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Mock Drafts | The DC Times - Part 2

The DC Times

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

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2013 NFL Mock Draft, Version 2.0

At Dallas News, I published my second mock draft of the year.

A lot of analysts consider mock drafts to be useless, but I disagree. In creating realistic mock drafts, we’re “playing out” different scenarios that could take place at the end of the month. It’s very much the same as software that simulates thousands of football games; one simulation doesn’t mean much, but 10,000 simulations of the same event are meaningful. When we combine various mock drafts, we can gain insights regarding the range of potential outcomes on draft night.

In my first mock, I used a combination of team needs and my aggregate big board to project picks. Note that my mock drafts are in no way a reflection of my views on talent; I have three quarterbacks in the first round, for example, but I think there’s just one true first-round quarterback talent in this draft. Instead, the mock contains my views on where I’d anticipate players getting selected.

Finally, note that all of the highlighted names are players I’ve scouted thus far. Click on the links to read my analysis.

2013 NFL Mock Draft, Version 2.0

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

The Chiefs said they’ve narrowed down their possible choices to four, and Joeckel figures to be one of them.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

We haven’t heard anything about the Jaguars looking for a quarterback; that might be evidence that they’re searching for one.

3. Oakland Raiders: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Floyd isn’t a favorite of mine, but he seems like a top five lock at this point.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Eagles desperately need help on the offensive line. Either of the elite guards could be in play here as well.

5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

The consensus top cornerback on the board won’t make it out of the top 10.

6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

Jordan is the top overall player on my board and he’d be excellent value for the Browns.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma

The closer we get to the draft, the more apparent it is that the Cowboys won’t have a shot at the draft’s top three offensive tackles.

8. Buffalo Bills: E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State

I’ve had Manuel rated as my No. 2 quarterback for a long time, and there are some reports that he could be a top 15 guy. I don’t think Buffalo will want to wait on securing their quarterback of the future.

9. New York Jets: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

With Ansah falling to the Jets in this scenario, the pick is a no-brainer.

10. Tennessee Titans: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State

I originally had Washington’s Desmond Trufant here, but Rhodes seems like the more likely candidate to be the second cornerback off of the board.

See picks 11-32 here.

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2013 Mock Draft Version 1.0: Cowboys Snag an Elite DT

At Dallas News, I published my first mock draft of the year.

2013 NFL Mock Draft, Version 1.0

1. Kansas City Chiefs: Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

With the Chiefs just trading for quarterback Alex Smith, it appears Joeckel is the frontrunner to go No. 1 overall.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

Floyd has risen so much in recent weeks that he’s probably one of the few surefire top 10 picks in this draft.

3. Oakland Raiders: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

The Raiders could draft Smith as immediate competition to Carson Palmer, or sit the rookie for a year before giving him the reigns.

4. Philadelphia Eagles: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan

The Eagles desperately need help on the offensive line. Alabama guard Chance Warmack could be a consideration here as well.

5. Detroit Lions: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

The consensus top cornerback on the board won’t make it out of the top 10.

6. Cleveland Browns: Dion Jordan, DE/OLB, Oregon

I published a scouting report on Jordan three weeks ago and said there would be a chance he sneaks into the top 10. He’ll be the top edge-rusher on my board.

7. Arizona Cardinals: Matt Barkley, QB, USC

Barkley isn’t a top 10 talent, but I’d say it’s a longshot he makes it out of the first round. The Cardinals are rumored to have interest.

8. Buffalo Bills: Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU

I originally had NC State quarterback Mike Glennon here, but Buffalo is in position to grab a quarterback in the second round if they choose. Ansah has Jason Pierre-Paul potential.

9. New York Jets: Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB, Georgia

Another team that could surprise by selecting a quarterback, the Jets would probably be thrilled to land Jones here.

10. Tennessee Titans: Desmond Trufant, CB, Washington

Trufant has had perhaps the best offseason of any cornerback in this class. He’s 6-0 with sub-4.4 speed.

Head over to DMN to see the rest, including a somewhat surprising Cowboys selection.

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Final 2012 NFL Mock Draft, Version 4.0: Cowboys Locked In on Barron?

