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BTB 2015 Draft Front Page Writer's Mock, Pt. I: Setting Up The Cowboys' First Round Pick

Our annual Front Page Writers mock draft is here! Check out who the various FPWs picked, and speculate wildly on who the Cowboys will choose with the 27th pick in round one.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Every year, the front page writers get together to conduct a mock draft wherein each guy is assigned multiple teams for whom he is to serve as the GM. Our mission, should we accept it, is to study each of our teams' respective needs and chart the best plan of action to go about helping that organization address its needs with the maximal amount of talent. Every year, a different front page writer is given the privilege of drafting for the Cowboys; this year, this honor (and burden) fell to Tom Ryle.

We decided to allow trades and that we would go four rounds deep, with the idea that both rules allow each GM to implement his vision for each of his squads. In addition, my goal in distributing the picks was to ensure that nobody had more than one team from any single division and that we all had roughly the same amount of picks to start (for four rounds, this ended up being either 19 or 20).

Here is a list of which FPW was assigned what teams:

Tom: Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Baltimore
Rabble: NY Giants, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Houston, Denver
Landon: Philadelphia, New England, Cleveland, Oakland
Gary: Washington, Green Bay, San Francisco, Miami, Pittsburgh
Jason: Chicago, Carolina, St. Louis, Tennessee, San Diego
Michael: Minnesota, Arizona, Buffalo, Jacksonville, Kansas City
O.C.C.: New Orleans, NY Jets, Cincinnati, Indianapolis

In today's post, we'll see only picks 1-26, which will bring us right to the cusp of the Cowboys pick (spoiler alert: Tom didn't trade back!). In the next post, we'll cover the end of round one and all of round two; in the third and final post, we'll share the picks for rounds three and four.

A couple of points before we begin:

  • Our mock has a strong Cowboys-centric flavor to it. Both players and positions that we have been targeting, studying and studying for the last three months tended to be elevated. So, dynamic 4-3 DTs were probably overdrafted in comparison to five technique DEs, and in we were a bit hazy on tight ends and centers but knew our stuff when it came to defensive ends and running backs.
  • In past years, there was a good deal of trading, as we jockeyed up to grab values at positions of need. This time around, the draft was fairly static. This might be because of one big early trade - you can see it in the top five picks - rocked our email thread and, as a result, might have made our panel a bit gun-shy.

Without further ado, take a look at the bulk of round one (the columns are sortable, so if the table gets wonky, click on the "pick" header to restore order):

