The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

12 Sleeper Draft Picks for Dallas Cowboys in 2011

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Jonathan Bales

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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14 Responses to 12 Sleeper Draft Picks for Dallas Cowboys in 2011

  1. Jonny Danger says:

    i did not think it was possible but if Nick Fairley is there at 9,i will choke jerry jones if he dont get him,this could be the biggest mistake since Randy Moss!

  2. Jonny Danger says:

    Seems we have another Jonny Danger on here. Oh well I personally wouldn’t touch Fairley but thats me. I have been waiting for something like this for awhile. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    Out of these “Sleeper” picks the top of my List would be
    1. Houston – Something about him…
    2. Aldon Smith – Liked him even more after watching “Game Changers” Thanks TV
    3.Taiwan Jones – Love this Kid
    4.Martez Wilson – Would be thrilled if we landed him
    5.M.Austin – Interested
    6.Pouncey – Impressed but not as much as I was for his brother.
    7. Carpenter – Potential
    8.The Rest however don’t care either way.

  3. Jonny Danger says:

    Was intrigued by this club interest in McElroy and had to look him up. I was very impressed by some of the video I saw of him. Ill have to put him at 4 just behind Jones on sleepers I want. Sorry McGoo I like ya but Id much prefer grooming this McElroy kid.

  4. john coleman says:

    Interesting prospects for sure.

    I like Justin Houston, but I’m not sure how he fits. As an OLB he would be a luxury based on the guys we already have.

    Marvin Austin would not surprise me at all. Considering Butch Davis is a former Cowboys coach, I’m sure we have the inside scoop. He could be a real steal. He has impressed me that he stayed in shape and put up 38 reps at the combine.

    As far as Aldon Smith goes- For some reason I’m not all that high on him. I’ll have to do a little more research. At this point he seems to be a tweener.

    Martez Wilson is a guy that I would not be upset with even in the back of the 1st. As you mentioned in your potential series, he brings ILB and OLB skills. He also had/has some pretty good college production.

    Brewer- I think he has decent measurables but otherwise I know little. Seeing as how I see RT as our biggest need, I’m hoping for Tyron Smith. This could be the year for Jerry to break the streak. A move to down to #14 and taking Smith would be perfect. The extra 3rd from St. Loius would be a bonus. Smith is so young that he will naturally get bigger and he is already big enough. Then you figure he could be around for 12-14 years, NO BRAINER. I saw a comparison somewhere between this years OT prospects and last years. Only Okung rated higher than Smith.

    I don’t like Ayers or Casey at all.

    MCElroy could be one of the bigger steals in the draft. People knock his arm strength and maybe they are right. The tape I have seen on him presented an efficient, cerebral, accurate QB. I’m not saying he is a franchise guy, but I do think he could be a capable backup.

    Carpenter-I’ll have to brush up.

    Jones, Moch, Pouncey- They would all be OK in the right spot. Pouncey is a late 20′s to early 2nd fit. The other two would be 4th or 5th rdrs to me.

    Bottomline to me is that we get a serious RT prospect and a NT(Taylor or Ellis). I personally prefer Ellis. Austin could fit if we see him as a Ratliffish player at NT or think he can play DE. I DO NOT favor a DE early as the guy is in a nonstat position in the 3-4. I would rather resign Spears and Bowen and get one later. Guy from Arizona is going to be a steal.

    Something like this; 1st-Tyron Smith #14, 2nd- Jimmy Smith/Ras-I-Dowling 40th, Late2nd/3rd-Kenrick Ellis, 3rd from Rams-Franklin/Boling, 4th-Gilchrist/Culliver, 5th-Lawrence Guy DE, 6th-Mike Mohammed, 7th-DaRel Scott, 7th- Schuylar Oordt TE

    In Jerry’s world who knows?

  5. willis says:

    Lol, johnny that did not seem like your normal type of post and I was a bit curious at first!

    I think a relevant point when talking about Greg Mcelroy is that his dad is one of the top brass in the cowboys draft office, I remember jerry jones rooting for Alabama last year in the title game because of this, and giving a speech about the cowboy family. There are certainly some ties there, however, we have a project quarterback in Mcgee and I just can’t see Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones sacrificing a guy’s job who they have talked up and invested so much time in.