Jonathan Bales

I will be posting throughout the day, so check back for more updates in a bit.  Here is my final mock:

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

  • Other: None

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

  • Other: None

3. Minnesota Vikings: Morris Claiborne, CB, L.S.U.

  • Other: Matt  Kalil, OT, USC

4. Cleveland Browns: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

  • Other: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

5. Tampa Bay Bucs: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars:  Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

9. Carolina Panthers: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

  • Other: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

  • Other: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

14. Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron, SS, Alabama

15. Philadelphia Eagles: Fletcher Cox, DT/DE, Mississippi State

16. Jets: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

17. Cincinnati Bengals: Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse

18. San Diego Chargers: Nick Perry, DE/OLB, U.S.C.

19. Chicago Bears: Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia

  • Other: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

20. Tennessee Titans: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB, Illinois

21. Cincinnati Bengals: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

  • Other: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State

22. Cleveland Browns: Kendall Wright, WR, Baylor

  • Other: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State

23. Detroit Lions: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford

  • Other: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

24. Pittsburgh Steelers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

  • Other: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

25. Denver Broncos: Jerel Worthy, DT/DE, Michigan State

26. Houston Texans: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

27. New England Patriots: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State

28. Green Bay Packers: Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State

  • Other: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB, Boise State

29. Baltimore Ravens: Dont’a Hightower

  • Other: Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech

30. San Francisco 49ers: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

31. New England Patriots: Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida/North Alabama

  • Other: Reuben Randle, WR, L.S.U.

32. New York Giants: Doug Martin, RB, Boise State

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Justin Shoemaker’s 2012 Mock Draft

  1. Colts- Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
  2. Redskins- RGIII, QB, Baylor
  3. Vikings- Matt Kalil, OT, USC
  4. Browns-Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama
  5. Bucs-Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
  6. Rams-Justin Blackmon, WR, OK State
  7. Chargers (Trade with Jaguars)-Mark Barron, S, Alabama
  8. Dolphins-Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M
  9. Panthers-Fletcher Cox, DT, Miss St
  10. Bills-Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College
  11. Jets (Trade with Chiefs)-Melvin Ingram, OLB, South Carolina
  12. Seattle Seahawks-Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
  13. Cardinals-Riley Reiff-OT, Iowa
  14. Cowboys-David Decastro, G, Stanford
  15. Bears- (Trade with Eagles) Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina
  16. Lions (Trade with Chiefs via Jets)-Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
  17. Bengals- Cordy Glenn, G, Georgia
  18. Jaguars (Trade with Chargers)-Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB, Alabama
  19. Eagles (Trade with Bears)-Michael Brockers, DT, LSU
  20. Titans- Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
  21. Bengals-Whitney Mercilus, DE, Illinois
  22. Browns-Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
  23. Chiefs (Trade with Lions)- Amini Silatolu, G, Midwestern State
  24. Steelers-Dont’a Hightower, LB, Alabama
  25. Broncos-Jerel Worthy, DT, Michigan St.
  26. Texans-Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis
  27. Patriots-Nick Perry, OLB, USC
  28. Packers-Chandler Jones, DE, Syracuse
  29. Ravens-Peter Konz, C, Wisconsin
  30. Niners-Kendall Wright, WR Baylor
  31. Brows (Trade with Pats)-Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State
  32. Giants- Kevin Zeitler-G, Wisconsin

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2012 NFL Mock Draft, Version 3.0: Upshaw, Jenkins Out of First

Jonathan Bales

My third mock draft and second for the NY Times is live.  Here’s a snapshot of the first 13 picks (hey, you didn’t think I’d show you the Cowboys’ pick here, did ya?):

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

  • Other than the occasional unwarranted rumor, there isn’t any information suggesting the Colts will pass up Luck.

Other: None

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

  • RGIII is already signing autographs in D.C.

Other: None

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, U.S.C.

  • Kalil is the top tackle prospect I have watched in years. There has been speculation that the Vikings will trade down with a team that covets Texas A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill, but for now I’ll assume they stay here and select the best available player.

Other: Morris Claiborne, CB, L.S.U.

4. Cleveland Browns: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

  • Tannehill might not be on the board, but I’m gaining confidence that the Browns will select him if they can.

Other: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

5. Tampa Bay Bucs: Morris Claiborne, CB, L.S.U.

  • The Bucs are said to have interest in Claiborne and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.  One of them will be available.

Other: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

6. St. Louis Rams: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

  • Moving Tannehill to the No. 4 spot shakes things up a bit, and it could result in Richardson or Justin Blackmon falling some.

Other: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

  • I originally had the Jags choosing between offensive tackle Riley Reiff and the pass rusher Melvin Ingram, but they could easily see Blackmon as the top available player left on the board.

