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BTB 2015 Draft Front Page Writer's Mock, Pt. II: And The Cowboys Select...

Our annual Front Page Writers mock draft has arrived at Dallas' pick! Check out who The Estimable Ryle chose with the Cowboys first and second round selections...

The U's Duke Johnson was too good to pass up in round three
The U's Duke Johnson was too good to pass up in round three
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Episode one of our mock draft series left you with a cliffhanger, taking our breathless readers just to the precipice of the Cowboys' first round selection. Tom Ryle is picking for the Cowboys. Whose card did he turn in to the Commish? Read on, BTBers!

Team & GM
Selection Details
Pick Team GM Player Position School Blurb Trade Notes
27 Dallas Tom Kevin Johnson CB Wake Forest One place the Cowboys have a huge need is in the secondary, and when they see Johnson still available when they go on the clock, there is full agreement on this selection. He brings length and athletic ability to the position, and given the questions surrounding Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, the team gets a player that could be starting from day 1.
28 Denver Rabble Maxx Williams TE Minnesota The Broncos make up for the loss of playmaking duo of Julius Thomas and Jacob Tamme in free agency by grabbing a young player who draft pundits have likened to Jason Witten, thanks to his size, mobility and soft hands (not, of course, because he's white). Like Witten did as a rookie, Williams will play behind a veteran, FA signee Owen Daniels, in year one before assuming full-time duties in Gary Kubiak's TE-friendly offense.
29 Indianapolis O.C.C Landon Collins S Alabama To the Colts' great surprise, they see a bunch of players being picked early who had a second-round grade on the Colts' board. Their board only had 20 players with a first-round grade so they are ecstatic when a player with a first-round grade falls to them at No. 29. BPA all the way.
30 Green Bay Gary Eddie Goldman DT Florida State The Packers were hoping that Kevin Johnson would still be there but since Goldman is instead, they will be singing the familiar tune of "he is the guy we wanted all along" to make the Green Bay masses happy by feeling they are right on plan.
31 New Orleans O.C.C. Marcus Peters CB Washington The Saints got their pass rusher early, and now pick another guy they had a first-round grade on. Going by size, speed, competitiveness and college production, Peters may just be the best corner in the draft. Despite Peter's off field issues, the rewards far outweigh the risks this far down in the round. from Seattle
32 New England Landon Eric Kendricks LB UCLA The Champs keep doing what the Champs keep doing. Letting the draft fall to them and picking the best player. They had quite a decision to make here with Preston Smith, Owagbe Odighizuwa, Breshad Perriman, and AJ Cann all still on the board, all filling needs. But putting Eric Kendricks with Jamie Collins and Don'ta Hightower (when he returns) is too much for them to pass up. He allows Hightower to slow roll his recovery, while giving them a formidable LB crew once everyone is healthy.
SECOND ROUND
Pick Team GM Player Position School Blurb Trade Notes
33 Tennessee Jason D.J. Humphries OT Florida As of this moment Tennessee has someone named Byron Stingily slated as their starting right tackle according to Ourlads.com. Stingily played 248 snaps and scored a -7.8 per PFF. That's not a good situation, especially if Tennessee is really planning on starting Zack "The Statue" Mettenberger. To help protect Mettenberger, and improve their run game the Titans look to bolster their offensive line by signing OT D.J. Humphries from Florida.
34 Tampa Bay Rabble Owamagbe Odighizuwa DE UCLA After the disaster that was the Michael Johnson rental project, the Buccaneers look for a more permanent solution at defensive end and find one in Odighizuwa, a deluxe athlete with the size and strength to hold up on the strong side. He teams with Gerald McCoy to give Lovie Smith two critical defensive line pieces. Tampa Bay has now addressed the two most important positions - QB and pass rusher - with premium athletes.
35 Oakland Landon Breshad Perriman WR UCF Well that was quick... Only took the Raiders until the 2nd round to revert to form and draft a super fast WR. To be fair, it was the highest player on their board and at a position of need. He just happens to fit Al Davis's idea of a Raider WR.
36 Jacksonville Michael Preston Smith DE Mississippi State Jacksonville really needs to improve on defense to take the next step forward in 2015. After trading away from some pretty solid defenders in the first round with Philadelphia. Jacksonville picks up a solid defensive end that should be able to help right away. Preston Smith has that long frame needed for a pass rusher, and had some really nice production in college. Smith's pass rushing moves are a work in progress but his effort and busy hands help him get the job done. Smith also has the versatility to rush from multiple positions.
37 NY Jets O.C.C Brett Hundley QB UCLA The Jets hired a new coach in Todd Bowles, traded for a No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall, brought in two premier corners in Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and invested their first-round pick this year in a blue-chip pass rusher. Do you seriously think they'll leave that type of investment in the hands of Geno Smith, a guy who has yet to show that he is a NFL QB, let alone a franchise quarterback? The Jets learned their lesson when they stuck with NFL QB-impersonator Mark Sanchez for too long, and bring in Hundley to have options at the most important position on the team.
38 Washington Gary Paul Dawson ILB TCU Washington has not signed a replacement for the departed Brian Orakpo and Dawson fills the bill very nicely.
39 Chicago Jason P.J. Williams CB FSU This pick is a great example of value aligning with need. The Bears could probably upgrade every part of their defense, and Williams is a player who is seeing his stock on the rise after his impressive Pro-Day. According to PFF's grading scale, the best pass coverage defender for the Bears last year was Jared Allen...a DE. In fact three of their top five graded pass defenders were defensive linemen. That's not good. Williams comes in and provides an instant boost to what may be the worst secondary in the league.
40 NY Giants Rabble Jake Fisher OT Oregon After fortifying the defensive line in round one, the Giants give the offensive line some much-nneded reinforcement in the second round. In Fisher, the Giants get an athletic right tackle to protect Eli Manning. Added benefit: the move allows them to more short-armed Justin Pugh to guard, where the team believes he can be a Pro-Bowl caliber player.
41 St. Louis Jason Byron Jones CB Connecticut The Rams get the most gifted corner in the draft. A guy that is a freak and can be taught the nuances of the position, but you can't teach freakish skills.
42 Atlanta Tom Eli Harold OLB Virginia The Falcons have a lot of needs on defense, and Harold is the highest rated player left on their board. Having gone strictly BPA in the first round, they now can start shading their selections to start addressing the many needs they have to get better at stopping the other team.
