Cowboys 2013 Draft: What Players Are In Dallas' Range

Chris Chambers

As BTB gears up for Offseason 2013, we'll embark upon the process of narrowing down a wide variety of potential Dallas first round selections (many of whom will prove not to be in the Cowboys' range at all) to a handful of real possibilities at pick number 18.

Yesterday, the inimitable O.C.C. penned a post looking at which player ten different mock drafts have assigned to the Cowboys at pick number 18. This was an exercise in which he engaged the previous January, when it featured ten players who were mocked to the Cowboys at the fourteenth pick. As January rolled into April, some of these players proved to be viable options, and the mockers appeared prescient. As Cool points out, Mark Barron, Luke Kuechly, Stephon Gilmore, Quinton Coples, and Dre Kirkpatrick were all selected within seven picks of the Cowboys' # 14 selection; David DeCastro and Whitney Mercilus were selected later in the first round, and Courtney Upshaw, and Janoris Jenkins were chosen within a round of the fourteenth pick.

So, while none of these mockers actually gave the guy who ended up being drafted fourteenth - LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers - to the Cowboys, they were reasonably accurate with the guys they did assign. Consequently, although we're only at the dawning of draft season, the consensus can give us some very workable parameters for our analysis. This year, the ten initial mockees are as follows:

Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
Sheldon Richardson, DL, Missouri
Johnathan Jenkins, NT, Georgia
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State

A goodly list, to be sure. Its important to remember, however, that although Brockers, the eventual 14th pick in 2012, didn't appear on last year's list, he was hovering around the middle of the first round throughout the pre-draft season. So, if we want to get a clear idea of which players we should focus on, we should take a look not only at mocks, but also at rankings lists. Given that many of our favorite draftniks have recently come out with lists of top players (ranging anywhere from top-25 to top-200), I thought it might be instructive to look at which players they claim are currently in Dallas' range.

For this exercise, I have chosen nine different draftniks, all of whom are plugged in in different ways. Some favorites, such as the NFL Network's Mike Mayock, don't maintain "top 100" lists, so they're not represented. Since the Cowboys pick at #18, I decided to include the players who come in between 16-20 on their rankings. This gives us the two players ranked immediately before and after the 18th best player. As a result, we can get some early insight into the late middle of the first round, which, barring some kind of trade or a precipitous tumble by an early first-rounder, will be precisely the group from which Dallas will choose. Without further ado:

Bucky Brooks, NFL Network:

16: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
17: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
18: Johnathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina
19: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State
20: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Dane Brugler, Draft Scout (CBSSports):

16: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
17: Sam Montgomery, OLB/ DE, LSU
18: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida St.
19: Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama
20: Barkley

Dratfttek:

16: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
17: Barrett Jones, OC, Alabama
18: C. J. Mosely, OLB, Alabama
19: Eric Reid, DS, LSU
20: J. Williams

Dan Kadar, Mocking the Draft:

16: G. Smith
17: Montgomery
18: Mosley
19: Barkevious Mingo, DE/ OLB, LSU
20: Cooper

Mel Kiper, ESPN (subscription):

16: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
17: Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State
18: Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
19: John Jenkins, DT/ NT, Georgia
20: Kenny Vaccaro, DS, Texas

Russ Lande, National Football Post:

16: Fisher
17: Hankins
18: Montgomery
19: Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech
20: Banks

Todd McShay, ESPN:

16: Vaccaro
17: Montgomery
18: Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia
19: Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
20: Fisher

Rob Rang, CBSSports.com:

16: Ogletree
17: J. Jenkins
18: Cooper
19: Ansah
20: Hankins

Scott Wright, NFL Draft Countdown:

16: Mike Glennon, QB, N.C. State
17: T.J. McDonald, DS, USC
18: Arthur Brown, OLB, Kansas State
19: Terrence Williams, WR, Baylor
20: Monte Ball, RB, Wisconsin

Several names reappear on these lists with some frequency. The most popular, with four mentions, is LSU's Montgomery, a rare athlete with a solid build (and, at 245, the frame to add more weight), who plays the run with impressive power holding the point. Receiving three nods are two offensive linemen, Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher and North Carolina OG Johnathan Cooper. I'm not sure they'd prioritize a small-school tackle, but I'd bet Cooper's blend of quickness and explosion will intrigue the Dallas scouts.

Another three-mention fellow of note is Ohio State DT Hankins, who boasts rare size, strength and has rare quickness for his size (some reports list him at 330 pounds), which has prompted comparisons with 2012 Combine darling and first rounder Dontari Poe. Like Poe, Hankins' value stems from his scheme diversity. Although he plays in a 4-3 scheme in college he has the size to anchor an NFL line in a 3-4 scheme as well.

A couple of other multiple mentions intrigue, including 'Bama's human fire hydrant Jesse Williams; BYU's Ezekiel Ansah, a 270 lb DE who might be able to bulk up enough to play the 3-4; Georgia's man-mountain, Jenkins; and Texas' Vaccaro, a potential Darren Woodson clone, in that he's a free safety in a strong safety's body. Taking all of these various players into consideration, I believe we can assemble a (very) preliminary list of potential April targets, most of them on defense:

Sam Montgomery
Johnathan Cooper
Johnathan Hankins
Jesse Williams
John Jenkins
Kenny Vaccaro

We'll continue to develop and massage this list over the next few months, but its not a bad jumping-off place, eh?

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