The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft: Version 1.0

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Jonathan Bales

Up until this point, I’ve refrained from creating a mock draft because I wanted time to analyze as many prospects as possible before guessing who Dallas might select (the potential prospects I’ve analyzed thus far are here).

The anticipation is becoming too much for me, which is sad considering it is the middle of February.  Hence, I will put forth my first attempt at a Cowboys-only mock draft for 2011.

There is one major issue I want to discuss before diving into the picks.  I created this mock draft assuming the Cowboys will sign a free safety in free agency.  Michael Huff (Raiders) and Eric Weddle (Chargers) are two guys I love, but pretty much anyone can beat Alan Ball and his 67.7 percent overall grade for the 2010 season.  You can see all of my safety grades here.

The reason I think the Cowboys will target a free safety before the draft is because of the weakness of this year’s prospects. UCLA’s Rahim Moore could be the best of the bunch, but I provided him with just a second-round grade.  It sure would be nice to head into the draft with at least one of the major positional concerns patched up, and free safety seems like the best bet to me.

Also note that, for this mock draft, I am assuming no trades for the ‘Boys.  Thus, they’re “stuck” in the No. 9 hole.  Now on to the picks. . .

  • Round 1:  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

For the ‘Boys, scooping up Dareus in the first round might be a dream.  Actually, I think the Cowboys would need a sensational trade offer to move back if Dareus is still on the board at No. 9.

His versatility is something the Cowboys generally covet.  He’s big and strong enough to play the nose in a 3-4 defense (some say he’s too small, but he’s bigger than Jay Ratliff and more of an “anchor” than the Cowboys’ current starter inside).  If the Cowboys envision Dareus as a potential nose tackle, he might create an upgrade at two positions, as Ratliff could then move to defensive end.

Like Ratliff, Dareus could also excel outside as a five-technique defensive end.  With none of the current defensive ends on the roster possessing a certain future in Dallas, it’s clear the team needs an upgrade at the position.  A look at my 2010 Defensive Line Grades suggests that as well.  Let’s also not forget that a more stout defensive line generally equates to a better secondary.

In nickel situations, Dareus would kick inside to tackle.  How does a four-man nickel defensive line of DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff, and Marcell Dareus look to you?

Right tackle is undoubtedly the Cowboys’ largest weakness.  I gave starter Marc Colombo the lowest grade of any player, ever (a 63 percent), including an ‘F’ in pass protection (see all 2010 Offensive Line Grades here).  He allowed 40 quarterback pressures.  What the hell?

I personally think the Cowboys should look into trading back in the first-round and then (if need be) trading back up from the second-round to be certain they acquire one of the better offensive tackles in this year’s class.  To me, Carimi is one of the best tackles in this draft and, surprisingly, has a shot to fall to Dallas’ second-round selection.

The reason Carimi could drop is that most teams will probably view him as a right tackle only.  That’s a major concern for a lot of organizations, but not me.  Left tackle is certainly the most important position on the offensive line, but I don’t see it as that much more vital than right tackle.  Plus, what does it matter if a guy is a left tackle if he is overrated?  I’m looking at you, Nate Solder.

In my scouting report on Carimi, I said the following:

Like Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi is another mammoth offensive lineman (6’7″, 315 pounds).  Unlike Solder, however, Carimi seems to be a natural bender.  He isn’t tight in the hips, but that isn’t to say Carimi is incredibly light on his feet either.  Although Carimi plays with what I consider to be outstanding leverage and balance, his lack of elite athleticism probably makes him a better fit for the right side than the left (which could fit Dallas well). . .Overall, however, I like Carimi’s game.  Although he gets flack for not being an elite pass protector, I think he’ll be just fine at the next level.  His technique is above average and his skill set seems to coincide with that which one needs to play right tackle.  See ya Colombo.

  • Round 3:  Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

Despite the need for a new starting free safety, I don’t think the safety position is as poor as everyone makes it out to be.  Yes, Ball is garbage, but I am way higher on strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh than most (I gave him an 87 percent and rated him as the team’s fifth-best player in 2010. . .yes, fifth).  You can check out my entire 2010 Dallas Cowboys Player Rankings here.