43 Houston Rabble Cameron Erving OC Florida State After releasing long-time starter Chris Myers due to financial concerns, the Texans are delighted to see Erving, the draft's best pivotman, still available and move up to get him. Erving will fit in between Brandon Brooks (3rd round, 2012) and Xavier Su'a-Filo (second, 2014) to form a young, formidable interior OL in 2015 and into the future. from Cleveland
44 New Orleans O.C.C. Jordan Phillips DT Oklahoma The most athletic defensive tackle in this draft adds some much needed heft in the middle of the Saints defense, and offers considerable position flex as he can play both the NT and the 5-technique in the Saints' 3-4 defense.
45 Minnesota Michael Quinten Rollins CB Miami (OH) Quinten Rollins may be a little small but he doesn't play that way. The Minnesota Vikings really needed some help in the secondary and Rollins fits the bill. He's a smart, instinctive player with good coverage skills and a great motor. He never backs down from a challenge and always comes back to fight on the next play. Pretty decent closing speed and good tackling skills. He has a very physical presence which Mike Zimmer will enjoy putting in his secondary.
46 San Francisco Gary Clive Walford TE Miami (FL) Walford is a former Basketball player and has been climbing the draft boards. He has huge hands, long arms and has improved every year he has played. He is the second best TE in the draft and will be a security blanket receiver due to his large catch radius for Colin Kaepernick.
47 Miami Gary A.J. Cann OG South Carolina Last year the 'phins had to move pro bowl center Mike Pouncy to Guard and they realize he fits much better at center, so they pick a guy that can move right in to allow Pouncy to move back to center. The Dolphins just made Puncey the higest paid center in the NFL, so why not put him where he belongs?
48 San Diego Jason Carl Davis DE Iowa San Diego is ecstatic that Carl Davis has dropped so far, and rush to the podium to pick him. The 6-5, 320lb lineman is quick enough to provide a pass rush from the 3-4 end position, and big enough to hold up against the run. With this pick, San Diego has the makings of a very good defensive line.
49 Kansas City Michael Stephone Anthony ILB Clemson Kansas City really needs some extra help in the middle of their defense, Anthony has been rising up the charts and may be one of the best coverage linebackers in the class. He plays with impeccable instincts and is a sure-fire finisher. Anthony is also quite efficient as a pass rusher with a high motor and great quickness.
50 Buffalo Michael Laken Tomlinson OG Duke Buffalo's first pick needed to be an impact player for them. You could argue that the Bills need a complete facelift on the offensive line. Tomlinson provides a plug-and-play starter to a very weak spot. Though Rex Ryan almost always loves to take a defensive player, even he realized that it doesn't really matter who plays QB, if nobody can protect him and could not pass up this opportunity.
51 Cleveland Landon Ali Marpet OG Hobart The Browns select Ali Marpet, OG, Hobart. Looking to improve their OL, the Browns add the surprise Senior Bowl star from the small school to help improve their interior. from Houston
52 Philadelphia Landon Eric Rowe CB Utah Although everyone called him "crazy" for his earlier trade, some how, Chip Kelly and the Eagles end up with the DB he most covets in Utah CB/FS Eric Rowe. Chip has been a fan for awhile and was able to wait until the 2nd round to get his guy.
53 Cincinnati O.C.C Danielle Hunter DE LSU Comparisons with Jason Pierre-Paul are being thrown around about Hunter, and he does have highly intriguing athleticism. He may need a year in an NFL program to fully realize his potential, and Cincinnati could be just that place.
54 Detroit Rabble Jay Ajayi RB Boise State Although they are dismayed to see a couple of offensive guard prospects go off the board in the handful of picks before them, the Lions are overjoyed to see Ajayi still available. In the former Boise Stater, Detroit gets a tough, between the tackles runner capable of balancing the offense, helping Matthew Stafford in the process.
55 Arizona Michael Benardrick McKinney ILB Mississippi State With all the uncertainty surrounding the suspension of Daryl Washington this past season and the injuries that took it's toll in 2014, The Arizona Cardinals are excited to have a guy like McKinney. Sure he's a bit raw and needs some polishing, but he's still one of the top prospects at the position and has versatility. McKinney has great size, speed and is a physical player. All things that Arizona likes.
56 Pittsburgh Gary Hau'oli Kikaha OLB Washington The Steelers pick the best OLB left on the board. They would have loved to get a top 5 rusher in the first round but they chose to pick the 2nd or 3rd best corner in the first and take their edge rusher in the 2nd.
57 Carolina Jason Ameer Abdullah RB Nebraska Not necessarily a need, but the value is too good to pass up. This is a win/ win: Abdullah can learn behind vet Jonathan Stewart, and the Panthers now have a replacement if they decide to cut Stewart in 2016.
58 Baltimore Tom Sammie Coates WR Auburn The Colts need some better targets for Joe Flacco, and Coates has the tools to be a weapon. He is still going to require some coaching and training to become a better pass catcher, but he can stretch the field and take the top off a defense. And as the best player left on their board, he is a win/win as a draft pick.
59 Denver Rabble Ty Sambrailo OT Colorado State New head coach Gary Kubiak needs athletic linemen to run his zone blocking system and gets on in Sambrailo, a freestyle skiier who can do backflips. He'll need time in an NFL strength program to build his strength, but you can't teach quick feet...
60 Dallas Tom Duke Johnson RB Miami (FL) Dallas had four running backs that were all very close and with no other positions rated higher when they went on the clock. With Jay Ajayi, and Ameer Abdullah gone, they had to chose between Duke Johnson and Tevin Coleman, and went with Johnson in light of Coleman's injury history. Johnson fits the idea of more of a committee approach at running back, but is an explosive one-cut runner who should be a home run threat behind the Dallas offensive line.
61 Indianapolis O.C.C Tevin Coleman RB Indiana Coleman is the turbo that will make the Colts offense truly excel. He rushed for over 2,000 yards in his final year at Indiana, and is stout enough to stay in as a pass protector.
62 Green Bay Gary Donovan Smith OT Penn State While most of the picks for the Pack are expected to be defense, they know their bread and butter is protecting the leagues MVP.
63 Seattle Tom Nelson Agholor WR Southern California Having traded out of the first round, Seattle finally makes its first pick of the draft. With the luxury of a very strong roster, they are able to go purely BPA, and are thrilled ot see a player they had ranked in the top 50 still available. Another weapons for Russel Wilson will help them maximize the big investment they have to make to keep their quarterback around.
64 New England Landon Alex Carter CB Stanford The Pats select the heady Alex Carter to bolster their defensive backfield.

