On Thursday last week we kicked off the 2014 BTB Mock Draft Challenge in which we asked BTB members for their mock Cowboys drafts and then asked the community to vote on the mocks. But instead of simply asking for a list of randomly put together names, we limited the flexibility by establishing some specific rules: The mock draft had to be conducted according to the player rankings provided by the CBSSports.com big board. No trading down was allowed, and trading up was only permissible if the trade value points given up were equal to or greater than the trade value points received.
This significantly limited the options in the mock drafts and forced the mockers to make decisions that they might not have had to make with a less rigorous approach. One of the issues of working with a big board in a mock like this is that there will always be players who are perceived to be ranked too low, and there were scattered complaints to that effect (it's funny how there are almost never any complaints about players being ranked too high). The big boards will get better as we get closer to the draft as we'll have more and better information on the prospects, so we'll definitely repeat this mock draft challenge after the Combine and free agency.
Here's the consensus seven-round mock draft that emerged from our exercise, with the comments for each pick provided by BTB-members who picked the respective players in their mock drafts.
|1||Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
||What did our defense lack last year? That’s right, pass rush! Pass rush is something Aaron Donald is really, really good at. In fact, he is so good he led the country in sacks last year. Throw in the fact that he also led the country in tackles for a loss and you've got yourself a good football player. He is a little undersized for the position but the Kiffinelli combo don’t care, all they want is a quick twitch guy with an explosive first step and proven production, and that’s exactly what Donald is. (Robert Enox)|
|2||Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State||Sutton will be a second-round pick because of his size and lack of extreme production. He has a quick burst off the line of scrimmage and has the power to bull rush when contained. Adding him to our D-line rotation would be a gift in the second round, as he is best projected as a 3-tech but has the power to hold up against the run. The thing that is most important is his hustle. He is one of a handful of D-linemen in this draft who always seem to be around the ball. This can be attributed to his instincts and vision, he does not bite on deception plays very often and maintains his gap responsibility. (The Tower)
|3||Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville||At 6’4", 258lbs and with 33 1/4" arms, Smith has great measurables to be a successful defensive end in the NFL. Like any prospect taken in the third round, he has his flaws, but his versatility and upside are well worth the pick at this spot. He ranked second in the nation with 14 1/2 sacks and had 18 1/2 tackles for loss. (The Trenches)
|4||Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss||At 6’2 226 lbs he has the size the 'Boys love. While not a burner at 4.49, he is a smooth and polished route runner who is sudden out of his breaks and leaves DB’s behind on double moves. (Rena)
|5||Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt||He was first team All-SEC. He is very good as a deep safety and plays with range. He also doesn’t shy away in run support. In fact, he is a fearless hitter who shows a knack for separating the ball from its carrier. He forced 10 turnovers last season with 5 INT's and 5 FF. He lacks a great ability to turn and run with slot receivers, hence he played mostly as a center fielder who moved forward towards the ball. Reads the QB well. Very good special teams player. (Sproutscafe)
|7||Aaron Lynch, DE, S. Florida||DE (6’6:, 244): Was a highly touted freshman and was considered a first-round prospect before transferring and sitting out a year and then having a down year. Take a chance on him in the seventh round. (Souna 21)
|7||De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon||This year's Tavon Austin. He can line up all over the field. And despite his small size (5’9" 170 lbs), he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field. He runs a sub 4.4 forty. He does not fall on first contact and is surprisingly strong for his small size. The Sport Illustrated article headline about him? The headline read: "Can’t Touch DAT: He’s not a RB, a receiver or even a starter, UO’s DAT is simply a touchdown waiting to happen." (Zmen)
|7||Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois
||With Sean Lee’s injury history and Bruce Carter’s decline in play and likely departure in free agency after the season, they need depth here, even if you assume a starting lineup of Hollomon, Lee, and Wilber. Brown excels at pass coverage but also can play the run. (Blain)|
Note that if I had simply chosen the most popular pick in each round for this consensus mock, we'd have ended up with four defensive linemen in the first four rounds, so I edited things a little.
And now for more details of last week's work: People got busy over the last couple of days, and by early Monday morning, more than 120 different mocks were submitted, most of which actually met our guidelines for this exercise. A staggering 162 different players were picked in those 120+ mocks.
In order to establish how popular a given player was, I counted 'votes' for each player mentioned in a mock draft, with each rec' counting as one vote and one extra vote for the author of the mock draft. So in an eight-player mock that received three rec's, each player got four 'votes' (three rec's and one vote for the author). Here are the favorite players per round as ranked by percentage of votes accumulated per round, with 'rank' indicating the position on the CBSSports big board published on January 29, 2014:
|First Round (16th Pick)|
|2nd Round (48th Pick)|
3rd Round (78th pick)
|81||Jimmie Ward||S||N. Illinois||7%|
4th Round (115th pick)
|118||Donte Moncrief||WR||Ole Miss||12%|
|5th Round (146th pick)|
|7th Round (206th, 208th, 215th picks)|
And now it's time for you to vote on your favorite mock draft. Below is a mock draft summary of the consensus mock as well as the four leading vote-getters from last week. (Note that I had erroneously left out the Cowboys 215th pick in my initial mock draft instructions, which is why the leading mocks don't have a third 7th-round pick)
BTB Mock Draft overview
|BTB Member (No. of Rec's)||1st Round||2nd Round||3rd Round||4th Round||5th Round||7th Round||7th Round||7th Round|
|Consensus Mock||Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
||Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
||Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville
||Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
||Kenny Ladler, FS, Vanderbilt
||Aaron Lynch, DE, S. Florida
||De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon||Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois
|jayrosser27 (21)||Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt||Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State||Michael Sam, DE, Missouri||Dion Bailey, FS, USC||Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama||Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida||L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri||- -|
|TK19 (21)||Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt||Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor||Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville||Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina||Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia||L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri||Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma||- -|
|Bermystar (21)||Hasean Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama||Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State||Marcus Smith, DE, Louisville||Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina||Tahj Boyd, QB, Clemson||De'Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon||Kadeem Edwards, OG, Tennessee State||- -|
|Rena (18)||Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri||Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas||Dominique Easley, DT, Florida||Anthony Steen, OG, Alabama||Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama||Deandre Coleman, DT, California||Cody Hoffman, WR, BYU||- -|
Which of these proposed mocks do you like the most?