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Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Trade Scenarios: Your Ultimate Guide

Jonathan Bales

Despite a much earlier draft slot than usual in 2011, the fluidity of this particular draft class and the multitude of needs for Dallas has made predicting their draft choice a difficult task.  The “consensus” seems to be that they will end up with USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith, but that is far from certain.  I actually think there is a solid chance that Smith gets selected before the ‘Boys are on the clock, either by a team currently ahead of them or another looking to move up (Washington, perhaps).

Either way, Smith is far from a sure thing.  I do think he’s the most likely of all the prospects to come to Big D (as evidenced by my last 32-team mock draft and Cowboys-only mock draft), but the abundance of targets and draft scenarios shifts Smith’s potential arrival from ‘likely’ to ‘most likely.’

So what are the Cowboys’ true plans?  I really think it depends on how the top of the draft plays out.  I wouldn’t rule out a trade up, a move down, or remaining at No. 9.  Each situation could present the best value depending on how the prior picks pan out.  Listed below are potential targets for the Cowboys if they do decide to make a move, along with suitable trading partners.

Moving Up

  • Possible Trade Partners

Cleveland Browns No. 6

To move up three spots, the NFL’s draft value chart suggests the Cowboys would need to relinquish their third-round pick.  Is it worth it?  Perhaps for P-Squared.

San Francisco 49ers No. 7

If you have not deciphered it yet, I am writing the team names in their uniform colors.  Why?  I honestly don’t know, but enjoy it while it lasts.

The Cowboys would probably need to relinquish their third-rounder to move up to San Fran’s spot, but they would receive a pick in return (likely a fourth).  Not a bad exchange if the right guy is still on the board.  The problem is that the Niners will likely have interest in the same sort of prospects as Dallas.  Why would they move back if Peterson or Dareus fell, for example?

  • Possible Targets

Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

The Cowboys are rumored to have Peterson at the top of their board.  I don’t think he will fall, but if he drops to Cleveland, look for Dallas to at least inquire about a trade.  The Browns could very well have interest themselves, but it is highly unlikely the Niners would move back if Peterson drops to them.

Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

This is a tough call for me.  I have Dareus rated as the No. 2 overall player on my board, but I don’t think the Cowboys should trade up for him.  My reasoning for this is lengthy, but I previously wrote an in-depth article on why selecting the best player available is a myth.  In short, it deals with position scarcity.  There aren’t any elite offensive tackles likely to be around in the second round, so grabbing one in the first (with such a huge need at right tackle) makes more sense.

Is Dareus’ value too much to overlook?  It depends on how highly the Cowboys have him rated, but I am hearing they like Smith just as much, if not more.  Thus, moving up even two spots for Dareus doesn’t seem that likely to me.

Tyron Smith, OT, USC

No one is talking about this, but I don’t think Smith’s presence when the Cowboys select at No. 9 is a foregone conclusion.  With all of the Smith/Dallas connections floating around, why is it implausible to think a team will look to jump the ‘Boys for the USC tackle?  The most likely candidate to do that, in my mind, is Washington.  They could easily move up two or three spots to secure Smith.  If the ‘Boys catch wind of this and truly covet Smith, they will need to make a move themselves.

Moving Down

  • Possible Trade Partners

Minnesota Vikings No. 12

According to the chart, the Cowboys could swap their current fourth-rounder for Minnesota’s third if they elect to move back in the first round.  The Vikings haven’t been mentioned as a potential trade partner for Dallas, but it could happen if either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert shockingly falls.

In my opinion, any move down all but eliminates Smith from contention, so the Cowboys will need a backup plan.

Detroit Lions No. 13

The difference in compensation between Minnesota and Detroit highlights a flaw in the NFL’s draft value system, in my opinion.  Instead of swapping third and fourth-round selections, the Cowboys would simply acquire the Lions’ third-round pick if they alternated first-round selections.  With the Lions possibly interested in Prince Amukamara or even Robert Quinn, they appear to be a more likely trade partner for Dallas than Minny.

