Earlier this week I got an email from our good friend Long Ball from Drafttek.com, informing me that their newest seven-round consensus mock draft had just been released. I of course went to investigate their effort immediately.
What I like about Drafttek’s mocks is that they are always a full, seven-round effort, and I always make sure to check out some of the lesser known prospects mocked the Cowboys’ way in the later rounds. And as I browse through Drafttek's mocks every week and look at which players were chosen for the Cowboys, I can’t help but wonder which player I would have chosen for the Cowboys instead of the players proposed in the original mock.
And that's exactly what I'll do in today’s post, with one simple rule: the player I choose instead of the pick proposed by Drafttek must be ranked lower in their mock draft than where the Cowboys are picking.
When I informed Long Ball about what I wanted to do, he was happy to add a little more commentary to each of the six Cowboys picks, and also offered up a rebuttal of my hijacking of his mock draft.
And without further ado, let’s hijack Drafttek’s mock draft!
|RD||Drafttek’s picks||Who I’d pick instead (in this mock)|
|1||Datone Jones, DE, UCLA
||Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama|
|Although the NFL has devolved into a padded version of 7-on-7, what my old football coach stated still applies today: "I've yet to see a QB complete a pass from the seat of his pants!" Dallas recorded only 34 sacks in 2012 (ranking 20th in the NFL) and 25 of those came from DeMarcus Ware (14, 31 years of age to start next season and recovering from shoulder surgery) and Anthony Spencer (11 and UFA status). The decision has been made to convert from the 3-4 alignment to the 4-3 "Tampa 2", due to the lack of turnovers (Dallas recorded only 7 interceptions in 2012, tied for last in the league with Kansas City) and according to ProFootballFocus, the pass coverage was a dismal -12.6. Datone Jones recorded 57 tackles, 19 for losses and 6.5 sacks for the Bruins in 2012 to earn All-Conference Honors; however, he was even more impressive during Senior Bowl week as no one (not even Eric Fisher) could consistently block him, flashing quickness not normally seen from a 280 lb man.||Instead of going with the number four defensive end, I’m going with the number one guard. Chance Warmack is probably among a handful of blue-chip prospects in this year’s draft, and it’s surprising to see him last this long. Warmack is easily the best guard in this draft and while this may not be the sexy pick Jerry Jones is known for, it may prove to be the pick that secured Jason Garrett’s job: DeMarco Murray will be an even more dangerous rusher behind Warmack, who blocked for a pair of NCAA rushing titles, and Tony Romo will calmly deliver strike after strike en route to the postseason behind solid pass protection. Warmack can play either guard or center, and even more importantly, he’s an NFL starter from day one.
|2||Barrett Jones, OC, Alabama||Kawann Short, DT, Purdue|
|In 2012, Dallas tried 5 different players at center with limited results. According to ProFootballFocus, the Cowboys' team ranking in pass protection was a dismal -14.7 (and would have been even worse if not for Tony Romo's Houdini skills). HC Jason Garrett has a close relationship with 'Bama HC Nick Saban and no doubt appreciates how his players are well-coached and prepared for the NFL. Barrett Jones has played every position on the 'Bama offensive line during his career: that should qualify him to make line calls, doncha think? The #1 ranked center in this year's draft class played the BCS Championship game with torn ligaments in his left foot (one tough hombre) but should totally recover from surgery and is excellent value in the 2nd round.||Kawann Short could be the type of penetrating three-technique defensive tackle that made Kiffin’s Tampa-2 scheme so effective. Short is as close to a human wrecking ball as it gets: powerful, surprisingly quick and disruptive. The guy's stats are through the roof. Short has an incredible production ratio as a DT of 1.79 over his last two college seasons. That's J.J. Watt territory (1.85 as a DE), and Purdue and Wisconsin play in the same conference, so those numbers are as comparable as it gets. If the Cowboys want an interior pass rusher, Short is their guy. I would not hesitate to take Short in the first for the Cowboys, but he’s available here as a second round pick.|
|3||Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford||John Simon, DE, Ohio State|