Other: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

8. Miami Dolphins: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

  • If the Dolphins want a quarterback, they’re in a poor spot.  Tannehill is unlikely to fall here and they would need to surrender a king’s ransom to move up for him.  Ingram is a no-brainer at this point.

Other: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

9. Carolina Panthers: Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina

  • I originally had Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe here, but teams must be concerned about his lack of college production.  Gilmore is rising up boards faster than anyone.

Other: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

10. Buffalo Bills: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

  • Coples will be an option if he’s on the board, but with Demetress Bell to the Eagles, the Bills have a hole at left tackle.

Other: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

11. Kansas City Chiefs: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

  • Guards aren’t normally top-15 picks, but DeCastro is worth it.

Other: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

  • Kuechly’s surprising combine performance proved he’s the real deal. Athleticism and incredible production.

Other: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

13. Arizona Cardinals: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

  • I don’t think this would be a smart pick for Arizona, but they reportedly have interest in DeCastro and Floyd.

Other: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Click it on over to the Times for the full mock draft.  I’ll tell you I have Courtney Upshaw and Janoris Jenkins completely out of the first round in this one.  Both players could certainly go in the first 32 selections, but a lot of teams will be scared off by the risk surrounding each player (Jenkins with drugs and Upshaw with, you know, not being good and all).

For those interested, I’m finishing up my Big Board and should have it up by the end of the week.  I will also be attending the first two days of the draft in New York.  Anyone interested in another live blog?

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2012 NFL Mock Draft: Version 1.0

Jonathan Bales

I did a mock draft for USA Today which is on stands now in their 2012 Draft Preview magazine, but my first “real” mock draft is published at the New York Times today.  Click the link to check it out, and feel free to leave comments regarding my somewhat surprising selection for Dallas.

A couple of notes:

  • Click on a player’s name to read my scouting report and watch his film.
  • The second name under each team refers to a different potential draft pick for that squad, based on who is left in this particular mock draft.

2012 N.F.L. Mock Draft

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

  • Is RGIII a possibility here?  I actually think he’s superior to Luck.

Other: None

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

  • Could you imagine being a Redskins fan and becoming upset if Luck falls to this spot?

Other: None

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

  • Kalil is the top tackle prospect I have watched in years.  He’s going to be an All-Pro in the N.F.L.

Other: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

4. Cleveland Browns: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

  • There is a good chance the Browns try to move out of this spot, but Claiborne, Trent Richardson, Justin Blackmon and perhaps even Riley Reiff are all options if they stick around.

Other: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

5. Tampa Bay Bucs: Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama

  • This is a crucial pick for Richardson, because if he falls past No. 5, he could drop a bit.  Actually, I think there’s an outside chance Richardson doesn’t get selected in the first 12 picks.

Other: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

6. St. Louis Rams: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

  • I really debated putting offensive tackle Riley Reiff here, in which case Jacksonville might select Blackmon at No. 7.

Other: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Riley Reiff, OT, Iowa

  • Could Jacksonville surprise everyone and select quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Other: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

8. Miami Dolphins: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M

  • If Miami doesn’t select Tannehill, he will still probably be picked in this range by a team that moves up.

Other: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

9. Carolina Panthers: Dontari Poe, DT, Memphis

  • I don’t think Poe should go anywhere near this high, but some team will fall in love with his athleticism.

Other: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

10. Buffalo Bills: Quinton Coples, DE, UNC

  • The Bills could pair Coples with Mario Williams for one of the league’s top pass rush duos of the next decade.

Other: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

11. Kansas City Chiefs: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

  • After thinking about team needs and Ingram’s skills, I think this is the lowest he could possibly fall.

Other: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

12. Seattle Seahawks: Luke Kuechly, LB, Boston College

  • Kuechly’s surprising combine performance proved he’s the real deal.  Athleticism and incredible production.

Other: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

13. Arizona Cardinals: David DeCastro, G, Stanford

  • The Cardinals need help in a lot of places, the offensive line being perhaps the most pressing.

Other: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama

Click here to see the rest of my mock draft, including the Cowboys’ No. 14 overall selection.

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Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Class: What if the team had a redo?

Jonathan Bales

**Note:  I have been busy traveling so I apologize I haven’t gotten to your comments in the last couple of days.  I read through them and there are a lot of great thoughts, so I will be responding as soon as possible.

