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Cowboys 2015 Draft: Thinking Outside The Box

Just how committed to "best player available" is Dallas, and what might it mean in the draft?

Will Cowboys fans be pleased or disappointed with this year's draft picks?
Will Cowboys fans be pleased or disappointed with this year's draft picks?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

We are all familiar with the idea that the Cowboys believe in drafting the best player available, based on their own draft board. This presupposes that the scouting and coaching staffs have winnowed out the players that don't fit the team's scheme, and that they have made a calculation that the players are going to fit into the locker room and put in the work the team wants from its players.

As fans, we have been obsessing for months about the needs of the team. We all know that they need defensive help, with the secondary and the defensive line the top areas needing a boost, but linebacker is also in the mix. And of course running back is expected to be a priority at some point, most likely in the first four rounds.

The draft is an unpredictable thing, especially when a team is picking towards the end of the round. Sitting at 27, there is a very real possibility that  the Cowboys board is going to be picked over. They would probably seek to trade back - if they can find a trade partner. Just because Dallas would want to move back and get more picks, it does not mean that another team is going to want to make an acceptable offer.

This could lead to a situation where Dallas has to make a pick, and this would lead them to choosing the best remaining option on their board. And the worst case scenario might well happen. The team may have to go with a position that is not one of the most needed, or reach for a lower rated player to fill a need.

Just because the team has some needs that are greater than others, it does not mean that those are the only ones that would have a high slot on the Dallas board. The team has a second tier of needs, specifically wide receiver/returner and the offensive line.

One thing that we study closely here at Blogging The Boys is the list of draft prospects that either visit the Cowboys or have an individual workout with coaches and scouts. Based on that, there are two wide receivers that may be on Dallas' radar with a late-first or early-second-round grade, Dorial Green-Beckham and Devin Smith. Although it is impossible to predict how the draft may play out, it is not inconceivable that the defensive players and running backs that the Cowboys would consider worthy of a first-round selection would be depleted. But Green-Beckham and Smith might still be there, especially in light of DGB's character concerns. But this does not tell us what the team's evaluation of the player is. And Smith might have impressed the staff greatly. Both show some traits of being potent weapons in an offense, particularly with a top-flight quarterback like Tony Romo to throw to them. If the team finds itself on the clock with one of them clearly the best option left, then the philosophy of the team would point towards taking one of them, no matter that wide receiver was not the greatest need.

The visitor list does not show any likely first-round candidates among offensive linemen, but the visitor list does not mean that those are the only players that the team is interested in. There might also be offensive linemen that the team considers worthy of a first-round pick, and there are three names that look to be possible candidates. Based on the rankings at CBS.com, they are offensive tackles T.J. Clemmings, D.J. Humphries, and Jake Fisher. Dallas has the starters for their offensive line in place, but they lost Jermey Parnell, and the former swing tackle was called on to finish out the season when Doug Free, the oldest of the linemen, was injured. If the other options are exhausted, an offensive tackle might be a good investment, especially if he is the highest-graded player left for Dallas.

The alternative is to make that reach for a lesser player to fill a need. This is certainly not something that can be absolutely ruled out, but the team has tended to lean toward getting the best talent available.

It all depends first on the way the Cowboys have the players on their board, and second on who remains available when Dallas goes on the clock. And it seems very likely that the Cowboys will face some very hard decisions on draft day, based on this comment about the number of first-round grades on Dallas' board from a writer that usually is very accurate with his information.

18 names. Pick 27. The numbers are not good. So what would you do, if you had no option but to select a name and the best player is not one in a position that everyone expects you to take?

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