|Does anyone else remember the rushing production of the 6 games missed by DeMarco Murray? Does anyone else want to re-sign Felix Jones? Does anyone else think DeMarco will play all 16 games in 2013? Stepfan Taylor is as "plug-and-play" ready as any RB in this year’s draft, groomed in Stanford’s pro-style offense. I scouted this young man at Mansfield HS where he gained 4,972 yards and scored 67 TD’s in 3 years. In 52 games at Stanford, gained 4,212 yards on 823 carries (5.1 ypc for you non-math majors) and 39 TD’s and added 94 receptions for 761 yards and 5 more TD’s. Some scouts think he doesn’t have a 2nd gear . . . let’s see, there was a 33 yarder as a freshman, a 62 yarder as a sophomore, a 70 yarder as a junior and a 59 yarder as a senior. Reminds me of what they said about Emmitt Smith "I never saw him caught from behind!"||John Simon is only the eighth two-time captain in Ohio State history. In his last two season, he put up a 1.94 production ratio, collecting 16 sacks and collecting 16 sacks and 30.5 TFL in 24 games. From his Senior Bowl profile: "In one sentence, he is one of the fiercest competitors in all of college football." Simon may not have the prototypical size for a 43DE, but he makes up for that by being consistently disruptive. Simon was often double-teamed against some very tough college competition, but found a way to produce anyway.|
|4||Manelik Watson, RT, Florida State||Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina|
|Here’s a sneak peek for ya . . . this is Long Ball’s "dark horse" in his upcoming Big Uglies series. This 25 year old junior from Manchester, England is a freakish athlete. Formerly a boxer and Division I basketball player, he only has 20 football starts under his belt . . . but you don’t play ROT for the Seminoles unless ya got something! This 6’6", 320 lb prospect has been clocked in the 4.7 range for forty yards . . . and has the footwork to play LOT if needed. Perhaps the best illustration of just how valuable Watson was to FSU in 2012 is how the team performed without him. Watson didn't start against N.C. State or Wake Forrest, as he dealt with an ankle injury. In those two games, FSU allowed 7 sacks. Watson was told by the NFL Draft Committee that he received a second-round grade when he made the decision to forgo his senior year.||I’ll admit that I suffered a little bit from Big-Name disease with this pick, but if Lattimore fully recovers, this would be a steal. If not, the Cowboys have blown a fourth round pick- they’ll get over it. This is a calculated risk with tremendous upside|
|5||Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State||Michael Williams, TE, Alabama|
|Put your hand over your heart . . . Mike Jenkins will be gone in FA. The first 3 CB slots are covered, but just like closet space in a house, you can never have enough. A 6’1" 190 lb CB who runs in the 4.4-4.5 range and tackles like Slay might even be able to slide on over to FS. Teammate Johnthan Banks got most of the press but Slay is solid . . . we have a 4th round grade on him but NFLDS ranks him as the 10th best CB overall.||The 6-6, 270 Williams is a premier run-blocker and is easily the best blocker among all tight ends in this class. His size and strength allows him to overpower even defensive ends, and he has the speed and athleticism to block safeties and linebackers at the second level with ease. He may never be a prolific pass-catcher, but he’ll pave the way to the endzone for Murray and Lattimore with broken linebackers and safeties.|
|6||DeVonte Holloman, OLB, South Carolina||Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia|
|What are the requirements of the SAM in Kiffin’s 4-3 Cover 2 scheme? Stop the run and pass coverage, wouldn’t you say? How about I bring you a 6’2" 246 lb former SS from the Gamecocks, would that satisfy your requirements? The plans were for Holloman to play the "Spur" position in South Carolina’s hybrid defense, but injuries to other players nixed those plans. Not only potential to add to the defense, but a kamikaze on special teams to boot!||Commings is a big dude at 6-1, 216. He looks more like a big strong safety or a small linebacker, but has the athleticism to turn and run with wide receivers. Commings excelled in press coverage in college, but also played inside at times in college in a hybrid safety/linebacker role, which is exactly where I’d like to see him for the Cowboys. He does not have elite topline speed but he has the versatility to be used at multiple positions.|
I can't say I dislike Long Ball's mock. In fact, I really like the idea of taking a DE with the first pick. Barrett Jones is also a very solid pick, except I think the Cowboys’ 2013 starting center is already on the roster. Stepfan Taylor would be a great addition for the Cowboys – I remember watching him playing and I remember being very impressed. Of course, I was more impressed with Lattimore. Picking up an extra tackle is also a good idea, and you can never have too many corners or linebackers in a Tampa-2, so that’s a very solid haul overall.
