I feel reasonably confident in a few scenarios the Cowboys may have available to them on Thursday. I’ll outline each scenario below and provide a mock of the Cowboys picks in each case. A couple of overriding principles I am using to make these picks.
Cowboys will follow a BPA at a position of need theory in the first three rounds. The areas of need are ranked as follows in order of need:
Offensive Line Flexibility (G/T, G/C types with at least one starter from the draft.)
Defensive End (they have no backup DE)
Defensive Tackle Rotation Player (Cowboys need a 1-tech or 3-tech player than can play in a rotation with Ratliff, Hatcher, and Lissemore)
Starting Caliber RB (Murray’s injury history necessitates the need to get a RB who can carry the load for an extended period if Murray goes down. The RB must be good in all three phases.)
Tight End (Cowboys only have two TEs and need a third that can be a capable blocker, but is not just a blocker.)
Cowboys want to figure out a way to make 5 picks in the first 100 picks and the equivalent of a pick in every round. (Jerry Jones has stated he would not be afraid to use next year’s draft picks to move around this year. Scouts have commented that there are multiple starters available late into the fourth round.)
Cowboys will not draft players with even a hint of past problems, not RKG, or box players.
Scenario #1 - Cooper is available at 18 (10% chance)
18. Jonathan Cooper G/C UNC
Comments: If he is there at 18 he is the pick unless Star or Floyd or Johnson fall which seems to be near impossible at this point. Instant starter at LG next to Tyron Smith and allows Cowboys to cut Nate Livings who they didn’t restructure.
47. Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M
Comments: Cowboys like him and he is rated around the 40th pick on a lot of boards now. In the second round he seems like a steal at this point. Alternate Pick: Margus Hunt
80. TRADE #80 for #93, 128, 227 with SF
Comments: Cowboys come on the board at 80 and a lot of their targets are still available, so they trade down with SF for #93, 128, 227. Dallas is losing on the trade but gaining on the number of picks they receive and also SF won’t draft 13 players so they are willing to move around a bit.
93. David Quessenberry RT San Jose State
Comments: Quessenberry displays amazing positional flex and provides depth at RT and RG. Will compete for starting job at both positions in camp.
98. TRADE 3rd Rounder in 2014, #151 for #98
Comments: Fourth Round begins on Saturday and sitting at the top of the board is a player the Cowboys covet, so they give up a 3rd rounder next year and their 5th rounder this year.
98. Andre Ellington RB Clemson
Comments: The last of the running backs that Dallas has a third round grade on falls to the first pick in the 4th. A dynamic playmaker who is polished in all areas but could use some work on pass protection.
114. Bennie Logan DT LSU
Comments: On most boards I have seen he is a 4th-5th round guy, but I just don’t think he lasts that long. I’m convinced Dallas loves him and may even take him in the second or third round. Another guy who fits the bill would be Jordan Hill who could be a good alternate here.
128. JJ Wilcox SS Georgia Southern
Comments: Cowboys are said to love this guy and he’s been creeping up boards lately and so may not even be available here at this point.
185. Charles Johnson WR Grand Valley State
Comments: Heard rumblings about this guy from Cowboys’ scouts all the way back in January. I’ve watched some tape on him and he looks every bit as good as some of the receivers going in the 3rd-4th round range. Plays longer than he is, excellent vert, and body control. Hand catcher. I’m calling him a near lock for the Cowboys if he is there in the 6th.
227. Demetrius Harris TE UW-Milwaukee
Comments: A project at the TE position as a former basketball player. Has created a lot of buzz in the last week and was privately worked out by the Cowboys who don’t let him get to the UDFA market.
Scenario #2 - Wiped Out (50% chance)
In this scenario Dallas is wiped out at #18. All their favorite targets, Richardson, Austin, Cooper, Warmack, Vaccaro, etc.. are gone. A trade cannot be reached and Dallas has to choose between three players: Tyler Eifert, Eric Reid, and Sylvester Williams.
Reid - Too early he’ll be a prime trade down target in later scenarios.
Williams - Fantastic player, but he is already 24 and will be close to 25 by the time the season starts. That puts him in the odd position of being 29 when it is time to extend his contract.
I will use the same trade scenarios as in Scenario 1 above.
18. Tyler Eifert TE Notre Dame
Comments: I would not be surprised if he is a top 12 player on the Cowboys board. Read an article on him that rates him as the best TE to come out in the draft since Vernon Davis. Would grade a whole round better than Fleener who went in the first last year. Cowboys really want to get back to the 2 TE scheme and having him opposite Witten (who he has been compared to a more athletic version of) is a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Although I could see the rest of this draft playing out exactly as in Scenario 1 I’ll throw a couple of different names at you.