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If given the opportunity to look back upon the draft, it is unlikely any NFL team would select the exact same players.  By knowing who is left at certain spots, teams would be able to potentially bypass a position of need in order to secure value later, knowing a player they covet will still be available.  In my opinion, this is actually the strongest evidence for my argument that teams should not actually always take the best player available on their board.  Given perfect knowledge, a team could obtain optimal overall value by selecting something other than the top player on their board at each spot (although sometimes need, value and position scarcity intersect perfectly, as I believe they did with the selection of Tyron Smith).

One might argue that a change in one team’s pick would have a domino effect that would result in a drastically different draft outcome–that is, each selection is dependent on the ones before it in such a way that no team’s pick can be isolated from the others.  The strength of this domino effect is debatable, but the key point is that, at least in theory, NFL teams would generally select different players if given perfect knowledge of how a draft will turn out (or even percentages of how each scenario might play out).

Below, I have given you the “perfect” selections for the Cowboys in each spot.  This may not be totally fair to our analysis of the Cowboys’ actual draft–no team can come close to completely uncovering the selections behind them–but it is still fun.

The Perfect Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft

Round 1- Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Yup, I’m keeping the same guy here.  Many of you will disagree, perhaps preferring players like Nick Fairley or JJ Watt, but I think the ‘Boys hit a home run with this selection.  In my 2011 Cowboys Draft Grades, I gave the selection an “A” because of the combination of Smith’s current skill level and his future upside.

I personally hate the idea of people labeling Smith a “risky” draft pick.  The idea is completely erroneous and, ironically, it stems from his upside.  For some reason, the media likes to label high upside picks as risky players.  Similarly, a player with less skill is often called a “safe” pick.  If you asked 100 media types before the draft if Smith or Wisonsin’s Gabe Carimi was the safer pick, 99 would have said Carimi.  Why?  Because he is worse?  Because he is more limited in his game?  The idea is ridiculous.  High upside does not necessitate high risk.

Smith is an extremely safe pick.  He is very intelligent, possesses great character, and works harder than just about anyone.  Add this to his versatility and current overall ability, and you have one of the safest picks in the draft.  His incredible upside is a bonus that should do nothing to determine the depths of his downside.

Round 2- Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

The highest player left on my Big Board after the first round was Gerogia’s Justin Houston, but I am bypassing him for another offensive lineman.  The selection of Smith should have done nothing to dissuade Dallas from selecting Ijalana in the second round because he has the versatility to move to guard.  The Cowboys clearly coveted interior linemen with their selections of David Arkin and Bill Nagy in the fourth and seventh rounds, respectively.  Ijalana was the 11th rated player on my board.

Miami cornerback Brandon Harris would have also been fine by me.

Round 3- Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

There is no way Wilson should have dropped to the third round.  He has the versatility to play inside or outside in a 3-4 scheme–a trait the Cowboys probably valued in second-round pick Bruce Carter.  It would be interesting to see if the team would have passed on Carter in the second if they knew Wilson was available in the third.  I had him rated as my No. 21 overall player, and the fourth-best available after the first round.

Round 4- Buster Skrine, CB, Tennessee-Chattanooga

Skrine went to the Browns in the fifth round, and I loved the pick (and their entire draft).  He can flat out fly and, although I generally place little value in the 40-yard dash, it does mean something for cornerbacks.  They need to be able to let a receiver get even with them before flipping their hips and chasing them down in the event that the receiver goes deep.  Skrine, like other late-round/undrafted cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Bryan McCann, possesses that ability.  He had a ridiculous 3.9-second short shuttle time.

Round 5- Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh

The Cowboys reportedly had DeMarco Murray so high on their board that they couldn’t pass on him.  It would be interesting to see how highly they rated Lewis and what they may have done if they knew Lewis would drop to the fifth round.  Jason Garrett clearly wanted a running back who can catch the football, and Lewis can do just that.  He was No. 5 in my pre-draft running back rankings.

Round 6- Jerrell Powe, NT, Ole Miss

I was shocked that Powe lasted until nearly the seventh round.  At 335 pounds, he’s a pure nose tackle who I thought could easily go in the third round.  It appears that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is content with Jay Ratliff in the middle, but I really thought the Cowboys could have upgraded two positions by selecting a nose tackle.

