Today, we're joined by TFY Draft Insider's Tony Pauline (who, you may recall, won top billing in the 2013 edition of "Scouting the Scouts") and Draft Countdown's draft guru extraordinaire Scott Wright. I sat down with them for an extended chat about the 2013 draft. In Part I, we took a global overview of this year's selection meeting; here, we'll mull over some candidates at the Cowboys positions of greatest need.
BTB: I'd like to begin by talking about prospects at each of the Cowboys offensive "need" positions. Lets start with the spot of greatest need: the "big uglies" on the O-line. Lets start at Center. The team has a backlog of guys at center, but the players they have are all journeymen. So, they don't need another one of those; if they choose to address this position via the draft, Dallas will need him to provide an upgrade. Can you give us a list of names of guys who, in your estimation, are plug-and-play types who are ready to start as rookies?
Scott Wright: The cream of the crop is Travis Frederick of Wisconsin, who could also project to guard at the next level. Frederick just happens to be a great fit for Dallas too, although it's probably 50/50 as to whether he makes it to their pick in round two. The other early to mid round talents in the pivot (Barrett Jones of Alabama, Brian Schwenke of Cal and Khaled Holmes of USC) wouldn't be as good of fits for Dallas
Tony Pauline: Maybe, but I think Jones is potentially the most underrated lineman in the draft. Would also be a good fit for their offense. He is a terrific prospect who can play any of the three interior blocking positions and even help out at left tackle if necessary. Not the greatest athlete, but has the skills necessary to start at the next level for a decade if he remains injury-free
BTB: Any small-school or sleeper candidates?
SW: After these guys, there is a big drop-off at the position. Of the late rounders, the guy to keep an eye on is Lamar Mady of Youngstown St.
BTB: A good name to keep tabs on during day three. Okay, lets move outside a couple of feet, to guard. We have all read extensively about the draft's top two OG prospects, Chance Warmack and Johnathan Cooper. But Dallas may well decide not to address the position in round one - and might not have the opportunity, as both may be gone by the 18th pick? Who are some second- and third-day candidates who might provide an upgrade over the team's incumbent guards?
TP: In the second round, I like Kyle Long and Dallas Thomas as options. But who knows? Word on where Long may land in the draft has become conspicuously quiet. I've not heard his name mentioned in conversations about guards or tackles who may be selected during the second tier of either position. Thomas is a blind-side blocking prospect at guard with starting potential once he improves his playing strength.
SW: I mentioned Wisconsin's Travis Frederick as an option in round two. Larry Warford of Kentucky would also be a good fit in round two or three. Also keep an eye on Brian Winters of Kent St. and Alvin Bailey of Arkansas in rounds three through five.
TP: I really like Winters and Watford as well. Winters has been a consistent player on the college level who will likely be pushed inside to guard at the next level. I think he offers immediate starting potential. Watford has been a terrific small-school lineman and offers the skill and ability necessary to develop into a starter on the NFL level. His skills are best suited for a zone-blocking system.
BTB: Interesting. Any late round/ UDFA types?
SW: As far as late rounds, there are a bunch of names that I could mention but I'll highlight Travis Bond of North Carolina and Edmund Kugbila of Valdosta St.
TP: I'll give you one name: Vinston Painter of Virginia Tech. He's another college tackle who projects to guard in the NFL but comes with limited playing experience. He turned in a terrific senior campaign after breaking into the starting line-up then performed brilliantly at the combine. I was told the Chicago Bears, who snuck Painter into town for an official visit, like his athleticism and upside. He could be their pick in round three or four.
BTB: How early could Painter be selected?
TP: We presently have him rated as a potential 4th rounder in our updated rankings though I am told the third frame is not out of the question. Painter has been on visits to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cincinnati Bengals.
BTB: At least one of BTB's front page writers really likes him as a third day option. Okay, one more move outside, to OT. With Tyron Smith, the Cowboys appear to be set at LT for the next decade. The question is right tackle, where Doug Free was, shall we say, a mixed bag last season. Since I'd be shocked if any of the top three tackles fall to #18, I'll ask a similar question: any second- and third-day RT candidates who might provide an immediate upgrade?
SW: I can guarantee none of the top three offensive tackles will fall to Dallas, but if they wanted to address right tackle in round one D.J. Fluker of Alabama is a great one.
TP: Yep, maybe DJ Fluker in the first. Otherwise in the third round, Jordan Mills is a big, strong offensive tackle with a versatile game. He needs to polish his game but comes with upside and should see action early in his professional career. In the fourth, keep your eyes on Ohio State's Reid Fragel, a former tight end who moved to right tackle as a senior and showed great promise.
SW: Some other possibilities in rounds three through five could include Oday Aboushi of Virginia, Brennan Williams of North Carolina, Rick Wagner of Wisconsin and Chris Faulk of LSU. Late round options could be Jordan Miller of Louisiana Tech, John Wetzel and Emmett Cleary of Boston College and Oscar Johnson of Louisiana Tech.
