So what happens after the Werner pick and Spencer trade? A couple of people asked and I am happy to oblige. The difficulty, of course, is creating a single mock draft that can fully incorporate my views on the rookie talent in 2013 and the Cowboys current roster. There are several players that can help the team in each round, but as each pick is made the needs of the team and the future of the draft are altered.
First, a quick overview of how I perceive the Cowboys team needs.
Despite public opinion, I do not think the Cowboys have any glaring needs for new starters. Not that they can't upgrade, but if the team was called to action tomorrow I think the Cowboys could field a full and competitive team. Livings, Costa, and Bernadeau would not be the most dominant interior-line unit, but having the starting center back and Bernie not recovering from surgery (the most "recent" news was from a January procedure) will be a great upgrade from 2012. There is surely a need for greater depth and talent at guard, but I would not place a MUST DRAFT A STARTER need at guard.
Safety is another cited concern, but with Church, Johnson, and Allen competing for two starting spots, the team only needs to bring in more talent to compete, not really what I would define as MUST DRAFT A STARTER need at safety.
Defensive-line is also an area where the team needs to add more talent, but with four veteran starters in Ware, Hatcher, Ratliff, and Spencer, and then guys like Crawford, Lissemore, and even Callaway in rotation at DT, I think the Cowboys need to first worry about getting more depth at defensive-end.
While the Werner pick and Spencer trade made the defensive-end outlook change, there would still be a need for more depth, albeit now bringing in a veteran with experience seems most important. With over ten million in cap space created, Marinelli asks Kiffin and Garrett to consider free-agent (and his former player) Israel Idonije. At a low cost, Idonije brings a youthful veteran experience to the team and knowledge of Marinelli's schemes, stunts, coaching and techniques. It would also allow the Cowboys to use Werner in both DE spots to challenge him, test his upside, and provide rest to Ware. In game day situations, I could easily see Ware and Werner splitting RDE duties (80/20), while Werner and Idonije split LDE duties (50/50). A fresh DL rotation at both the ends and the tackle spots would keep the Cowboys defensive-front dangerous throughout every minute of the game.
That leaves guard and safety as the next greatest concerns for the team's depth chart. After that, secondary issues of depth could make the team look for an offensive and/or defensive tackle, a young linebacker to help back-up Will and/or Mike spots, a running back to pair with Murray, and perhaps some more depth at WR or CB. That's a total of eight or nine additions with only six draft picks. Luckily, the trade for Spencer increases the draft picks to eight, adding picks 64 and 135.
There are a few names that appear in mock drafts that I have listed higher than #47 on my big board. If there, I would jump at the chance to draft them.
FS Eric Reid may be the best safety in this class, but many have him ranked as the 3rd on the list. While very unlikely, if Reid is available at 47, that is the pick.
The next option is DT Kawann Short. While highly unlikely he will be available, he would add a lot of talent at the defensive tackle rotation.
OG Larry Warford is the next name to consider. While still unlikely to be available, he does seem the most realistic of the three names mentioned, and would provide instant competition at one of the starting guard spots.
Worst case scenario, the names mentioned above are not available but the following players should be there to consider. OT Brennan Williams is still a little raw, but the large and athletic prospect at RT would provide a lot of upside and greatly improve the Cowboys depth at tackle. Margus Hunt will likely still be on the board due to his age and limited football experience. While I do not think the athletic Estonian will be effective as a 4-3 DE, I think he could become a very disruptive force as a 3-4DE or 4-3 DT. Finally, WR DeAndre Hopkins has already been to Valley Ranch, and could provide some solid WR help on the outside, where the Cowboys have the least amount of WR depth.
There seems to be an area in the middle of the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd, where a lot of talented offensive-linemen are slated to be picked. At the top of the round (with the Jags pick) Dallas should not have a problem finding a rookie linemen to compete for a starting spot.
The top choices here would be Travis Frederick, who could challenge to start at guard and also be a utility player that provides depth at center as well. Brian Schwenke is another college center that could provide competition at guard for the Cowboys. Kyle Long (of the Howie Long family) has some NFL pedigree, and while he may not be able to play tackle in the NFL he does provide a lot of athletic upside as a guard.