Round 7A- Lawrence Guy, DT/DE, Arizona State

The Cowboys’ defensive line is awfully weak to not even address it throughout the entire draft.  Hopefully Dallas has plans to do so in free agency, but I personally would have done so in the draft.  Guy is a prototypical 3-4 end who could potentially benefit from the move to a five-technique position.

Round 7B- Deunta Williams, FS, UNC

I am in disbelief that Williams did not get drafted, thinking he would go as early as the third round.  He’s a highly athletic free safety with great upside–exactly what you should seek in the seventh round.  He should be at the top of the Cowboys’ undrafted free agent wish list. . .whenever teams are allowed to sign undrafted players.

Which draft do you prefer. . .the Cowboys’ actual 2011 class, or my “dream” draft?

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Your Ultimate 2011 Dallas Cowboys Draft Guide

Jonathan Bales

I figured a lot of you would want to do some last minute draft research or have a guide of the available prospects, so below I have pasted links to a few of my more popular draft articles.  I will be attending the draft tonight, but I will try to get an article up as soon as possible (and perhaps even during the draft if I can sneak my laptop into Radio City Music Hall) regarding the Cowboys’ first selection.

2011 Big Board (Top 100) and Position Rankings

Dallas Cowboys Draft News and Rumors

Final Dallas Cowboys-Only Mock Draft

Latest 32-Team Mock Draft

32-Team NFL Draft Notes

12 Sleeper Picks for Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Trade Scenarios

I also ended up completing scouting reports for 39 different potential Dallas Cowboys draft picks, and the links are below if you want to review anyone before the draft.  They contain full scouting reports and player highlights.

Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Cameron Jordan, DT/DE, Cal

Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC

Cameron Heyward, DT/DE, Ohio State

Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Brandon Harris, CB, Miami

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA

Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor

Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

Corey Liuget, DT/DE, Illinois

Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

Casey Matthews, ILB, Oregon

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

Brandon Burton, CB, Utah

Nick Fairley, DT/DE, Auburn

Jaiquawn Jarrett, FS, Temple

Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

Drake Nevis, DT/DE, LSU

Dontay Moch, DE/OLB, Nevada

Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

Sam Acho, DE/OLB, Texas

JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

William Rackley, OT, Lehigh

Allen Bailey, DE, Miami

Akeem Ayers, ILB/OLB, UCLA

Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

Jeremy Kerley, WR, TCU

Chris Culliver, FS, South Carolina

Marcus Gilchrist, FS, Clemson

Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton

Orlando Franklin, G/T, Miami


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2011 NFL Mock Draft, Version 3.0: The Finale

Jonathan Bales

Check out versions 1.0 and 2.0 of my mock drafts to see how things have changed, as well as my updated 2011 draft notes.  Click on highlighted player names below for full scouting reports and player highlights.

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn

All signs are pointing to Cam, and it would be a pretty big shock if he is not the No. 1 overall pick at this point.

Last Mock: Same

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

The latest rumor out of Denver is that the team covets Patrick Peterson over Dareus, but I don’t buy it.  Dareus has been linked to the Broncos for awhile now, so this last-minute information is probably smoke.

Last Mock: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

3.  Buffalo Bills: Von Miller, OLB, Texas AM

Blaine Gabbert is theoretically an option, but it appears more likely the Bills will select either Von Miller or Cam Newton.  With Newton off the board, the Bills go with the draft’s best edge-rusher (according to others, not me) and will probably be in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes next year.

Last Mock: Same

4.  Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

I really think this pick will come down to either Green or Patrick Peterson.  The Bengals have good cornerbacks, but don’t forget they might lose Jonathan Joseph to free agency.  The team will definitely be without T.O. and Chad Ochocinco, however, so I’m going receiver.

Last Mock: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

5.  Arizona Cardinals: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

A lot of local reporters are claiming the Cards will pass on a quarterback, but why would they?  I think they are bluffing, as just a few weeks ago it was rumored they have Gabbert rated ahead of Newton.

Last Mock: Same

6. Cleveland Browns: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

A lot of people believe the Cowboys will trade up to this pick if Peterson drops, but the Browns reportedly have a two-man wish list containing A.J. Green and PP.  I don’t think they will want to move back if Peterson drops into their laps.

Last Mock: Nick Fairley, DT/DE, Auburn

7.  San Francisco 49ers: Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, UNC

I have been mocking Quinn to San Fran all year.  They will take Peterson if he falls, but that is unlikely.  Another player to watch is Prince Amukamara, who I am hearing is a legitimate option.

