I'm forgoing the normal introduction here. You all know Keg, as he used to grace the front page with his knowledge on a regular basis. BTB is a better place now that he has the time to be a member of the community on a more regular basis. It just made sense to let him have the honor of making the Cowboys selection in our community mock draft.
Of course, Keg has his own way of doing things. When his time came on the clock, I had to turn down multiple requests to trade out of the slot because of the way the board fell. When that failed, I told him to feel free to throw a twist into his "write-up" support of the pick.
So, without further ado, here's Keg with the Cowboys selection at 18.
Here's our GM with his explanation of the selection:
Why the pick: BTB community comments flood the servers like a typhoon. The debates are as energetic and impassioned as was the imaginary Cowboys War Room in my head.
With a handful of prospects graded with first-round value still on the board, Stephen Jones is working the phones to find a trade partner. Jonathon Cooper, Bjoern Werner, Barkevious Mingo, even guys like Eric Reid, Alec Ogletree, and Keenan Allen are considerable talents, so trading down a few spots is certainly in consideration.
Coaches Kiffin and Callahan are adding their own perspectives to Ciskowski's reports on Cooper and Werner. Werner is rated higher on the board, a Top 10 BPA pick, but the specter of Anthony Spencer looms. The Cowboys don't need a starting defensive end, even though the German-born Werner could certainly start his rookie year. With his strong work ethic and the proper coaching from Marinelli and Co., not to mention a mentor like DeMarcus Ware, Werner would be in a great situation to maximize his potential. He can begin as a solid strong-side defensive end, and also has the potential to eventually replace Ware as the leading pass rusher.
Callahan had just as flattering things to say about Jonathon Cooper and how well he would fit in a zone blocking scheme. While he isn't ranked as high on the big board, Cooper would be ready to start on the offensive line his rookie year; providing much-needed support to the inconsistent unit. However, it was Tom Ciskowski that provided the most compelling argument to separate the two names topping Dallas' remaining board. The difference between Werner's potential and the defensive ends in the second round is greater than that of Cooper and the OL prospects that will be available in the second round. Callahan nods in defeated agreement. Draft me someone like Pugh, and with a bit more developmental time than Cooper, we'll have just as much potential talent added to the guard depth chart.
Tom continued: Werner is both a Top 10 talent due to his college production and game film, as well as his current physical and athletic measurables (comparable to 49ers Aldon Smith). As a starter his sophomore and junior years, Werner racked up 79 tackles, 29 for a loss, 20 sacks, 17 pass deflections, 2 FF, and 2FR. He may not have the highest pass-rush potential in this class, but he is the highest ranked 4-3 defensive end on the board. Not only is he the most NFL ready in terms of technique and starting ability, he is a monster at the point of attack and has the motor, reliability, and precise movements of a finally tuned German automobile...he also has considerably more raw talent to tap as a pure edge-rusher. You can tell that Woicik's conditioning and strength program will make Werner even better as his already strong frame has not yet reached its peak performance level.
As Ciskowski finishes his analysis, Jason Garrett recalls something the great Gil Brandt said about Werner in his mock draft:
"Werner is a pass rusher...He had a very productive final year in college, collecting 13 sacks. I think he has a lot of upside."
Garrett also pictures what Rob Ryan would look like in this situation, trying to contain himself but turning red in his unrelenting urge to speak out about the marvels of Mingo as a 3-4 OLB. But the lean and mean Mingo does not fit as well in a 4-3 scheme.
Stephen Jones brings Garrett back from his thoughts, adding that the savings at the DE position would be higher for a rookie than that of a guard, just a small detail to consider as the Cowboys balance their salary-cap tightrope-walking. He also concluded there were no trade-down options available.
Garrett looked at his watch, not nervous about the minutes ticking away, just buying a second or two to relish in the moment. This is what he lived for and he knew both prospects would surely upgrade his team in the long run. But there were so many more factors to consider. He looked at Jerry Jones and flashed him a salesman's smile, the same one Jerry mastered while looking in a mirror; the knowing grin empowered by a confident and excited gaze.
Jerry peacocked to attention. He just knew that if he stayed quiet long enough he'd eventually get to talk in the War Room like back in the good old days. But instead of asking for Jerry's opinion, Garrett suggests Jerry and Stephen start working the phones. The Jags have nearly 30M in cap space and could use the help at defensive end. The Browns have 27M cap space, and could pair Spencer with Kruger in their new 3-4 defense. Unfortunately, Cleveland doesn't have a 2nd round pick, and the Jags simply won't let go of pick #33. In a perfect world the Cowboys could get a 2nd for Spencer. Instead, they settle on Jags 3rd and 5th round picks in a deep draft.
