The free agency frenzy is about to kick off in a couple of days, and you would think that nobody would bother putting up a mock draft anymore, as it will likely be largely irrelevant in a few days. Yet draftniks around the country got busy this week and knocked out their final mock drafts before free agency starts next week.
Mock drafts often suffer from "need disease", where selections are made purely on need. Once free agency gets under way, and teams start filling the most obvious holes, perhaps these mocks will do a better job of selecting the best player available for each team.
For the Cowboys and Jason Garrett, filling needs in free agency is a key priority in order to enable the team to go BPA in the draft.
"In a perfect world, what you want to try to do is go into the draft without needs," Garrett said in a  Year-End Special TV interview with Brad Sham. "I think you tend to draft worse when you say, "I think we need to draft this position or that position. And regardless of how objective you want to make that process, you invariably say, 'OK, we have a need here, so maybe we bump a player up ahead of this guy when they're really probably pretty similar.
"In an ideal situation you want to address your needs prior to the draft. Hard to do that, but you're trying to do that so you can draft as purely as possible. Couldn't do that last year."
Let's hope that the Cowboys can indeed fill their key needs during free agency. And until we know which needs exactly they were able to fill, let's marvel at how the latest mock drafts seem to be unable to arrive at a consensus pick for the Cowboys.
|DJ Fluker, OG, Alabama|
Walter Football, March 6
||Comment: "Doug Free could be released sometime soon, as he's been a major disappointment since signing his 4-year, $32 million contract a couple of years ago. Even if he's not cut, there's been some talk about him moving to guard. Regardless, Dallas has to find an upgrade at right tackle to help protect Tony Romo. Sure, Romo has come up small in big moments, but since he's not going anywhere this year, the Cowboys better make sure they give Romo every chance to succeed. "|
|NE Patriots draft, March 6||Comment: "The Cowboys need blockers, but don’t be surprised if they move up and put Kenny Vaccaro in the place of newly-departed Gerald Sensabaugh. Fluker is a mammoth RT/RG that will be a starter on day one in Dallas."|
|NFL.com (C. Davis), March 5||Comment: "The O-line overhaul continues. Fluker and Tyron Smith give the Cowboys two young bookends to build around."|
|Optimum Scouting, March 2||Comment: "With Tyron Smith hopefully entrenched as the left tackle of the future for the Cowboys, they’ll need to replace Doug Free on the right side to give Tony Romo a chance to be successful. With Fluker’s massive build and long arms, he should be able to both pave the way in the run game as well as give Romo extra time to find Miles Austin and Dez Bryant downfield."|
|Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina|
|Drafttek.com, March 6||Comment: "Ol' Long Ball has just about had it! I'm tired of Cuzzin Jerruh "going for the sizzle, not the steak", so I'll show you "Where's the Beef?" with this simulation . . . it's time to re-load both lines! Dallas re-signed Phil Costa for 2 years (for a lower amount in 2013 than his RFA tender would have been), so he and "Killer" Kowalski will most likely battle for the starting Center position, relegating Ryan Cook to back-up status. Whaddaya say we do the same for either Mackenzy Bernadeau or Nate Livings? The Cowboys are weak in the interior of their OL, evidenced by the pressure Romo faced coming straight up the middle and the inability of the team to consistently gain yardage rushing the ball (with the exception of Murray bouncing a play outside). Jonathan Cooper, a potential 3-position prospect (OC/OG), may be the most athletic OG in this year's draft, consistently getting to the 2nd level , which will allow Jason Garrett to pull more blockers to lead running plays . . . but he also packs a punch with an Explosion Factor (read Pat Kirwan's "Take Your Eyes Off The Ball") approaching 72 (Combine results: 35 bench reps, 27 vertical, 9'4" broad). "|
|Football's Future, March 6||Comment: "The Cowboys are slowly building their offensive line into a strength again. Tyron Smith was a great pick two years ago, and Cooper could be added to the mix. He is a special guard, and could possibly even go higher than this."|
|Star-Telegram, March 5||Comment: "Cooper’s stock is rising so he might not last this long, but the Cowboys have to better protect Tony Romo, who was sacked 36 times."|
|CBSSports (Brugler), March 4||Comment: "Will Jerry Jones really draft an offensive guard in the top-20 of the draft? Although it might seem like a longshot, Cooper is absolutely worth the pick and Dallas can't afford to pass on an interior lineman of his caliber, especially because he brings versatility at guard and center."|
|Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama|
E$PN (McShay), March 6
||Comment: "Guards often do not come off the board quickly, and Warmack and UNC’s Jonathan Cooper could slip a bit as a result. But on tape, Warmack is one of the three most complete football players in this class. He could easily go in the top 11 picks to the Bills at No. 8, the Jets at No. 9, the Titans at No. 10 and the Chargers at No. 11. This is not a flashy pick, so Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might squash it. But this would be a great pick for the Cowboys if Warmack lasts all the way down here."|
NFP, March 1
||Comment: "Historically the Cowboys always take the flashier player and bypass the safer choice, but here they make the smart choice by selecting Warmack who is one of the premier prospects in the entire Draft. Warmack will step in and start as a rookie, will upgrade their rushing attack and add stability to their pass protection."|
|Kawann Short, DT, Purdue|
CBSSports (Kirwan), March 5
||Comment: "The Cowboys are headed to their own version of the 4-3 defense. Some say Jay Ratliff is the new "3" technique but I think Rod Marinelli loves the Purdue kid for the spot."|
CBSSports (Rang), March 4
||Comment: "After a long run with the 3-4 defense the Cowboys are making the switch to the 4-3 alignment with new coordinator Monte Kiffin. For Kiffin's famous Tampa-2 scheme to work the team will need to add a penetrating three-technique defensive tackle. Short, powerful and surprisingly quick, has been a playmaker throughout his career for the Boilermakers and enjoyed a strong week of practice at the Senior Bowl."|
|Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri|
NFL.com (Jeremiah), March 1
||Comment: "Richardson's calling card is his outstanding quickness. That trait is coveted in Monte Kiffin's scheme. He still needs to work on his hand usage, but new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli is the perfect guy to develop Richardson."|
|Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina|
NFL.com (Brooks), March 4
||Comment: "Coordinator Monte Kiffin's version of the Tampa 2 requires an ultra-quick defensive tackle in the middle. Williams, who shows fantastic first-step quickness, is also powerful at the point of attack."|
|Jarvis Jones, DE, Georgia|
Draftseason, March 4
||Comment: "Since the Cowboys aren’t running their 3-4 defense anymore, Jarvis Jones may not be a need or perfect fit, but last year Pete Carroll drafted Bruce Irvin 15th overall and now that pick looks brilliant. Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 scheme could use Jones the same way Carroll uses Irvin. It’s a medical risk, but Jones is too talented to pass on at 18."|
|Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas|
Philly.com, March 5
||Comment: "Dallas cut safety Gerald Sensabaugh Monday, so why not replace him with the top-rated safety in the draft? Vaccaro’s 40 time at the combine didn’t thrill scouts, but he can easily improve that at his pro day."|