Last Mock: Same

8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn

Even with concerns about his work ethic, Fairley’s talent is too great to pass on for too long.  He fits the Titans’ system well.

Last Mock: DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson

9.  Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

I am going to post more on Cowboys draft rumors either later today or tomorrow.  There are a lot of different scenarios that could play out, and I think trading down is the most likely.  I am not projecting trades here though, and if the ‘Boys stay in their draft slot, I think Smith will be their guy.

Last Mock: Same

10.  Washington Redskins: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

The Redskins reportedly want a quarterback or wide receiver.  Keep your eyes open for Jake Locker here, but Jones is by far the surer bet.

Last Mock: Same

11. Houston Texans: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Amukamara or Missouri’s Aldon Smith will almost certainly be the pick.

Last Mock: Same

12. Minnesota Vikings: DaQuan Bowers, DE, Clemson

I have heard both Minnesota and Detroit will take Bowers if he falls to them.  Bowers’ injury concerns could very well cause last-minute changes of heart, but I’ll stick with Bowers getting selected in this area.

Last Mock: Jake Locker, QB, Washington

13. Detroit Lions: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

Expect the Lions to select Amukamara if he is on the board.  If not, it appears it will come down to either Bowers, Smith or an offensive tackle.  The initial reports said the latter was most likely, so Anthony Castonzo could be the guy.

Last Mock: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

This is early for Liuget, but I have heard two sources who used to be in the organization say Liuget is the favorite here.  Also look out for Ryan Kerrigan (and of course a trade up for Julio Jones).

Last Mock: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia

15.  Miami Dolphins: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

This is the first pick where I have really no clue which direction the team will go.  I am backing off the idea of the ‘Phins selecting Mark Ingram, and Watt seems like a good fit in Miami.

Last Mock: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

A quarterback is possible here, but I think the Jags want to address their pass rush in the first round, then take a look at quarterbacks in round two.

Last Mock: Same

17. New England Patriots: Cameron Jordan, DT/DE, Cal

The Pats have interest in Mike Pouncey, so they could take him here if they think he won’t make it to their 28th overall selection.  The same goes for Mark Ingram.  It is also possible that they trade up for either Robert Quinn or Julio Jones.

Last Mock: Same

18. San Diego Chargers: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT/DE, Temple

The Chargers are almost certain to take either a five-technique or an edge-rusher.  With Jordan and Watt off the board, Wilkerson makes the most sense.

Last Mock: JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin

19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

The Giants are also interested in Ben Ijalana, Mark Ingram and Akeem Ayers, but Castonzo represents great value at pick No. 19.

Last Mock:  Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

20. Tampa Bay Bucs: Justin Houston, DE/OLB, Georgia

I think the Bucs are the landing spot for DaQuan Bowers if he drops past Detroit.  If not, Houston’s first step and upside should be enough to justify his selection here.

Last Mock: Same

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor

I really like the chances of this pick happening.  Taylor should still be on the board, and the Chiefs desperately need an upgrade at the nose.  Also watch out for an offensive lineman, particularly a versatile one like Ijalana.

Last Mock: Same

22. Indianapolis Colts: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

I don’t think Sherrod is the top offensive tackle left, but he fits well in Indy.  The Colts reportedly met with Sherrod at the Combine, so there’s some interest.

Last Mock: Same

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

I’m convinced Smith’s talent will be too much to drop him out of the first round.  He is incredibly gifted in press coverage, which will fit perfectly in Philly.

Last Mock: Justin Houston, DE, Georgia

24. New Orleans Saints: Cameron Heyward, DT, Ohio State

I think the Saints would prefer Wilkerson or Liuget here, but Heyward isn’t far behind.  Cornerback is a bit of a sleeper too, but I think Jimmy Smith is the only guy that would peak their interest.  It seems too early for Brandon Harris.

Last Mock: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois

25. Seattle Seahawks: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

Ponder ahead of Locker?  Let me make it clear that I think a team will trade back up into the first round for Locker, resulting in four quarterbacks getting selected in the first 32 picks.  Predicting which team will move up and where is impossible, though.  As far as Seattle goes, they reportedly “hate” Locker.

Last Mock: Same

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

Of all the names I keep hearing for Baltimore (Sherrod, Houston, Wilkerson, Liuget, Heyward and Reed), only Reed is left.  This might be a reach, so even though Baltimore wants a front seven player, don’t rule out Ijalana.

