12 Sleeper Draft Picks for Dallas Cowboys in 2011
Last year, I published a list of 10 sleepers to come to the Dallas Cowboys in 2010. That list included a small-school prospect who I loved and a player you may now know quite well: Akwasi Owusu-Ansah. I listed only South Carolina’s Eric Norwood as a more likely “sleeper” to come to Dallas.
This season, I am giving you 12 names you might see on a Cowboys uniform in 2011. All of these players are either considered unlikely to come to Dallas or simply have not been discussed as much as they should. Listed after each player’s name is the round in which I think he could be an option for the ‘Boys.
Sleepers for Dallas Cowboys in 2011 Draft
- Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia – Round 2
Starting with one of the bigger sleepers right out of the gate. I have Houston rated much higher than anyone else as the No. 5 overall player on my board. He brings an explosive first step unlike anyone else in this draft. If the Cowboys have him rated anywhere near where I do, there is no way they can pass on him in the second round. Unfortunately, I don’t think Houston will make it out of the first.
- Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida – Round 1
Pouncey isn’t a sleeper in the sense that he doesn’t make sense in Dallas or that no one is talking about him. It’s just that Pouncey is projected to get selected in that “gray area” between the Cowboys’ first two selections. Trading up into the mid-20s from the No. 40 spot would cost way too much, and I don’t think Pouncey will drop out of the first round. He is certainly an option in a trade down, but can a team in position to secure a true game-changer really sell Pouncey as their first pick?
- Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina – Round 2
A lot of people think Austin could get selected in the first round, but he is probably just as likely to fall into the second. I don’t buy Rob Ryan’s claim that Jay Ratliff is set to remain solely at nose tackle, so I have not yet ruled out the possibility of the Cowboys drafting one. We are all talking about Phil Taylor and Kenrick Ellis, but what about Austin?
- Greg McElroy, QB, Alabama – Round 6
The Cowboys have shown a lot of interest in McElroy, so this isn’t a total sleeper. What will be surprising to some, though, is the idea of the Cowboys drafting a quarterback at all. Tony Romo and Jon Kitna are obviously automatics to make the roster, and Stephen McGee showed some good things last year. With so many holes, selecting a quarterback might not be wise, even in the sixth round. If the Cowboys like a signal-caller enough, though, you can bet they will pounce on him late.
- Aldon Smith, DE/OLB, Missouri – Round 1
Smith was really the inspiration for this article. The Cowboys reportedly love the kid and, as I wrote yesterday, Rob Ryan’s scheme will thrive with an abundance of talented pass-rushers (even more so than others). Smith is still quite a longshot, but don’t rule anything out with Jerry.
- Akeem Ayers, ILB/OLB, UCLA – Round 2
There is really no evidence the Cowboys are interested in Ayers, but I think he makes some sense. The Cowboys need to find an inside linebacker of the future to take over for Bradie James, but the hole isn’t big enough to address early in the draft. If the team is indeed interested in securing another pass-rusher, however, a prospect with inside/outside linebacker versatility could very well be an option.
- Dontay Moch, DE/OLB, Nevada – Round 3
Moch is a project, so he may not be an option for a Cowboys team that thinks they can win now. The ‘Boys have hosted Moch, however, and the cost (likely third round, perhaps even fourth) wouldn’t be nearly as much as with Aldon Smith or Akeem Ayers.
- Jurrell Casey, DT, USC – Round 2
See Austin, Marvin. Casey is projected lower than Austin, but I don’t think he will be an option for Dallas in the third. If he does drop there, he makes an awful lot of sense. More likely is a trade down in the second (or up from the third) to grab him.
- Taiwan Jones, RB, Eastern Washington – Round 3
I expect the Cowboys to address the running back spot in the draft, but not until the late rounds. If they deem a back a great enough value in the third, though, he could theoretically be an option. Jones is a player I could see being very high on some boards (like my own). The Cowboys have brought Jones in for a visit, so there is some interest. Plus, Jones could be an insurance policy against a Felix Jones injury.
- James Brewer, OT, Indiana – Round 2
There has obviously been some talk about the Cowboys selecting a non-offensive lineman in the first round. I think that would be a mistake, but the rumors make me wonder if they really like an offensive tackle who they believe will be available for them in the second round. Brewer will almost certainly still be on the board, so is this the player the ‘Boys possibly covet?
- Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois – Round 2
See Ayers, Akeem. Note that, while Ayers will likely be gone by the Cowboys’ 40th overall pick, Wilson probably will not. I have Wilson rated slightly ahead of Ayers.
- James Carpenter, OT, Alabama – Round 2
See Brewer, James. There has been talk of Carpenter getting selected in the first round, so he is probably higher on most boards than Brewer. Nontheless, he is likely to be available for Dallas in the second and he could be a reason the team might bypass the tackle position in the first.
Likelihood of Sleeper Picks Becoming Cowboys
1. Mike Pouncey
2. Greg McElroy
3. James Carpenter
4. James Brewer
5. Jurrell Casey
6. Martez Wilson
7. Marvin Austin
8. Dontay Moch
9. Akeem Ayers
10. Taiwan Jones
11. Aldon Smith
12. Justin Houston
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