Last week, I published my first Cowboys-only mock draft for the year. I had the ‘Boys selecting offensive linemen with their first two picks. As it stands right now, I think there’s about a 50/50 chance that one of the draft’s two elite guards—Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack—fall to Dallas at No. 18. If it doesn’t happen, the team’s draft path could change wildly.
In this mock draft, I’m going to examine which direction the Cowboys might head if all of the elite offensive linemen are off of the board. For the record, I’m not placing Alabama’s D.J. Fluker in that ‘elite’ group, but I’ll assume the Cowboys aren’t interested in him with the 18th pick.
2013 Cowboys-Only Mock Draft, Version 2.0
Round 1: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri
The most popular choice for the Cowboys here is probably Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, but there’s such great depth at safety in the middle rounds that the team might go a different direction, as they should. You could say the same about defensive tackle, although the “depth” doesn’t extend as far as for safety and a lot of the tackles aren’t necessarily great fits for the Cowboys’ scheme. Don’t forget that the Cowboys also have a few young pieces at safety, but their starting defensive tackles don’t have too much left in the tank.
Here’s what I had to say about Richardson in my scouting report:
“With his skill set, Richardson will be a one-gap player in the NFL. He’s at his best when he can penetrate and use his quickness to make plays. I’ve seen reports that he’s a very strong player but, considering his size, I don’t think that’s accurate. Richardson can play powerfully when he shoots gaps and uses his speed to knock defenders into the backfield, but as it stands right now, he won’t consistently hold up at the point, i.e. he’s not a two-gap player who can stand his ground and shed blockers.
The good news is that Richardson could easily add some bulk, if necessary. I personally think he should stay below 300 pounds to maintain his elite quickness, but he could get to 305 or 310 pounds and still be an explosive player on the inside. As you’d expect, Richardson is phenomenal in pursuit, scraping down the line-of-scrimmage like a big linebacker.”
I have Richardson ranked No. 12 overall on my board.
Round 2: Kyle Long, G, Oregon
After missing out on an offensive lineman in the first, the Cowboys could come back with a player capable of playing both guard and tackle in Kyle Long. He fits the Cowboys’ new zone concepts:
“Long is an extremely athletic lineman—the best athlete in the family, according to his father—who excels in space. He can pull with ease and looks natural when asked to get to the second level. Long possesses elite balance and flexibility; he really looks like a big linebacker moving around. Due to Oregon’s quick-hitting scheme, Long didn’t have to hold his blocks long. He frequently comes off of his defender early, and that’s something he’ll need to change at the next level.
In the passing game, Long can mirror well from the interior and he typically maintains a solid base. At 6-6, 313 pounds, Long has the frame to move outside, but he’ll need some practice there before he’s thrown into the mix. He certainly has the quickness and athleticism to play offensive tackle, but he’s incredibly raw at this point. Long is probably best-suited for a zone-blocking scheme. He doesn’t dominate defenders at the point-of-attack, and when Long isn’t asked to move laterally or explode to the second level, he can struggle.”
Long is a high-upside pick, but one whose floor probably isn’t too low.