Once upon a time, say a few months ago, much of BTB was in love with a draft prospect named Aaron Donald. When he exploded at the Senior Bowl practices, it was obvious he would fit perfectly as our new 3-technique tackle of the future. Then he started climbing draft boards, but that was okay because he was moving out of the second round and into the first on many boards. Perfectly situated for the Cowboys at pick #16.
Then the combine happened. Donald slayed the drills at that event and his star was rapidly ascending. Soon, it was feared he wouldn't even last until spot #16, the Cowboys would have to look elsewhere. But, it's a long time between the combine and the draft this year. Could Donald's rapid rise start to decline, not because of anything he does, but because other players for various reasons make a jump? This is all part of the vagaries and unknowns of draft season.
There is another force at work, one that could be even stronger, driving the Cowboys away from Donald on draft day. Henry Melton. Dallas now has its 3-tech for 2014, and possibly for three more years after that if all works out with the former Chicago Bear. Do they continue to pursue inside help on the defensive line, possibly getting Donald as a rotational 3-tech, or maybe a 1-tech? Or do they turn their attention to the end position where the departed DeMarcus Ware used to ply his trade?
In today's SB Nation mock draft, that's exactly what happens as the Cowboys go with a pure pass-rusher at defensive end.
16. Dallas Cowboys - Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri Kony Ealy improved on almost all of his combine numbers at his pro day last week. His value is in his versatility. Ealy showed the ability to move in space during linebacker drills at the combine, but he can also play with his hand in the dirt on the edge and the interior. After letting DeMarcus Ware go, the Cowboys need a pass rusher.
Here, the Cowboys pass on Donald, who actually slides all the way down to 29th and into the lap of the Patriots. I'm not sure if Donald would actually drop that far, but it does beg the question - Would you pass on Donald for a pass-rushing defensive end (or some other position) now that Henry Melton is in the fold?
In the second round, SB Nation has Dallas shoring up the safety position.
47. Dallas Cowboys - Lamarcus Joyner, S, Florida State After addressing the defensive line in the first round, the Cowboys need to add some talent to the secondary. Lamarcus Joyner can play a bit of safety and corner, two areas of need for the Cowboys.