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Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft, Version 3.0: A Free Agent Right Tackle | The DC Times

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Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft, Version 3.0: A Free Agent Right Tackle

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Jonathan Bales

I personally believe my last Cowboys-only mock draft was my most realistic, with the team addressing the free safety spot via free agency and securing USC tackle Tyron Smith in the first round.

But what if the team address the offensive tackle spot in free agency (or has plans to do so, anyway), leaving a gaping hole at free safety?  I personally believe this is a poor strategy for two reasons.  First, there are plenty of quality free agent safeties, including Michael Huff, Eric Weddle and Dawan Landry.  Second, there are no first-round free safety talents available in this draft.

Perhaps Dallas sees it differently, however, and they believe they can secure a starting-caliber player in the second round (or later).  Plus, there are some quality offensive tackles that will be free agents, including Ryan Clady and Tyson Clabo.  By the way, you can see my entire Cowboys 2011 Free Agency/Draft Guide here.

If the Cowboys do plan on securing a veteran offensive tackle, their draft will look radically different from the one I predicted last week.  With Jerry Jones’ past hesitancy to select offensive linemen in the first round, though, the mock below may not be all that far-fetched.

Round 1- J.J. Watt, DT/DE, Wisconsin

Let me start by stating that, if the Cowboys do not plan on selecting an offensive tackle in the first round (or perhaps even if they do), I believe they will trade down from the ninth overall selection.  With the primary areas of concern being defensive end and safety, there is no reason for the ‘Boys to remain in their current draft slot.  The value simply isn’t there at those positions.  Plus, with Washington selecting 10th and in need of a quarterback and wide receiver, there could be a lot of potential trade partners.  I detailed those scenarios here.

With Dallas eying both Watt and Cal’s Cameron Jordan (also an option here), they would almost certainly be able to acquire a defensive end they like at, say, St. Louis’ 14th overall pick.  For this particular mock, we will assume they acquired an extra third-round pick.

Watt is a player I like, but one with whom I am not in love.  In my scouting report on him, I wrote:

One of my initial concerns about Watt is that, contrary to other reports, he doesn’t seem that stout at the point-of-attack.  I still stand by that statement.  Watt obviously has great size and strength, but when asked to hold ground against the run, he’s an average player.  It’s a bit perplexing, as Watt generally plays with superb leverage.  I think his mindset changes when he’s not asked to get after the quarterback and he becomes more tentative.  That could make him a poor fit in Rob Ryan’s two-gap scheme.

At 290 pounds, though, Watt seems to be a natural fit as a five-technique end.  For his size, Watt is incredibly quick and agile.  He finished in the top four among all defensive linemen in the bench press, vertical jump, broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle at the Combine.  Quite impressive.

Watt uses that athleticism on the field in a diverse array of pass rush moves, including what I consider the best swim move in the class.  His rip move and bull rush are also solid, particularly because of his leverage.

I personally prefer Jordan by a hair, but I do consider Watt to be a relatively safe pick.  In the first round, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Round 2- Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

If the Cowboys plan on addressing the free safety position via the draft (meaning attempting to find their starter), there are really only two players they will likely consider.  One is Texas cornerback Aaron Williams, who most view as a safety.  He is actually the top safety on my board, and I think he is a far better player than Moore.  In my opinion, he will be a first-round selection, but he is also certainly a possibility for Dallas here.

I see Moore as a second or third-round talent who is getting pushed up because he is the “consensus” top player at his position.  From my scouting report on Moore:

Moore’s range is quite good, but not extraordinary.  He diagnoses plays very quickly, however, and uses his intelligence to put himself in proper position.  He also has good speed which should help him become better in man-to-man coverage.  Sometimes he has trouble turning his hips and shadowing receivers.

I think Moore can be a good NFL player, but not a great one.  The Cowboys need to be sure they do not overvalue Moore simply because of the weakness of prospects at his position.

Note: Since the Cowboys must ensure they secure Moore (or whichever safety they covet), I have assumed they will use a mid-round pick (in this case, their fifth) to jump up a couple spots for him.

Round 3- Clint Boling, G, Georgia

The ‘Boys current interior linemen are quite long in the tooth.  Even though I think Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis should all stay in Dallas this season, the Cowboys need to address the interior line before it becomes a massive concern.

Boling reminds me much of Kosier in that, while he isn’t a dominating run blocker, he is superb in pass protection.  He is extremely athletic and uses his short-area quickness and athleticism to gain leverage on larger defenders.

