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Dallas Cowboys 2011 Second Round Draft Pick: Breaking Down the Candidates at No. 40

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Jonathan Bales

With the Cowboys selecting so early in the draft, the number of potential first round selections is limited.  We “know” if they stay put, the ‘Boys will select a player like USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, or Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt (that is not a conclusive list).  They might also trade down and grab a guy like Wisconsin offensive tackle Gabe Carimi.

In the second round, however, things are a bit cloudy.  I personally believe the Cowboys need to grab an offensive tackle in the first round because the likelihood of a premiere one being available at pick No. 40 is very slim.  I explained how the numbers back up this idea in my article on why selecting the best player available is a myth.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, one of the few draft analysts I respect and whose opinion I value, disagrees.  He thinks the value of a tackle like Alabama’s James Carpenter or Miami’s Orlando Franklin is enough to justify spending an early second round pick.  He claims the lack of cornerback depth means the Cowboys should seriously consider Amukamara at No. 9.

While the Cowboys’ second round selection will be heavily influenced by their pick in the first, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at who might be available at pick No. 40.  Below, I have created a “bracket” with the 16 players I consider to be the most likely to end up in Dallas.  A couple notes:

  • The percentages behind each player’s name are the likelihood he will be available when Dallas selects in the second round.
  • You might ask why I would have any “upsets” since I am the one seeding the prospects.  I have no good answer, outside of the fact that I need to make the winner a surprise.
  • I am assuming no free agent acquisitions before the draft.

Sweet 16

Moore has pretty good range as the draft’s consensus top-rated safety.  The Cowboys have shown interest in him, but that interest could fade if they sign a free agent like Michael Huff.


I love LeShoure, but he’s certainly the underdog in this competition.  He would be a worst-case scenario for Dallas.

Winner: Rahim Moore

  • 8. Rodney Hudson, G, Florida State (95 percent)

I don’t like the value of any guard other than Mike Pouncey, but he won’t be available for Dallas.


Paea is a talented player who I believe can play the nose, but I don’t think Rob Ryan will target him because he would be a one-gap player.  The ‘Boys already have that in Jay Ratliff.

Winner: Rodney Hudson

Williams may or may not be available for Dallas, but he is a real possibility if he’s on the board due to his versatility.  I think he’s better-suited at safety.


Taylor is my top-rated player on this list, but he won’t be around.

Winner:  Aaron Williams

  • 4. Danny Watkins, G, Baylor (85 percent)

I don’t like Watkins at all, but the Cowboys have been following him intently.  He’s a favorite at this point.


The value would be tempting if Smith is still on the board in the second round, but I can’t see the Cowboys bringing in a player with such character concerns.

Winner: Danny Watkins

  • 6. Orlando Franklin, OT/OG, Miami (95 percent)

Mayock thinks Franklin is a possibility.  That’s good enough for me to rank him as the No. 6 seed.


Ijalana is clearly the superior player, but I really don’t think he will be available in the second round.

Winner: Orlando Franklin

Heyward’s availability, in my opinion, will be a true coin flip.  I think he drops with players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Marvin Austin moving up boards.


Wilson is a longshot, but he’s a favorite of mine.

Winner: Cameron Heyward

  • 7. Marcus Cannon, G, TCU (90 percent)

Cannon makes more sense to me than Watkins, but I still don’t think the value is right.


  • 10. Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa (85 percent)

I haven’t talked about Ballard too much, but he’s a darkhorse.  Still, you have to think the Cowboys have Heyward rated higher.

Winner: Marcus Cannon

I’m really hoping Harris falls to the Cowboys’ second round pick.  It’s certainly possible, and despite other holes, I don’t think you’ll find much better value.


  • 15. James Carpenter, OT, Alabama (95 percent)

Not a legitimate option. . .I hope.

Winner: Brandon Harris

Elite Eight

  • 1. Rahim Moore vs. 8. Rodney Hudson

Winner: Rahim Moore

  • 5. Aaron Williams vs. 4. Danny Watkins

Winner:  Danny Watkins

  • 6. Orlando Franklin vs. 3. Cameron Heyward

Winner: Cameron Heyward

  • 7. Marcus Cannon vs. 2. Brandon Harris

Winner: Brandon Harris

Final Four

  • 1. Rahim Moore vs. 4. Danny Watkins

Winner: Rahim Moore

  • 3. Cameron Heyward vs. 2. Brandon Harris

Winner: Cameron Heyward


  • 1. Rahim Moore vs. 3. Cameron Heyward

Winner: Rahim Moore

What have we learned?

