Cowboys Draft 2012: The Final Big Board

Alabama safety Mark Barron answers the questions to his big rise on my big board.

Beginning last year, I began assembling my own draft rankings and created my version of a big board. In the original formula, I decided to attempt to rank the prospects not just to the Cowboys needs. In my last update, I began tweaking the board to the Cowboys specifically. The big board has officially grown into a ranking system with the Cowboys in mind.

There are some rankings where I ranked a player according to general knowledge. Not every ranking is for the Cowboys, but for the most part this board is Cowboys related. Maybe next year I will go back to a generic board, but for the last update of the year, you can basically read this as a Dallas Cowboys big board.

The draft needs that I had in mind for the Cowboys really haven't changed too much. Cornerback, safety, defensive line, outside linebacker, offensive guard and wide receiver are all priorities on my wish list. Running back seems to be one of the deepest positions in the draft, so there are some running backs ranked according to talent instead of need.

You will notice that the board has extended from 50 to 64. It just made sense to expand the rankings to the first two rounds. With a full two rounds of rankings, you can get a better feel for exactly how I feel about prospects through the 64th pick.

Making this board is honestly one of the hardest tasks I have ever come across when writing on football topics. When I started my board last year, I truly appreciated the draft community even more. This is not an easy task, the professionals that get paid to do this aren't just throwing names on a board and ranking them, well the good draft analysts don't do that anyway. This experience has made me appreciate the scouts job even more because you have to be an extremely patient and smart person to analyze hundreds of college players for an NFL team.

Take the jump for the Top 64 prospects in the 2012 NFL Draft...

The Top 64

Rank Previous
Player Position College Change Trend
1 1 Andrew Luck QB Stanford n.c.
2 2 Robert Griffin III QB Baylor n.c.
3 3 Morris Claiborne CB LSU n.c.
4 4 Matt Kalil OT USC n.c.
5 6 David DeCastro OG Stanford 1
6 7 Trent Richardson RB Alabama 1
7 5 Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma State -2
8 8 Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina n.c.
9 9 Luke Kuechly LB Boston College n.c.
10 12 Mark Barron S Alabama 2
11 10 Quinton Coples DE North Carolina -1
12 17 Fletcher Cox DT Mississippi State 5
13 11 Janoris Jenkins CB North Alabama -2
14 16 Michael Brockers DT LSU 2
15 14 Dre Kirkpatrick CB Alabama -1
16 13 Nick Perry DE USC -3
17 23 Stephon Gilmore CB South Carolina 6
18 15 Dontari Poe DT Memphis -3
19 19 Riley Reiff OT Iowa n.c.
20 28 Ryan Tannehill QB Texas A&M 8
21 20 Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame -1
22 26 Coby Fleener TE Stanford 4
23 18 Cordy Glenn OG Georgia -5
24 21 Jonathan Martin OT Stanford -3
25 22 Don'ta Hightower LB Alabama -3
26 24 Courtney Upshaw LB Alabama -2
27 25 Whitney Mercilus DE Illinois -2
28 27 Devon Still DT Penn State -1
29 29 Brandon Brooks OG Miami Ohio n.c.
30 30 Kendall Wright WR Baylor n.c.
31 31 Bruce Irvin LB West Virginia n.c.
32 33 Vinny Curry DE/OLB Marshall 1
33 NR Shea McClellin OLB Boise State - -
34 32 Mike Adams OT Ohio State -2
35 39 Andre Branch OLB Clemson 4
36 NR Doug Martin RB Boise State - -
37 34 David Wilson RB Virginia Tech -3
38 35 Brandon Thompson DT Clemson -3
39 36 Alameda Ta'amu DT Washington -3
40 40 Alshon Jeffery WR South Carolina n.c.
41 NR Harrison Smith S Notre Dame - -
42 38 Lamar Miller RB Miami -4
43 37 Kendall Reyes DL Uconn -6
44 41 LaMichael James RB Oregon -3
45 44 Josh Robinson CB Central Florida -1
46 43 Kevin Zeitler OG Wisconsin -3
47 48 Chandler Jones DE/OLB Syracuse 1
48 NR Stephen Hill WR Georgia Tech - -
49 46 Peter Konz C Wisconsin -3
50 50 Amini Silatolu OG Midestern State n.c.
51 48 Jerel Worthy DT Michigan State -3
52 47 Mohammed Sanu WR Rutgers -5
53 42 Zach Brown LB North Carolina -11
54 43 Kelechi Osemele OG Iowa State -11
55 NR Jayron Hosley CB Virginia Tech - -
56 49 Dwayne Allen TE Clemson -7
57 NR Josh Norman CB Coastal Carolina - -
58 NR Cam Johnson DE Virginia - -
59 NR Joe Adamas WR Arkansas - -
60 NR Ronnell Lewis DE Oklahoma - -
61 NR Brandon Boykin CB Georgia - -
62 NR Brandon Taylor S LSU - -
63 39 Brandon Washington OG Miami -24
64 NR Jamell Fleming CB Oklahoma - -

Nine Out Of Ten

For the most part, the first nine prospects have stayed on top of the board for majority of the year. Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are the clear cut prospects on top of the board. Morris Claiborne, Matt Kalil, David DeCastro, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon, Melvin Ingram and Luke Kuechly haven't changed too drastically in their rankings on my board.

