A key determinant in which player the Cowboys will pick with the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL are the three teams picking ahead of the Cowboys. Who those three teams will pick will be a key consideration as the Cowboys prepare their draft strategy.
When we've looked at mock drafts so far, we've usually focused on the players mocked to the Cowboys, or the players available when the Cowboys were on the clock. What we haven't done much is look at who the Titans, Browns, and Chargers are expected to pick in the first three picks of the draft. But there's a remedy for that.
Over at SB Nation, Adam Stites has compiled 45 mock drafts and has tabulated that data into pie charts that show which team is expected to pick which player, and we're going to take a look at the results.
Last season, the Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt in part because he failed to adequately protect rookie QB Marcus Mariota. That certainly put the fear of God into the remaining coaching staff and the front office, and the Titans organization has now identified protecting quarterback Mariota as their top priority heading into this offseason.
Nothing would help that cause more than drafting OT Laremy Tunsil,and while the Titans have let it be known that their willing to take a ransom for the 1st overall pick, Tunsil is their most likely choice, and most draft analysts see it that way.
The Browns drafted Colt McCoy in 2010, Brandon Weeden in 2012, and Johnny Manziel in 2014. 2016 is an even year, which means the Browns will draft a QB again. 43 of the 45 mock drafts polled (96%) have the Browns picking a QB, though it's not clear which one.
Jared Goff is the clear front runner, followed by Carson Wentz and Paxton Lynch.
San Diego Chargers
There's not much clarity in the mock drafts about which direction the Chargers will go. They have a definite need on the defensive line, and Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner are both realistic options at this point, but there's also a school of thought that has the Chargers taking the best player available, which is why Jalen Ramsey, Laremy Tunsel (in the unlikely event that he slides), and Ronnie Stanley show up in this pie chart.
The draft analyst consensus (if there is such a thing) has Laremy Tunsil to the Titans, a QB to Cleveland, and probably a defensive lineman to San Diego. That leaves the Cowboys with:
A whole lot of options.
Myles Jack currently is the Cowboys' pick in about a quarter of all mocks, followed by Jalen Ramsey and Joey Bosa, But there's also a powerful QB Truther movement in these mocks. About a quarter of the mock drafts summarized in these numbers have the Cowboys picking a QB, though which one they pick is probably contingent on who the Browns will pick. Currently, Carson Wentz looks like the favored QB, with Goff and Lynch tied behind Wentz with about the same number of votes.
So there you have it. While the candidates for the top three picks seem to be coming into focus, there is no such thing as a consensus pick for the Cowboys, at least not in this collection of mock drafts. But that's a good thing, because it gives the Cowboys something the top three teams don't seem to have: options.
Then again, we're still in February, so there's a long way to go until the draft. And of course there's also the issue that these mocks are inherently inaccurate:
- Among the chief sources of information for these mock drafts: NFL general managers, who are lying, and agents, who are lying even more.
- An even bigger source of information: other people's mock drafts. This is how everyone "discovered" Carson Wentz at the same time even though he was a complete unkown as late as December.
- Half of the mocks are put together by draftniks who get their info from youtube highlight clips and wouldn't recognize Laremy Tunsil if they were sitting next to him at dinner.
Regardless, mock drafts are fun because they focus attention on players or positions that we can sit around and endlessly talk about. Because that's what we do, especially in the offseason.
The pie charts above will automatically update with as the mock drafts in the SB Nation mock draft database are updated leading up to the actual draft, so we'll continue to monitor the change in opinions over the next few weeks.