Round 3- William Rackley, OT/OG, Lehigh (this pick acquired from first-round trade)

Yes, I had Rackley in all three of my Cowboys mock drafts, but I know the ‘Boys really like him.  He has the versatility to play any position on the offensive line, which could be huge in Dallas.  I think Rackley should get a look at tackle, but will probably eventually play guard in the NFL.

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, and who better than a prospect with legitimate potential to play every position on the line?

Round 4- Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State

Despite a pedestrian 4.52 40-yard dash at the Combine, Marsh plays fast.   He is extremely athletic, having played running back his first two years in college.  He is a bit lean (6’1”, 197 pounds), but he is a physical player who is willing to come up in run support.  Overall, I think he is a good fit in Rob Ryan’s scheme.  The Cowboys will have to address cornerback earlier than this if they cut Terence Newman, of course.

Round 6- Colin McCarthy, ILB, Miami

Due to McCarthy’s “low” weight (238 pounds), some might see him as a poor fit for Dallas.  Inside linebackers in a 3-4 defense are generally massive (think Bradie James), and the Cowboys already have a smaller linebacker in Sean Lee.

However, Rob Ryan’s 3-4 defense calls for defensive linemen to play two gaps, meaning the inside linebackers can probably get away with being a bit smaller.  Plus, the game is changing anyway, and I will take a player who can defend the pass over a run-stuffer any day.

McCarthy needs to work on his technique in coverage, but he is a high-motor player with some explosiveness who would look good with a star on his helmet.

Round 7- Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

I am pretty certain the Cowboys are going to come out of this draft with a running back.  I really, really hope it is a speedster (like Devine) who can catch some balls and become an insurance policy behind the fragile Felix Jones.  I think Jason Garrett might covet a bigger running back, but there will be far more value with the little guys in this particular draft.  Other options in the middle or late rounds include Taiwan Jones, Graig Cooper, Dion Lewis, Kendall Hunter, DeMarco Murray, Jacquizz Rodgers and Derrick Locke.  I like all of them.

Round 7- Byron Maxwell, CB, Clemson

At 6’0”, 201 pounds and running a 4.46 40-yard dash, Maxwell has a good size/speed combination.  I put much more stock in game film, but you want to garner upside in the late rounds.  Maxwell’s measurables indicate he has that.


Personally, I would not be very happy with this draft.  The only player in the group on whom I am high is Rackley.  I really think the Cowboys need to sign a free agent free safety and address the offensive tackle position in the first round.  The value of a Michael Huff/Tyron Smith combination, for example, far exceeds that of Tyson Clabo/J.J. Watt.

I do think Jerry Jones’ refusal to draft offensive linemen early does make a scenario similar to the one above possible, however.  As long as Marc Colombo and Alan Ball are not starting in 2011, though, the Cowboys will be a better team.

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12 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft, Version 3.0: A Free Agent Right Tackle

  1. john says:

    I keep hearing great sounding free agent names bandied about, like Weddle and Clabo. Weddle has a first round tender on him. I’m not sure about Clabo, but I’ll assume he does too. Shouldn’t that keep us from continuing to mention these free agents? Or is there something I’m missing? Is it due to the CBA that tenders might not count this year?
    Even if Weddle didn’t have a first round tender on him, could we afford him?

    We need to come out of this draft with at least two starter quality linemen. To ensure starting ability, I think they’d have to be picked in the first three rounds (I know that’s no guarantee).
    I wouldn’t mind seeing us trade way back, pick up a third, or further back to get a second and taking Jimmy Smith CB Colorado with our first pick (to keep him from the Eagles) and using our second and the added pick on OT and guard/C.

  2. Rick says:

    I like Watt, but I don’t like the sound of a defensive line where nobody weighs more than 300 pounds. You look at the Packers, Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, etc., those teams have monstrous defensive fronts. What successful 3-4 defense has a line as undersized as Watt-Ratliff-Bowen?