    Thats just my opinion, but at the ranch egos aren’t checked at the door, and even as bad as some of these drafts as been, noone likes to admit they are wrong when it comes to a player they drafted. Take for example the felix jones vs chris johnson feature last season when we played the titans. (don’t get me wrong, I love felix and totally agree w/ JB that he is our best running back, but if hindsight is 20/20, I think at this point intime there are not a lot of people who would take felix over CJ)

  6. Jonny–I really don’t know why there are “so many” of you but the IP address and email are different..there might actually be another Jonny Danger haha…glad you like Houston a lot as well…I can’t find many people who see what I see, and it seems like the is the least talked about potential 1st-rounder…I think he is a Pro Bowl player.

  7. JC–I think that is a pretty realistic looking mock at the bottom of your comment….Tyron Smith at 14 would be amazing…don’t think J Smith will be there in the 2nd and I don’t even know if he is on Dallas’ board, but Dowling should be available. Kenrick Ellis in the late 2nd or 3rd would have me ecstatic. I don’t think Franklin will be available in the 3rd, although it is definitely possible. Boling should. Overall…I love the players in your draft and if it turned out like that, I would be thrilled .

  8. Willis–I also think a QB would be an upset, but if they select one, I fully expect it to be McElroy. I have heard Garrett is in love with Dalton, but I can’t see spending what would have to be a 2nd on a quarterback.

  9. Jonny Danger says:

    Haha well I guess they just like my name that much… Will the real Jonny Danger please stand up! Sorry for that lame eminem joke forgive me.

    Anyways I’m with you all the way on Felix Jones Willis. I support all my Cowboys up to the point of where its obvious they need to go. Looking at you Barber and especially you Colombo! (I haven’t been as disappointed or cursed continuously at a current cowboy ever before until seeing Colombo play last season)I believe without a doubt we wish we could have snagged Johnson instead of Jones but at the time I’m just assuming they went for Jones to be a compliment to Barber and didn’t give much more thought elsewhere. He is still effective on the outside and with better play calling by JG and some durability I imagine him doing quite well. I keep pulling for Choice though he is just so hard not to like and has yet to be giving a true opportunity.

    Jonathan you got it partner glad to be in your corner on Houston. I just really like him. As you said his first step Is incredible and I like the way he approaches the game. He may be a gem that many people regret not spending more time on. I may be in the minority on this site but I truly hope we land another pass rusher early. Especially with are new man calling up some very exciting defensive plays. I would really love it if there was an elite Middle LineBacker he would be tops on my to get list but unfortunately I do not see one here. I suppose Inside backers are not treated as highly anymore but they still hold a place in my heart haha.

    Not to say a tackle such as Tyron Smith and Castonzo wouldn’t be welcomed with a huge smile. I’m just a full on defensive man and are defensive play last season was an embarrassment to the club.

  10. willis says:

    Man love the thoughts there JD.

    I’ll be honest and say I am graduating from TCU in may. If you had asked me a year ago if dalton was going to be drafted I mght have laughed. I think quarterbacks sometimes get overrated because of how good the team is, and Dalton might very well be in that category.(I’m thinking of Gary Pattersons defense here)

    However I do think he is one of the smartest QB’s coming out of this class (via comparisons from Grudens QB camp). If Jason Garrett s truly going to have a regime change and try to build a dynasty, I believe we will see a draft which is not “splash” pick oriented and also not a regular “jerrah” draft.

    I”ve heard Dalton is a bit pretentious, but at the same time I almost want that in my team leader. I’m not sure I would want a guy like Ryan Mallett who is (IMO) obviously trying to make up for character issues by saying yes sir/maam to every question. When Dez does that… its one thing, he’s a reciever. But a leader, a guy who is supposed to be a quarterback? No. Not in my mind.

    I would like to point out that the top end of last years draft, dez bryant, sean lee and akwasi was an A in my book, but the back end wth sam young, jamar wall, and sean lissemore was an F.

    If I had to grade it out would give it a C. The reasoning is that I personally expect the cowboys, who are supposed to be… and are, the greatest “fing” team ever, to be the best at everything in all categories. I am hoping and expecting that the thing we are the best at is not stadium building, but rather, team building. Maybe that is a stretch, but as much as I love the 60 yard HDTV, I would trade it in a heartbeat for another Lomabardi. I can not stand the fact that the steelers have more trophies than we do.

    I’m hoping Jerrah reads this, and please do not think I do not have respect for the guy, I do. He has won us three championships, which is more than the majority of teams have dreamt about. But this a what have you done lately league, and honestly, what have the cowboys been lately?