Since we’re going into this mock draft with the idea of Dallas having already acquired a starting free safety, the position isn’t that big of a need at this point.  The starters are set, and there is some potential sitting behind them (I still really like Akwasi Owusu-Ansah).

The future of the cornerback position, on the other hand, looks cloudy at best.  Terence Newman is getting old in a hurry and Mike Jenkins regressed considerably in 2010.  I was really high on Orlando Scandrick, but I don’t think his skill set would fit well on the outside.  He’s a nickel cornerback, and that’s probably it.

The Cowboys love speed in their cornerbacks (who doesn’t?), and Utah’s Brandon Burton is a burner.  He’s tall (6’1”) and has the potential to add some quality size (he’s only 185 pounds now).  Despite the lack of elite weight, Burton is a physical player.  He tackles with good form and, more importantly, he’s willing to stick his nose in there.

Burton is very athletic, displaying fluid hips and excellent ball skills.  The Cowboys need a playmaker in the secondary, and Burton is just that (the lack of interceptions are the result of few opportunities. . .a good thing).

  • Round 4:  Will Rackley, G, Lehigh

Current starting guards Kyle Kosier and Leonard Davis both could be out of Dallas in 2011.  I don’t envision that happening, but it’s still a possibility.  I’ve been very high on Kosier the past two years, voting him the team’s most underrated player in 2009 and providing him with the seventh-highest grade in 2010.

The Cowboys need an infusion of youth along the entire offensive line, however.  I have had the chance to watch Lehigh offensive tackle Will Rackley a few times, and I think he could fit well in Dallas.  Rackley projects as a guard in the NFL, and his size (6’4”, 310 pounds) would make him the prototypical Cowboys lineman.

Rackley is tremendous in pass protection.  He’d probably already be an upgrade over Davis in that department.  Although Rackley attended a Division 1-AA school, it wasn’t due to a lack of talent.  He reportedly had plenty of big-school offers but decided to go to Lehigh for the academics.  Thus, character concerns are probably non-existent.

  • Round 5:  Jeron Johnson, SS, Boise State

Due to the current labor situation, I think current strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh will still be in Dallas in 2011.  He’s technically a free agent, but the ‘Boys can still retain him if a new deal isn’t hashed out by March, or they could franchise him (if they don’t use the tag on Doug Free).

If the latter option is invoked, the Cowboys would basically be telling Sensabaugh to “prove it” again.  Even though I provided him with a good grade in 2010, I still think he over-performed.  If his play drops in 2011, the position could become a concern.  The Cowboys know this (and they also know Barry Church and Danny McCray haven’t shown much in the way of coverage ability), so Jeron Johnson might become an option.

Johnson is a player who has simply produced in college.  He led Boise State in tackles last season, despite weighing only 195 pounds.  His lack of elite straight-line speed is why he’ll drop, however.  Nonetheless, I think he plays faster than he will time.

  • Round 6:  Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

At 6’4”, 310 pounds, Jenkins could be the pure nose tackle the Cowboys might seek.  Despite the prior selection of Marcell Dareus, Dallas could look to select a developmental defensive lineman late in the draft.  Remember, Dareus has the potential to play nose tackle, but he’s not a sure thing.  He might be best-suited at defensive end.

Jenkins has been labeled a “one-dimensional” player who only stops the run, but that might be all the Cowboys need from their nose tackle of the future.  With Ratliff/Dareus/Bowen kicking inside in nickel situations, Jenkins would be off of the field anyway.

  • Round 7:  Mario Harvey, ILB, Marshall

With Keith Brooking likely out of Dallas in 2011 and Bradie James’ play declining, the Cowboys could address the inside linebacker spot in the middle to late rounds of the draft.  I really like the improvement I saw from rookie Sean Lee (I graded him as the Cowboys’ most efficient inside linebacker with an 82.4 percent), but he’ll need help in the future.

Harvey is a beast inside (250 pounds) and could add some physicality to a somewhat “soft” defense.  Although Harvey would probably come off of the field in passing situations, he’d certainly improve the blitz packages from the inside linebacker spot.

