Two more days to go. The NFL is reaching its off-season fever pitch. This is by far the biggest week of the NFL off-season.
Starting on Thursday, no less than the future of many a franchise will be decided. The Dallas Cowboys will see an influx of new players with great potential. Some of the names called over the weekend will become key contributors. Hopefully a few will become franchise cornerstones. This is where championship teams are built.
As it stands today, Tom Ciskowski, Dallas' director of scouting has eight picks to work with. The key will be to hit on at least four players. Where they play is out of Dallas' control, but as long as the Cowboys get four football playing dudes, they'll move in the right direction, even if some positions of need go unfilled. And let's be very clear, some will go unfilled. That's just the way drafts work, and that's why having free agency after the draft actually works in the Cowboy favor.
In his press conference today, Tom Ciskowski said that there are four players he would consider drafting at the No. 9 spot. I believe you'll find every single one of those names after the break, when we look at what the draft pundits are saying and who they're picking as they are closing in on their final mocks.
Drafttek.com, 4/26/2011: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
"As Gomer would say, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!" Chasing down substantiation of a tip that Dallas does not have that much higher of a grade assigned to Tyron Smith versus Anthony Castonzo, so get ready for some trade-down action. J.J. Watt is a player they have a definite interest in (and no, they are not interested in Nick Fairley), as he combines excellent pass-rush skills with strong run defense. The former TE has multiple pass-rush moves and even knocks the TE off route in the process -- as long as he maintains low leverage, Watt is a force to be reckoned with and should start from Day One. - Long Ball"
CBSSports (Pete Prisco), 4/26/2011: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
"They will also consider J.J. Watt here, but I think they have a bigger need on the offensive line."
Walter Football, 4/25/2011: J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
"Jay Ratliff and Stephen Bowen figure to start on Dallas' defensive line for a long time. Ratliff will continue to man the nose tackle position, but there is still a void at right end, currently occupied by an ineffective Igor Olshansky.
J.J. Watt's draft stock is gaining steam to be Dallas' choice at No. 9. Rick Gosselin, who has nailed the previous few Cowboys selections (including Dez Bryant and Felix Jones) mocked Watt here in his latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft.
Other 2011 NFL Draft Possibilities:
1. Prince Amukamara, CB - It's no secret that the Cowboys need help at cornerback. Prince Amukamara could be the pick if he's available, but Sports Illustrated's Tony Pauline reported that Dallas isn't in love with Amukamara.
2. Tyron Smith or Anthony Castonzo, OT - It appears as though the Tyron Smith hype is going away. Anthony Castonzo might even be the pick. "
CBSSports (Rob Rang), 4/25/2011: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College.
"Sources tell me the Cowboys are high on Castonzo and Wisconsin defensive end JJ Watt and Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. Should the board go as I have projected, watch for Dallas to look to trade back a few spots and get one of them. Doug Free played well enough in his first season at left tackle, but too many others along the Cowboys' offensive line struggled last season, including right tackle Marc Colombo, whose chronic knee problems have limited his lateral mobility. Castonzo, who started a BC-record 51 games over his career, is versatile and reliable."
Shutdown Corner (Doug Farrar), 4/25/2011: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
"If there are two things we know about the 2011 Dallas Cowboys, they're these: First, the team needs help along the offensive line, especially at the tackle position. Second, Jerry Jones has no problem taking risks in athletic reach picks. That's what Smith would be, to a degree — he's 20 years old, played right tackle in college, and suited up at just 280 pounds — he's never played in the 27 pounds he's gained since then. But he's also the most athletic tackle in this class, and the upside is tremendous. Smith could start out on the right side for Marc Colombo, and eventually swing over to be Dallas' first franchise left tackle since Flozell Adams."
Foxsports (Peter Schrager), 4/25/2011: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
"Sure, the Cowboys haven’t drafted an offensive tackle in the first round since 1981, and yes, Tyron Smith is far from a finished product. But with a glaring need at the right tackle spot and top corners Peterson and Amukamara already off the board, I think Jerry and Co. go with the offensive lineman with the biggest upside in the entire draft. All that said, don’t be shocked if the Cowboys make a major move up in the draft to get Patrick Peterson. I don’t think the 9th and the 40th (Dallas’s second round pick) for a spot in the Top 5 is all that ridiculous. Peterson is that good."