    ….. The answer, if being honest, is hard for any cowboys fan to swallow. I can defend Romo and every other player as much as I want, but we all know that in the end, these types of players are judged by championships. Guys(and gals) noone gives an flying F for the team that doesn’t win. I could sit here and talk about Bob Lilly, Rayfield Wright, Larry Allen, and Troy Aikman, and the majority of people wouldn’t know if they played for the Cowboys or a Cricket team if they had not won championships.

    What seperates the championship players from the others is the championships… How do you draft a guy who is going to win championships? In my limited opinion, the largest criteria for having an individual is not skill, physical stature, or ability, but rather the want to, drive, motor, or force which makes up the individuals character. A michael Irvin for instance.

    I will take a guy who works his behind off all day over soomeone who has “potential”

    Tangent or no, I am praying we get some fresh air in our draft status and see a change in the type of picks we get. I think that maulers, bruisers, scrappers and generally nasty individuals (like Larry Allen, Bob Lilly, or 2tall) are the ilk of what we need to chase. Let the Lions have all the skill players, lets get the mean mofos who want to knock the slobber out of the other team. .

    I see the 09 draft .. the Jamar Wall pick, and I know I could have done a better job than whoever is getting paid bookoos of money to draft these guys…. the crazy thing is I don’t know half as much as other people on this sight. (looking at Tyrone, JD, and the rest of you know who you are, especially JB.) But I do know that high motor players(which is why I am so high on JJ watt) who love the game are often solid picks.

    It will be interesting to see te way dallas goes in this draft. If they do what we and the “experts” think they might do then we will know that they are looking for a championship next year. Whioch I believe is feasable(sorry T-rizzle). But in all honesty, if I was the Jason Garrett I would be building for a Dynasty, not a one year wonder.

  11. chris stallcup says:

    mcelroy would faint if he would be drafted by the cowboys. hes a huge fan of tony romo lol he is from the dallas area. went to southlake carol high school

  12. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Lots of good words (especially willis),

    Let me restate something that I think is important. The Cowboys, most likely, are 2-3 years from the Superbowl. Let me state that again. The Cowboys are 2-3 years from the Superbowl.

    Not trying to be a jackass or hater, just being realistic. Championships are won with defense and offensively in the “trenches.” The Boys have lots of heart when it comes to defense, but they lack the specific ability to execute the correct action at the correct time. Any team can have great and talented players, but it takes much more to make those players a cohesive unit (look at the Bengals). As far as the offensive line goes, I think we all know the issues there.

    I am a fan of building a championship team the correct way. That is to build it with a strong offensive line who can block for the run AND pass. The Packers have a 50/50 run pass distribution on 1st down last year. The Steelers were 60/40. The Cowboys were last in the league w/ 42/58 (see link below).

    http://www.preplaysports.com/2010/12/12/digging-into-some-advanced-nfl-stats-for-pps-insights-3rd-and-short-conversions-and-1st-down-play-distribution/

    Teams that consistently make the playoffs and contend for championships are ones that can win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Dallas hasn’t done that consistently in a while. Until they do, the only way they can have a chance to go deep in the playoffs is w/ a QB as elusive (and fast) as Michael Vick or via some “trick” or gimmick plays or both. Sooner or later, however, gimmick plays won’t work anymore and it comes down to just being able to block.

  13. Jonny–I like Houston enough that if he drops into the second, I would be making a move for him. I think he will be special.

    Willis–I think I am the only person who hated the Jamar Wall pick more than you. It made absolutely no sense. Great point about high-motor players…as long as it is EARLY in the draft. The teams that seem to have the most draft success are the ones who minimize downside early with safer picks, then maximize it later with high-upside players. That is why I wasn’t thrilled with the Sam Young and Lissemore picks…solid, hard-working players, but do either really have great upside? I have high hopes for Young, but they are just that..hopes.

  14. Tyrone..Awesome stats and site. I think the Cowboys need to use Felix Jones more in short-yardage (which will happen this year with Barber gone)…the idea that a short-yardage back needs to be big is erroneous. I will take one with quick-twitch ability who can make one subtle move and get going forward over a “bruiser” any day. There is no reason that Choice/Jones should not be effective in short-yardage. Well there IS a reason…and I think it has a lot to do with short-yardage play-calling predictability, but that is for another discussion.

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