One of the mock drafts I have awaited most eagerly is the one from Greg Cosell of NFL Films fame. Cosell is a Man Of The Tape, and his film analysis carries quite some weight. His mock is based on what he thinks teams should do, not what he thinks they will do and is based off of his film study and his sense of team needs.
Today Cosell released his mock and while the mock does have some surprising picks, there's no surprise at #14 where Cosell has the Cowboys taking Alabama safety Mark Barron. Here's what Cosell has to say about Barron:
Barron is easily the best safety in this draft class. His tape showed a complete and multi-dimensional skill set, perhaps the most impressive attribute being his man-to-man coverage ability versus tight ends. He also played man-to-man against the inside slot receiver in 3x1 sets.
The larger point is that Barron can play man coverage, and that has become increasingly important for safeties in today's NFL. Overall, Barron offers tremendous scheme and position versatility.
Safety has still not reached premium status in terms of NFL draft value, but I would argue that Barron is one of the 5 to 7 best players in this draft.
After the break, we have our usual Monday round-up of the latest mock drafts out there, but if you're not on the Mark Barron train yet, you may find the rest of this post quite boring: In addition to Cosell's mock, there are 14 more mock drafts picking Mark Barron, and only one picking Dontari Poe.
This level of consensus is unprecedented. In last year's final mock draft round-up two days prior to the draft, Tyron Smith got seven votes, J.J. Watt and Anthony Castonzo each got two and Nick Fairley and Cameron Jordan each got one.
Here are the latest mocks for the Cowboys.
Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
|The Phinsider, 4/23/12||
The Cowboys have the luxury of filling a number of positions after a solid week of free agency when they shored up a number of holes, especially on the defense. While Janoris Jenkins is still a possibility even after signing Brandon Carr, they could go with Upshaw to help with their pass rush or with Barron to solidify their secondary. The Cowboys have quietly had one of the better off-seasons and have put themselves in position to go for the best player available.
|Ryan Van Bibber, SBnation, 4/23/12||
The Cowboys secondary needs help in the middle. Talk of Dallas' infatuation with Mark Barron has been made abundantly clear lately ... or it's a really involved ruse
|Bucky Brooks, NFL.com, 4/23/12||
Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett could address the Cowboys' porous pass defense by adding an instinctive ball hawk like Barron to the lineup. Although the safety position hasn't been valued at a premium in the past, the emergence of the tight end as the designated mismatch in the passing game makes it imperative to have a hybrid playmaker in the middle of the field.
|Rob Rang, CBSSports, 4/23/12||
Barron is intelligent, tough, and capable of making an immediate impact versus both the run and pass.
|Dane Brugler, CBSSports, 4/23/12||
Barron, who still isn't 100% healthy after a sports hernia in January, is the total package with the foot speed and natural strength to play in-the-box as well as drop in coverage. Despite the free agent signing of Brodney Pool, Barron has the pedigree to start as a rookie for Dallas.
|Bob Evans, National Football Authority, 4/23/12||
I’m not usually one to conform, but for some reason basically everyone has decided Barron is going to be the pick here for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones is in love with Barron, and the team needs help at safety, so Barron is the pick.
|Evan Silva, Pro Football Talk, 4/23/12||
The Cowboys struggle to keep secrets; they love Barron.
|Walter Football, 4/22/12||
Mel Kiper said that Barron is a lock for the top 16, and this is as of a slot for him as any, given that Jerry Jones is reportedly in love with the Alabama product.
*** OTHER 2012 NFL DRAFT POSSIBILITIES: ***
1. Dontari Poe, NT - Dallas could draft Dontari Poe in this spot and then move Jay Ratliff over to defensive end. The Cowboys are reportedly smitten with Poe. However, there is speculation that his stock is slipping a bit, which makes sense because his film is really mediocre.2. Dre Kirkpatrick or Stephon Gilmore, CB - Mike Jenkins probably won't be around in 2013, so the Cowboys will need a new starter across from Brandon Carr.
|Matt Binstock, FFToolbox, 4/22/12||
Dallas will have a completely new and much improved starting tandem at safety next year with Brodney Poole and Mark Barron. Barron brings the big hits and ability to play in the box that will remind some of Roy Williams, but unlike Williams, he is not a liability in the passing game. Barron is the top safety in the draft and will improve every aspect of this secondary.
|Matt De Lima, FFToolbox, 4/22/12||
The Barron detractors have dissipated and it's now clear after his workouts that Barron is the real deal. He performs his best as an extra defender in the box and Dallas needs to shore up their defensive secondary with premiere talent and not stopgaps.
|The Red Mieni, 4/21/12||
The Cowboys have improved their secondary with the signings of CB Brandon Carr and Brodney Poole, but they still have holes to fill at both positions. Additionally, they could use either a defensive end or a nose tackle, thereby allowing Jay Ratliff to move to the five-technique. While recent reports have the Cowboys eyeing Mississippi State DT Fletcher Cox, he may not make it to the 14th pick. In that case, look for Dallas to target someone like Alabama safety Mark Barron who can come in and make an immediate impact in their secondary.
|Jeff Risdon, RealGM, 4/21/12||
Demand trumps supply at safety, and no team needs one worse than the Cowboys. Barron does not fall out of the next three picks.
|Chad Reuter, NFL Network, 4/20/12||
Barron's ability to stick ball carriers while in the box but still close on telegraphed passes in his area makes him a coveted player at a position lacking depth in this year's class.
|Adam Caplan, Sideline View, 4/20/12||
The Cowboys can finally address their troubling safety position by adding the talented Barron.
Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
|Mickey Spagnola, PFW, 4/23/12||
The Cowboys need to come out of the draft with an impact front-seven defender. However, in lieu of what’s on the board, I think the Cowboys will trade down a few spots and try to pick up another third-round selection. Down closer to picks 19-20, I think they could feel qualified to take Alabama LB Dont’a Hightower. Poe scares them a bit but, if they stay put, Jerry Jones will find it hard to bypass Poe's upside based on his stunning workouts, even if the tape and production don't match up to what he did in shorts at the Combine. Poe can play the nose, allowing Jay Ratliff to move to left end, where Kenyon Coleman struggled last season.