There comes a point in every draftnik's draft preparation where he has to submit his final mock draft of the year. This is the one that counts, and the one we will hold each draftnik accountable for when we grade the draft gurus on their mocks once the draft is done.
Just six days ago, the mock draftniks were all but certain that the Cowboys would pick a corner. Out of 18 mocks we reviewed on Friday last week, 14 had the Cowboys taking a cornerback, and only three had the Cowboys picking a defensive lineman.
But that changed in a big way this week. Of the 29 mocks we survey below, 15 have the Cowboys picking a defensive linemen. Surprised? Prehaps you shouldn't be.
Cowboys have been transparent about building in the trenches. In first is no surprise with O or D pick there— Birddog26 (@Birddog26) April 30, 2015
Be that as it may, it looks like Randy Gregory has emerged as the surprise favorite for the Cowboys tonight. Here's a collection of the latest, and final, mock drafts from a wide collection of draftniks.
|NFL.com (Jeremiah), April 30||Randy Gregory
||The Cowboys are close to winning a Super Bowl and Gregory will have an immediate impact provided he can stay out of trouble.|
|LA Times (Farmer), April 30||Randy Gregory
||Gregory has character issues that likely will cause him to drop in this draft, but Cowboys need to find a way to generate more of a pass rush.|
|Rotoworld (Norris), April 30||Randy Gregory
||I think Gregory’s "fall" ends here. Talent wise, Gregory is near the top. The Cowboys will likely be without Greg Hardy for 10 games, so they still have a monstrous edge rushing need. Enter Gregory who has speed and power despite playing around 230 lbs.|
|Optimum Scouting (Galko), April 30||Randy Gregory
||I’m shocked and a bit disappointed by this pick, but if Randy Gregory is available for the Cowboys, I’ll be very surprised if he’s not their selection. He could play end or linebacker for this defense…if he can stay on the field and mature.|
|Rotoworld (Silva), April 30||Randy Gregory
||It's hard to imagine the pass-rush-deficient Cowboys passing on Gregory if he falls to 27. He's the top pure edge rusher in the draft and Greg Hardy is a stopgap who will open the season on suspension. Gregory would be a dynamic complement to ascending sophomore DE Demarcus Lawrence.|
|Star-Telegram (Williams), April 29||Randy Gregory
||If Gregory falls this far, it won’t take the Cowboys long to turn in their card.|
|CSN Washington (Standig), April 29||Eddie Goldman
||The Cowboys' defense shined earlier last season, yet ranked near the bottom in the league in sacks, rushing yards per carry and rushing touchdowns allowed. The secondary needs help and nobody would argue against a linebacker threat. In other words, this pick should be for the defense. Greg Hardy's suspension could tip the scales toward the line. Goldman, a 336-pound, third-team All-American from the D.C. area native, will help inside.|
|Draft Breakdown (Dove), April 29||Eddie Goldman
||Eddie Goldman is just scratching the surface of his potential but already provides strong run support. Dallas needs to get bigger along the defensive line not only to stop the run but to keep their linebackers clean.|
|Draftboard Guru (Martz), April 29||Eddie Goldman
|E$PN (Kiper), April30||Preston Smith
Why they take him: Because the defensive line is a clear need area, and Smith offers versatility and the chance to step into the rotation right away and help a "win now" team.
Why they pass: If they have a good option at cornerback, such as Peters or Johnson, they could target another clear need area.