If Warford is the pick at 47, then Dallas could look to a "skill" position prospect and draft a running back like Johnathan Franklin, a corner like Jordan Poyer or Darius Slay, an athletic safety like Shamarko Thomas, or even the multi-talented hybrid linebacker Sio Moore.
There are still some talented offensive-linemen to draft at the Cowboys original third-round pick. If some of the guards mentioned earlier don't fall, the Cowboys could look for help at tackle with Terron Armstead, a guy I am surprised to see going so late in most mock drafts. They could also look to guys like Justin Pugh and Brian Winters at guard...who would still provide competition as potential starters.
If the draft has already provided enough upgrades along the offensive-line, the Cowboys could look to add more talent along the trenches with DT Akeem Spence. They could also consider linebacker Sean Porter, cornerback Terrance Hawthorne, or take a flyer on running back Marcus Lattimore.
With such a deep draft, some of the names mentioned above could easily slide down into the fourth round. Other players to consider at this point include the athletic DE (with question marks) Devin Taylor. Linebacker Zaviar Gooden provides a lot of upside here in the fourth round, as does FS DJ Swearinger. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor would also be an intriguing prospect here.
Picks 135 & 151:
By this point the draft is basically a crap shoot, especially for us ‘outsiders' who don't get as much information, game tape, interviews, or access as the real scouts and coaches. Guys that have peaked my interest include another visitor to Valley Ranch, DT Bennie Logan, as well as another of the many talented safeties in this draft TJ McDonald. Running back Knile Davis seems to have considerable upside for a 5th round pick as well, though has the dreaded injury-prone questions surrounding him. WR Kenny Stills provides the size, speed, and ability needed for NFL receivers, and I am surprised to see him ranked so low on many big boards and mock drafts.
Other guys to consider in the fifth include Stanford LB/DE Chase Thomas. He would be an interesting prospect because he could either provide some help as a pass-rushing DE, or use his athleticism as a Will or SAM linebacker. Another guy with upside includes offensive-lineman David Quessenberry, who has experience as both a tackle and interior lineman. While he will need some time to reach NFL strength, I think he has tons of upside for someone so late in the draft. Montori Hughes is a big defensive tackle that is somewhat intriguing as well.
With Dallas' final pick in the draft, I would look to add as much upside talent at a position of "need" that was missed earlier in the draft. It would also be great if that prospect could provide ST support as well. As such, my current list is of my two pet cats, guys that might not get drafted, but would be in serious consideration as undrafted free agents. As such, why not lock up their services with the final pick in the draft.
Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson ranked second nationally in both rushing yards and points per game. He is not a speed demon, he is not a bruiser, but he is a jack-of-all trades. He reminds me of Emmitt Smith. Not saying he will become as great, but like Emmitt, people think he isn't big enough, isn't fast enough, but he somehow finds a way to be very productive and can also catch the ball and is a willing blocker.
Earl Wolff is a safety out of NC State. I don't understand why no one is talking about him. Perhaps if the safety class wasn't so deep he would get more recognition. His athleticism jumps off the page. He has 4.4 speed and shows great body control with his 4.07 short shuttle. He also had a 39" vertical and over 11' broad jump! In his three years as a starter, Wolff led the hunt averaging about 100 tackles a year and 4 for a loss. While he only managed 6 interceptions in those three years playing as a SS, he also added 18 pass deflections and 7 forced fumbles to his resume. He has great read and react skills, takes great angles of pursuit, loves to hit, and has the range of a free safety. I think he provides the greatest upside to draft position ratio in this deep safety class.
I would be happy with almost any of the proper combinations of the prospects listed above as a result for the Cowboys draft. If pressed for my personal mock draft, the answer (as shown above) is a little more complicated. First, the Cowboys could use the extra picks from the Jags to move back up into the second, or arrange for an extra third round pick. It would also depend on who is available from the less likely, best options in the second round.
While I want a heavily BPA skewed draft, I also want to make sure at least one offensive and defensive lineman are added to the roster in the top three rounds. While many are hoping for an early safety addition, I think the depth of talent means a mid to late round safety provides better value for the Cowboys.
So without further adieu, Keg's continued mock draft...
18 - Bjoern Werner DE
47 - Larry Warford OG
64 - Sio Moore LB
80 - Terron Armstead OT
114 - Akeem Spence DT
135 - Kenny Stills WR
151 - Knile Davis RB
185 - Earl Wolff SS/FS