Wondering what prompted Tom to make these particular selections? I asked him to share his thought process; here's what he had to say:

Round One (#27): Frankly, I think the Cowboys would be looking to trade back here. By the time 27 rolled around, they were looking at high second round talent no matter who they picked. But there were no offers coming my way, and I never want to be an overeager seller in trading back, so I was left with making the best of the situation.

I don't pretend to know how the staff in Dallas is building their board. I just make my best guess. And what stood out when I went on the clock as the mock Cowboys GM was that there was a nice group of secondary players still available. Kevin Johnson, Landon Collins, Marcus Peters, P. J. Williams, and Byron Jones were all still there. In my peculiar logic, I figured that this bunching of secondary players meant that the best player available for Dallas was likely going to come out of this group.

Some other candidates for Dallas were Eric Kendricks, Eddie Goldman, Owa Odighizuwa, Preston Smith, and Eli Harold. I didn't see any of the other highly ranked players as good fits for what Dallas needs, and fit was why I elected to eliminate Goldman and Harold right away. Kendricks was the most tempting outside the secondary. But when I went to the draft boards I was using for reference, Kevin Johnson was the best remaining option. I feel good about his choice, because he has been climbing the boards, and is now seen as a top 20 pick in several places.

Round Two (#60): In the second round, there was a similar situation, where there were not so many players that fit Dallas and that were showing as a low second round value. Nate Orchard and Xavier Cooper were available for the defensive line, or I could have gone a bit outside the box with an offensive tackle like Donovan Smith or a wideout/ return man like Nelson Agholor. But there had been a bit of a run on running backs at this point, and I felt it was best to get one that was high on Dallas' board, especially since the other options did not come in higher than the top remaining backs. It was a very close call between Duke Johnson and Tevin Coleman, but for a three down back, I just believe Johnson is a better way to go. I was a little leery of the injury history with Coleman, which may have backed me off more than it should, but Johnson is very solid. He also believes he is basically ready to plug and play in Dallas' zone blocking scheme.

Parting Thoughts: The picks were made before the Hardy suspension was announced, but I would not change them because of that. I still have the rest of the draft to look for D line help. I just did not feel any pass rushers available were of more value to the team than the players I went with.

There you have it, folks. A very thoughtful and process-driven pair of selections from Mr. Ryle.

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Stay tuned for the final chapter, where we'll share the third and fourth round selections...