St. Louis Rams No. 14

Can you even read the yellow font?  Oh well.  The Rams are known to have interest in Alabama receiver Julio Jones and may want to jump Washington to secure him.  They are the most likely partner for the Cowboys, in my view, and would need to relinquish their third and fifth-round round picks to make the move.

New England Patriots No. 17

Am I even choosing team’s true colors at this point?  In any event, the Patriots are known to stockpile draft picks, but they already have a bunch, including two first-round selections.  To swap first-rounders with Dallas, they would need to yield their second-round pick.  Like St. Louis, a possible target for New England in this scenario is Julio Jones.

  • Possible Targets

Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin

Carimi is listed first for a reason–if the Cowboys move down, it is Carimi who I think they will target.  I have heard this “rumor” from a number of sources.  I would personally rather have Anthony Castonzo or even Ben Ijalana, but Carimi is no slouch–he’s still No. 14 overall on my latest board.

Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

I find it hard to believe the Cowboys have divulged as much information (about their views on Smith, for example) as they have without a reason behind it.  I have heard very little linking Castonzo to Dallas, however.  Of course this shouldn’t be used as evidence that the ‘Boys are definitely interested in him, but he will certainly be on their radar if they have him rated as I do.

J.J. Watt, DT/DE, Wisconsin

Watt is considered a prototypical 3-4 defensive end, and only one team (Washington) between the Cowboys and Miami at pick No. 15 runs a 3-4 defense.  The ‘Skins have a bunch of holes, so Watt may not be a priority for them.  I don’t personally want Watt in the first round, but if he is the player the ‘Boys covet, I think he will still be around at St. Louis’ 14th overall selection.

Cameron Jordan, DT/DE, Cal

See Watt, J.J.

Conclusions

Overall, I think the Cowboys need to be flexible in their draft plans.  They should have a list of players for whom they would be willing to trade up, a group they would select at their current spot, and a list of prospects to target if they slide back.  Those lists need not be long.

I wouldn’t consider trading up unless one of two scenarios plays out.  The first is if Peterson drops to Cleveland.  If the Browns are willing to deal, I would sacrifice a first and a third for the top player on my board.

More likely, Peterson won’t drop, and the Cowboys will target Smith.  If he is truly the No. 2 rated player on their board, I would actually trade up for him (if possible).  I think the depth of this draft class is solid enough that yielding a third for an early fourth is worth the ability to acquire an elite offensive tackle with the ability to play either side of the line.  Here are four other reasons to target Tyron Smith.

If the Cowboys miss out on Peterson and Smith, I would desperately seek a trade down (assuming Dareus does not fall).  Castonzo would be the player I target, but the ‘Boys will probably seek Carimi.  The largest positive from a trade back is the possibility of moving up into the very top of the second of even the back of the first to acquire another instant impact player, such as Baylor NT Phil Taylor, Temple DT/DE Muhammad Wilkerson or Texas CB/FS Aaron Williams.

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Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft: Five Potential First Round Picks

Jonathan Bales

With the Cowboys heading into Week 17 of the 2010 season, they are in position to acquire somewhere between (about) the sixth pick and 12th selection in the 2011 Draft.  In that area, they will undoubtedly be able to obtain a true impact player–someone who should start immediately.  Picking toward the latter portion of that range may actually be optimal for Dallas, as the requisite contract funds take a steep drop from the top of the round.

Predicting the Cowboys’ pick in 2011 will be far easier than it was this past draft due to their draft spot.  Further, the team’s primary needs (defensive end, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety, offensive line) weed out some of the prospects.

Without further ado, here are my initial picks for the Cowboys’ five most likely potential first round draft picks. . .

5.  Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal

Jordan is a bit smaller than the “prototypical” Cowboys defensive end (he’s 280 pounds), but the massive ends haven’t been working in Dallas anyway.  It’s time to acquire smaller, quicker playmakers across the board on defense, and that starts on the line.

Jordan has an incredible frame and strength, yet carries it well.  He is good in pursuit, able to shed blocks rather easily.  His experience in a 3-4 defense is always a plus.