|Draft King (Pickney), April 29||Preston Smith
||With so much running back talent likely to be in the mix for rounds two and three, filling another need here makes sense to me. Greg Hardy could miss as many as the first ten games of the season, and the Cowboys could use some young talent at the position that can perform right away. Smith was overshadowed to a degree in the media by teammate ILB Benardrick McKinney in Starkville, but Smith could end up being the first Mississippi State bulldog taken in this draft.|
|Our Lads (Syvertsen), April 29||Preston Smith
||There are very few NFL-ready, traditional 4-3 DE prospects in this class that can be equally effective against the pass and run. Smith gives the Cowboys a presence opposite of the promising Demarcus Lawrence. He was a versatile defensive lineman at Mississippi State and his ability to move in and out on third down is something Dallas will love to use.|
E$PN (McShay), April 30
||Shane Ray||It remains to be seen how far Ray could drop based on the recent report that some teams have concerns his injured toe could require surgery and his recent citation for marijuana possession. He could be worth the risk at this point in the first round, given the Cowboys' need to improve their pass rush.|
The Big Lead (McIntyre), April 29
||Jordan Phillips||With Shelton and Brown off the board, Phillips is clearly the #3 DT in the draft. Jerry Jones has gotten sensible, so no Melvin Gordon here … right? The Cowboys can’t possibly think Darren McFadden is the replacement for DeMarco Murray, but I can see Dallas going RB in the later rounds, like if Alabama’s TJ Yeldon drops to the 3rd round, or perhaps Michigan State’s Jeremy Langford in the 4th.|
National Football Post (Gabriel), April 29
||Jordan Phillips||Phillips has the kind of traits that Rod Marinelli loves. Marinelli can turn Phillips into a perennial Pro Bowler.|
|Draft Ace (McCrystal), April 29||Byron Jones||The Cowboys need to fix a disappointing secondary. A trade up to land a guy like Jones may even be possible.|
|Real GM (Risdon), April 30||Byron Jones
||Another pick where I’m quite confident it might actually happen, as nearly every Dallas source indicates Jerry Jones loves the freakishly athletic namesake. If he’s gone and Randy Gregory is still available as he is here, I suspect he’s the choice.|
|CBS (Prisco), April 28||Byron Jones||They have some issues at corner in league where that can't happen. Brandon Carr is just OK and Morris Claiborne is coming off a knee injury. Jones is much more than just the athletic freak he showed at the combine.|
|NFL.com (Davis), April 28||Kevin Johnson||Top two RBs are off the board, and the best DTs are gone, too, so Cowboys take a smooth, aggressive corner to deal with Odell Beckham and the other top WRs of the NFC East.|
|Journal Sentinel (McGinn), April 29||Kevin Johnson||If Johnson, the scouts' choice as the No. 2 cornerback in the draft, falls this far, he probably won't get past Dallas. If he's off the board, the Cowboys will consider ILBs Benardrick McKinney and Eric Kendricks.|
|SB Nation (Kadar), April 30||Kevin Johnson||Dallas would be fortunate to see Johnson on the board here. He would let them move on from quasi-bustand underwhelming veteran .|
|CBS (Rang), April 29||Kevin Johnson||Cornerback is one of the few areas of concern on an otherwise stacked roster in Dallas. Johnson, a four year starter, has terrific agility and speed but some question his ability to handle the physicality of the NFL at 6-0, 188 pounds, which could allow him to drop into Dallas' lap.|
|Draft Season (Falk), April 29||Marcus Peters||Dallas needs some new faces in the secondary, they should be in a great spot at the end of round one to nab a guy like Peters/Johnson/Jones.|
|CBS (Brinson), April 30||Melvin Gordon
||(Cowboys trade up to No. 15) The Cowboys love Gordon and Gordon loves the Cowboys. He's not making it to 27, though. If only there was precedent for the Trent Baalke and Jerry Jones flipping 12-13 spots in the draft ... oh right. They did it in 2013 when the Niners moved up to grab Eric Reid and the Cowboys fell back to get Travis Frederick. Win-win situation again for both teams as the Niners pick up a third-round pick for their troubles and the Cowboys get a bellcow back who will dominate out of the gates.|
|Washington Post (Maske), April 30||Melvin Gordon
||There is no need to trade for Peterson if the Cowboys can get a productive runner in the draft.|
|NFL (Mayock), April 29||Landon Collins
||This is not sexy, but Collins is a solid pick. He can help on special teams, and play linebacker in the dime package. This is not a boom-or-bust situation.|
|PFT (Florio), April30||Damarious Randall
|Our Lads (Feyerer), April 28||Shaq Thompson
||Thompson is one of the most polarizing players in this year’s draft. Many question his size as an outside linebacker, with some even labeling a safety, but there is no doubt about this instincts and ability to make plays. The Cowboys defense lost Justin Durant and may lose Rolando McClain making the linebacker position an immediate need. Thompson’s size doesn’t matter to me. I see a player that could become a star at weakside linebacker in Rod Marineilli’s defense.|
|CBS (Brugler), April 30||Cedric Ogbuiehi
||This isn't a name often associated with Dallas, but Jerry Jones even mentioned in his press conference that offensive line was a possibility here. Due to the ACL injury, Ogbuehi becomes terrific value this late in the first round, giving Dallas the long-term successor for Doug Free at right tackle.