Last Mock: Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

27. Atlanta Falcons: Akeem Ayers, ILB/OLB, UCLA

The Falcons will probably choose between Kyle Rudolph and Ayers.  Ayers is a far superior player, in my opinion.

Last Mock: Same

28. New England Patriots: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida

If the Pats don’t move out of this pick, I think they will be looking at Pouncey and Ingram.  The quality of mid-round running backs makes me think they will hold off on selecting one early and instead opt for the interior lineman.

Last Mock: Same

29. Chicago Bears: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Because teams view Carimi as “only” a right tackle, he will probably drop a bit come draft day.  I think that’s unwarranted.  Carimi is probably the most NFL-ready of all the offensive tackles, and while he may not possess the incredible upside of someone like Tyron Smith, selecting a “sure thing” in the first-round is never a bad idea.

Last Mock: Same

30. New York Jets: Marvin Austin, DT, UNC

Austin’s presence in the first round is new, and I haven’t seen him mocked to the Jets yet.  The Jets supposedly like Reed, Taylor and Ayers, but all three of those players are off the board.  I really think Austin has a great shot to get selected in the first round.

Last Mock: Brooks Reed, DE/OLB, Arizona

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Aaron Williams, CB, Texas

Will Pittsburgh view Williams as a cornerback?  If so, he should be their guy.

Last Mock: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

32. Green Bay Packers: Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

The Packers are looking for an edge-rusher to play opposite Clay Matthews, but there isn’t great value at this point.  Ijalana fills another need, and his versatility will be useful in Green Bay.

Last Mock: Muhammad Wilkerson, DT, Temple

By

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

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.

Conclusions

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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By

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Mock Draft, Version 2.0: Rounds 1-7

Jonathan Bales

You can see my first Cowboys-only mock draft here.  Both that mock and this one contain a built-in assumption that the Cowboys will sign a veteran 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 Cowboys may target UCLA’s Rahim Moore in the second round, but I don’t think the team should put all of their eggs in the rookie safety basket.  This class is awfully weak at safety, and filling that hole via free agency will allow the organization to concentrate on other needs, such as right tackle and defensive end.

It is becomingly increasingly obvious that USC tackle Tyron Smith is a legitimate option, and probably the favorite, for the Cowboys at No. 9 overall.  The team desperately needs an upgrade over right tackle Marc Colombo, and Smith played right tackle during his time at USC.

Smith is an extremely athletic player and the future of NFL linemen.  His selection would be a good indicator the Cowboys are moving in the right direction.

The ‘Boys may try to trade up for Patrick Peterson or Marcel Dareus if either player falls past the fifth pick, but that may be unlikely.  Smith was the pick in my last 32-team mock draft.

  • Round 2: Kenrick Ellis, NT, Hampton

I recently performed a March Madness-style “tournament” with 16 prospects who could get selected by Dallas in the second round.  I concluded that, if the ‘Boys do not plan on signing a veteran free safety, Rahim Moore is the most likely candidate to go No. 40 overall.  The other “Final Four” prospects were Miami CB Brandon Harris, Baylor guard Danny Watkins, and Ohio State defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.

But what if the Cowboys go “off the map” in the second round?  Who is someone we are all overlooking who could potentially land in Big D?  Enter Kenrick Ellis.

I understand new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said he will keep Jay Ratliff at nose tackle.  Guess what?  I don’t necessarily believe him.  If the Cowboys are on the clock and their highest-rated player is a nose tackle, they would be foolish to pass on him.

The concerns about Ellis are plentiful.  He was dismissed from South Carolina for academic reasons and marijuana use.  He was suspended this season due to assault.  There are concerns about his work ethic and weight (he is reportedly 346 pounds).  All of these issues could lead Dallas to take him off their board.

But you don’t often find true 3-4 nose tackles with Ellis’ athleticism.  He has big-school talent that he used to dominate his competition at Hampton.  He’s a mean player that, despite off-field work ethic concerns, works very hard in games.  Most importantly, he is the two-gap defensive lineman that Rob Ryan covets.  Mike Mayock recently stated Ellis will not get out of the second round.  He’s a “sleeper” to go to Dallas here, but don’t rule it out just yet.

I had Rackley going to Dallas in my last Cowboys-only mock as well.  That’s because I really like him and I know the Cowboys do too.  Actually, Rackley was just in town on April 5 for a visit and lengthy conversation with Jerry Jones (via Rackley’s Facebook. . .he requested me guys, cause we’re tight like that).  I recently interviewed Rackley and I think his versatility to play any position on the line would be huge for Dallas.