With literally all of the team’s current defensive ends possibly on the way out (I predict they’ll retain only Jason Hatcher), Jordan would be an immediate starter for Dallas.

4.  Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Clayborn is a 4-3 defensive end in college, but he possess enough size (6’4”, 285 pounds) that he could stay at that spot in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defense.  He’s a high-motor player with great athleticism for his size.  He actually appears to have a frame which could add some bulk, meaning he could transition into a run-stuffing 3-4 end or even eventually kick inside to nose tackle.

3.  Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Peterson has it all.  He’s big (6’1”, 211 pounds), fast (probably a low 4.4 guy), and intelligent.  He has the skill set to fit into any system, excelling in both man and zone coverages.  He plays big in big games and possesses excellent ball skills–characteristics Dallas needs in a cornerback.

With Terence Newman getting old quickly and Mike Jenkins regressing in 2010, cornerback is a huge need for Dallas.  Orlando Scandrick played really well in the slot during the second half of the season, but it’s unclear if he could hold up outside as a starter.  Peterson’s presence would allow the Cowboys to possibly move Newman to free safety, giving the secondary a much-needed makeover.

2.  Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

The only reason I have Amukamara ranked ahead of Peterson is draftability:  I don’t see Peterson being available for Dallas no matter where they pick–he’s that good.  Amukamara is still an outstanding cornerback, excelling in press and zone coverages.  Despite being six pounds lighter than Peterson, he’s far more physical.  With the Cowboys likely to transition to more zone coverages in 2011, Amukamara could make sense.

1.  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

Dareus is an absolute stud.  At 6’3”, 306 pounds, he possesses incredible athleticism.  His size is tremendous, yet he carries it very well–so well, in fact, that when you look at him, you see “oversized linebacker.”

Dareus is versatile enough to play all three defensive line positions for Dallas.  That sort of versatility would be extremely valuable.  Because of his size, I think Dareus’ primary position would be nose tackle.  If that’s the case, current Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff could move back to defensive end–a position that seems more suitable for him at this point in his career.

So how could Dareus fall to the Cowboys’ pick?  Well, there are some off-field concerns.  If Dallas is willing to overlook them, they could secure incredible value in the first round.

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Dallas Cowboys-Only Mock Draft, Version 5.0: The Final Picks

Note: This is a two-page entry.

We have previously completed four other Cowboys-only mock drafts, listed here: Version 1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 4.0.  Some of those predictions were based on various scenarios, such as a stud player at a position of “non-need” dropping to the Cowboys.

This mock draft, our final version, will include our best guess for each Cowboys draft selection.  How many will we predict correctly?  I’m going to say either zero, all six, or somewhere in between.  You can take that to the bank.

Round 1

Nate Allen, S, USF

Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins claimed Allen is the best safety in this class.  We know the Cowboys don’t have him rated as such, but we simply do not see a top safety (or offensive tackle) falling to the Cowboys’ 27th selection.  We previously liked Florida G/C Maurkice Pouncey here, but the chances of him being available are dwindling.

Despite Jerry Jones’ proclamations to the contrary, we see Dallas moving out of the 27th slot.  They will either package a few picks to move up so they can acquire a true play-maker or slide back into the early second round to grab either Allen or Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett.  The cost of moving up is significant, so we will go with the latter scenario.

This prediction is also based on a hunch that the “interest” in USC safety Taylor Mays is a smokescreen.  The Cowboys know they need a ball-hawk at safety, i.e. not Taylor Mays.  Hopefully another team selects the workout-warrior before Dallas even has an opportunity to contemplate his addition.

Round 2

Eric Norwood, LB, South Carolina

No offensive tackle in the first two rounds?  If the Cowboys don’t select one in the first round, it is unlikely they will address the position until round three at the earliest.  We don’t see the value at tackle in the second round.  The team could probably grab similar prospects whether they select an offensive tackle in round two or three.

Further, we see the outside linebacker position as similar to offensive tackle.  The coaches seem to be satisfied with the starters at both spots (OLB is a no-brainer), meaning a rookie at either position will become a backup.  The depth at both OLB and OT is also weak, with second-year players Brandon Williams, Victor Butler, and Robert Brewster at outside linebacker and offensive tackle, respectively.