CBSSports (Chad Reuter), 4/25/2011: Tyron Smith OT, USC
"Coach Jason Garrett wants QB Tony Romo protected, and the Cowboys took a close look at Smith as he ran and looked strong in position drills at the USC pro day. Jerry Jones will also listen to trade offers if he isn't interested in going up to get Patrick Peterson himself."
Draftseason.com 4/25/2011: Tyron Smith OT, USC
"There’s been a lot of talk lately of the Cowboys wanting Smith with the ninth pick. It may be a little bit of a reach, but a huge need for America’s Team."
NFL.com (Steve Wyche), 4/25/2011: Tyron Smith OT, USC
"Smith fits too much of a need, and he could challenge to start right away. Jerry Jones might not covet offensive linemen in the first round, but change in that regard could jump start a new way of organizational thinking. "
Pro Football Weekly (Pick made by Mickey Spagnola, DallasCowboys.com), 4/22/2011: Nick Fairley, DL, Auburn
"Not sure the Cowboys would expect Fairley to be available at this pick, but would welcome the potential defensive end in their 3-4 alignment falling into their laps, especially since without the availability of veteran free agency before the draft that certainly is one of their need positions, with three of their top four defensive ends scheduled to be unrestricted free agents."
ESPN (Todd McShay), 4/20/2011: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
"Scenario 1: Assuming the Cowboys are unable to trade back, they would do well to take the top offensive lineman on the board to fill a primary need. Smith has a lot of upside, and while some teams are turned off by the fact that he played only at right tackle in college, that's exactly where Dallas would pencil him in.
Scenario 2: This is another spot where a trade with St. Louis is possible, and moving back to No. 14 would allow the Cowboys to still get one of the top three offensive tackles on the board (Smith, Boston College's Anthony Castonzo, Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi).
Scenario 3: Dallas could fill a need on defense with Amukamara or Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt."
Draftace (Ryan McCrystal), 4/21/2011: Tyron Smith OT, USC
"I’m as confident about this pick as any in the top 10. The Cowboys need to upgrade their aging offensive line and Smith clearly has the highest ceiling of any prospect in this class. Smith played right tackle at USC, but has demonstrated this offseason that he has the athleticism and the size to easily shift over to the left side. This is definitely a risky pick, but the Cowboys don’t have many other options. If Smith isn’t high on their board, they will probably try hard to trade down."
EastCoastSportsNews.com (Al Fronczak), 4/21/2011: Cameron Jordan, DE, California
"A CB like Amukama and an OT like Smith will be tempting, but at the end of the day the Cowboys take a player that they feel will fill a big need at DE on their line, and one that they can count on to start from day one."
Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft overview
|Site||Date||1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||4th Round||5th Round||6th Round||7th Round||7th Round|
|Draft Tek||4/26||J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin||Marcus Gilbert, OT, Florida
||John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin
||Chykie Brown, CB, Texas
||Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh
||Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville||Blaine Sumner, DT, Colorado Mines
||Mike Mohamed, ILB, California
|Walter Football||4/26||J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin||Marcus Cannon, OG, TCU
||Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville
||Quinton Carter, S, Oklahoma||Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
||Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU
||Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville
||Thomas Keiser, DE/OLB, Stanford
|The Football Expert||4/25||Tyron Smith, OT, USC||Christian Ballard,
|Jarvis Jenkins, DE, Clemson||Nate Irving, MLB, North Carolina St.
||Ian Williams, NT, Notre Dame
||Da'Norris Searcey, S, North Carolina
||Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia
||Steven Friday, OLB, Virginia Tech
|Nick Eatman, DC.com
||4/22||Tyron Smith, OT, USC||Christian Ballard,
WR, Fort Valley State
For seven weeks in a row, Draft Tek has won the mock draft poll on BTB. Will they keep their stranglehold on the poll now that they've jumped off the Tyron Smith bandwagon? They face a hard challenge from Walter Football, who've also jumped on the speeding J.J. Watt train, and face a formidable challenge from the Tyron Smith faction, represented here by Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com and a D-line heavy draft from the TheFootballExpert.com
Who gets your vote?