NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28: A general view of the Draft stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Many other SB Nation NFL blogs are running their own community mock drafts, just like we are in the middle of our own first round community mock draft here at BTB. So on this slow Saturday morning, we'll take a relaxed, leisurely stroll through our friendly SB Nation neighborhood and see what the other sites are doing with their mock drafts. Specifically, we'll look at who they have the Dallas Cowboys taking with the #14 pick.
Just like in all the other mock drafts we've reviewed so far this year, there's no consensus on who might be the Cowboys' pick at #14; seven blogs have the Cowboys drafting five different prospects. Find out who these prospects are, and why other bloggers think they'd be a fit in Dallas, after the break.
The Cowboys have been very active in the free agent market, but aside from Brandon Carr, who provides a much more dependable cover corner than they’ve had in several years, and maybe Dan Connor, who provides some interior depth in the front seven, none of the free agents they signed could be regarded as impact players. Thus, their needs on draft day haven’t been drastically affected. They still need to continue rebuilding the offensive line, they still need to bolster the front seven to take pressure off DeMarcus Ware, and their secondary still has holes that can only be patched up for so long.
It seems pretty obvious that David DeCastro will be very high on the Cowboys’ wish list, but with him off the board, the value at their spot gets a little shaky with regards to need. No DB or interior offensive lineman on the board is worth the 14th pick; however, while the option to trade down into the late-teens/early twenties (where the value at both DB and OL is more fruitful) seems like the obvious one, they will have a tough time finding takers (as I have painfully learned) with no highly coveted impact players on the board.
Therefore, if the Cowboys are indeed forced to remain at 14, I would choose to address their most underrated, yet arguably their most pressing need: defensive line. Jay Ratliff is perhaps the best penetrating NT in football, but the DE spots on either side of him consisted of a hodge-podge of Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, and other no-names to form a collective pile of suckety suck-suck-suck. The line has long-needed an infusion of youth, talent, and versatility, and the crop of answers here are too good to pass on, especially after seeing what J.J Watt did for the Texans in 2011. Thus, with the 14th pick, I choose to select:
Fletcher Cox (DE/DT--Mississippi State).
Versatile, light-footed, plus size and strength, and high effort are some of the adjectives being used to describe Cox. He is still growing into his body, leaving him room for improvement. While he could stand to improve his pass-rushing repertoire, as well as his leverage against the run, his size and strength would be a nice complement to the speedier, more athletic Ratliff, and his versatility might allow Rob Ryan to tinker with different looks along the 3-man front. Michael Brockers is a popular name being thrown around at this position, and Melvin Ingram off the edge is VERY tempting. I just don’t know if OLB is worth drafting here over comparable talent at a position of greater need. And if it came down to a choice between Cox and Brockers, I choose to go with the one with the higher motor and greater upside.
"I think the Cowboys are thinking best player available," writes the GM. "With David DeCastro off the board, they stick to their board. In 2011 the Cowboys were ranked 23rd in passing defense, and the player who led the team in interceptions was a linebacker. I think with signing Brandon Carr from Kansas City they can see their pass defense improving. However, they are in a division with two of the best passing teams in the league in the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins are soon to follow suit with a freshly picked top-five quarterback and new free agent receivers to match. They need more than just Carr to fill the big lack of talent that occupies their defensive backfield."
"With those factors in mind, Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama is the pick," continues driscode7. "He is a big and fluid prospect who perfected his craft in the SEC. He possesses the physicality that would make him an ideal fit in a Ryan defense, and also has the versatility to eventually play safety. This selection could cause a character question mark, but when has Jerry Jones shied away from players with character issues? Exactly. Jones likes players who are used to performing under the bright lights, and playing for Nick Saban in the SEC certainly fits that bill. If Kirkpatrick can keep his head on straight and avoid the off the field issues, he has the potential to become a Top 10 player at his position. He needs to add muscle, but in the end the Cowboys get a player who is highly talented that also fills a need directly correlating with their most heated rivals' strengths."
SBNations's most visited blog, the Arrowhead Pridee (4/3/2012): Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolinasite
I think the [Cowboys'] problem lies on the defensive side of the ball. Near the end of the year it never seemed like a problem for the Cowboys to score points but rather it was problem of being scored upon. I am one who thinks that the Cowboys linebackers could be even better with a younger fierce set of defensive line. Demarcus Ware is a monster, and the franchised Anthony Spencer is no slouch himself. Sean Lee was the only ILB worth mentioning last year, but the signing of Dan Connor makes Lee even better. The secondary had major holes, and with the additions of Brandon Carr and Brondey Pool and subtractions of Terrance Newman and Alan Ball they look a little better. Secondary could very well be a targeted position still but I am one who thinks that can be upgraded in the second round.