Norwood is a player we love and think would fit well into the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme.  He needs to improve in coverage, but his pass-rushing skills are first round-caliber.

Round 3

Jordan Shipley, WR, Texas

The Cowboys are reportedly “in love” with Shipley, and so are we.  Not only is he an NFL-caliber slot receiver, but his return ability alone justifies his selection in the third round.  The question is whether Dallas will wait this long to select him–they are rumored to be contemplating grabbing him in the second round.

Ultimately, we believe the ‘Boys will hold off on Shipley until the third.  Moving up in the round is a possibility, but there is a decent shot that Shipley’s small size and lack of elite speed will allow him to be available for the Cowboys in the back of the third.

Shipley’s arrival will likely spell the end of Patrick Crayton’s tenure in Dallas.  Crayton is a solid player, but he lacks the game-breaking ability that the Cowboys covet right now.  Could a draft day trade be in the works?


Want more? Check out our top 90 overall prospects.

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Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Reshad Jones, S, Georgia

We have discussed the Cowboys’ safety position ad nauseum the last few weeks, so there really isn’t much left to say.  As of now, Alan Ball and second-year man Michael Hamlin would compete for the starting job at free safety, with Gerald Sensabaugh manning the strong safety position.

Neither Ball nor Sensabaugh lit up our 2009 Safety Grades, but Ball did perform adequately during his short stint replacing ex-Cowboy Ken Hamlin.  Still, Dallas is undoubtedly seeking an upgrade at free safety.

The team’s 27th overall draft selection seems like the most natural spot to fill this hole.  However, we don’t see either of the two top-tier safeties, Tennessee’s Eric Berry and Texas’ Earl Thomas, dropping to Dallas.  With the offensive line positions also a possibility in the first round, Dallas may not address the safety spot until later.

If so, Georgia’s Reshad Jones is a possibility.

Scouting Report

At 6’2”, 215 pounds, Jones is in the “Goldilocks Range” for Cowboys’ safeties–not too big, not too small.  However, Jones plays the run as if he was 230 pounds.  His tackling form is superb and he displays tremendous aggression in run support.  This is undoubtedly the strongest part of Jones’ game.  Forward to about the 1:12 mark in the video below to see the definition of a ‘form tackle.’

Jones’ speed is by no means elite, but it is adequate.  He is capable of getting beat deep due to his short stride length.  However, that short stride length makes cutting quite easy for him, thus allowing him to be better in man coverage against a slot wide receiver than, say, running deep with a burner.  Ultimately, his quickness is better than his speed.

Others have knocked Jones for having poor ball skills, but we don’t see it.  He has shown good hands in the tape we have watched and an above-average ability to make a play on the ball.  He has rather fluid hips and good change of direction.  The only thing Jones is really lacking is elite straight-line speed.

Jones is not a first round talent due to his limited upside–he does everything well, but nothing outstandingly.

Projection

Originally considered a surefire second-rounder, Jones has dropped a bit of late.  He may still go in the late second round, but the early-to-mid third seems more likely.  If he does drop into the back of the third round, he will becomes a legitimate option for Dallas.


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2010 Cowboys-Only Mock Draft: Version 4.0, Post-Adams and Hamlin

In our analysis of the ramifications of releasing Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin, we noted that Hamlin’s departure indirectly affects the Cowboys’ cornerback depth.  FS/CB Alan Ball will likely move to free safety full-time, leaving Dallas with just three viable options at cornerback.

Would Kyle Wilson's value in the late first round be too good to pass up?

So what happens if one of the Cowboys’ top-rated cornerbacks slides to their selection?  Would they have the bravado to pick him despite recently losing two starters at key positions?

In this Mock Draft Version 4.0, we will take a look at the path Dallas may take should they pull the trigger on a sliding cornerback.

