The actual awarding of compensatory picks in the NFL Draft will not happen until the owners' meeting in March. But for a couple of years now, a draftnik named Craig Turner has been putting out projections of what compensatory picks will be awarded. Our old frenemy Jimmy Kempski has been publishing those projections, and the 2014 prediction is out. Mr. Turner was very close last season, getting 24 of the 32 picks exactly right. He had five other picks going to the correct team, but not the correct round, and missed completely on only three picks.
That is fairly good, considering that the NFL has never explained the exact process they use to award these. This year, Turner predicts the Dallas Cowboys will get three additional picks in the seventh round. That falls in line with what most seem to expect.
The initial reaction to getting three picks that are essentially after the end of the regular draft might be a bit meh. But the Cowboys are a team that should be able to use these to very good effect. In recent years, Dallas has done quite well with finding undrafted free agents that go on to contribute to the team. Tony Romo is the biggest example, but you can also include names like Ron Leary and Cole Beasley. Those extra three picks, along with the three seventh-round picks the Cowboys already have, mean that the team can basically lock up priority UDFAs without having to worry about someone else coming along and signing them. That gives Dallas a total of 11 shots to find players, six in the seventh round, discounting any trades.
Who might the Cowboys be interested in? I took a look at some players who project to fall in the seventh round or just outside it using the CBSSports.com big board. (At this point in the process, things are a bit arbitrary, and the choice is based on past experience with their board and ease of use.) I then cross referenced it against the current list of Combine invitees, and came up with some names that I think the Cowboys staff may have their eye on in Indianapolis, anticipating that these players might still be available as those seventh-round picks come up. None of these are ideal, of course, but could be someone the team would want to try coaching up. Of course, the team would also be able to use those late picks to snatch up players who unexpectedly slip, but I wanted to keep it simple for the sake of discussion. (Players in order listed by CBS.)
|Russell Bodine||OG/C||North Carolina|
|Kevin Pierre-Lewis||OLB||Boston College|
|Tyler Starr||OLB||South Dakota|
|Kerry Hyder||DT||Texas Tech|
|Kadeem Edwards||OG||Tennessee St|
|Dontae Johnson||FS||North Carolina St|
|Conner Shaw||QB||South Carolina|
|Cornelius Lucas||OT||Kansas St|
|John Urschel||OG||Penn St|
|Jonathan Newsome||OLB||Ball St|
|Eathyn Manumaleuna||DT||Brigham Young|
|Ethan Westbrooks||DE||West Texas A&M|
|Logan Thomas||QB||Virginia Tech|
As you can see, I stuck with OL, DL, OLB, S (slim pickings there) WR (also not much to work with) and QB. I feel those are positions the team might be looking to fill in with at this point in the draft. I avoided players with injury history (that I could see) and any character problems that came up. What this does show is that there are going to be several players at the Combine that are good candidates for those compensatory picks. Of course, Dallas Days, regional combines, and school Pro Days may unearth several more, but I though this was a good place to start getting an idea of who the team might be looking at.
Do you have any "diamonds in the rough" you might want the team to look at?