About two months ago, BTB's rabblerousr published an article titled "Scouting The Scouts", in which he handed out grades for many of the better known draft analysts.
Many of these "big guns" in the mock draft business have released new or updated mocks over the last few days. I thought it might be interesting to look at these mocks the way rabble ranked them, as it gives us a better understanding of which mocks we should perhaps give a little more credence to, and which mocks we should perhaps enjoy more for their flowery prose.
Two things stand out as we review a dozen mock drafts after the break: First, with three weeks to go, there still isn't a consensus candidate for the Cowboys. Second, if you're looking for an offensive player in the first round, you're likely going to find yourself disappointed on day one of the 2012 NFL draft.
Wes Bunting (NFP)
||Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
||Brockers is as talented as any defensive lineman in the draft and is capable of maturing into a real game changer up front. He’s got the ability to play all over the Cowboys defensive line early and offers them a lot of versatility in their 34 front.|
||Nolan Nawrocki (PFW)||3/26/12
||Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
||The Cowboys invested highly in Gerald Sensabaugh last season and signed Brodney Pool to provide a short-term fix, but neither can provide the overall type of impact on the defense that Barron can. Despite having double-hernia surgery following the season, he stands to benefit from an extremely weak safety class.|
||Dan Shonka (Ourlads)||4/3/12
||David DeCastro, OG, Stanford
||DeCastro is the best guard we've evaluated since Steve Hutchinson in 2001. DeCastro is intense, explosive, patient, and has excellent recoverability in pass protection. Jerry Jones brought in Bill Callahan to coordinate the running game offense. DeCastro helps solidify the line in pass protection and in the running game. The Cowboys have signed two free agent journeymen guards but Callahan may consider moving DeCastro to center...he developed Nick Mangold into an all pro for the Jets.|
||Todd McShay (ESPN)||3/29/12
||Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State
||Stanford G David DeCastro and Alabama S Mark Barron are possibilities here, but I like what Cox could bring to Rob Ryan's defense. He has the versatility to play anywhere along the defensive line and can provide pass-rush production from the inside.|
||Scott Wright (Draft Countdown)||3/30/12
||Mark Barron, SS, Alabama||After addressing their needs at offensive guard and cornerback in free agency, Dallas is now free to look elsewhere with this pick. The Cowboys have had major issues at safety for nearly a decade and it might finally be time to do something about it. [...] The Cowboys haven’t used a premium pick on a defensive lineman in five years now so don’t be surprised if they go that direction here either, with Fletcher Cox of Mississippi St., Dontari Poe of Memphis, Quinton Coples of North Carolina and Michael Brockers of LSU all possibilities.|
||Rob Rang (NFL Draft Scout)||4/4/12
||Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina||The Cowboys awarded free agent Brandon Carr a $50 million contract in free agency but with depth a concern in a division featuring Eli Manning, Michael Vick and soon-to-be Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, cornerback remains a key area of need. Gilmore has the size, athleticism and physicality to be a standout in Rob Ryan's aggressive scheme.|
||Mel Kiper (ESPN)||4/4/12
||Mark Barron, SS, Alabama||Dallas was aggressive in getting a solid corner in free agency with the addition of Brandon Carr, but they still need help at safety to shore up the pass defense. I don't think another corner is out of the question at this spot, but Barron is the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can't go wrong if he's available. I can also see Dallas going offensive line here, as that unit could use some help, but Barron makes sense.|
||Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina||When all things are equal, go BIG! Normally, a smart idea in drafting both football & basketball players; however, in this case, not all things are equal. There is probably a 25% chance the Cowboys trade up, 10% chance they stay at 14, and 65% chance they trade down . . . nevertheless, at #14 the 2nd best CB in this year's draft class is good value, especially when CB Jenkins starts the "mo money" chant in the last year of his rookie contract!|
||Dan Kadar (MTD)
||Michael Brockers, DT, LSU||After signing cornerback Brandon Carr, the Cowboys no longer need to add a No. 1 cornerback through the draft. Instead, the team can start to get younger along its defensive line with Brockers, arguably the best 3-4 end in the draft. There will be plenty of corners for the Cowboys to target in later rounds.|
||Great Blue North||3/26/12
||Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State||- -|
|7th||Ryan McCrystal (Draft Ace)
||4/3/12||Courtney Upshaw, OLB, Alabama
||The Cowboys have done a nice job filling some holes in free agency, upgrading the secondary and of the offensive line. Their next move will be to add a pass rusher. Either Upshaw or Melvin Ingram should be on the board here, and I suspect the Cowboys would be fine with either. There are also reports that they covet Dontari Poe, but I don’t see him falling this far.|
||4/4/12||Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis||The Cowboys had the option of picking J.J. Watt at No. 9 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. They went with Tyron Smith, who has been great thus far, but they're hurting at the defensive end position as a consequence. Kenyon Coleman should not be starting anymore.
Dallas could draft Dontari Poe in this spot and then move Jay Ratliff over to defensive end. The Cowboys are reportedly smitten with Poe, so he would be a likely pick if he dropped to No. 14.
Obviously, you can argue about where each analyst is placed in this ranking. Some of the top guys in the mock draft business like Rick Gosselin or Mike Mayock haven't even released a mock draft yet. Keep in mind though that rabble's ranking above isbased more on the quality and depth of analysis most of these draftniks provide, and less on the actual accuracy of their mock drafts
If it's accuracy you want, you may want to check out a site called The Huddle Report. The site grades mock drafters for last year and for the last five years, and you will find that their 'ranking' differs significantly from the one we're using here. A fun read if you're into things like that.