Mock drafts, especially when published before free agency, are little more than annotated lists of highly ranked draft prospects. As predictors of which players are going to which teams, mock drafts at this time of year are nearly useless. But they still serve a purpose in giving us a general sense of where a player fits in the grand scheme of things, and help us familiarize ourselves with a new draft class.
At this time of the year, what I want from mock drafts are options. I want alternatives. I want head-scratching selections that make me think. I don't want somebody telling me that the Cowboys are going to pick a running back with their first pick.
So today, instead of looking which players a bunch of draftniks think the Cowboys should select with the 27th pick, we'll look at which players the Cowboys could select with the 27th pick. And to do that, we look at which players six draft experts have available between pick 27 and the end of the first round.
The table below summarizes picks 27-32 for six selected draftniks.
|Dan Kadar (SB Nation, Feb 16)||Dane Brugler (CBS Sports, Feb 16)|
|27. Cowboys||, RB, Wisconsin||27. Cowboys||, DE, Mississippi St.|
|28. Broncos||, TE, Minnesota||28. Broncos||Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota|
|29. Colts||, DT, Iowa||29. Colts||, SS, Alabama|
|30. Packers||Trade with TEN:, QB, UCLA||30. Packers||, CB, Miami (Ohio)|
|31. Seahawks||, WR, Missouri||31. Seahawks||Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Missouri|
|32. Patriots||, G, South Carolina||32. Patriots||A.J. Cann, G, South Carolina|
|Rob Rang (CBSSports, Feb 16)||Ourlads, Feb 17|
|27. Cowboys||, RB, Georgia||27. Cowboys||Landon Collins, SS, Alabama|
|28. Broncos||Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota||28. Broncos||Carl Davis, DT, Iowa|
|29. Colts||Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin||29. Colts||, CB, Washington|
|30. Packers||, DT, Oklahoma||30. Packers||Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma|
|31. Seahawks||, WR, Auburn||31. Seahawks||Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia|
|32. Patriots||, CB, Miami (Ohio)||32. Patriots||, DE, Utah|
|Brent Sobleski (Bleacher Report, Feb 17)||Mel Kiper (E$PN, Feb 11)|
|27. Cowboys||, DT, Ohio Stat||27. Cowboys||Carl Davis, DT, Iowa|
|28. Broncos||Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota||28. Broncos||, LB, Miami (Fl)|
|29. Colts||, OG, Duke||29. Colts||La'El Collins, OT, LSU|
|30. Packers||, LB, TCU||30. Packers||Jordan Phillips, DT, Oklahoma|
|31. Seahawks||, DE, Washington||31. Seahawks||, WR, Miami (Fl)|
|32. Patriots||Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia||32. Patriots||, WR, Michigan|
Admittedly, this is a fairly tight window to look at. And yes, we also know that mock drafts aren't worth their weight in hot air. But in the six mocks above, only four players show up three times or more: Maxx Williams (4 times), Carl Davis (3), Jordan Phillips (3), and Todd Gurley (3). Would you be concerned if those were the four choices the Cowboys had on draft day?
How about having your choice of six defensive linemen: In addition to Carl Davis and Jordan Phillips,, Nate Orchard, Preston Smith, and Hau'oli Kikaha could all still be available when the Cowboys are on the clock.
You think a corner should be the target? Marcus Peters or Quinten Rollins could be options.
Heck, you could even go after 6-5, 225 wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. Now that would be an interesting choice - especially if the Cowboys franchise tag Dez Bryant, as is widely expected.
In any case, it looks like the Cowboys will have plenty of options, even if they are drafting fairly late in the first. Then again, you could also argue that with all these players potentially still on the board, moving down might be an enticing option.