It is almost time. In just a few short days, we are going to know the answers to the questions we've been asking ourselves for the last few months. But before that time comes, I'm going to take a shot at predicting the Cowboys draft picks through the fourth round (in a series of posts starting with round one). Anything past that is above my pay grade so I'm not going to devote attention to those spots.
Last year, my little board worked out nicely in my FanPost as I was correctly able to identify Byron Jones as the Cowboys pick. That wasn't too shocking though as a lot of us fans sniffed that one out. But even though there are fewer options in front of Dallas when their first round pick comes around this year, it feels much more difficult to figure out. But alas, I gave it a shot and here is what I got for the Cowboys first-round pick.
I don't know who the Cowboys are going to get with the four pick, but I do know that they are going to like him. Dallas will not trade back and are very excited about the options they'll have. Here are my three favorites:
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State
There is no secret that I am a Zeke freak. But it hasn't always been that way. The thought of taking a running back early in the draft just wasn't something I subscribed to. Last year, I supported the front office when they let DeMarco Murray walk. I get excited about the running backs that should be available in the later rounds of the draft. And I've been sold on the idea that the Cowboys offensive line is the real reason the running game was so successful in 2014. Everything about me points to not wasting such a precious draft pick on a running back. Everything, except one thing - the pure awesomeness of Zeke Elliott.
I'm a best player available kind of guy and Elliott is just one of those planet players that can impact the game in a big way. And that's what I'm looking for with this pick.
Jalen Ramsey, DB, Florida State
Up until last weekend, Ramsey had been number one on my board. The things he can do collectively are unmatched by anyone else in this draft. His size and strength allows him to push receivers off their routes and blow up screen plays. While he doesn't change directions as fluidly as Vernon Hargreaves III, he's got the speed to recover nicely and trail anyone down the field.
I understand that there is a little confusion as to where he should play at the NFL level, but that's the wrong way to look at it. Make no mistake about it, Ramsey will find his happy spot and when he does - it's going to mean great things for this defense. Just look at the success that the hybrid corner/safety Honey Badger has had in Arizona. Tyrann Mathieu is an All Pro defensive back. Ramsey can take the hybrid position to a new level.
DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon
While Joey Bosa is the pass rusher most experts are mocking to the Cowboys, he's not my top defensive end. Bosa has some character issues and while his complete body of work still lies ahead of him, Jason Garrett recognizes that a player's personal character has an impact on whether or not he can live up to his full potential. While Bosa has some great talent, how good he becomes is something that worries me.
And while Bosa tends to draw a lot of comparisons to J.J. Watt, it is DeForest Buckner who more closely resembles the Houston Texans' defensive end. Buckner is similar in size and like Watt, he can be a weapon from anywhere he lines up. The defensive linemen from Oregon is the most skilled DE in this draft. He's a power guy, but also has that all-important quick, first step. He uses his hands extremely well to get into the backfield and has the length to haul down ball carrier guys. He's dynamic enough to be a force against the pass and the run. Some people might think this is too early for Buckner to be drafted, but I am not one of those people.
Conclusion: With the fourth pick I'm torn between Zeke and Ramsey, but the front office recognizes the explosiveness that Elliott brings to this team. The Cowboys haven't been too enthused about investing into a used RB, but getting a super talented one that is fresh out of college is a different story all together.
Here is how I suspect the first three picks to go...
#1 The Los Angeles Rams select QB, Jared Goff
#2 The Philadelphia Eagles select QB, Carson Wentz
#3 The San Diego Chargers select DE, DeForest Buckner
That means the top guy on my board is available.
Prediction: Ezekiel Elliott
The Cowboys have spent a lot of resources building the best offensive line in football. All that is left is the play maker. If you build it, he will run.