Earlier today, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper made his final draft projections for the 2012 NFL Draft. As is his custom, he does not project trades, but he does mention if he feels that a team might decide to move up or move down on Draft Day.
Kiper is a larger than life target for all sorts of ridicule, but his track record is nothing to sneeze at. The Huddle Report, a leading draft site that has made it a specialty to grade mock drafts, ranks Kiper as the third most accurate mock drafter over the last five years. Only the DMN's Goose Gosselin, who won't publish a mock this year, and Jason Boris from the LA Times rank ahead of him. So Kiper has been pretty good at this mock draft thing for a long time.
He's also been on the Mark Barron-to-Dallas train for a long while, and he doesn't change the pick in his final mock draft, sending Mark Barron to Dallas with the 14th pick:
No change here from the previous mock. Dallas has been aggressive in targeting the secondary in free agency, and Barron is another big upgrade to what was a really weak unit in 2011. Barron is the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can't go wrong if he's available. Dallas might be tempted on DeCastro if he's still here, but they'll be thrilled with Barron.
After the break, a quick look at which players were left on the board when Kiper made the pick for the Cowboys.
David DeCastro, Chandler Jones and Melvin Ingram go in sequence from 11-13 before the Cowboys take Barron.
Stephon Gilmore and Quinton Coples go right after the Cowboys, at 15 and 16.
So for all the late breaking rumors, gossip and innuendo, outside of the Chandler Jones pick, Kiper thinks that the top of the draft will play out largely as many mocks have been predicting fr the last two or three weeks. I guess we'll see about that.
Many Cowboys fans are hoping for Shea McClellin, Harrison Smith or Kevin Zeitler might still be available when the Cowboys are next on the clock with pick no. 45, but Kiper has these three going at the bottom of the first round already.
Mike Mayock has posted his one and only mock draft for 2012. Mayock thinks the Cowboys brass will be disappointed as Barron goes to the Kansas City Chiefs at pick #11. As a consolation prize, they get Michael Brockers.
The Cowboys are a little upset here. They wanted Mark Barron. They might have tried to trade up. Brockers is a guy on the first two downs who can be a stout run defender and has the ability to push the pocket in the future.