They are my blue-chip prospects of the draft. I believe each player could become a franchise player for their future organization. Obviously Luck and Griffin are more important prospects because of their position, but a guy like Claiborne, Richardson or Blackmon could become focal points on their respected teams.

Ranking the top nine spots has been relatively easy the past two updates, it's after those rankings that I had trouble maintaining a clear consensus ranking system. Prospects fluctuated due to the more film study and preparation I did for the draft. The more homework I did, the more I shuffled the rankings. I believe that a big board should change unless you have absolutely clear knowledge on the prospects. Since I am an amateur draft analyst, I am going to go back and forth on my assumptions.

Mark Barron

Barron has been the hottest name on the draft circuit the past week. Recently I have fielded a lot of questions about him. Barron is a prospect that I have liked for a while. To be fair, no I haven't had him high on my board previously. The reasoning behind that is because of his sports hernia injury. At first, I didn't believe he would be ready for July or possibly August, but now he looks to be well on his way back to football shape.

It is true I have been influenced by the recent media coverage on Barron, but it is hard not to be swayed by analysts who work in the NFL for a living. Also some of the conversations I have had with Birddog26 the past few weeks have sold me even more on the idea of drafting Barron at 14. I may not have had him in my top fifteen rankings all along, but I have had positive things to say about him throughout the draft process.

After going back and looking over the tape, Fletcher Cox is another player that I am slowly coming around on. His upside at just 21 years old is fantastic, but he just needs to work on playing with a lower pad level. The Cowboys front office and scouting department should get some props here, they were on the Cox bandwagon for a very long time.

It doesn't look like my boys Melvin Ingram or David DeCastro will be there at 14. That is a shame, but let's attempt to be realistic about the matter. Cox is another potential top-ten pick, so we can assume he will be gone too. Due to that, Barron really makes even more sense for the Cowboys. Getting a natural leader and good football player at the safety position would be a fantastic pick for the Cowboys to start their 2012 draft off with.

Ryan Tannehill

Tannehill is the quarterback that generates a lot of buzz when determining where he will go on Thursday night. From a talent and upside standpoint, he has enough of it to be selected within the first ten picks. Deciding where to rank him on my big board has troubled me every time I sat down to put it together.

He reminds me a lot of Aaron Rodgers as a quarterback prospect. Tannehill is going to take time to develop, but if a team is willing to invest the time with him, they may land a mobile quarterback with a really good arm. People have to remember this kid was a wide receiver just a few years ago. He is still learning and adjusting to the quarterback position.

Tony Romo is a franchise quarterback, that is a statement you will either agree with or disagree with, that is up to you. The argument has been debated and analyzed on BTB for years now, so let's leave that discussion on the back porch for now. If we didn't have Romo and a reliable backup in Kyle Orton, Tannehill would be much higher on my board.

Running Backs, Wide Receivers and Cornerbacks Oh My!

There are three positions in which this draft is absolutely loaded with good talent. Running back, wide receiver and cornerback will have the most depth throughout the draft. Each position is stockpiled with good talent through the first to late rounds of the draft. My board is made up of 5 running backs, 7 wide receivers and 9 cornerbacks.

Running back doesn't necessarily translate as a need for the Cowboys because of the dynamic player DeMarco Murray is. Felix Jones may be a bust in my eyes, but I love the way he runs the football. Health has been his biggest problem, and that is a shame because when healthy he can be a gamebreaker at running back. Felix is in a contract year and has never lived up to his first-round draft status, so the Cowboys could be in the market for a running back this weekend.

Boise State running back Doug Martin is a newcomer to my board. After taking a second look after finding out he was a Valley Ranch invite, I really liked what I saw on film. He could be a poor man's Mark Ingram. His running style is very similar, and his short stature is made up by his muscular frame. Martin may be a luxury pick in the second round, but I wouldn't mind seeing him in the blue and silver.

Wide receiver has been a need on my draft checklist since we lost Laurent Robinson in free agency. I love the talent that Raymond Radway has, but he is still an unproven player. Andre Holmes could be a Plaxico Burress type of talent for the Cowboys, but he also very well could be a Ramses Barden (Google that name) type of prospect who never amounts into anything. My gut says that Ryan Broyles will be our third-round draft pick, just a hunch.

Cornerback looks like the deepest position in the draft. Due to the amount of good cornerback prospects available after the first round, the Cowboys really could afford to pass on one with the 14th overall pick. Brandon Carr was a huge signing for the defense, he should pay immediate dividends for them, but they still need more depth at the position. Mike Jenkins is entering a contract year, so it may be wise to begin preparing for his departure. Orlando Scandrick didn't live up to his new contract extension. Getting a young and talented player to push his him might benefit Scandrick and the Cowboys depth chart.

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