You know how every time the talk turns turns to whether or not the Cowboys will draft a guard with their top pick, and the possibility that either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper could be gone at #18, somebody will inevitably whip out a stat that shows how it's almost certain one or both prospects will still be available when it's the Cowboys' turn to pick?
ESPN's NFC East blogger Dan Graziano made just such an argument recently:
"There are five offensive linemen -- three tackles and two guards -- in the top 10 on Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest Big Board. Only once in the past 15 years -- 2008 -- have five offensive linemen been taken in the first 17 picks. One of these guys will fall to 18, or far enough that the Cowboys can move up a spot or two without sacrificing their second-round pick this time."
But what if both Warmack and Cooper are gone when the Cowboys are on the clock? Or what if the Cowboys simply don't value guards as highly as many Cowboys fans think they should?
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks), who spent a combined eight seasons as a scout with three NFL clubs (Eagles, Browns, Ravens) published his latest mock draft today and has Cooper going to the Titans at number 10 and Warmack going to Miami at number 12. So what does that leave the Cowboys with? According to Jeremiah, the Cowboys opt for Florida State DE Bjoern Werner:
Dallas would love to see one of the top interior offensive linemen slide down to this slot, but that isn't likely to happen. Werner is a good fit for Monte Kiffin's defensive scheme and would help form an excellent trio of edge rushers for the Cowboys.
A lot of the draft talk among Cowboys fans has focused on either offensive linemen or defensive tackles. And a quick look at many mock drafts out there shows that those are the positions most often mocked to the Cowboys in the first round. This may not be the most popular notion in Cowboys Nation at this point, but there is a strong argument to be made that finding a defensive end could be the number one offseason priority for the Cowboys.
DeMarcus Ware will turn 31 in July, Anthony Spencer will turn 30 in January. And even if Spencer is signed to a contract extension, the Cowboys have almost no depth at DE. The Cowboys depth chart on ourlads.com - I understand that depth charts are highly speculative at this point of the season, but I've found ourlads to usually be quite accurate and up-to-date - shows the Cowboys with lots of DTs but hardly any DEs beyond Spencer and Ware. Here's a simplified version of their depth chart for the Cowboys' defensive line:
|POS||Starter||Backup||Player 3||Player 4|
|LDE||Spencer, Anthony||Igbinosun, Ikponmwosa||Taylor, Monte|
|LDT||Ratliff, Jay||Lissemore, Sean||Price, Brian||Hayden|
|RDT||Hatcher, Jason||Callaway, Rob||Bass, Ben||Crawford, Tyrone|
|RDE||Ware, DeMarcus||Wilber, Kyle|
We can quibble about a name here or a name there, but would you really be comfortable having Kyle Wilber, Ike Igbinosun or Monte Taylor backing up either Spencer or Ware?
Our own rabblerousr argued recently that the five most crucial positions on a team, or what he calls Positions of Great Import (POGI), are QB, OT, WR, CB and Pass Rusher, and that teams should spend their premium picks on these positions. He argues that the Cowboys would be best served by drafting a talented player at a POGI with their first pick, and addressing other needs later in the draft. The Cowboys picked WR, OT and CB with their first picks in the last three drafts. Is a pass rusher next?
This draft is rich in talented edge rushers. In his mock, Daniel Jeremiah has Barkevious Mingo within the Cowboys' reach, and also has Margus Hunt and Cornellius Carradine as first-round picks. Other sources have Datone Jones, Damontre Moore, Alex Okafor and Sam Montgomery as options for the Cowboys, some of them perhaps even in a slight trade down scenario.
We wrote earlier this week that Jason Garrett will attend the LSU pro day next week, and we can safely assume he won't be doing it just for kicks. Garrett wouldn't make the trip to Baton Rouge if the Cowboys didn't have some serious interest in some of the LSU players. One of them could be Barkevious Mingo.
Even if a guard should be available when the Cowboys are on the clock, should we start getting comfortable with the thought that the Cowboys may end up drafting a pass rusher with their first-round pick?