TP: I like Wetzel. He was highly rated entering the 2012 season but failed to meet expectations. He went from mid-round choice to a seventh round/ free-agent prospect but comes with upside and could be stashed on a practice squad for possible future development. He's a two-year starter.
BTB: Thanks, guys; it's always good to have a few late-round names to keep our eyes on long after the NFL Network has stopped announcing the picks.
Alright, on to the "skill" positions. Ever since they bid adieu to Laurent Robinson, the Cowboys have had a hole at third receiver. Because they like to move Miles Austin inside in three wide situations, the third guy has to have the size and speed Dallas likes in its outside the numbers guys: about 6'2" and 200 lbs, with some wheels. Any candidates who fit that description? Feel free to include first-rounders, because it wouldn't surprise me to see them tab a WR in round one, if they felt he offered value.
SW: I think an intriguing guy who fits that description is Justin Hunter of Tennessee, who has top of the first round physical tools at 6-4 and 196 pounds with legit 4.4 speed. Now Hunter could very easily go in the latter part of round one but he could slide into the early to mid portion of round two as well, simply because there is so much competition at the wideout position this year. Other potential second rounders who could fit the bill are Robert Woods of USC and Terrance Williams of Baylor.
TP: I'd like to add a local guy to that second round list: Ryan Swope. His speed at the combine (fastest official hand time of 4.28s from Indianapolis) caught a lot of people by surprise and most feel he can line-up as a second receiver in the NFL. He's moving into the middle part of the round. His recent visit list includes the Bears, Bills and Chargers.
Also sandwiched in that area is Markus Wheaton of Oregon State. He doesn't have Swope's size, yet his playing speed is slightly better. He's an explosive, quick, and dependable receiver who comes with solid upside.
BTB: Wheaton is one of the Cowboys' national invitees, so it appears they agree with your assessment. Another speedy guy who spent some time meeting with the team is TCU's Josh Boyce. Any thoughts on him?
TP: He's a natural receiver who consistently comes away with the catch. Boyce was productive the moment he stepped onto the field at TCU and possesses the skills to line up as a fourth receiver in the NFL. I see him as a fourth rounder.
SW: Speaking of fourth rounders, in the middle rounds I would mention a couple of guys from Virginia Tech - Corey Fuller and Marcus Davis - and in the late rounds I would highlight Aaron Mellette from Elon and Marquess Wilson of Washington St.
BTB: The other wideout profile I can see interesting the Cowboys is the waterbug, a slot guy who can do damage against linebackers and safeties underneath-and, preferably, is a weapon in the return game. Certainly Tavon Austin is the obvious prototype here, but are there any likely third-day candidates who fit this bill?
TP: Ace Sanders. He's a feisty skill player with the potential to line up as a slot receiver and serve double duty returning punts. He's dependable in all areas of the game and is a middle-round pick who could make an impact as a rookie.
SW: I think he would definitely be a fit. In fact, I'm not so sure that value-wise I wouldn't rather have Sanders in the fourth or fifth round than Austin in the Top 15 to 20 overall. Denard Robinson of Michigan could be a mid-round possibility as well.
TP: Also, Jasper Collins of Mt Union. He was a terrific small-school receiver and the go-to guy opponents could not stop. He's a late-round pick (fifth) who will be given an opportunity as a team's fifth receiver.
BTB: If they can get a game changer late, I'll be a happy man. The last offensive position I can see the Cowboys drafting is tight end/ F-Back. Ideally, they'd grab in inline guy, a "Y" who is a plus blocker, but provides enough of a receiving threat that his presence in the lineup doesn't announce run. Any similar types that Dallas might snatch up?
SW: The Cowboys probably won't be looking for help at the position really early. There is going to be a lot of depth at tight end this year and some excellent value in the middle rounds particularly. Some possibilities in the Day 2 / mid-round range are Jordan Reed of Florida, Travis Kelce of Cincinnati, Vance McDonald of Rice, Dion Sims of Michigan St, Nick Kasa of Colorado and Levine Tuiolo of Stanford.
If you're looking for a true H-Back a guy to watch out for is Kyle Juszczyk of Harvard, who played tight end in college but can also project to fullback at the next level, which he did quite successfully at the Senior Bowl.
TP: Yes, Juszczyk is the name that leapt to mind for me. He was a dependable college tight end who projects to either H-back or fullback at the next level. Though not outstanding in any single aspect, Juszczyk does the little things well, which could help him catch on in a reserve role at the next level. He's been on 12 official visits the past few weeks; I am told he could be off the board very early in round four.
SW: If you're looking for a late round sleeper it's Lucas Reed of New Mexico, who is the younger brother of Houston Texans LB Brooks Reed. That guy was severely underutilized the past couple of years after earning all-conference notice early in his career and possesses early round physical tools (6-6, 247, 4.68).
BTB: Great tip; NFL bloodlines are always a plus!
Well, that wraps up today's chat. Thanks to both of you for joining us and sharing your expertise. We'll be back tomorrow to review some possibilities at defensive positions of need.