We don't really know how the Dallas Cowboys board is set up for the 2014 draft or just who they may be targeting. But one thing is for sure, three names that have long been guessed at as targets for Dallas at pick #16 may be out of reach.
It's become a familiar refrain around these parts and on other Cowboys media sites. Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr and Zack Martin. The first to leave us was Aaron Donald. We now only hold the faintest of hopes that he will be available unless the Cowboys trade up to get him. Check out some of the latest mocks and the picks for Donald:
ESPN: No. 8 to Minnesota (Mel Kiper) / No. 7 to Tampa Bay (Todd McShay) Sports Illustrated: No. 8 to Minnesota (Peter King) CBS Sports: No. 8 to Minnesota NFL.com: No. 13 to St. Louis (Daniel Jeremiah) / No. 14 to Chicago (Charlie Casserly) / No. 7 to Tampa Bay (Matt Smith) FOX Sports: No. 10 to Detroit (Peter Schrager) NBC Sports: No. 8 to Minnesota (Evan Silva) Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: No. 10 to Detroit (Ed Bouchette)
[Dan] Pompei says, "The buzz is that Mike Zimmer is pushing for Aaron Donald, who could be his new Geno Atkins."
Tony Pauline of Draft Insider has an interesting rumor to report: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers want Johnny Manziel, because the owners are pushing for him, while Lovie Smith would instead like Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
It would take a miracle for Donald to get through.
Next up is Anthony Barr. His stock rocketed up, then started to slide down, or did it? Not according to Mike Mayock.
"I don’t think he’s sliding," said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock. "I think that’s more of a media perception. I think he could go as early as 11 to Tennessee. I think Dallas would love him at 16. This draft is not deep in edge rushers. The bottom line with Barr is I think his best football is ahead of him. ... I don’t think there’s any way he gets into the 20s."
Most draft pundits appear to side with Mayock. Seven of NFL.com’s nine analysts slotted Barr within the 11 to 16 range. The two exceptions — Chase Goodbread and Brian Baldinger — actually veered even higher, picking him to go sixth and eighth, respectively. It’s not an organizational bias, either. King puts Barr at No. 18, while his Sports Illustrated colleague Chris Burke went with the No. 11 slot.
Watch out for the Vikings on Barr.
But what if Donald is gone? The Vikings are not likely to take a quarterback with this pick. Chances are very good they will go defense." [Dan] Pompei goes on, "Some see this as too high for Barr, but he is the best nickel pass rusher available, and he can help at strong-side linebacker on first and second down. Barr could help Zimmer reshape the Vikings defense."
But the real threat may be the Titans.
Anthony Barr told [Ian] Rapoport that he sees the Titans as the best fit for him. "The linebackers coach was my defensive coordinator last year. I do have a lot of familiarity with that, that defense they play over there. I know Akeem Ayers pretty well, and I think it would be a pretty seamless fit and that'd be awesome."
Also, from the Tennessean newspaper come these predictions for their writers:
Jim Wyatt: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA. The Titans need a pass rusher, and Barr would be a perfect fit in the 3-4 defense.
John Glennon: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA. He won't have to make a huge impact immediately, but the Titans should be able to mold him into a terror on the edge.
David Climer: Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA. So many needs, so few picks. A pass rusher, please.
Finally, it's Zack Martin who has been a mover and a shaker. The Bills are said to want him.
[Mayock's] 2014 NFL Draft projections came out yesterday, and he has Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin heading to the Buffalo Bills with the No. 9 overall pick. "Eric Ebron is possible, but I would take Martin," Mayock writes. "You can play him at tackle or guard, even center, and he'll do it at a high level. He will help make EJ Manuel a better quarterback."
Martin is a prospect that has gained considerable steam as a potential target of the Bills over the last week-plus, which we've already covered earlier this week. The 6'4", 308-pound senior would likely come into Buffalo pegged as the starting right tackle, but his versatility makes him an appealing - if underwhelming - option for the Top 10, as well.
According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, league circles believe the Dolphins may package a deal to go get Notre Dame's Zack Martin. As it currently stands, Hickey and the Dolphins will go on the clock some time in the 10 p.m. hour. The problem: the elite players will have been off the board by then, and much of the second tier will probably be gone, too. That's why there's a growing belief in league circles that the Dolphins will a package a deal and go get someone they truly like Thursday night. And that player is probably versatile Notre Dame lineman Zack Martin.
And if that's not enough, the Giants are said to be seriously considering him.
Monday Morning Quarterback's Peter King joined the party on Tuesday when he selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin for the Giants with the No. 12 overall pick. Martin has become a very popular and easy selection for the Giants in recent weeks because he's considered a safe, steady and clean offensive lineman.
So there you have it, a gauntlet of teams those three prospects would have to get through to make it to #16. And that's just ones where strong interest has been shown. There is probably plenty of others interested that we haven't heard about. If you're still thinking about one of those three tonight, you'll need to pray hard and carry a lucky rabbit's foot. The odds don't look promising.
SB Nation will be hosting a pre-draft show and a post-draft show tonight. BTB will be represented on the post-draft show, likely around 11:20 PM EST. Please join us!