Team & GM
Selection Details
Pick Team GM Player Position School Blurb Trade Notes
1 Tampa Bay Rabble Jameis Winston QB Florida St. The Buccaneers were happy to listen to trade offers for the number one pick..but listen was all they were ever gong to do; Winston was their guy. With him in the fold, they secure that elusive animal upon whom the professional lives of coaching staffs depend: a dynamic franchise quarterback. If you smell something burning, it's just Lovie Smith enjoying his victory cigar.
2 Tennessee Jason Dante Fowler OLB Florida Although they can certainly use a quarterback, and a player like Leonard Williams looks like he'd be a dominant addition, Tennessee opts for who they consider to be the draft's best edge rusher.
3 Philadelphia Landon Marcus Mariota QB Oregon Over the shrieking sounds of a struggling-to-get-free Howie Roseman, tied up somewhere in a broom closet, the Eagles announced their trade up to get the QB Chip TRULY wanted. After a failed attempt to get a first rounder from CLE for Sam Bradford as ammunition to make this trade happen, Chippy decided instead to just go ahead and sell the rest of the draft to get his man. That sound of air being sucked through teeth is owner Jeff Lurie... From Jacksonville
4 Oakland Landon Leonard Williams DT USC Reggie Mckenzie is desperate to show everyone that these aren't the same old Raiders. So instead of going with Flash/Need at WR with Cooper or White, he picks what might be the best football player in this entire draft. Giving them an elite presence on that DL that can be moved around to play any technique.
5 Washington Gary Vic Beasley OLB Clemson The talk around D.C. is that the Redskins believe that they are good enough on offense to challenge for the division title but that their defense needs some help. With the loss of Brian Orakpo the 'Skins don't have much depth behind Ryan Kerrigan and Vic Beasley would give them the added depth they need. He has the flex versatility to give their defense a starter and someone who can play every down and by moving him around. They have Trent Murphy, who was last year's second round pick, and with Beasley the linebacker position will be in good shape. Beasley is very athletic and really impressed at the combine and should help their defense in a big way.
6 NY Jets O.C.C Randy Gregory OLB Nebraska Jets added some choice pieces to their secondary during free agency (including Revis and Cromartie), and now bring in a blue-chip talent at edge rusher to add to what looks like is going to be a formidable defense.
7 Chicago Jason Kevin White WR West Virginia Another team that has QB questions, but there isn't any value at this spot. So the Bears choose to replace Brandon Marshall. White is picked instead of Amari Cooper, after Marshall they want a WR who isn't a headache and covet White's size, (6-3, 215 lbs).
8 Atlanta Tom Amari Cooper WR Alabama Having the Bears take White off the board silenced the back and forth debate about which of the two wideouts to take. They could have gone more with need by taking OT Brandon Scherff or OLB Shane Ray, but felt both White and Cooper were better talents and stuck with more of a best player approach. Cooper gives Matt Ryan another target, and the team hopes this will make the big investment they have in their quarterback to pay off. They are loading up at wide receiver, and look for lots of three and four WR sets to try and overwhelm opposing defenses.
9 NY Giants Rabble Alvin "Bud" Dupree DE Kentucky When in doubt, Giants General Manager Jerry Reese will fortify the lines. Since this is too early to select any of the available O-linemen, all of whom have warts, they go to their happy place and draft a defensive lineman. Sure, New York franchised Jason Pierre-Paul, but that provides only a short-term solution. In Dupree, they acquire this season's version of Ezekiel Ansah, a fast-rising toolsy guy with admirable length and burst.
10 St. Louis Jason Brandon Scherff OT Iowa The Rams respectfully disagree with Jerry Reese on offensive linemen and select Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. With only two sure starters on the offensive line, St. Louis is in desperate need to upgrade an offensive line that posted horrible PFF scores in run blocking, (-28.0), and pass blocking, (-55.1!). The Rams have shown with the defensive line they aren't afraid to spend resources to fix a unit. Scherff is about as safe a pick as you can get in this part of the draft, is a good mix of value and need and can easily slide into right tackle, and possibly fill in at left tackle if 2014 pick Greg Robinson continues to struggle.
11 Minnesota Michael La'el Collins OT LSU The Minnesota Vikings were torn on whether to take a flashy cornerback or help out quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. In the end they decided to take a page out of the Cowboys book and upgrade the offensive line. Enter LSU Tackle La'El Collins. With Kalil's struggles and contract expiring at the end of 2015, Minnesota wanted a plug-and-play starter that can give Bridgewater time. The depth at tackle is not as deep as some would think and Collins is at the top of the available candidates.
12 Cleveland Landon Danny Shelton NT Washington After watching their top two targets at WR fall off the board, CLE decides to go defense and selects the big, athletic Shelton to be an anchor for the middle of that defense.
13 New Orleans O.C.C. Shane Ray OLB Missouri The concern over Rob Ryan's ineffective defense is the driver behind the fire sale in New Orleans that saw Jimmy Graham, Ben Grubbs, and Kenny Stills traded away. More than anything, the Saints need an edge rusher who can get to opposing quarterbacks. The reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year is just what the doctor ordered.
