Last year, I wrote a couple articles highlighting a young up and coming draftnik that has made a name for himself in the community. Shawn Zobel of DraftHeadquarters.com has averaged 10 correct exact picks over the past four years, outpacing both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, ESPN's darling duelers whom they pit against each other in faux competition on a daily basis.
Last season, Zobel was pretty keyed in on Dallas selecting T Tyron Smith, and gave a nod to the possibility that the only player they would consider trading up for would be Patrick Peterson. I've been keeping up with him amongst the more well known "experts" since last season, and decided to pick his brain for a second year in a row on Dallas' draft possibilities.
When Zobel released his latest mock last Monday, he had penciled in a sliding Quinton Coples from UNC to Dallas at #14 (DeCastro was selected at #11). Of course, this intrigued me to no end as Coples is probably my top target for the selection. The Cowboys haven't invited him in for a visit, as they have every first round pick for the last few seasons. Still, there is hope, as the marriage of need and value seems to match very well. Here's the Q&A with Zobel.
(BTB) Describe your approach to building your mock drafts. Is it more about where you feel a prospect should be ranked or is it more about information you've gleaned from sources?
(Zobel) It comes from both. It's information that I'm told as well as a distinct understanding of both the teams and their needs, as well as the specific players themselves and the fit that they could provide with each respective team.
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(BTB) Your latest mock was released early last week. You have Quinton Coples, the North Carolina defensive lineman sliding down to Dallas at 14, which makes me and another of our front page writers very happy. Most of the supposed "in the know" Dallas writers seem to believe that the team isn't interested in Coples. We've seen smokescreens a plenty- is your mocking them together a marriage of need or a do you have belief that Dallas is truly interested in Coples?
(Zobel) I believe that if he is available, he's a player that they have to and will strongly consider. He would be a very good fit as a five-technique base end in the team's 3-4 defense and has the raw talent to be a star.
(BTB) Our resident draftniks have basically narrowed Dallas down to going Defensive line in the first round and interior offensive line with their second pick based on the visits to Valley Ranch. What are your thoughts on the Top 15 worthiness of Dontari Poe, Fletcher Cox and Michael Brockers?
(Zobel) With one of the best nose tackles in the game, I don't see Dontari Poe as being a good fit. I could see Cox, because I believe that he fits the five technique well. Brockers is more of a project, although he has high upside. I like Cox the best of the three for Dallas.
(BTB) What can you tell us about the 3rd and 4th round cornerbacks? Dallas will need to dip in that well to round out the roster. Are there any favorites you see as potential steals?
(Zobel) There's plenty of depth there this year. Players along the lines of Casey Hayward, Dwight Bentley, Josh Norman, Trumaine Johnson, Ryan Steed, and Brandon Boykin in no order.
(BTB) I've often suggested that Dallas avoid the safety market this season and wait until the bumper crop of 2013 options. Would you agree with that philosophy or are there true difference makers in this draft at either safety position?
(Zobel) I believe that if Dallas were to take Mark Barron, I would certainly understand and would applaud the move. However, other than him, there is no legitimate prospect at the position and there is no sure-thing. Harrison Smith is a solid prospect, however he has a limited ceiling in my opinion. Signing Brodney Pool and waiting until next year may be a fine decision if they don't take Barron.
Many thanks to Shawn for giving us some of his time; we may even be able to sneak in another conversation next week before the draft kicks off. What do you think BTB? Agree with his take on Coples? What about the safety situation? Any of the mid-round cornerbacks pique your interest? Tell us what your thinking.