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2017 NFL Draft: Tiering Top 50 Players Offers Clues To Possible Cowboys Draft Targets

We look at a pool of players that could make up the Top 50 players in this draft and group them into three tiers.

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Before they went out of business, Pro Football Weekly (they are now back in business) used to produce a draft value chart using a fairly simple matrix chart: they divided each round into three tiers and slotted players accordingly.

The top ten players in the draft fell into tier "1A"; the next eleven comprised tier "1B," the next eleven were "1C," and so on. There are no draft value tiers from PFW this year (yet), but Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a close approximation, at least for our purposes. Every year, McGinn publishes an annual rundown of anonymous scout comments on the Top 50 prospects in the draft. McGinn, a distinguished writer and columnist covering the Green Bay Packers, explains his approach:

Based on interviews with executives in personnel for six teams, it is possible to narrow down just a little bit the pool of players that might be considered by the Green Bay Packers regardless of position if they exercise their current 29th selection in the first round of the NFL draft April 27.

Prospects are conservatively divided into three categories: As Good As Gone – barring negative developments, these players have virtually no chance of reaching No. 29; Probably Gone – players who appear to have no better than a 50-50 chance of remaining on the board at No. 29; and The Next Level – players who figure to be taken next.

McGinn offers a detailed take on each of the 50 players, which you can check out in the original article, but we're only interested in the names on his list for now.

Using the 'Little Board' format that rabblerousr has championed here on BTB, here are McGinn's top 50 players divided into three tiers:

POS
1-14 15-25
26-50
DEFENSE
DE Myles Garrett Solomon Thomas
Takkarist McKinley
Derek Barnett
Taco Charlton
Charles Harris
DT (1-tech)
Dalvin Tomlinson
DT (3-tech)
Jonathan Allen Caleb Brantley
Malik McDowell
ILB
Reuben Foster Zach Cunningham Raekwon McMillan
Jarrad Davis
Haason Reddick
OLB
Tim Williams
Ryan Anderson
T.J. Watt
CB Marshon Lattimore Marlon Humphrey
Tre'Davious White
Quincy Wilson
Sidney Jones
Adoree Jackson
Gareon Conley
S Jamal Adams Jabrill Peppers Marcus Williams
Malik Hooker
Obi Melinfonwu
Budda Baker
OFFENSE
QB Mitchell Trubisky Deshone Kizer
Deschaun Watson
Patrick Mahomes
OT Ryan Ramczyk
Garrett Bolles
Cam Robinson
OG/C Forrest Lamp
WR Mike Williams
Corey Davis
John Ross Curtis Samuel
RB
Dalvin Cook
Leonard Fournette
Christian McCaffrey Alvin Kamara
TE O.J. Howard David Njoku Evan Engram

The Cowboys use two boards in their war room during the draft. The Stack Board lists the 130 or so players the Cowboys usually have on their draft board in order from 1 to 130 and can be used if there is a tie between players based on their grades. The Position Board, as the name implies, ranks the players by position.

Barring a trade up, the Cowboys will almost certainly not get to pick from the 14 players listed in the "1-14" column above. Most names in this column are probably familiar to Cowboys fans by now, but having three offensive tackles in the Top 14 may come as a bit of a surprise.

The next tier, "15-25", are players could well be out of reach for the Cowboys with their first pick at No. 28. However, assuming these players are ranked similarly on the Cowboys' board, any of them could be the default pick if he slides to No. 28.

Going by this draft board and the Cowboys' presumed focus positions, that could narrow their first-round targets to DEs Solomon Thomas and Takkarist McKinley, CBs Marlon Humphrey and Tre'Davious White, TE David Njoku, WR John Ross (though his record-breaking 40-time has probably moved him out of reach of the Cowboys), with outsider chances for S Jabrill Peppers and LB Zach Cunningham.

The third tier, "26-50", has an abundance of players that could be a good fit for the Cowboys if they were to fall to the Cowboys' second pick at No. 60. Interestingly, that third tier of prospects is extremely defense-heavy, with eight defensive backs and six defensive linemen. Odds are that the 60th pick could be a good spot at which to pick a corner or defensive lineman - unless that's what the Cowboys picked in the first round already.

Technically, you could do this exercise with any type of draft board, be it CBS, Ourlads, Drafttek, Draftcountdown, or anybody else. But McGinn's rankings were built with NFL input, and while that may not necessarily count for much, it at least counts for something.

Overall, there's still a lot of ground to be covered before the Draft, but a "Little Board" like this can be a good starting point that will allow you to whittle down the names after the Combine, after free agency, and after the pre-draft visits, to arrive at a more manageable shortlist.

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