14 Miami Gary Devante Parker WR Louisville The Dolphins are desperate for a wide receiver and want one of the big bodied ones that can be a red zone target that Tannehill needs so badly. His 4.4 speed and excellent leaping ability makes him the ideal pick for the Dolphins.
15 San Francisco Gary Dorial Green-Beckham WR Missouri With the loss of Michael Crabtree and with the rest of the receiving core getting up in age, picking DBG will perfectly fit one GMs comment that "It's no mystery we're looking for guys that can run and get down the field."
16 Houston Rabble Trae Waynes CB Michigan St. Going into the draft, cornerback is one of the Texans' most evident needs, so although they are disappointed that the run on pass rushers left them out in the cold, they are shocked - SHOCKED! - to find the draft's best CB still on the board. In fact, they are so happy that the fat guy who mans their table is clocked sprinting to the podium at a 4.3 forty pace - the same that Waynes clocked at the Combine.
17 San Diego Jason Todd Gurley RB Georgia San Diego has two major needs heading into the draft, defensive line and running back. But they have two young promising linemen in Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget, while the running back cupboard is basically completely bare. After averaging 123 yards per game rushing in 2013, that number dropped all the way to 85 ypg in 2014. No running back on the roster gained more than 600 yards in the season. And their best running back, Ryan Mathews left in free agency. With a closing window for Phillip Rivers, the Chargers decide to gamble and draft the best running back in the draft, Todd Gurley. There are some injury concerns, and the Chargers will be wary of that after the Ryan Mathews era, but Gurley's talent is just too much for the Chargers to pass up.
18 Kansas City Michael Andrus Peat OT Stanford Kansas City has needs all over the offensive line. An inside linebacker could have been taken too but the need on the offensive line was too great for Andy Reid to pass up. Peat was certainly the best candidate left though some scouts have their doubts. Peat has the length and athleticism scouts crave in a blindside pass protector, with an absolutely monstrous frame. He's very light on his feet for his size and really shows patience and balance in his movement. Great awareness skills and has the agility to achieve at the pro level.
19 Cleveland Landon Jaelen Strong WR Arizona St. Cleveland needs weapons on the outside for whoever is playing QB for them next year. Strong may not be as flashy as some of these other first round WRs, but could be a reliable "chain mover" that bad teams often need more than flash. An Anquan Boldin starter kit. from Buffalo
20 Jacksonville Michael Shaq Thompson OLB Washington After trading down with the Eagles, the Jaguars were still happy to get a player at a position they need. Shaq Thompson possesses the fluidity and awareness needed against pass-heavy offenses in today's NFL. Thompson is a very active and instinctive player that makes plays all over the field. His quickness and vision will really help the Jaguars in blitzing situations. Thompson has natural ball-skills and is as articulate and mature an athlete you can find. from Philadelphia
21 Cincinnati O.C.C Malcom Brown DT Texas The Bengals take the best player available and add some significant power inside.
22 Pittsburgh Gary Jalen Collins CB LSU Mike Tomlin dined with Jalen Collins just before his pro day and Walterfootball and Drafttek both have Collins rated as the second best corner in this years draft. The Steelers like edge rushers also but they probably would like the second best something rather than the fifth or sixth best edge rusher.
23 Detroit Rabble Erek Flowers OT Miami Although the Lions lost both Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley this offseason, they see a deep defensive tackle class and opt to use their first-rounder shore up a long-standing weak spot: offensive line. One look at the depth chart, where LaAdrian Waddle currently is penciled in as the right tackle, prompts Detroit GM Martin Mayhew to call to Chicago and yell Flowers's name at the guy manning the Lions' table.
24 Arizona Michael Melvin Gordon RB Wisconsin After Arizona loses the AP sweepstakes to Dallas...just kidding...or maybe not. Anyway the Cardinals would love a shifty back like Gordon to put in their offensive arsenal. Though there were strong considerations for a pass rusher or quarterback, the value wasn't there. Bruce Arians scores one for his offense and rests on the knees of Carson Palmer and the fresh legs of his new Badger.
25 Carolina Jason T.J Clemmings OT Pittsburgh No QB has been hit as much over the past three years as Cam Newton. In fact, Newton has been hit nearly twice as many times as, (531), as the 2nd on the list Ryan Fitzpatrick, (272 hits). Cam Newton is a big physical QB, but that beating is taking it's toll, as he missed 3 games last season. To protect their QB the Panthers select OT T.J. Clemmings from Pittsburgh. He's incredibly raw, having played 2 years as a DE in college, but the Panthers can put him in immediately at RT, or let him develop for a year as the swing tackle behind Michael Oher and and Nate Chandler. He's not a perfect fit, but at this point in the first his upside and potential are too good to pass up.
26 Baltimore Tom Arik Armstead DL Oregon With plans to move him to DE in their 3-4 defense, the Ravens pounce on the talented defensive lineman. He is one of the best players remaining, and falls right at a position of need. Besides, as a fallback, they can always get something really valuable from Chip Kelly later if they want to.

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