47. Justin Pugh G/T Syracuse
Comments: I absolutely love this kid’s upside as a guard. Would be an A+ pass blocker for a guard and an excellent move guy to use pulling and trapping. Only deficiency is weight room strength, but he is young and very smart/atheltic.
93. Le’Veon Bell RB Michigan State
Comments: Cowboys love his versatility and I think if he’s there in the third he is probably a Cowboy.
98. Corey Lemonier DE Auburn
Comments: Lots of draft sites have him listed as an OLB because of his size 6’3 250, but he’s basically the same size as Spencer and has a chiseled frame that they could add 10 pounds to. I’m really high on this guy and think he’d be a steal somewhere in the third round. Great college production in the SEC.
114. Sean Porter LB Texas A&M
Comments: The sheer depth of this draft is the only reason he’s still available here. Would be a great understudy to Justin Durant and has excellent pass rushing ability to be used in certain sets. Could start as soon as next year.
128. BW Webb CB William & Mary
Comments: A really good scheme fit as a slot CB for the Cowboys. Good at press and press bail techniques with a 41.5 inch vertical. Was one of the few players the Cowboys interviewed at the Senior Bowl. This CB class is ridiculously deep and he’d be a third round talent in most drafts. Everyone thinks we need a safety but a good CB would allow us to move Sterling Moore to S something the Cowboys said was a possibility at the end of the year. Alternate Pick: Will Davis Utah
185. Brennan Williams OT UNC
Comments: Without the injury he goes 2-3 rounds higher, but given that there are so many other healthy highly rated lineman in this draft he slips a bit. Excellent body size for a RT prospect.
227. Lawrence Okoye DT
Comments: The definition of a project. Has never played football, but is probably the best athlete pound for pound in this draft. 4.7 40 at 305 pounds of less than 10% body fat. Olympic level athlete who wants to test his abilities in the NFL. Dallas met with him privately at the Super Regional Combine in Cowboys Stadium. Is generating a ton of buzz right now and may go as high as the 4th round.
Scenario #3 - Small Trade Down /w Minnesota (20% chance)
In this scenario Dallas is on the clock at 18 and Cordarrelle Patterson is available (interestingly if Tavon Austin is available unless Dallas gets blown away by a trade, i.e. late first this year and first next year, plus maybe a 3rd this year I bet we take him if our other targets are off the board), but Dallas’ other highly rated prospects with the exception of Chance Warmack and Kenny Vaccaro are gone. Dallas could stay and take Warmack, but I don’t think they are very high on him and so are looking to make a trade with Minnesota for pick #23 so they can come up and select Patterson.
18. TRADE #18 (900) to Minnesota for #23 (760), #83 (175)
Comments: Dallas plays a little hard ball and wins this trade on the point values. Minnesota wanted to offer a 4th this year and a 2nd rounder next year.
23. Sylvester Williams DT
Comments: In this scenario, Warmack goes to NY Giants, Tyler Eifert goes to Chicago (who said they want another TE to pair with Bennett), Vaccaro goes to Cincinnatti, and St. Louis grabs the best receiver left on the board in DeAndre Hopkins. Dallas is on the clock and is picking between Sylvester Williams, DJ Fluker, or Eric Reid. Dallas finds its rotational player along the defensive line.
47. Datone Jones DE UCLA
Comments: He should go higher than this but a lot of clubs view him as a tweener rush DE and DT. I really like his first step and either him or Okafor or Moore could be great value at DE for the Cowboys in the 2nd round.
80. TRADE #80 (190) and next year’s 2nd rounder to Cincinnatti for #53
Comments: This trade plays out with next year’s 2nd equivalent to a mid 3rd rounder this year, so the point totals are almost a lock. Dallas is making this trade to target another player they have a grade on in Kyle Long.)
53. Kyle Long G/T Oregon
Comments: Has a lot of upside as a guard prospect for a ZBS team (which I’m assuming the Cowboys are and that is why they pass on Warmack in the 1st). In this scenario Dallas goes DL twice in the first two rounds and so are in real need of targeting an OL they feel can step in and start this year.
83. Brian Winters G Kent State
Comments: A dream scenario for most Cowboys fans as they address both lines in a big way. Brian Winters projects to G in the NFL and has a mean streak that would be a great addition to the Cowboys line.
114. Stefan Taylor RB Stanford
Comments: In all the other scenarios Dallas has tried to land a RB in the third round, but the fourth round is an option as well and in this scenario Dallas grabs Stefan Taylor who is probably the last of the complete RBs on the Cowboys board.
151. Dion Sims TE Michigan State
Comments: Has ability as both a blocker and a pass catcher, but he has been maddeningly inconsistent and so even though he is super talented he will probably be available in the 5th round.