Round 1

Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

Wilson would represent great value with the 27th pick, but he doesn’t fit an immediate need for Dallas.  Yes, the cornerback position is extremely thin, but the top three guys (particularly Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman) are exceptional.

Wilson could compete for nickel duties in 2010 and aid the Cowboys significantly in the return game.  Will that be enough to justify his selection?

Round 2

Vladimir Ducasse, OG/OT, UMass

We have a slight man-crush on Ducasse.  Big, athletic, and versatile, Ducasse has enormous upside–even more so than a lot of first-rounders.

The problem with Ducasse is that he is so raw that it may take some time for him to develop.  Could he have an impact in 2010?  Probably not as large of one as you might expect from a second-rounder.

Round 3

Darrell Stuckey, S, Kansas

The main issue with selecting Wilson in the first round surfaces itself here.  Stuckey is a project and not someone who can be counted on for immediate help in the secondary.  By drafting a lineman in the second round, the Cowboys would ultimately be forced to start either ball or (Michael) Hamlin at FS.

Round 4

Sam Young, OT, Notre Dame

We really believe Dallas could select a multitude of linemen this year.  With Ducasse able to play either tackle or guard (we think he is a tackle), the Cowboys are free to select an offensive lineman who plays basically any position in the later rounds.  Young or Miami’s Jason Fox could be options here.

Don't sleep on the Cowboys drafting a fullback.

Round 6

Clifton Geathers, DT/DE, South Carolina

We have been pushing the need for a versatile DT/DE of late, even projecting the Cowboys to select Penn State’s Jared Odrick in recent mock drafts.  However, selecting Wilson in the first round pigeon-holes Dallas into drafting an offensive lineman and safety in rounds two and three, so the DT/DE hybrid spot cannot be addressed until the later rounds.

Round 7

John Conner, FB, Kentucky

Conner may not last this long, but he is perhaps the top fullback prospect in this class.  With Deon Anderson’s future up in the air and John Phillips unable to convert to fullback full-time, Conner makes a lot of sense for Dallas.

Analysis

Overall, this mock draft seems a bit weaker than our previous ones.  Sure, the Cowboys obtain a player of great value in Boise State CB Kyle Wilson, but at what cost?  Can this team really afford to go into the 2010 season with Alan Ball, Michael Hamlin, and Darrell Stuckey as the choices at free safety?

Ultimately, if Dallas does not make a move for a free safety or left tackle prior to the Draft, we fear their options could become quite narrow.

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Cowboys News and Notes: 3/23/10

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M9Hs33RPWY&feature=player_embedded]

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Robert Brewster: The Key to the Cowboys’ Draft?

Could a player with zero NFL snaps influence the Cowboys' draft plans?

Robert Brewster, the Cowboys’ 2009 third round draft pick out of Ball State, was drafted as an offensive tackle. After tearing his pectoral muscle last offseason, however, Brewster never got playing time or practice reps at tackle.

The team stated a few weeks ago that they would try Brewster out at guard, but there are now rumors that he will actually remain at tackle.

The future position of this second-year player is so important because it could determine which path Dallas takes in the upcoming draft. If they view him as the eventual successor to Kyle Kosier or Leonard Davis inside, then perhaps they will look to draft an offensive tackle in round one. Doing so might require that the Cowboys move up to the early 20’s.

On the other hand, if Brewster is seen as best-suited to play outside, then Idaho’s Mike Iupati or Florida’s Maurkice Pouncey may be on the Cowboys’ radar as versatile interior linemen.

Brewster’s position also has ramifications for current Cowboys such as Pat McQuistan, Montrae Holland, and Cory Procter. If Brewster does indeed remain at tackle, for example, there is little chance that McQuistan remains in Dallas in 2010, regardless of the team’s draft plans.

Perhaps, though, our thinking is backwards. It is very possible that, instead of Brewster determining which way the Cowboys go in the draft, the draft will determine which position Brewster plays. This is a more likely scenario in our opinion, as it makes little sense to let a second-year third-rounder with zero playing time affect draft plans.

