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Cowboys 2016 Draft: 10 Blue-Chip Prospects That Have Been Linked To Dallas

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The Dallas Cowboys have shown interest in these blue-chip NFL Draft prospects.

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As the days go by, the 2016 NFL Draft continues to get closer and as the offseason progresses, the Dallas Cowboys have to keep thinking of ways to get to the Super Bowl in the next few years before Tony Romo retires. If Romo remains healthy for the entirety of the season, the Cowboys are without a doubt one of the better teams in football.

In 2015, despite losing 12 games, the Cowboys were really only blown out in two games, against the New England Patriots in Week 5 and the Carolina Panthers in Week 12. However, it should be said that a combination of Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden quarterbacked the Cowboys for the bulk of the 2015 season and the fact that they were in all but two games starting those quarterbacks is truly quite impressive.

While 2015 was an absolute mess, there were some silver linings to come out of it. The Cowboys saw plenty of progression from a bunch of players. Darren McFadden and Jack Crawford are two players that established themselves as contributors on this roster. Both were guys the Cowboys brought in off the street to play and contribute. But it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Cowboys found production where other teams could not. That's been something that has been preached under the player personal and management of Stephen Jones and Will McClay.

The main silver lining, however, is that the Cowboys will hold the fourth-overall pick in this year's draft as well as a top pick in almost every round beyond that. When you look at the teams in the top ten, it's clear that the Cowboys have by far and away the best overall talent. A successful draft can do wonders for this team's immediate window as well as its long-term growth. That being said, I decided to compile a list of draft prospects the Cowboys have shown interest in or have been rumored to. Without further adieu, let's get started.

Blue-Chip Draft Targets

The blue-chip draft targets are the guys that are the premier players in this year's class. In a healthy Romo season, the Cowboys would not be linked to any of these guys. But because they're drafting so high, these players are all in the cards for Dallas and that should scare a ton of teams. These targets are all players that can come in immediately and help at positions of need.

Ezekiel Elliott, Running Back, Ohio State

There is no secret that the Cowboys have mutual interest with the Ohio State running back. Elliott is the best running back prospect I've scouted since Adrian Peterson. I fully believe he's better than Todd Gurley. In terms of who would be the best immediate addition, Elliott is definitely up there. Sure running back isn't the biggest need, but truth be told, the Cowboys' offense is at its best when their running back is in top-form. Dallas will likely add a running back at some time in this year's draft and if they feel that Elliott is going to be a perennial Pro Bowler for years to come, you should be happy with this pick no matter what.

Source/Chatter:

Joey Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State

The Cowboys have yet to make much ground with the defensive end position so far this offseason. Randy Gregory's suspension will keep him out of the first four games of the year and Jack Crawford's contract situation has yet to get resolved. Chris Long could be in the cards, but Joey Bosa looks more and more to be in the cards at four as the days go on. Bosa dominated college competition and while there are concerns of how he would win battles in the NFL, I still believe he's a guy that could get at least 10-13 sacks a season once he fully develops.

Source/Chatter:

Jalen Ramsey, Defensive Back, Florida State

In my opinion, the safest pick in this draft class would be Jalen Ramsey. Currently on my board, Laremy Tunsil is the best overall pick. But a close No. 2 is Ramsey, an athletically-gifted cornerback/safety who wins in all facets of the game. He's extremely intelligent, plays with unbelievable swagger, and he embodies what is needed to be productive at both cornerback and strong safety. If he's available at four, I think he's the sure-fire pick.

Source/Chatter:

One team that would not be happy to see Jalen Ramsey going so early are the Dallas Cowboys as I’m told he’s presently graded as the top player on their board." - Tony Pauline

Robert Nkemdiche, Defensive End, Ole Miss

If it were a year ago, Nkemdiche would be getting hype as a top overall player in this year's draft. However, a down 2015 college football campaign added in with some off-field problems has made Nkemdiche as somewhat of a guy who may not get drafted in the first round. However, one team that still has interest is the Cowboys. Interestingly enough, I don't think Nkemdiche is in play at four, but if he gets near the second round, I think the Cowboys could start picking up the phones in hopes of trading up from the 34th overall pick.