In that mock, I had him going in the fourth round, but I really think the ‘Boys will need to spend their third round selection on Rackley to secure him.  He is gaining some steam and a third round pick would by no means constitute an ‘overpayment’ for Rackley.

I see Rackley playing guard in Dallas (especially if the team drafts Smith, obviously).  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?  From my scouting report on Rackley:

I do think whoever drafts Rackley should at least give him a look at tackle.  He’s quite athletic for a 310-pounder, displaying great knee bend and quick hand movement.  His lateral movement and slide in pass protection are superb.

Rackley’s athleticism allows him to play with tremendous leverage.  He can easily get to the second level in the running game, which is something Dallas is missing right now at right tackle.  It sure would be nice to be able to run a toss or counter to the right side of the field, huh?

Rackley’s mobility is complemented well by his strength.  He has a very thick lower body, and his upper body strength is adequate (29 reps at the Combine).

  • Round 4:  Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

Patrick is No. 66 on my revised Big Board (yet to be published).  I recently posted a scouting report on Patrick in which I wrote:

At 6’0”, Johnny Patrick has a long frame that allows him to effectively re-route receivers at the line-of-scrimmage.  He will become even more effective at that when he adds five or 10 more pounds (he’s only 190).  Despite being thin, Patrick is physical in all aspects of the game.  He’s generally a willing tackler.  He could benefit from using better technique at times, but a willing attitude is far and away the most important aspect of tackling.

Patrick has plenty of flaws, but he possesses the sort of upside you want in a mid-round draft pick.

  • Round 5:  Lawrence Guy, DT/DE, Arizona State

Once considered a potential second-rounder, Guy has dropped down boards.  He never tallied much production at Arizona State and his arms are shorter than you would like.  Nonetheless, Guy is a natural 3-4 defensive end with tremendous character and intelligence.

  • Round 6:  Bilal Powell, RB, Louisville

I personally have no interest in Powell.  Despite his production in 2010 (1405 yards rushing and 14 total touchdowns), I think Powell is a better fit for a zone-blocking scheme.  He is a downhill, one-cut runner who doesn’t possess great lateral quickness or burst.  I would much prefer Pitt’s Dion Lewis here, but the Cowboys have shown heavy interest in Powell.  I think Garrett views him as a potential replacement for Barber.  Little does he know, he already has that player on the roster in Tashard Choice.

  • Round 7: Kristofer O’Dowd, C, USC

O’Dowd is a talented player who may not last this long, but centers tend to drop.  O’Dowd has also been horrible since the season ended, getting blown backwards all week in Senior Bowl practices and running just a 5.16 40-yard dash at the Combine.  He has the potential to play any position along the interior line, however.

  • Round 7:  Alex Wujciak, ILB, Maryland

The National Football Posts’ Wes Bunting characterized Wujciak as “tough, instinctive, and hard-nosed.”  He’s not going to ‘wow’ you with athleticism, but he is a good football player.  He’s a hard-worker that, with Sean Lee taking over Keith Brooking’s role, could eventually be the Cowboys’ “new” Bradie James.

Overall Thoughts

You can see this mock draft is heavy on both the offensive and defensive lines.  If the Cowboys came out of the 2011 Draft with high-upside prospects at tackle (Smith), guard (Rackley), and center (O’Dowd), I would be thrilled.

Plus, the Ellis/Guy combination would do a lot to strengthen the defensive front.  With Ellis and Josh Brent manning the nose, Ratliff would upgrade the defensive end spot.  He would join forces with (perhaps) Stephen Bowen and/or Jason Hatcher (Bowen is more likely to stay, in my opinion).  With Guy as a prospect for the future, the line is suddenly looking okay.  Throw in improved play from Anthony Spencer and the continued emergence of Victor Butler, and the Cowboys’ potential pass-rush looks a whole lot more formidable.

Personally, I would pass on Powell.  I do think the ‘Boys should address the running back position late in the draft, but there are an abundance of talented second and third round talents who will drop.  Taiwan Jones (Eastern Washington), Graig Cooper (Miami), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Shane Vereen (Cal), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), and Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State) are all players I really like and have rated anywhere from No. 34 to No. 63 on my Big Board.  A few of those backs will go later than they should, and Dallas can and should benefit from that.