Cowboys Draft 2013: Who Would I Take With The 18th Pick?

USA TODAY Sports

My fellow writers have provided some top-notch draft coverage. Some of them have been tweaking boards for months, evaluating these prospects as if each were a potential future Ring of Honor member. I haven't, and I hope to use my differing perspective to provide a fresh look at the options available with the 18th pick.

I have a love-hate relationship with the draft. I love it, in general, as it offers a number of possible futures for our franchise. In this way it's fascinating.

Truth be told, when I'm playing a football simulation (Madden), I'll spend more time preparing for that virtual draft than I will playing the 23 games preceding it. But this is only because I cheat. I look at tables to see which players are potential stars, and then plan to grab the best 20 or so of those (the maximum number of picks in a virtual draft for a single team) to add to the Cowboys' roster. All of the information is available to me, and I make careful decisions based on that information.

This is where the hate comes in, with the real draft. The actual NFL draft is a stochastic environment (information is concealed from view), preventing automated formulation of an optimal strategy. In a game, stochasticity can be overcome by patience and frequent do-overs. In real life, however, there is a very real possibility of an irreversible disaster. Imagine being the man that drafted JaMarcus Russell.

Consequently, I try not to invest energy into players who may not make it to the Cowboys' roster, and participate only as a somewhat well-informed spectator.

Now, it is from this perspective, which I imagine many of you share in some way or another, that I would like to offer my musings on the 18th pick. Rather than grab a name or two out of the sky that may or may not be available, I'll look at the players from 11-25 on Drafttek's big board. The assumption is that at least a few of these players will remain available when the Cowboys are on the clock, and, after the fact, we can look back and see how terrible I am at ranking prospects.

My Rank Drafttek Rank Player School Position
1 13 Star Lotulelei Utah 4-3 DT
2 18 Cordarrelle Patterson Tennessee WR
3 21 Alec Ogletree Georgia LB
4 20 Tavon Austin West Virginia WR
5 22 Damontre Moore Texas A&M 4-3 DE
6 12 Ezekiel Ansah BYU 4-3 DE
7 14 Kenny Vaccaro Texas SS
8 15 Xavier Rhodes FSU CB
9 19 Datone Jones UCLA DE
10 24 Kevin Minter LSU LB
11 11 Jonathan Cooper UNC OG
12 25 Sylvester Williams UNC DE/DT
13 16 Chance Warmack Alabama OG
14 23 Jesse Williams Alabama DT
15 17 Geno Smith West Virginia QB

Top Five

Star Lotulelei gets the top spot. Even though I'm not enamored with the tackle position, that mostly is because I've been watching the 3-4 almost exclusively. Health has been an issue for our defense, so it would not be hard to imagine Star, a highly ranked prospect in his own right, to see significant playing time in what would become a very threatening rotation up front.

Cordarrelle Patterson could be a stud. Add to that, like above, there are concerns with health in our receiving corps, and Patterson will create a very explosive, powerful threesome of outside receivers (and hopefully we'll have at least one of them available in every game). I can never stay away from a receiver with big measurables - be thankful I'm not our GM.

Alec Ogletree is an SEC defensive player at a position of need. That normally makes someone a safe pick. The concept of maintaining a streak of sorts (consecutive years with an Ogletree on the roster) is also somewhat appealing. A full threesome of dynamic threats at linebacker would also make me quite happy.

Tavon Austin is some sort of specimen. I wonder if his measurables will take him off the market before we're on the clock, but I hope the Cowboys will consider him if he is still available. He can score at any time after touching the football, and appears to be less of a headache than, say, Percy Harvin (bad pun, I know).

Damontre Moore is a local pass-rushing prospect. He's one of the higher rated rush ends on the board with size reminiscent of DeMarcus Ware. I have no expectations of him living up to such a role, but I believe that, if taken, he will allow the Cowboys to comfortably move on from either Ware or Spencer in the next couple of seasons.

Bottom Five

Jonathan Cooper seems to be almost deified as 'He who shall deliver us from A-gap penetration.' He's still, however, a college guard - and those things tend to take time to reach their potential. The second and third rounds are saturated with guard prospects, so I would just as soon pass on one of the two potential first rounders.

Sylvester Williams appears to be in the mold closer to the two-gap run stopper. He's not a very explosive athlete and doesn't seem to fit what Kiffin is looking for in a Rushman. I wouldn't be horrified if we pick him, however, because he is known for his high motor.

Chance Warmack gets the same rationality as Cooper, except Warmack is viewed as the worse of the two.

Jesse Williams is basically a true nose tackle. We don't have any use for one of those, as even the 'nose tackle' in our defense is not meant to simple eat up space. We're all about penetration, and boulder-sized men have a hard time slipping between interior offensive linemen.

Geno Smith seems to me the obvious worst-case pick here. He offers little to the team for the near future, and has the potential to ruin at least one season for a quarterback needy team. I don't see him making it this far down the board, but in the event that he drops I don't want Dallas to be the one to break his fall.

So there you have it! These are my picks based on what I want for the Cowboys. How are your priorities different?

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