I love mock drafts. Last year, was my first as a full-fledged draftnik and now look at me; a card-carrying member of the FWAA for my draft prep work for Blogging The Boys.
I love this part of the college football year, as the opportunity to watch prospects in actual game action is coming to a close. There are probably only going to be four or five chances to see a player for a full sixty minutes before it turns into the All-Star game, Underwear Olympics Circuit and DraftBreakdown.com mashups.
Last week, we focused on the defensive line players, as we figure that might be of some interest to the Cowboys. No stretch there, right?
The injury to Brian Waters and the questionable recent play of Ron Leary, combined with the ballooning 2015 salary of reclamation project Doug Free means Dallas probably should be highly interested in bringing in additional offensive line talent as well.
So where should we go? That's the focus of this week's Open Thread. But first, let's have our initial 2014 Mock Draft!
We go five rounds deep, and project the Cowboys to finish the year as NFC East champions, but being bounced from the first round of the playoffs by San Francisco, and earning the 21st pick in the amateur draft. I don't think that scenario is too far off from the most likely outcome for the season.
Full disclosure, I'm just starting to get my draft jones in order. That means, I haven't started looking at tape, or polling the myriad of draft gurus for their takes on players I like. Still though, I figured it might be fun to take you with me on my process, which starts with pinpointing players that seem to suit Dallas' draft history and team needs.
As such, and using CBS Sports Draft Rankings, sure to change as each prospect steadily improves his stock, here are my respective picks for the first five rounds.
DT Rashede Hageman
|The prototypical 1-tech/3-tech hybrid, which is really what the Cowboys will need even if they keep Jason Hatcher. Uncanny burst for a man that stands 6'6" and weighs in at 311. "Hageman consistently pushes his counterparts deep into the backfield, demonstrating rare upfield burst for a man of his size, as well as impressive strength."
DE Michael Sam
|The senior from surprising Missouri is terrorizing offensive linemen. Of his 32 combined tackles, he has a CFB-leading 24 for losses, to go along with his 10 sacks; also leading CFB. He's not making it to 53, just like Tank Carradine wasn't making it to the 3rd round last year, but for now.. We can dream.
OG Xavier Su'a Filo
|Spent two-years at a Mormon mission. "Strengths: Powerfully-built. Very good initial quickness, hand placement and impressive upper body strength to gain the initial advantage on defenders. Due to his core strength and flexibility, Su'a-Filo anchors very well against bull-rushes and shows lateral agility and balance in pass pro. Perfect match in UCLA's drive-blocking scheme, but has the athleticism to fit in a zone-blocking scheme as well."
OT Morgan Moses
|Continues in the tradition of stout Virginia linemen prospects, has been playing LT after being RT last two years. Has ability to play both. Huge guy, great feet.
"Moses showed good initial quickness and was smooth in his kick-step despite his inexperience dropping from the left side. He caught defenders with his long, strong arms and protected the edge nicely, giving Virginia quarterback David Watford enough time to scan the field throughout this game. His only hiccup in pass protection, in fact, ironically came when he was leaning too far left, allowing a counter-move from Washington to slip between he and left guard Luke Bowanko."
QB Jimmy Garoppolo
|"Strengths: Good-sized, rhythm quarterback with excellent accuracy, timing and a quick release that really helps him be efficient from the pocket. Sets up quickly and shows good lower body movement skills to evade pressure and deliver from different platforms."
Currently leads all of CFB (FBS or FCS) in TD passes. Been named OVC POW 8 times, one shy of conference record. Played well against 2 FBS teams (No. Illinois, SD State) going 65-95 711 yds, 9 TDs, 2 INTS… plus… well, we'll let CBS tell the story:
"Against the No. 2 ranked defense nationally, Garoppolo completed 24-of-41 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns and helped the Panthers rack up 567 yards of total offense in the game (200 yards more than TSU had given up to any other team this season). His fourth touchdown of the game was the 35th of the season for the Walter Payton Award candidate, breaking the previous OVC single-season record of 34 set by Tony Romo in 2002 (when he won the Payton Award)."
Here's a look at the top offensive line prospects for 2014, save the centers... we're good there. Also included, their Week 10 matchups.
|Cyril Richardson||Baylor||--||Jake Matthews||Texas A&M||UTEP||9:30|
|Gabe Jackson||Mississippi St||S Carolina||12:20||Taylor Lewan||Michigan||Mich State||3:30|
|Zach Martin||Notre Dame||Navy||3:30||Cyrus Kouandjio||Alabama||--|
|Anthony Steen||Alabama||--||Cameron Ewing||Florida State||Miami||8:00|
|Xavier Su'a Filo||UCLA||Colorado||7:30||Antonio Richardson||Tennessee||Missouri||7:00|
|Chris Burnette||Georgia||Florida||3:30||Seantrel Henderson||Miami||Fl. State||8:00|
|Brandon Thomas||Clemson||Virginia||3:30||La'el Collins||LSU||--|
|Jon Halapio||Florida||Georgia||3:30||Cedric Ogbuehi||Texas A&M||UTEP||9:30|
|Ryan Groy||Wisconsin||Iowa||12:00||Sean Hickey||Syracuse||Wake Forest||12:30|
|Kadeem Edwards||Tennessee St||E Kentucky||1:00||Jack Mewhort||Ohio State||Purdue||12:00|
|Chris Watt||Notre Dame||Navy||3:30||Morgan Moses||Virginia||Clemson||3:30|
|Dakota Dozier||Furman||Ga. Southern||2:00||JuWuan James||Tennessee||Missouri||7:00|
|Spencer Long||Nebraska||N'western||3:30||Charles Leno||Boise State||Col. State||7:30|
|John Urschel||Penn State||Illinois||12:00||Jeremiah Sirles||Nebraska||N'western||3:30|
|Antwan Lowery||Rutgers||Temple||12:00||Austin Wentworth||Fresno State||Nevada||10:30|
Today's Top Matchups:
No. 7 Miami at No. 3 Florida State: 8pm ET
No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 15 Texas Tech: 7pm ET
No. 21 Michigan at No. 22 Michigan State: 330pm ET
Want to watch other elite players? Here's a look at the pre-season candidates for the Nagurski and Outland Trophies. Compare that against the complete television schedule provided by 506Sports. Also, check out MockingTheDraft's "NFL Draft Watch Notes" for a deeper look into some of the compelling games featuring first-round targets.
Consider this your open thread for all your CFB activities!