Even though I believe the Cowboys will make a serious push for free agent safety Michael Huff, I haven’t simply assumed his presence in Dallas.  Actually, this little tournament has taught us that the opportunity for a top free safety to be available in the second round is pretty good.  If we assume the chances that Moore and Williams are available as those I have listed above (65 and 40 percent, respectively), then the combined chance that one of them is available at No. 40 is 79 percent.  Thus, it is likely, but not certain, that either Williams or Moore will be available for Dallas.

We have also learned that the likelihood of a top offensive tackle being available is slim.  Actually, Ijalana is the only top-rated tackle I have listed in this bracket.  There is zero chance of a player like Gabe Carimi or Derek Sherrod falling.  I don’t see the value in a prospect like Franklin or Carpenter.

The Cowboys will have the opportunity to grab a guard in the second round, if they so choose.  The chance of one of the guards I have listed above (including Franklin) being available is 99.96 percent.  With such certainty, I think it would be smart for the Cowboys to wait until the third round, at the earliest, to address the position.  If we assume that Hudson, Watkins, Franklin, and Cannon have just a 25, 15, 25, and 20 percent chance of being available in the third round, the overall probability of just one still being around is still 61.8 percent.  I say bypass reaching for a guard in the second and “gamble” on one being available in the third.

There will be defensive linemen available for the Cowboys in the second round.  This is one reason I believe they should pass on J.J. Watt and Cameron Jordan in the first round in an effort to target an offensive tackle.  The Cowboys may not be interested in Paea, Taylor, Heyward, and Ballard, but the chance that at least one is available in the second round is 98.3 percent.  Even if we throw out Ballard, that probability is still 88.8 percent.

Ultimately, though, it might be in Dallas’ best interest to look into trading up from the second round.  The majority of the players listed above are nice, but not incredible.  I have Taylor, Ijalana and Harris rated in my top 15 (No. 6, No. 11 and No. 15, respectively).  The probability that just one of them is available, however, is just 60.4 percent.  If we throw out Harris, who probably wouldn’t start immediately anyway, that number plummets to 28 percent.

Thus, I like the idea of the ‘Boys moving up a few spots from pick No. 40 to secure a prospect who can have an immediate impact.  The likelihood of that scenario playing out increases dramatically if the Cowboys trade out of the No. 9 spot.  Would you rather have Gabe Carimi and Phil Taylor, or Tyron Smith and Cameron Heyward?  That’s not a rhetorical question.

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34 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 2011 Second Round Draft Pick: Breaking Down the Candidates at No. 40

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    My thoughts exactly.

    Dallas has ignored addressing glaring needs for far too long (Dez was a tremendous talent but selecting him last year meant we DIDN’T select a need position – O line primarily).

    Now it seems we’ll need to select and OT in one of the 1st 2 picks and a FS in one of the 1st 3 or 4. Although there are better players available at 9, Dallas needs to either select the highest rated OT prospect they like or trade down to where they think they can still get him w/ less money. Pick #40 needs to be either a FS (like Moore), a D lineman or another trade to a position to pick up one of the two.

    Yeah, they might miss out on someone who’s a better talent overall, but I’d rather pick up an O lineman who’s better than whoever we having playing currently (or at least will be better in 2 years) than picking up a stud at a position that we’re loaded in (like QB, WR, OLB or RB).

  2. Rick says:

    I like Mayock, but I disagree with him entirely here. The 2nd round DBs (Moore, Williams, Harris, possibly Smith) are pretty solid. Unless Ijalana is on board, the only O-lineman I’d even consider at pick #40 is Marcus Cannon. MAYBE Wisniewski (but probably not). Absolutely no one at tackle.

    I’d like Cam Heyward, but are you sure he’ll be there?

  3. Mil says:

    I agree Rick especially passing up jimmy smith

  4. Michael Sloan says:

    Does anyone think Moore can come in and be a starter as a rookie? And be effective? I am not convinced. I would rather we find a way to move up in the 2nd and acquire another starter, maybe Phil Taylor, or Ijalana if he is there. I like Harris, I think he is more of a Ryan type player, but I don’t think he would be starting and making as big an impact as we need next season.

    I just think if we can’t get two starters/impact players in the first two rounds our scouting department needs to be shown the door, hopefully Jerry follows them. After watching them draft Brewster, I have very little faith the Cowboys can pick the right offensive linemen.

