interior O-line: Zeitler should start at one OG spot with competition determining the second starter. Costa could benefit from better guard play around him and a full offseason. If not the cowboys can have someone else (Nagy or Bernadeau could probably get reps in training camp or even Kowalski). Also, there are 2 instances in the above mock where they can take a center ( if Konz slips to the second or Blake in the fourth ).
Backup TE: John Philips had some flashes before getting injured a couple seasons ago. Egnew could come in and provide more competition for the second TE spot.
3rd WR: This is the one area where I didn't have the cowboys upgrade through the draft. If the cowboys actually draft a WR, I doubt it would be before the 4rth round. The cowboys have a bunch of young guys (Radaway, Holmes, Dwayne Harris, Jessy Holley) that can probably contribute as much as a 4rth rounder or even more unless a higher rated talent slipped to the 4rth or 5th. Also, Jason Witten is basically the "3rd receiver" and the second TE can also help in the passing game. If the cowboys don't like what they see during training camp, they can sign someone like they did Laurent Robinson last year.
Safety: Mark Barron adds playmaking ability and run support to the safety position while also allowing Sensabaugh to roam in the secondary. Sensabaugh played well last year, but was limited later when he hurt his foot. I still believe Calvin Johnson would not have had the monster second half if Sensabaugh stayed in the game against Detroit. Adding Barron gives the secondary someone who can make the calls and a leader.
ILB: Sean Lee and Bruce Carter are starting next year. Dan Conner is the veteran backup and possible starter if Bruce Carter is not ready. Burfict or Carder can learn behind these players while also providing depth. And we all know Ryan can't have enough linebackers.
Corner: If Janoris Jenkins slips to the second round, he could be the 4rth corner next year and start the year after if Mike Jenkins is lost in FA. Minnifield and Harris can also play the 4rth corner spot. Also, don't forget about Mario Butler. The cowboys signed him to the practice squad last year after he flashed potential during training camp last year. Hopefully, any of these guys can step in if one of the starters goes down.
* Dontari Poe: I really believe Poe was misused in college. If the cowboys draft him, he will play NT. They might not necessarily be upgrading the NT postion, but they will be upgrading the entire D-line. Poe at NT means Ratliff is at DE. Ratlif, Poe, and Ware will require consistently double teams. Overload on the O-line. Teams will struggle trying to stop all these guys, leading to more production for the other players, such as Hatcher, Lissemore and Spencer.
**The D-line is a strength of this team. Too many times last year the secondary could not cover at all. QBs were getting rid of the ball too fast for the D-line/OLBs to get to the QB. Obviously, Demarcus Ware had 19.5 sacks with the same secondary, but we are talking about an All-Pro and a future Hall of Famer. With an improved secondary, Spencer will have more time to get to the QB and shed the "Almost Anthony" label. And if thats not good enough, imagine what Ware could do with a better secondary behind him. Also, if the cowboys draft a NT, they move Ratliff to DE, where he would form a healthy rotation with Hatcher ( who played well last season) and Lissemore (whose play last season will earn him more playing time this year). Also, I believe Lissemore is in for a breakout year.
Anyways, thats my opinion on the upcoming draft. My rankings for the players was based on the prospect rankings at CBS sports and Walter Football. Would love to hear your opinions.