So now that I am done with my little recap of the Cowboys personnel, here is the pick: With the 14th pick in the 2012 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys select Quinton Coples DE North Carolina.
I could not resist this pick, this guy is a monster. Weighing in at 6'6 286 pounds he has the versatility to play inside and out on the line along with the experience. Coples would be able to find a starting spot very quickly. The defensive line for the cowboys only got to the quarterback 8 times and 4.5 of them coming from Jason Hatcher. Coples represents an upgrade over Kenyon Coleman with his ability to rush the passer and play the run. The Cowboys could go Dre Kirkpatrick or Luke Kuechly but with the secondary options in the second round and Dan Connor being brought in, Coples represents the best possible scenario.
I would have to imagine "Jerry's World" in Dallas would have loved for Decastro to fall into their laps. But with top candidates Decastro, Coples, and Claiborne off the board, Dallas will have to go with their next best player available on their board. And with a general consensus on their fan boards and expert analyst, the Dallas Cowboys will need to address their defensive line in the first round. I think the Cowboys will select Micheal Brockers with their first round pick (14th overall.
With a sub-par combine Brockers stock may have dipped a bit, but he looks to be a Cowboy all the way. Brockers has the versatility and athleticism to play in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme and a frame that can add a few more pounds. Brockers seems to be a pick that Cowboys can be creative with and take away some pressure from Demarcus Ware.
The Dallas Cowboys have a wide assortment of defensive needs, including pass rush, linebacker and the secondary. They also have a big need in the interior of their O-line. With David DeCastro amd Melvin Ingram off the board, there are no interior O-lineman or pass rushers worth the 14th pick. Nick Perry and Whitney Mercilus would be a bit of a reach, as would Peter Konz or Cordy Glenn. They could go with a CB like Dre Kirkpatrick or a safety like Mark Barron, but the signing of Brandon Carr reduced this need. They decide to address their need at ILB with this pick. Kuechly is a very cerebral ILB that is also fast. The NFL player he most reminds me of is our very own Zach Thomas. Like Thomas, he may not be the strongest player, but he has sound fundamentals, good speed, extraordinary intelligance and great leadership. He can bring this defense together under Rob Ryan.
Our lucky rivals from the East, Big Blue View (3/28/2012): Fletcher Cox, DE, Mississippi State
This draft has played out terrible for poor Jerry Jones. We lusted after David DeCastro - gone. We wanted Melvin Ingram - gone. We hoped Coples would drop - didn't. We are forced to look at some players we hadn't considered much in the beginning: Luke Kuechly, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Fletcher Cox.
Kuechly is the blue chipper, with an aggregate draft board value of 9. But the Cowboys have a glut at ILB right now, with Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and Dan Connor recently signed as Carter insurance. None of these guys can play 4-3 outside. So we are forced to let Kuechly fall into the clutches of the evil Eagles. Dre Kirkpatrick would instantly solidify the Cowboys crappy secondary, along with Carr pushing Scandrick to his rightful #3 corner position on the depth chart. The ideal situation would be to trade back between 16-22 and get either Kirkpatrick or Janoris Jenkins.
Alas, no trades. With the 14th pick in the draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Fletcher Cox. His aggregate draft board value is 13.5, whereas Kirkpatrick's is closer to 20. So Cox is not a reach, and he will play 3-4 DE for us at probably around 310 pounds. He is drooled over by scouts and occasionally mocks in the top 10. He's pretty much a sure thing, and the only reasonable prospect remaining at the board at this point who is not a reach and fits the roster.
There are two main issues with the Cowboys and that's the interior of their offensive line and their secondary. Another pass-rusher wouldn't hurt but I'm not as down on Anthony Spencer as some Cowboys fans are. While Brandon Carr is a big boost, they're kind of thin the rest of the way and Safety is a position they desperately need. And with DeCastro off the board there isn't an OG I'd pick this high. So with the #14 pick I decided to draft Dre Kirkpatrick.
The thinking I had behind taking Kirkpatrick at this spot is the fact that he has the build (6'3 195 pounds) to make the switch to FS. Not only that but he is also a pretty good CB. He has great fluidity, instincts and range to play FS. He doesn't have elite speed (4.51 40 time) but has pretty good closing speed, lateral quickness for a guy his size and he plays faster than his 40 time suggests. He's also adept at using his long arms to re-route receivers and is a very physical (Almost Peanut-like) corner in press coverage. He knows how to track the football and takes good angles to bring down the ball-carrier. He is considered to be one of, if not the best tackling corners in the draft. He drops his pads quickly and keeps his feet beneath him, which is something the Cowboys safeties can't seem to do well.