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2014 NFL Draft: Mike Mayock Releases Top 5 Players Per Position

Mayock ranks the top five at every position in the 2014 draft prior to the Combine. We take a look at four positions that may be of particular interest to the Cowboys: DE, DT, Safety and OG.

Could Timmy Jernigan be the top DT on the Cowboys' board?
Could Timmy Jernigan be the top DT on the Cowboys' board?
Streeter Lecka

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock released his top five players per position today. This is Mayock's first go at a top five this year, and the rankings are bound to change after the Combine. But Mayock is one of the bigger names in the draft business, so his rankings carry some weight. You can find the full rankings here, and we'll only do a quick run-through of the priority positions the Cowboys may address in this year's draft.

First up, the top Defensive Tackles:

1. Louis Nix III, Notre Dame
2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
3. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
4. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
5. Dominique Easley, Florida

The first surprise here is that Mayock sees Hageman lower than both Jernigan and Donald - that's not often been the case in other rankings so far. From a Cowboys point of view, as rabblerousr so succinctly argued, Nix is probably not a good fit, which leaves Jernigan and Donald as the top two guys for the Cowboys. Dominique Easley is ranked fifth here, and thus comes in ahead of Stephon Tuitt. Easley could be a very interesting target for the Cowboys outside of the first round.

Defensive Ends
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2. Kony Ealy, Missouri
3. Dee Ford, Auburn
4. Scott Crichton, Oregon State
5. Trent Murphy, Stanford

No big surprises, though Dee Ford is an interesting choice here at DE.

We recently looked at which positions would cost the most in free agency, and defensive end was the most expensive position outside of QBs (as measured by their franchise tag value) so if the Cowboys are in the market for an end, the draft may be a financially prudent place to find one.

1. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
2. Ha Ha Cinton-Dix, Alabama
3. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
4. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
5. Deone Bucannon, Washington State

Mayock appears to confirm what has been becoming apparent over recent weeks: Pryor is ranked above Clinton-Dix. Of course, that might easily change after the Combine. Mel Kiper has Jimmie Ward ranked third in his ranking, Mayock has him one spot lower.

Offensive Guards
1. David Yankey, Stanford
2. Xavier Su'a-Filo, UCLA
3. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
4. Chris Watt, Notre Dame
5. Cyril Richardson, Baylor

Interestingly, Mayock has Zack Martin ranked as a tackle, so he doesn't show up among the guards. Looking at this list, there's a good chance a top five guy could still be available for the Cowboys in the third round. Should they pull the trigger if that's the case?

Mayock's rankings are an interesting data point as we continue to build up knowledge for the draft, but Mayock is far from infallible. Almost exactly a year ago, Mayock published his first top five ranking on February 15, 2013. Here's an overview of those rankings for defensive linemen, and where the players actually ended up getting drafted:

Defensive Tackles Defensive Ends
Ranked 15-2-113
Drafted Ranked 15-2-113
1. Sharrif Floyd
23 1. Bjoern Werner
2. Star Lotulelei 14 2. Damontre Moore
3. Sheldon Richardson 13 3. Ezekiel Ansah
4. Sylvester Williams 28 4. Sam Montgomery 95
5. (tie) Kawann Short 44 5. (tie) Datone Jones 26
5. (tie) Johnathan Hankins 49 5. (tie) Margus Hunt 53

While last year's rankings for the defensive tackles look fairly consistent, the rankings for defensive ends were all over the place, and they didn't include Cornellius Carradine, who ended up going 40th overall. A lot can happen between now and draft day, and last year's rankings are a timely reminder of that.

Last year, the Cowboys had three picks on Mayock's initial top five ranking: Travis Frederick (#1 center), Gavin Escobar (#3 TE), and Terrance Williams (#3 WR). Wouldn't it be nice to have at least one, or possibly even two names from the lists above end up playing for the Cowboys?

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