Well, you have to admire his consistency at least. In releasing his Mock Draft 4.0, ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. has stuck to his guns and continues to associate Alabama Safety Mark Barron to the Dallas Cowboys for selection at pick number 14. When head coach Jason Garrett stopped by Alabama's second Pro Day on his way home from the NFL Spring Owner's Meeting, his sole Pro Day visit by the way, Cowboys nation was abuzz with speculation over which of the first round prospects he most had his eye on.
Was it cornerback and possible safety convert Dre Kirkpatrick? Was it outside backer Courtney Upshaw or was it Barron the strong safety? While we may eventually, or never, find out, Kiper has stuck to his guns before and after the visit; placing Barron to Dallas even before they had inked free agent cornerback Brandon Carr.
So, there was little surprise that he once again made the same connection. The interesting part is that for the first time this off-season, Kiper delved into Round Two of the draft. Kiper thinks that Dallas should be targeting Wisconsin's Kevin Zeitler, a guard, with the 45th pick in the draft. Here's Mel's write-up of the Zeitler:
Would be the top guard in the draft class in some years. If Dallas doesn't go DeCastro early, Zeitler fits here.
Follow the jump for a little bit of analysis on Zeitler, community mock style.
Zeitler was the third guard chosen in Kiper's mock, behind David DeCastro (17th overall) and Cordy Glenn (22nd overall).
-- Drafttek.com ranked #49th Overall, #4 at the position
-- Wes Bunting, National Football Post: #49 Overall, #6 at the position
Impression: A tough, strong in-line guy who you can run behind and also has some coordination on the move. Not as effective in the pass game, but can mature into an average NFL pass blocker if he learns to get off the ball more consistently. Looks like a gritty type starter early on in his NFL career to me.
-- Scout.com ranked #45 overall, #3 at the position
-- Mike Mayock ranked #2 at the position
Pass blocking: Anchors against larger defenders in the middle, resets hands to maintain distance. Athletic enough to help on nose tackle then pick up twist or late blitzer. Mirrors quick interior rushers. Looks to help the center, or even the tackle a few yards upfield, if he is uncovered.
Run blocking: Good fit in a zone system, uses mobility and strength to move defender down the line. Dips shoulder and moves his feet to get outside leverage when needed. Strong and low coming out of his stance, effective in short-yardage situations. Finds the mike quickly and negates him when it is his responsibility. Gives effort to hit as many targets as possible, even if on the ground. Need to work on keeping outside leverage when doubling on the nose.
Pulling/trapping: Good foot quickness working behind the line, though losing a few extra pounds around the middle would help his agility. Brings hips to knock back linebackers in his way, maintains block until running back finds the hole behind him. Gets down low quickly to defeat defenders trying to cut down running backs. Ducks his head at times, must keep his posture to see and sustain against his target.
Initial Quickness: Possesses adequate quickness off the snap to get his hands into defenders and attack linebackers at the second level, but is not elite in this category and can be a step late at times.
Downfield: Regularly hits second-level targets, uses strong hands to latch on, and keeps legs churning to carry them out of the play. Knows correct blocking angles inside, gets into position with good footwork. Will punch at smaller defenders at times instead of latching on, allowing them to get off the block.
Intangibles: Dependable, no-nonsense mauler who works hard in the weight room and on the field. Did not start the first four games of 2010 due to a high ankle sprain suffered during the summer.
So there you have it boys and girls, what do you think? Are you good with not directly affecting the pass rush until the third round or later? Do you think Barron and Zeitler greatly improve this team from Day One, 2012? Have at it.