Instead, if the Cowboys are able to land a player such as Oklahoma OT Trent Williams, expect Brewster to move to guard. This would be bad news for both Procter and Holland, who are in a bit of a catch 22 situation: if the Cowboys draft a guard early then they are obviously in trouble, but if Dallas drafts a tackle early, Brewster may transition to guard and take one of their roster spots anyway.

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Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Lamarr Houston, DT/DE, Texas

Lamarr Houston has the athleticism of a linebacker at defensive tackle.

In a recent mailbag, we discussed the possibility of Dallas drafting a true nose tackle and moving Jay Ratliff to defensive end in certain situations (and subsequently why we believe it is a poor idea). Ratliff proved he is not an elite defensive end and that his speed and quickness are his ticket to success only when he is lined up at the nose.

While we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Cowboys selecting a true nose tackle, we think it would come later in the draft. The first few selections will be expected to make a near-immediate impact. Since Ratliff plays nearly every snap at defensive tackle and moving him to end is not a legitimate option, the upside of a rookie NT would be limited.

Instead, we believe the Cowboys will be searching for a player who can line up at both tackle and end in their 3-4 system. We have already mentioned Penn State’s Jared Odrick, UCLA’s Brian Price, and Purdue’s Mike Neal as candidates for this job.

In this version of our “Potential Draft Picks” Series, we look at the possibility of Texas DT Lamarr Houston making the transition to 3-4 end.

Scouting Report

At 6’3”, 305 pounds, Houston has size similar to current Cowboys’ defensive end Marcus Spears. Scouts at the Combine noted how little fat was evident on his frame. His 4.85 forty and 9’6” broad jump are exceptional for his size.

It is rather remarkable how much Houston has flown under-the-radar. He is a rather athletic individual (as shown by his Combine numbers) with great quickness. Of the DT/DE prospects we have studied thus far, Houston is the most like Ratliff. As is the case with Ratliff, he has a very high motor. He rarely disappears on film and there just is not much bad game tape on Houston. Coaches will love his consistency.

It is his lack of outstanding game film that may have him not rated as a top-tier tackle, but this could be due to the nature of Texas’ system more than anything.

Some people question whether Houston will fit better as a three-technique or five-technique player. For Dallas, he would be playing the latter, although we do think his similarities to Ratliff make him a candidate to also win the backup job inside at nose tackle.

For a big interior lineman, Houston also displays a wide range of pass-rush moves. If he can work on his run defense, he could become an excellent complement to Marcus Spears.

There are a few concerns about Houston’s character. He was arrested two years ago for a DWI and, although not necessarily a mark of character, Houston ran at the Combine in tights and bright yellow track shoes. Thus, if the Cowboys are not interested in players who draw attention to themselves, Houston may not be a good fit.

Projection

Houston’s stock has picked up a bit since the Combine, as he cemented himself as the top “second-tier” defensive tackle. Once regarded as a second or third round prospect, there are many draft analysts projecting him to go in the back of the first round. There is little chance he makes it to the end of round two, although with such a deep class, you never know.

For Dallas, selecting Houston in the first round just does not make sense. It would be poor value and there will be better options on the board at the time. If they trade into the early-to-mid second round, then Houston will become a legitimate option. Like we said, though, the grade the Cowboys give Houston will depend on how much of a character concern he is deemed.

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2010 NFL Mock Draft Version 2.0

Sam Bradford jumps to the first overall pick in our latest mock draft.

1. St. Louis Rams- Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

In Version 1.0 of our 32-team mock draft, we had Clausen going first overall. That changes as St. Louis is rumored to have more interest in Bradford as the ticket to future success.

2. Detroit Lions- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska

The Lions are rumored to have heavy interest in OT Russell Okung, but look for them to take the highest-rated non-QB on their board. We doubt Okung will be rated higher than Suh on any board.

3. Tampa Bay Bucs- Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma

McCoy’s 23 bench press reps are a concern, but he has displayed good overall intelligence and character, making any worries about his work ethic a bit less concerning.

4. Washington Redskins- Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State

Will Jimmy Clausen be the pick? The Redskins placed a first round tender on Campbell, so he isn’t going anywhere. Washington needs to fix their line or no quarterback will be able to succeed.

