Cowboys Draft 2014: Another Look At Who May Make It To The Cowboys

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The first thing you have to try to figure out in trying to predict who Dallas will draft is: Who is going to be there at 16? Here is another angle on that.

Were it not for the unfortunate scheduling conflict at Radio City Music Hall, today (Thursday, April 24th in case you are reading this later) would be the first day of the NFL Draft. Instead, we have another two weeks to wait until the draft kicks off on May 8th. I am sure the fact that May is one of the months when television ratings are measured had absolutely no bearing on the NFL deciding that they would go along with moving the draft back a couple of weeks. Meanwhile, we as fans will probably spend those two weeks generating dozens and dozens of new mock drafts. Each.

But the first round will come! And it may not be a moment too soon, because some of the more recent mocks are getting a little, well, silly. And I am referring to ones being done by well known national writers.

While I am sure it is fun for someone to project the Dallas Cowboys as going something like RB-TE-P on the first two days of the draft, or giving up every tradable pick plus the concession rights at AT&T Stadium to get the number one pick, I am trying to figure out things that seem more likely to happen. Admittedly, I never would have figured out how the past couple of drafts were going to go in advance, but I am not going to give up yet.

Rabblerousr took a look at this. He approached it by figuring out who were some likely targets for the Cowboys, and then looking at which teams ahead of the Cowboys were also looking at them. When he published his analysis, I was already compiling some information on how those players are being perceived by outside sources. I looked at some of the national "Big Boards" to try to gauge what players were likely to still be around when Dallas goes on the clock, and who was probably going to be gone. I wanted to use something other than the myriad of mock drafts out there, because the more mocks come out, the more I question just how much the various writers try to take things like scheme and type of players preferred by different teams into account. I have seen too many 3-4 nose tackle type players mocked to the Cowboys in the first round to really believe enough thought is going into some of these. Big boards, on the other hand, try to look at things from a pure talent perspective. From watching things the past couple of years, they are far from perfect, but can still do a fairly decent job of slotting about where players will go, especially in the first couple of rounds.

I took some boards that appear to put a decent amount of thought and research, including, it appears, to trying to get as much information as they can about what real NFL staffs think about various players. Then I looked at where some of the "usual suspects" that Dallas has brought in for national visits fell (limiting it to the six players that look to be first round possibilities). Here is what I came up with.

Player Position CBS Sports Rob Rang Drafttek Walter Football Average
Anthony Barr OLB/DE 12 8 12 7 9.75
Aaron Donald DT 13 7 14 15 12.25
Zack Martin OG/OT 16 12 23 24 18.75
Timmy Jernigan DT 19 26 18 33 24
Ryan Shazier LB 23 18 33 11 21.25
Kony Ealy DE 35 24 24 32 28.75

If you think there are some good names in this group after Barr and Donald, then this should be a very encouraging chart, because these numbers say Dallas is almost certain to have players it has looked closely at available in the first round. All have first round grades, although a couple are getting towards the lower end. To be very optimistic, even Barr and Donald are not wildly out of reach. If a few teams ahead of Dallas decide to go a different direction than defensive front, one or both of these players could make it to 16, and if they do, I would hope Dallas would have someone making a full-out sprint to the podium with the card.

Of course, getting invited for a visit does not mean that the players impressed the staff. However, I would guess that the invites were based on what the team had already seen on video, at the Senior Bowl, and at the Combine. That at least seems logical to me. How I would do things is, of course, of no interest to anyone on the Dallas staff, but I would be loathe to spend those national visits on players I was not fairly certain about wanting on my roster.

Sadly, we are going to have to sit and wait an agonizing two more weeks before we find out how the great primetime drama of the NFL Draft will play out. Let's all just hope that there is a happy ending for the Cowboys.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB
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