  5. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    MS, I wouldn’t be so sure that Moore isn’t ready to crack the starting lineup. FS does require a fair amount of play calling (reading offensive formations, directing/adjusting zone coverage schemes for LBs, etc.) but just look at I what Eric Berry (92 tckls, 2 sacks, 4 INTS) and Nate Allen (42 tckls, 2 sacks, 3 INTs in 13 games) did for the Chiefs and Eagles last year in their rookie seasons.

    And, because free agency is so jacked up, the draft is about the only way to address your needs that we know of for sure this year (what if the Boys can’t pick up Huff or another FA FS, who on the team can play there now)? You gotta take the chance that Moore is or at least will be better than Ball or Newman or AOA or Sendejo or whoever…the Boys simply don’t have the luxury of waiting another year to draft a FS. And, since this year is one of the weaker ones for that position, they will need to draft one as early as possible (pick up the top guy on the board if possible).

  6. moses says:

    I hope Moore turns out better than the Goodrich selection out of Tennessee.
    We needed a cornerback.
    We needed a cornerback really bad.
    And we selected a cornerback that turned out to be really bad.

    Need and best player have to balance into value.
    We have to look really hard at whether AOA is a bust and we have to move on, or see if he can play.
    If Moore ends up as a below average safety, did we really make the team better by selecting a below average player high rather than get the same caliber in free agency or one that is already on the roster?

  7. Tyrone–Obviously agree that upgrading the OT spot in the first round, even if they trade back, is the only way to go. If Colombo is starting in 2011, this team is extremely limited.

    Rick–I think there are some prospects in the second round as you mentioned, but I do think he is right about the third round on….I really like Johnny Patrick and Brandon Burton is okay, but this is a really weak CB class in terms of depth.

    Rick–I rated Heyward at 50/50. I think he SHOULD be gone, but the abundance of five-techniques will push him back. I think guys like Wilkerson, Liuget, maybe even Nevis will go ahead of him.

  8. Michael–My dream scenario is to trade down a couple spots, still pick up Smith, then move back up to grab Taylor (who hopefully lasts longer than I think he might). Any qualms with that?

    Tyrone–I would agree Moore will be better than all the guys you listed, but I would personally prefer Marcus Gilchrist in the third. I actually moved him up ahead of Moore recently..I love this kid..I will be posting a feature later.

  9. willis says:

    I would take Carimi/ Taylor all day. But I’m dreaming w/ you JB about a Smith/Taylor combo!

  10. Rick says:

    A Smith-Taylor combo would be sweet, but I’m not sold on it happening.

    The only scenario I could envision would be the Vikings trading up for a QB at 9, giving up their 1st and 2nd for our 1st and 3rd. If we’re targeting Smith, we can’t trade down past the Vikings, because the Lions would almost certainly snag him at #13. Then, trade up to #28 overall with New England, who are notorious for trading down and certainly wouldn’t want Phil Taylor to slip to the Jets. That trade could be #40, #43, and #171 for #28 and #60.

    Then maybe use #60 on Quinton Carter? Curtis Brown? Marcus Cannon? Christian Ballard? Rodney Hudson? Drake Nevis? Orlando Franklin? Ras-I Dowling?

    Of course, this is all contingent upon Newton/Gabbert slipping to #9 and Taylor slipping to #28, neither of which are great odds.

  11. Jimmy says:

    Jonathan, have you done any film study on Rodney Hudson? Yes, undersized compared to Dallas’ current G/C’s, but I really think this guy is the most underrated player going into the draft. He’s nasty, excellent pass blocker, great positional run blocker, finisher. The only neg. I saw was he will sometimes lunge out in open space and end up on the ground. I think that’s minor though. Just proves he is willing to give it up for the team. Can you please do a prospect piece on him? Thanks.

  12. Yeah…Smith/Taylor highly unlikely, but we can dream.

    Rick..of the guys you mentioned, I would like Cannon, Hudson, and maybe Franklin there.

  13. Jimmy..Although I didn’t post a feature on him (yet), I have watched a lot of Hudson. I have him rated as my No. 2 interior lineman…here are my current rankings: 1. Mike Pouncey Florida
    2. Rodney Hudson FSU
    3. Marcus Cannon, TCU
    4. William Rackley Lehigh
    5. Clint Boling Georgia
    6. Danny Watkins Baylor
    7. Jason Pinkston Pitt
    8. DeMarcus Love Arkansas
    9. Stefen Wiskiewski Penn State

  14. Rick says:

    Forgot about Clint Boling, I’m impressed with him. For the most part, he stonewalled Nick Fairley when Georgia played Auburn.

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