But I took a different approach. My primary objective was to add some disruptive players with proven potential to my defensive line. And that objective was only trumped by a top talent like Chance Warmack unexpectedly falling the Cowboys' way. After the first three picks I took a calculated risk on an injured player with a high ceiling and took two more players who could potentially be solid role players for the Cowboys.
And now on to Long Ball's rebuttal of my hijacked mock:
It’s awful nice of you to let me be Paul Harvey and tell "the rest of the story"! LOL, as most of you know, we have to turn in our team priority input codes before knowing who other teams will select . . . so the difference in our simulation and "the real draft" is we don’t get to see who’s left on the Big Board after other teams make their selections.
Now that I’ve whined "this just ain’t fair", I was pleased with the outcome of this past simulation . . . and I like OCC’s selections as well. I’m going to have some fun with my rebuttals, so I hope you have a thick skin!
- Chance Warmack – While I’m a fan of the young man, the #1 OG prospect in 2013 does not always equate to the #1 OG prospect in 2012 (David DeCastro) or 2010 (Mike Iupati) or 2001 (Steve Hutchinson). And I’ve graded film and went back to all my cards dating back from all 4 years at Alabama and his HS days at Westlake HS in Atlanta and I can’t find any plays to grade him at the center position . . . but if you say he can play it, I guess I’ll just have to take you at your word. One needs to be careful when overvaluing a player from a unit as talented as Alabama’s OL, as errors can be covered up or masked by other talented individuals, such as: Barrett Jones (OC) and D.J. Fluker (ROT) we’re already familiar with, but LOT Cyrus Kouandjio was a consensus 5-star recruit who started 8 games as a true freshman before sustaining a season-ending knee injury and as a sophomore, pushed Jones back to the center position . . . and ROG Anthony Steen can start for any team in the nation. But the bottom line is this year’s OG class is as deep as any I have graded . . . there are clusters of talent available at any round, and the fall-off in the first 3 rounds is not the precipice it is for pass-rushers. Besides, I cannot erase the picture in my mind of Jonathan Jenkins driving Warmack back into A.J. McCarron in the SEC Championship Game.
- Kawann Short is a solid selection, if you go OL in the 1st round . . . but let’s analyze the Cowboys’ current roster of DT candidates. Future of Jay Ratliff in doubt? Not for a previously non-trouble-maker who had a non-fatality DWI . . . it’s the timing of it, following the Brent/Brown tragedy that has everyone up in arms, but it’s a first time offense. Jason Hatcher (if he doesn’t play strong-side DE), Ben Bass (ditto), Rob Callaway, Tyrone Crawford (ditto), Sean Lissemore, Marcus Spears and let’s not forget the recently signed Brian Price who was graded as a 1st round talent in his draft class. If Ratliff and Hatcher are your starters, I count 5 players in the 2 to 4 years of experience range . . . is DT43 as big a need for the Cowboys as DE43???
- John Simon is disruptive, had a great Big Ten career and is bumping his head on his ceiling . . . I like the young man, but he is too small to play DE43 (as he lacks Dwight Freeney type explosion and speed) and is too uncoordinated to play standing up as an OLB34.
- Marcus Lattimore . . . evidently you were too squeamish to ever watch the replays of his injury . . . and he is not Adrian Peterson, from either a RB skill set or recuperative abilities. But that’s OK, you are conforming to the Dallas history of throwing away 4th round draft choices: David Arkin, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Stephen McGee, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Stanback, Skyler Green, . . . can I stop now???
- Michael Williams . . . you never got over the loss of Marty B, didja? The world is full of blocking TE’s . . . they’re called OT’s on a diet! Actually Williams would be good value in the 5th round . . . but it bothers me when A.J. McCarron resurrected a nickname for him that used to belong to Roberto Duran!
- I like Sanders Cummings, good value in the 6th round . . . but from what I saw at the Senior Bowl, if he’s 216 then I’m . . . well, that would be telling! I guess I should cut him some slack, they say the TV camera adds pounds to your appearance, but in the words of the Big Tuna, he’s a biscuit shy of a linebacker!
Enjoyed it OCC . . . I may just shake, rattle and roll the inputs to come up with a new concoction, just so we can do it again!
So there you have it. Drafttek vs. BTB. Who has the better draft for the Cowboys and more importantly, what would you do differently?