185. Charles Johnson WR Grand Valley State
Scenario #4 - Big Trade Down /w Atlanta (20% chance)
In this scenario Dallas is on the clock and Tyler Eifert is available. Atlanta calls targeting him in a trade up. (We’ve heard they are targeting a CB but I think Eifert is the apple of their eye.) Dallas makes sense as the trade up partner since the NY Giants, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers are all really interested and ahead of Atlanta.
18. TRADE Dallas trades #18 to Atlanta for #30, #60
30. Eric Reid FS LSU
Comments: The safety position is not one I think we will reach to address, but I think the Cowboys are very high on Eric Reid and if he is on the board at 30 I think he’d be the pick with Cyprien as a close second.
47. Alex Okafor DE Texas
Comments: Would be a good defensive line rotational player similar to Tyrone Crawford. Could find a spot in his first year as a rush defensive tackle in 3rd down situations and move out to DE the following year if Spencer leaves.
60. Jonathan Franklin RB UCLA
Comments: My favorite RB in the draft and I hope he is at the top of the Cowboys choices in the second round because I think he could have a dramatic effect on the offense and is a perfect complement to Demarco Murray.
80. Markus Wheaton WR Oregon State
Comments: Cowboys seem to be really high on Wheaton and he would make an excellent slot receiver in the NFL. A precise route runner who plays faster than he times. Gave Vaccaro and Texas fits last year in the bowl game.
114. Barrett Jones G/C Alabama
Comments: Jones falls to the 4th mainly due to his injury status. Dallas views him as a major upgrade at C over Costa and hopes that he would make the guards around him better. In this scenario Eric Winston or Clabo would be signed to man the RT position.
151. Will Davis CB Utah
Comments: A good man to man corner prospect who the Cowboys seem to really like in the mold of Orlando Scandrick who is most likely gone next year if his play doesn’t improve.
185. Nick Williams DT Samford
Comments: Incredibly powerful defensive tackle prospect who has some top notch movement skills. Seems very similar to Jay Ratliff without the baggage.
Scenario #5 - Big Trade Down /w San Francisco (20% chance)
In this scenario Dallas is on the clock and is wiped out but Tavon Austin is on the board. San Francisco is willing to overpay to get a player they have very highly rated.
18. TRADE Dallas trades #18 to SF for #31, 34.
Comments: Dallas is clearly winning the trade here, but they also have Minnesota on the line (real or imagined) and convince SF to trade 34 instead of 60.
31. DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson
Comments: The player Dallas hoped would be here when they made the move. He provides an awesome boost to the WR corp and would give Dallas some serious threats in the intermediate routes with him and Austin both being plus route runners.
34. Terron Armstead RT Arkansas Pine Bluff
Comments: Major upside pick who could start at RT or RG in year one. He has plus movement skills, elite speed for the position, and very good speed. With improved technique he could be a top tackle in this league. Similar to Ryan Clady or Anthony Davis.
47. Jesse Williams DT Alabama
Comments: Dallas needs a good 1-DT prospect who can move and pursue down the line. Williams fits this description having elite speed and strength for the position.
80. Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina
Comments: Dallas wanted this all along and having the extra pick from the trade down allows them to take a gamble on the best running back in college football since Adrian Peterson. If he comes back fully healthy this is a major steal.
114. Chase Thomas SLB Stanford
Comments: The kid is just a football player. His measurables don’t say he will succeed in the NFL, but he was one of the most productive players in all of college football last year. Took over the Notre Dame game and was a force in the Stanford bowl game. Would be a backup SLB in year 1 and top notch special teamer who would be ready to vie for the starting job in year 2. Has very good pass rush skills that could be exploited in nickel situations.
151. Hugh Thornton G Illinois
Comments: Former wrestler who excels as in line pass blocking and positional run blocking. Would be a third round talent in a lot of years.
185. Zac Line RB SMU
Comments: Was a great in short yardage situations as a RB at SMU, but I feel like he would be an outstanding FB at the NFL level. Has great pass blocking ability as a RB, great vision and pass catching skills, and while slow for a RB would be a fast FB with good ball carrying capability. Would push Vickers off the roster and save some money.
Each scenario has its advantages and disadvantages, but if Dallas were to stand pat and take whomever falls to them and perform targeted trade ups where needed then I would personally love to see the following:
18. Jonathan Cooper G UNC
47. Terron Armstead RT Arkansas Pine Bluff
80. Corey Lemonier DE Auburn
114. Stefan Taylor RB Stanford
151. Jordan Hill DT Penn State
185. Charles Johnson WR Grand Valley State