There is little time to celebrate. The call is made and Bjoern Werner becomes the #18 pick in the 2013 draft. The verbal agreement on the trade must be formalized. Spencer and his agent must be informed of the trade. The Cowboys must prepare for their additional picks, and also just cleared over ten million off the cap. Most of it will be rolled over for some cap relief in '14, but there is surely a reasonably priced free agent that can help make the Cowboys three remaining picks in the Top 80 pure BPA upgrades. Perhaps also a veteran DE like Idonije. And let's not forget, with nearly 60 players with second round grades, there are a lot of talented prospects to consider with picks 47, 64, and 80.
Selection: (DE) [Bjoern Werner, Florida State]
HIGH PRIORITY TEAM NEEDS (lower number indicates higher priority) according to Drafttek.com
-- Threat Level Red (priority 1-2): None
-- Threat Level Orange (priority 3-4): 4-3 DT, 4-3 DE, CB, Feature Receiver, Right Tackle, Guard, Center, Left Tackle
-- Threat Level Yellow (priority 5-6): 4-3 OLB, Free Safety, Tight End, Feature Back
-- Threat Level Green (priority 9): Quarterback, COP Back, Possession Receiver, Slot Receiver, Middle Linebacker, Strong Safety
NFL.com Draft Grade: 88.2
-- Drafttek.com ranked #5 Overall, #2 at the position
-- Russ Lande, National Football Post: #8 Overall, #2 at the position
SUMMARY - An underclassman, Werner jumped off the film and made so many big plays against North Carolina State that I immediately knew he would have to consider coming out early for the Draft. A strong and well built player, Werner dominates run blockers at the POA in order to consistently make tackles on runs to his side of the field. Unlike many players who play so aggressively on every snap, Werner does not get sucked in by miss-direction plays and carries out his responsibility easily. Overall, the more I evaluated Werner, the more his play reminded me of current Rams' defensive end Chris Long and I think Werner can be as good in the NFL as Long. If he is drafted by a team that plays a 43 scheme he should start from day one, but if he goes to a team that runs a 34 defense he will likely be a backup as a rookie who makes a big impact when he becomes a starting OLB in his second season.
-- CBSSports.com ranked #6 overall, #1 at the position
-- DraftInsider.Net ranked #11 overall, #1 at the position
-- DraftCountdown ranked #14 overall, #3 at the position
-- Scout.com ranked #12 overall, #4 at the position
-- Mike Mayock ranked #2 at the position
-- NFLDraftScout.com profile (Dane Brugler):
STRENGTHS: Werner has good get-off quickness and bend to beat blockers off the snap. Natural instincts and upside makes him an attractive pass-rushing prospect for teams selecting in the top five. Still developing, with a high ceiling, but already shows outstanding football awareness, reading the ballcarrier and batting down passes at the line of scrimmage. Strong hands to win the edge and get around blockers, using his body strength and feet to flatten to the pocket.
WEAKNESSES: Lacks elite length for the position and doesn't have the natural start/stop explosion of some pass rushers. Will lose leverage at times, especially off the snap when he gets too high out of his stance. Has improved his awareness against the run, but still has room to improve his ability to sift through the trash and defeat off-balance blocks.
Motor tends to run hot/cold at times, especially late in games or if the play isn't to his side of the field. Needs to consistently finish when he gets his hands on the ballcarrier. Has a history of minor injuries, including a left hand issue that bothered him this past season.
Now On The Clock: New York Giants
Previous Picks: Chiefs: OT Luke Joeckel, Jaguars: CB Dee Milliner, Raiders: DE/OLB Jarvis Jones, Eagles: DE/OLB Dion Jordan, Lions: DE Ziggy Ansah, Browns: DE Sharrif Floyd, Cardinals: OT Eric Fisher, Bills: QB Geno Smith, Jets: DT Star Lotulelei, Titans: OG Chance Warmack, Chargers: OT Lane Johnson, Dolphins: CB Xavier Rhodes, Buccaneers: TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame, Panthers: DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri, Saints: S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas, Rams: WR Tavon Austin, West Virginia, Steelers: WR Cordarelle Patterson, Tennessee