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I like the article JB but hesitate to think that picking up anyone of quality (ie. someone who can start at the beginning of the season) in free agency will happen. Free agency is always “tricky” at best when coming out of an NFL strike as evident in 1987. Leauge rules very well may be that all teams with players who would have been unrestricted free agents can essentially “franchise” all of them for a certain percentage of their last year salaray (usually something greater than 100%). For instance, if Jason Hatcher were a UFA, new rules may allow Dallas to restrict him from signing w/ any other team if they offer him 115% (or so) of his salary from last year – this is a HYPOTHETICAL thought of course and I by NO MEANS have any idea what will come out of the new CBA but w/ the # of potential free agents supposed this year (somewhere over 300), I’d expect some kinda funky rule like this to result. There are just too many potential free agents to deal w/ and owners don’t want to see THAT much competition for increased player salaries all at one time (ie less profit for them). The only way to pay vets more money is to restrict rookie salaries – which I think will happen but that is another point.

    Nevertheless, I think the best strategy for Dallas to have would be to address the biggest needs FIRST. The one key thing that all NFL fans need to keep in mind w/ the draft is to only compare potential draftees against another draftee to determine placement in the draft. However, when determining a potential draftees’ overall potential, he should be compared to people of like position already in the NFL.

    Would anyone think that Nick Fairley is as good (or will be as good) as Ndamukong Suh? How about comparing him to Jay Ratliff or BJ Raji or Kris Jenkins or Albert Haynesworth or Haloti Ngata? Fairley is being mocked to the Tennessee Titans (pick #8) overall and I doubt anyone thinks he’ll be more than a 2 or 3 time pro-bowler if that – thus not worthy of an #8 overall pick IMO. Marcell Dareus seems like he might be a little bit better but a #2 overall pick? Really? Patrick Peterson is about the ONLY player that I think might be better than ELITE to potential HOF. Of course, there’s no way to tell at this point but he’s the closests I’ve seen in this draft. I don’t think people are realizing how weak of a draft this is…

    So, what should be the Cowboys strategy given a weak draft and potential limited free agency? The BEST strategy would be to get a 1st round pick NEXT YEAR in hopes that the draft is stronger but that will be hard to do as ALL the owners realize the weakness of this draft and will want to hold on to their future picks. So, given that lack of possibility, I say either trade up and get the one elite potential player that meets a position of need for your team (PP) or trade down as far as you can and still get the #1 person who fills a position of need. If that means trading down to 12 and getting Tyron Smith, so be it. If that means trading down to 14 and gettting JJ Watt (which I don’t think is a position of need), then there you go.

    The Cowboys were 6-10 last year. I really hope fans aren’t expecting them to be in the Superbowl this UPCOMING year. They have too many needs to fill. Next years draft (2011-2012) might be the time to pick up the stud DE or ILB or RB or CB or TE or whoemever. This year, they should concentrate on right tackle and free safety – plain and simple. Given the prospects are better at RT than what seems to be avail at FS, then get the RT first then pick up the FS.

    You at least have to TRY and address your needs…

  4. John–Weddle is restricted, which I mentioned in my free agency guide. To the best of my knowledge, however, he will not be signed by SD, and Clabo is unrestricted.

    Rick–Not a fan of Watt either, but I do think the Cowboys have interest. I am assuming you are pro-NT then too? Does a Taylor/Ratliff/Bowen line interest you more?

  5. Tyrone–Interesting take on free agency. It is a waiting game right now. I do agree that addressing needs in this draft is more important than ever. It is interesting how we have gone from BPA draft strategy to drafting the BPA at a position of need, and now to the BIGGEST needs first.

    Your point about comparing draft prospects to current players is an awesome one. I think this draft class is rather weak as a whole. There is depth at some spots (RB, WR in middle rounds), but the top of the class is the worst in recent memory. It is one of the reasons I think Rahim Moore is being overvalued. He is nowhere near the same level of talent as a guy like Nate Allen, but he will get selected in a similar area.

  6. Greg Kemp says:

    Clint Boling is a smart pick and the comparison to Kosier is a good one. The reason why Dallas needs the Bolings and the Kosiers is that they both are smart players and they overachieve. Boling can play guard and tackle if necessary (as Kosier could probably play OT and C if necessary). Football IQ on the OL is an absolute must and Dallas needs players who will not put the team at risk by missing assignments or causing penalties. The O-line players need to be coachable and sometimes players with sheer (and mere) size and talent do not change much with instruction.
    Thinking back to the Giants O-line during their Super Bowl season, the team needed quite a bit of instruction from year prior and even early in that season to fix the flaws. One great trait about that team (aside from the huge commitment to the running game – ahem!) was that they were a cohesive group who moved effectively as one body. One compliment of Kyle Kosier is that he holds the line together and he holds them together. Getting another Kosier in the form of Boling would be a wise wise move.
    Now….about that running game commitment….