Other Potential Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks in 2011

Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara

Cal DT/DE Cameron Jordan

UNC DE/OLB Robert Quinn

Ohio State DT/DE Cameron Heyward

Colorado OT Nate Solder

Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi

Iowa DE Adrian Clayborn

USC OT Tyron Smith

Miami CB Brandon Harris

LSU CB Patrick Peterson

UCLA FS Rahim Moore

Baylor NT Phil Taylor

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

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23 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft: Version 1.0

  1. willis says:

    JohnC/ Bales – I disagree with your assesment of Watt, I think his motor is outstanding and he is a terror for quarterbacks in the passing lane. Yes, he is not the most mobile DE in the class, but that does not worry me much because I’m looking at him from a 3-4 DE standpoint, not an edge rusher, where I think it would be a bigger issue. And he was somewhat exposed by the option, but that does not concern me either because noone in the NFL runs the option…. or at least on a consistent basis.

    That being said, I totally agree with your opinions on Liuget. He is awesome; his motor is great, he has great technique, and he never gives up. As a matter of fact he is rated higher or as high as Dareus (by scouts inc) in every category, although for some reason his overall grade is lower. The knock on Dareus is that he gives up on plays, which is a mental thing that can’t reallybe taught. Liuget is the exact opposite. I know Dareus was in a Saban Defense on an excellent team, and had a great year in 2009. But his lackluster performance in 2010, and the questionability of his motor actually has me leaning towards Liuget as the best 3-4 DE in the class.

  2. john coleman says:

    Not bad! I’m not very familiar with Rackley or Johnson. The overall player coverage with needs in mind is solid.

    With the uncertainty of things CBA/FA/ New coaches it is really hard to get any kind of gauge on what is going on. So assuming we end up picking at #9 here goes.
    1st-Corey Liuget
    2nd- DeAndre McDaniel
    3rd-Nate Irving

  3. john coleman says:

    Oops here’s the rest;
    4th-Lee Ziemba
    5th-Chris Culliver
    6th-Kenrick Ellis
    7th-Zach Hurd

    As things develop and the fog lifts this could change drastically. Also after the combine players may rise or fall dramatically. So 2.0 could be completely different. If we can manage a move down it would also drastically change my thinking.

    Looking at teams with picks to spare you have Buffalo, NE, and SF who might be willing. NE would be risky as they a extremely sharpe in their dealings. These three all have 8 or more picks.

  4. john coleman says:

    BTW it is not out of the question for JJ to move up. I would not personally, with the exception of Peterson. I think 4 or 5 is as far as I would go for him.

  5. Willis–Points well received. There’s something to be said for taking the “sure thing,” especially in the early rounds. Leave the developmental projects for later. To me, though, you can find a player with the same shot at success at Watt but with greater athleticism and upside. I’m just afraid Watt has peaked in college. I will admit I had those concerns about Sean Lee last year, but I’m really warming up to him.

    JC–Nice mock, but No. 9 for Liuget seems really early. Do you anticipate that he’ll rise that far by draft day? Would a trade down be more likely at that point?

  6. willis says:

    JC… I like the mock . I’m assuming you have us locked in at number nine. If I had to choose at no. nine I would not get Liuget, just b/c of the value which you could get for him(right now… not anticipaing your 2.0 mock(which I hope is coming due to your well reasoned insight)). But I definately agree with you and JBales that he is a very good prospect. As to the rest of you mock draft… I am not up to par, I took the LSAT on saturday and haven’t been doing much else But you make good points. and I will check up on the guys you pointed out because IRYO… your points are well recieved.

    JBales – I understand your concerns about watt, but IMO Motor and attitude are the most important things for an interior lineman. Maybe I’m a fool, but I would rather have him or Liuget(guys with high motors) than Dareus.IMO the motor issue coul implicate other issues about beig a football player

  7. willis says:

    Oh… also -Todd Mcshay has Peterson going number 7. WHat are your thoughts abouttrading up?

  8. Willis–How do you think you did on the LSAT? Do you get instant scoring on a comp? Keep me updated.

    And if PP drops to 7, there’s NO WAY I’m not doing everything possible to move up. The cost wouldn’t be that great. That’s a no-brainer to me.