Source/Chatter:

"Teams in the top 5 are evaluating him like he's going to be a top-5 pick. Specially the Dallas Cowboys have been very, very involved starting to get background information on him from trainers from coaches, reaching out to that Ole Miss Staff. I would love to see him in Dallas. You put him in there next to Tyrone Crawford, you have some speed rushers like Randy Gregory on the edge. Could be scary with him in the 3-technique position rushing between the guard and tackle, that's a great spot for him." - Bleacher Report's Matt Miller

DeForest Buckner, Defensive End, Oregon

One guy I'm not as high on as others is DeForest Buckner. From some preliminary scouting, I can say that Buckner is a behemoth type of athlete that will intrigue coaching staffs and scouts for his sheer athleticism and potential. However, Buckner may be better suited for the 3-4 defensive system rather than the 4-3. But because Dallas wants that freak pass rusher at the left defensive end position, Buckner may just be that pick.

Source/Chatter:

Noah Spence, Defensive End, Eastern Kentucky

There were some concerns about Noah Spence and his character. But the past few weeks have been huge for Spence, as he's gone to pretty much a guaranteed top-15 selection. Spence is the best EDGE rusher in this draft class and while he may be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a rushing outside linebacker, there's a ton to like out of Spence. However, selecting him at four would be somewhat of a reach, at least in my eyes.

Source/Chatter:

Andrew Billings, Defensive Tackle, Baylor

Drafting a defensive tackle with the fourth-overall pick would be absolutely ludicrous to me, but I think the Cowboys are creating a contingency plan in case their board falls out at four and they're forced to trade back. With the addition of Cedric Thornton in free agency, adding a thumping nose tackle like Andrew Billings would be confusing, but the Cowboys did have a formal interview with the former Baylor Bear.

Source/Chatter:

Carson Wentz, Quarterback, North Dakota State

The prospect who has seen his stock rise the most in the past few months is Carson Wentz. Coming from little-known North Dakota State, Wentz is one of the better passers to ever come from the FCS level. Fortunately for the Cowboys, the coaching staff was able to get a more in-depth view of the prospect, as they were the coaches of Wentz at the Senior Bowl. There have been reports about the Cowboys not taking a quarterback at four, but they have still shown interest in Wentz.

Source/Chatter:

"Is it possible two quarterbacks will be top five selections in April? The answer from league insiders is "yes" with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff filling the slots. Wentz is watching his draft stock move north after the Senior Bowl and many believe the Combine is the perfect setting for Goff to show off his talents." - Tony Pauline

Jared Goff, Quarterback, California

I'm not a huge fan of this year's quarterback class, but I have to say that Jared Goff is my favorite quarterback in this class. He's extremely intelligent, looks natural in the pocket, and he has excellent touch. His arm isn't the strongest, but I think he would give the Cowboys a plan for the future after Romo hangs up the cleats.

Source/Chatter:

"[Charles] Robinson spoke with a prominent long-time personnel official who mentioned that if Jared Goff was available to the Cowboys at No. 4 pick overall, it's more likely Dallas would take him." - NFL Trade Rumors

"Is it possible two quarterbacks will be top five selections in April? The answer from league insiders is "yes" with Carson Wentz and Jared Goff filling the slots. Wentz is watching his draft stock move north after the Senior Bowl and many believe the Combine is the perfect setting for Goff to show off his talents." - Tony Pauline

Paxton Lynch, Quarterback, Memphis

Because Goff is a better overall prospect than Paxton Lynch to begin with and Wentz has gotten so much hype, it seems that Lynch has been talked about less and less in the past couple of weeks. With so many quarterback-needy teams, Lynch will be a first-round pick in my book. There were reports about the Denver Broncos being seriously interested in him, so that eliminates the Cowboys getting him in the second round, unless they trade up. Nevertheless, the Cowboys met with Lynch, so he makes the list.

Source/Chatter:

Braxton Miller, Wide Receiver/Offensive Weapon, Ohio State

The Senior Bowl's biggest winner was Braxton Miller. Because the Cowboys were the coaches of Miller at the Senior Bowl, they're the coaching staff that has seen the most of Miller and what he can do at the wide receiver position, a position that has come quite naturally to him, despite being new to it. Miller is an unreal talent and if he checks off what the Cowboys want in a receiver, there's a chance he doesn't get past their second-round pick.

Source/Chatter:

The Cowboys had an interview with Miller after the Senior Bowl.

Disclaimer: If there are players I'm missing, leave a comment with the name and the source and I'd be glad to add them into this list. Thanks for reading!

Follow me on Twitter: RyanRattyNFL