Whew! After watching the Washington Redskins lose to the dark horse Super Bowl contending Seattle Seahawks tonight, and looking over the players Dallas has signed to futures contracts in hope of them contending in training camp (as well as the difficult salary cap situation), it's time for yet another Cowboys mock draft.
In this projection, the rise of junior quarterbacks declaring for the NFL draft such as Clemson's Tajh Boyd and junior OTs such as Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews works in Dallas' favor for a near-dream scenario. The only downside to it? Dallas doesn't take a guard or a front 7 defensive player except an outside linebacker or two. But I think if you're Jerry Jones you'd prefer the Boys to use their precious six picks along the offensive rather than defensive line and hope the youngsters including Lissemore, Crawford, Callaway, Price, Bass and one or two 2013 UDFAs can finally step up. The Cowboys already know finding a gem or two in undrafted free agency and some solid special teams/depth guys will be crucial to their hopes for success in 2013 (see this, and this for more info on those prospects). They also need some of the players they already have in the fold like defensive backs Sterling Moore, Micah Pellerin and Vince Agnew to take the next step.
So I have (and I'm putting my picks at the top for those who prefer FanShot length posts):
1) Barkevious Mingo OLB LSU
2) Barrett Jones OC Alabama
3) Justin Pugh OT Syracuse
4) Christine Michael RB Texas A&M
5) Duke Williams S Nevada
6) Tyrone Goard WR E. Kentucky
7) Quanterus Smith 3-4OLB (inj.) W. Kentucky
What do you think of that haul BTBers?
1st round 18th overall 3-4OLB Barkevious Mingo LSU 6"4 245 Other than Texas A&M's Damontre Moore, Mingo is the most prototypical outside linebacker projected to go in the first round. Only the fact that this is a draft class stacked with pass rushers like Bjoern Werner, Jarvis Jones, Damontre Moore and Dion Jordan would allow Barkevious to slip us in the middle of the 1st round. As an alternate pick here Dallas would have to consider Barkevious' LSU bookend Sam Montgomery as well or Texas Alex Okeafor should the former slip and the latter slide (taking Ezekial Ansah and playing more 4-3 looks should not be ruled out either, given the challenges of facing increasingly prevalent zone read offenses in the NFL).
Overall I like the idea of Dallas selecting a pass rusher in the 1st round whether the team re-signs Anthony Spencer or not (I personally think our D will miss Spencer for a year but avoiding salary cap hell might make it necessary to let him walk after cutting Free and Ratliff in an attempt to create enough cap to sign him).
Having Barkevious come in on obvious pass rushing downs to spell either Spencer OR Ware would be a great luxury prior to Mingo succeeding Ware. Rob Ryan would also be able to give opposing offenses different looks with a 2-5 look of only two 'DTs' on the field (probably Crawford and Lissy) to GET AFTER THE QB and RB and deal with mobile QBs like RG3 and Russell Wilson.
2nd round 49th overall OC/OG Barrett Jones Alabama 6"5 302 Jones has the frame, smarts, toughness and intelligence to anchor the center spot in Dallas for years to come. Only a massive run on pass rushers, corners, defensive linemen and quarterbacks would enable him to slip this far to Dallas mid-2nd round pick -- but given Jones has a foot injury that could require surgery after the national title tilt and missing the Combine in February, it's not impossible. GM in waiting Stephen Jones has hinted that the Cowboys want to select a center early in the draft and if the Boys truly want to improve the offensive line while cutting ties with Doug Free it wouldn't hurt to start from the inside out.
Jones would immediately start at center, allowing Costa to either go somewhere else or slug it out with Kevin Kowalski and Ryan Cook for the backup center job. Ideally I'd like to see the Cowboys sign Hamiton TigerCats OG Peter Dyakowski to play right guard before the CFL signing deadline in February. He would push Bernadeau, Leary and Arkin at guard, keeping Kowalski free to concentrate on playing center like he did during the 2011 preseason. Such intense competition if everyone stays healthy could leave Leary back on the practice squad and either Arkin or Kowalski on another team in 2013, but competition is good isn't it? And given last year's injury nightmare in training camp someone's likely to get hurt again at the interior OL spots so I wouldn't worry about having too many guards.
Alternate selection at this spot if Barrett Jones is gone: NT Kawann Short Purdue 6"2 300 Short was a beast in the only Purdue game I watched this year and is currently ranked as the 4th best DT in this draft class (pre-Combine) by NFL Draft Scout. While Short is slightly smaller than some of the bigger men projected to go ahead of him in this class, at the start of the 2012 college season the senior was projected as a late first round pick. Short might also give the Cowboys more position flexibility as both a 3-4 and 4-3 nose tackle with good quickness and pass rushing moves rather than just being a load inside.
Other possible picks here include (again if the expected run on QBs, 4-3DEs/OLBs and DBs occurs)
3-4DE Margus Hunt SMU 6"7 285 Hunt is almost guaranteed to be invited in for the Dallas Day workouts and would be a popular pick, especially if Dallas can postpone selecting a back until the 5th round. The only trouble here is Hunt could easily climb into the 3rd or even late 2nd with a solid workout at the Combine. Expecting an athletic freak like him to still be around in the 4th round despite his few years of playing football is probably too much to ask. Still if Dallas took Hunt in the 3rd instead of an OT I'd say they'd better have signed an OK free agent tackle to backup Parnell in that case.
WR Terrance Williams Baylor 6"2 205 Williams played in the same system as WR Josh Gordon that Boys coveted
Of the three I'd probably prefer Frederick as despite the availability of safeties like LSU's Eric Reid or South Carolina's D.J. Swearinger this appears to be a very deep class for safeties and someone like Nevada's Duke Williams should be available in the mid-rounds.
3rd round 82nd overall OT Justin Pugh Syracuse 6"6 300
Pugh would admittedly be a slight project here. In fact he might not be as ready to start in the NFL as the Cowboys current developmental tackle Darrion Weems. But with a full year in the strength and conditioning program he could be ready to play by 2014 if neither Parnell, Weems nor a stopgap veteran plays well at RT in 2013. I personally think Jeremy Parnell is going to do fine and Pugh would be drafted in Jason Garrett's mind for the swing/backup left tackle job while Weems would be the backup right tackle. The main reasons NFL teams would be willing to overlook Pugh's less than NFL-ready anchor would be intelligence -- the junior has already completed a degree in finance -- and performance in protecting NFL-bound quarterback Ryan Nassib's blind side.
Alternate picks here in the third round:
OG Brian Winters Kent St. 6"4 315 The Golden Flashes senior tackle is now projected to slide inside to guard in the NFL. As Dr. P can tell you that's no easy transition for the David Arkins and Ron Learys of this world. Winters would represent another attempt to get the athleticism of a tackle into a guard spot to handle quick interior rushers and eventually replace Nate Livings at the left guard spot.
3-4DE Larry Black Jr. Indiana Especially if Dallas selects a center or guard in the 2nd round
In the second half of this mock draft, I'll dig into the other picks and alternate selections for Dallas in the 2013 draft.