As discussed last week, the fourth overall pick comes down to one choice, QB or no QB. However, once that decision is made, there is another set of decisions to be made. Finding the right player among those available will be very important as the Cowboys build their roster for 2016 and beyond. So who is on the shortlist? Here's mine, starting with the quarterbacks:
Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State
Carson Wentz is my top quarterback in this class. Despite the fact that he was only the starter at FCS level NDSU for a season and a half, he shows plenty of NFL level attributes. He shows an advanced level understanding of his offense, identifying mike linebackers, setting protections and making adjustments to route concepts on the fly. In addition, he displays a remarkable physical skillset. From the ability to make the type of throws that are vital to the Cowboys offense, regularly completing 15 yard comebacks from the far hash, to the ability to take off out of the pocket and turn negative plays into positive gains for his team, Wentz brings a rare combination of size, processor speed, and athletic ability that NFL teams will fall in love with. Wentz is a future franchise quarterback in the NFL.
Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Jared Goff is my #2 quarterback in this class, and will be very close to Wentz in their final grades. Goff does have an advantage over Wentz in his evaluation in the number of starts he has at the FBS level, and the quality of competition he faced. Goff possesses a high-speed mental processor, and gets to the correct receiver quickly. He has adequate NFL level arm strength to make the necessary throws, but will never be a "squeeze it in" guy. Some of his best throws are the ones down the field to the outside which would lend itself well to the Cowboys style of offense. The main question marks surrounding Goff come from the offense he plays in, and the lack of a history of successful NFL quarterbacks from that type of system.
Jalen Ramsey, DB. Florida State
Jalen Ramsey is the top position player in this draft and is a dynamic player that would bring a much needed play-making presence to the Cowboys secondary. His experience at both strong safety, free safety, slot corner, and outside corner would make him a valuable piece to plug into the back end of Rod Marinelli's defense. He has been an All-American level player at both safety and corner, although I value his play-making ability at the safety position. I would pair Ramsey at strong safety with Jones at free safety, and let Ramsey play close to the line of scrimmage, cover tight ends, and make big plays as a blitzer and in run support as he does on tape.
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Myles Jack is a versatile run and hit linebacker who fits at any of the three linebacker positions in the Cowboys defensive system. Jack is a rare combination of elite athleticism and the strength to hold up against guards and centers in the run game at the second level. There are games in Jack's career at UCLA in which he spent much of his time split out covering slot wide receivers, or outside wide receivers, without giving up many catches. In other games he lines up as a traditional linebacker position, and chases down run plays from sideline to sideline. He is coming off of a meniscus injury that shortened his 2015 season, but should not threaten his 2016 off season or rookie campaign.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
Ezekiel Elliott might be the single "safest" pick in the 2016 draft. He has great film from college, in addition to a high level of athleticism, and demonstrates the ability to be the complete three-down running back from day one in the NFL. Although he plays a position that has become devalued in the NFL due to the excess supply of quality backs, Elliott is one of a unique group of special runners that don't come around every year, and provides a unique opportunity for the Cowboys to double down on the investment they made in their offensive line. Considering that investment, it is not unreasonable to say that there is likely no player the Cowboys could pick that would have the same level of impact in 2016 as Elliott.
So there it is. The shortlist for the fourth-overall pick. There are some names that aren't mentioned here that play positions that are generally viewed as more valuable than those mentioned here, but these are the guys I would stand up for if I was in the draft room.