  9. Chris stallcup says:

    I thought the cowboys don’t have a seventh round pick this year because of josh brent

  10. They got one in the Crayton deal.

  11. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I hate to be the nay sayer but I doubt Dareus will be avail at 9 as that would probably mean someone w/ picks 1-8 picked up a QB.

    I know there are some pretty dumb GMs and owners, but no one should pick up any QB from this class in the top 15 picks. There are far too many FA QBs that will probably be avail (Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, etc.) or trade options like (Kevin Kolb or Carson Palmer). Taking Gabbert, Locker or Newton over any of these other options just doesn’t make sense.

  12. john coleman says:

    JB- It all comes down to whether Rob Ryan feels the Dline or the secondary is the problem. He is on record saying the CBs are not as bad as people think. However that could be a smokescreen.

    As far as Liuget goes, he will rise some, IMO. I think he is 30-34 now on most boards. The thought is do the Boys view him as a 1st rd talent.

    Others at #9-DaQuan Bowers, Cameron Jordan, Adrian Claiborne, and Robert Quinn as DEs. If they go CB then it’s Amukamara or Harris.

    With all that said, FS a bigger need than DE or CB. Problem is that there are no FS talents that high unless they see Amukamara moving.

    Still I’m all for moving down and somehow gaining a pick in the 2nd and/or 3rd. As I stated earlier it may be hard to make that happen.

    TJ-I agree that Dareus will likely be gone. Also McShay is loco if he thinks Peterson drops to 7th. But it would be nice. If that happens we would surely have to go get him.

  13. Tyrone–Certainly a possibility, but you know there are going to be at least one (maybe two) QBs in the top 10. That’s why I think Dareus COULD drop. Someone has to drop.

    JC–Of the options you mentioned at No. 9, I’d rate them as follows: Bowers, Quinn, Harris, Jordan/Clayborn (unsure yet), Amukamara. I don’t think Bowers/Quinn will fall, however.

  14. john coleman says:

    JB-I’ll buy that as far as a ranking. I honestly have not studied Bowers. Just read a few reports on him.

  15. Vince_Grey says:

    I LOVE your mock draft. I would sleep very well indeed if it went that way in April.

    Maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth because of the past, but I hate the idea of drafting a DB in the top 10, especially a corner. To me, top 10 picks are reserved for QB’s, D-linemen, pass-rushing LB’s, and LT’s.

    I just don’t place great value in corners. To me, the supposed “great ones” rarely make a huge difference, and with a poor pass rush, the “great ones” become very ordinary, very quickly. You can’t have bad corners, but decent ones will do just fine.

    It’s like real estate is all about location? Pass defense is all about the pass rush.

  16. Mont Seventeen says:

    I don’t understand why ppl do mock drafts, except out of boredom… I have to second Vince Grey, #9 has to be an impact position. Playmaker on O, Pass Rusher, LT or QB… That’s it, that’s the list!

    In addition, Romo’s problem, winning games… a young stud that’s going to make plays. No way Jerry will draft a big ugly over a star in the making!

    My Top 5
    Von Miller
    Robert Quinn
    Blane Gabbert
    Adrian Clayborn
    Mega value trade

    I’ll be happy with any 1 of those 5!

  17. Vince_Grey says:

    Whoa there. If I gave the impression that we should draft a QB, that was my mistake. First, we’re just fine at QB. Mont, I don’t know where you get the idea Romo can’t win games. He’s won since he’s been a starter. Second, none of the QB’s I see available this year is a 1st rounder, much less a top ten guy.

  18. Mont–Drafting Blaine Gabbert would not help Dallas in any manner. Your claim that Romo hasn’t won games is nowhere near accurate.

  19. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Pick #1 – JJ Watt (DE) if they stay at 9, if they trade down, it will be for a RT.
    Pick #2 – Benjamin Ijalana (OG)
    Pick #3 – Jerrell Powe or Kenrick Ellis (NT)
    Pick #4 – Jamie Harper (RB)
    Pick #5 – Nate Irving (ILB)
    Pick #6 – Jalil Brown (CB)
    Pick #7 – Chris Hairson (OT)

  20. Tyrone–I’d be pretty happy with your draft, particularly Ijalana in the second. I haven’t posted much on him yet, but I love that guy.

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