There were some good responses to my first look at a first round draft alternative for the Cowboys, so I am going to present some more names for your consideration as we count the days to the real thing.
To refresh you memory, I am operating under the assumption that Aaron Donald would be the logical and popular choice if he was available, but conventional draft wisdom around the blogosphere is that he is going to go before Dallas' turn at 16 comes up (a recent mock by Evan Silva had him being taken at 8 by the Minnesota Vikings). I am looking for some feedback on what the community thinks about various options for Dallas, but also trying to get everyone mentally prepared for the different possibilities.
This post's candidate: Anthony Barr OLB/DE UCLA
CBS Sports Drafts Prospects ranking: 12
Position ranking (listed as OLB by CBS): 2
How the Cowboys would get to him: At first glance, it seems unlikely he would be available, since many sites rank him above Donald. However, there has always been a question about him and exactly how he would be used. He is one of the Tweeners Joey Ickes described. Based on the interview he gave DallasCowboys.com, he is being looked at strictly to become a DE with the primary duty of being one of Rod Marinelli's rushmen.
"I spoke with (Marinelli) at length today," Barr said. "He showed me a lot of tape of (Julius) Peppers and Simeon Rice and (Warren) Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that's something I'm all for."
That in-between size, plus the fact that 4-3 teams like Dallas would likely have to put him in a new position, may cause him to slip just a little, and the Cowboys might find themselves with a chance to pick up a player many see as a top ten talent and one of the best pass rushers in the draft.
Why the Cowboys should draft him: P-A-S-S R-U-S-H. He flat out gets after the quarterback, and seems almost exactly what Marinelli is looking for. Given Marinelli's reputation for coaching players, there should not be many problems with getting him ready to take over at the DE position. Rowan Kavner and Bryan Broaddus took a look at him for the mothership, and the consensus is that he would definitely work.
Bryan Broaddus - Has an outstanding build for a linebacker, 6-5, 255 pounds. Didn't time as well at the Combine with a 4.60 but ran 4.45 at his pro day in Los Angeles and improved from 15 reps to 19 on 225. In studying him on tape, I never believed that running to the ball was ever going to be a problem. This kid can get there in a hurry and is very athletic. There are some questions about his ability to take on blockers but he has some power in his game. I have seen him hold the point of attack and get off the blocks. Can quickly get up the field, this is the strength of his game. Plays with some snap. When he sees it, he can go. Relentless after the ball.
Broaddus goes on in his praise, and wraps up with stating he prefers Barr to Khalil Mack, a consensus top 10 pick.
Another thing in his favor is that he is used to learning a new job. He came to UCLA as a running back, and has only played the OLB position for two seasons. That was good enough to make him a first round talent, and that should be good enough for Dallas.
Why the Cowboys should pass: It is a rule of thumb: You don't spend a first round draft pick on someone who has to transition to a new position. You are setting the player up for possible failure, although it is more likely they will have to spend a year or two to learn the new job. A first round pick needs to contribute immediately.
He also could have problems against the run if used exclusively as an end, due to his size. He may need to add some muscle to his frame. This all adds up to a lot of projection for this pick, and projecting is not a good formula for success in the draft. Some of the issues with the defense last year might be attributable to trying to shoehorn 3-4 players into 4-3 roles, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to do that with your first round pick. If he is there, the team should look for a better fit.
Where do you fall on this? He is a tremendous talent, but that alone is not good enough. Lots of talented players have fallen by the wayside in the NFL. Would you take the chance, or try something else? Give your opinion, and look for an extended profile and scouting report on Barr later this weekend, as rabblerousr and Joey Ickes kick off a draft preview extravaganza!