  7. john coleman says:

    TJ-I like the thoughts of grabbing a one for next year and totally agree on you analysis of the draft.

    I have been of the opinion for months now that this is a very weak top end class. With that said, IMO you don’t make 1st rd reaches for “potential”. Potential can be had in rds 3 and 4.

    I’m truely interested to see how this plays out and how the Boys grade this years crop.

    If we can come away with Taylor or Ellis and one of a half dozen olinemen in the 1st three rds I will be happy. Guys like Carimi, Ijalana, Franklin, Cannon, Sherrod, etc. should be players who we can get some service out of at RT or OG.

    One requirement I have is that olinemen have a MEAN STREAK. Anybody remember Erik Williams? How about Larry Allen? A little nasty is a must for Olinemen, ILBs, and FS/SS prospects.

  8. Rick says:

    Jonathan- Ratliff-Taylor-Bowen sounds MUCH better. Did you hear about his foot problems? Seems a lot more realistic that he could fall to Round 2.

  9. willis says:


    I know you probably don’t want to hear this but that issue w/ other people’s names and email addressess is back. This is Tyrone signed on as willis.

    Overall, VERY good comments from everyone. We’re all wondering “what in the world do you do w/ a weak top end of the draft class?” You couple that with the fact that this is such a different year in that free agency will occur AFTER the draft, if it occurs at all.

    Again, my take is to trade for next years picks if possible and just go w/ who you got this year (hope free agency will work). If not, then trade UP to pick up a stud (PP or Dareus only). If not that, then my 3rd option would be to trade down to the “sweet spot” of the draft which I think is the 26-38 area. In that area are several prospects who will be cheap – relative to earlier 1st round picks – with about the same potential: Pouncey, Taylor, Ijalana, Carimi or Costanzo, Jordan, A Williams, Sherrod, J Smith, Paea, Ellis and a few others.

    Honestly, is anyone really sold on Tyron Smith? It’s almost safe to say that whomever Dallas picks up in the 1st round kinda doesn’t matter in that all the OT prospects are about the same (I actually think Carimi is a better tactician but a little less athletic than the rest and is what the Cowboys need most – someone with form, fundamentals and IQ). But, come draft day, if you told me that the Boys got Smith, Costanzo, Carimi, Solder, Watt, Jordan or Heyward w/ their 1st pick, I wouldn’t get overly excited. I’d be like “Where did they pick him?” If I saw that Dallas got PP or Dareus, I’d be ecstatic.

    Trading UP is not a bad thing THIS year as long as they don’t have to give up their 2nd round (I’d give up my 1st, 3rd and 5th to move up to 6th and get PP). Trading down is good but not the best. Picking at #9 is probably the dumbest of all options (they shoulda lost vs Philly and would be picking 7th).

  10. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Now it’s back to Tyrone – problem solved (I guess).

  11. Greg–Yeah, I like the Boling/Kosier comparison, and I think your point about “overachieving” is a good one. Of course, one could argue that we only label one’s level of achievement in relation to their level of talent, when other things, like intelligence, should be a factor. Thus, one might argue that players like Kosier and Lee aren’t really overachieving. I personally find myself sometimes wrongly labeling a “safe” player, like Lee, as an overachiever. I will be the first to admit I did not like the Lee pick last year, but now I am all about him. Players like Lee, Kosier, Bradie James and so on are crucial to a team and really provide the foundation from which to grow. It is BECAUSE of those sorts of players that a team can take a chance on a player like Dez Bryant.

  12. JC–Your point about a mean streak is one of the only concerns I have about Ijalana. He was so much better than everyone at Villanova that it didn’t seem like he needed to use aggression. It is always a fine line when discussing the effort of top-tier players, because the best players only APPEAR to be giving sub-par effort because they are just that good.

    Rick–I have heard about the foot problems, but it seems like misinformation to me. The timing of the report makes me question it, and I really don’t see Taylor lasting even past 25.

    Tyrone–I have tried to fix this issue on my own, which obviously isn’t working. I am going to contact a programmer to fix this issue. As to your comment…you know I would trade up for PP, but I would be fine with selecting Smith at 9. I am sold on him as both a left and right tackle, and I think he is the clear-cut No. 1 OT. I would still love to find a way to secure two instant play-makers in that “sweet spot” you mentioned, however. Ijalana/Carimi and Taylor, for example, would have me thrilled.

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