5. Kansas City Chiefs- Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa

The Chiefs are in dire need of a left tackle, and Bryan Bulaga has steadily been moving up boards. Safety Eric Berry could also be the selection here.

6. Seattle Seahawks- Jimmy Clausen, QB, Notre Dame

Although we do not believe Clausen represents great value (we had him as the #37 rated overall player on our initial Big Board), it is tough to pass up what you consider to be a potential franchise quarterback. Pete Carroll is very familiar with Clausen’s skill set.

Trent Williams is the third Oklahoma player in the top eight of this mock draft.

7. Cleveland Browns- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

The Browns would be doing cartwheels to grab Berry here. They have been rumored to be seeking either him or Florida CB Joe Haden. It will be interesting to see if they select Haden if Berry is off the board despite Haden’s poor 40-yard dash time.

8. Oakland Raiders- Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma

Could it be? The Raiders don’t select the biggest, fastest player on the board? Look out for Maryland tackle Bruce Campbell here, but Williams ran just three-hundredths of a second slower (4.88) than Campbell, so his game tape could be the deciding factor (if Al Davis even looks at game tape).

9. Buffalo Bills- Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama

The Bills have a lot of holes to fill. It will be interesting to see what they decide to do if Clausen or Bradford is still on the board at this point.

10. Jacksonville Jaguars- Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, USF

Despite signing DE Aaron Kampman, the Jags will still be searching for talented pass-rushers early and often come April. Pierre-Paul is an athletic freak (260 pounds, 4.64) and a good fit in Jacksonville’s scheme.

11. Denver Broncos- Dan Williams, DT, Tennessee

This may seem a bit high for the DT from Tennessee, but we have talked to multiple scouts who say Dan Williams may be the most under-the-radar player in this year’s draft. Denver desperately needs to improve their run defense, and at 330 pounds, Williams may be just the man for the job.

12. Miami Dolphins-Brandon Graham, DE/OLB, Michigan

Lately there have been concerns about Anthony Davis's work ethic, but tackles never last long on draft day.

Graham has been soaring up the rankings since the Senior Bowl. After losing Jason Taylor, the ‘Phins will be on the lookout for a player such as Graham who is versatile enough to stuff the run as efficiently as he gets to the quarterback.

13. San Francisco 49ers- Earl Thomas, FS, Texas

An overwhelming amount of Dallas fans want Thomas to be the team’s selection, but there is just no way he drops to the back of the round. A cornerback could also be the pick if San Fran releases Nate Clements.

14. Seattle Seahawks- Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers

Davis’ stock could be slipping after he did not even weigh in or participate in drills at Rutgers’ Pro Day. Still, Seattle needs a replacement for LT Walter Jones.

15. New York Giants- Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State

In a bit of a shocker, we have Kyle Wilson as the first CB off the board. Successful corners generally have either great size or speed, and Joe Haden has neither. That is not to say he won’t be a good corner, but Wilson is a more fluid athlete with greater versatility. He could help New York in the return game.

16. Tennessee Titans- Joe Haden, CB, Florida

Picks #15 and #16 could be flip-flopped on draft day, but we are going to stick with what we have heard from scouts. Ex-Ravens and Browns scout Daniel Jeremiah told us there is a chance that Haden drops into the 20’s.

17. San Francisco 49ers- C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson

We debated listing Spiller as the 49ers’ first pick in the round, which is a definite possibility with Seattle selecting right behind them at #14. If Spiller lasts this long, expect the Niners, who will have already addressed one position of need, to bring in the home-run hitter to complement Frank Gore.

Maurkice Pouncey is an option for Dallas, but he might not last until pick #27.

18. Pittsburgh Steelers- Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

The Steelers’ linemen are getting old quickly, and the organization always places an emphasis on do-it-all players. Iupati, who will likely play guard in the NFL, has the potential to kick out to tackle, a characteristic which will surely boost his draft stock.

19. Atlanta Falcons- Maurkice Pouncey, G/C, Florida

We had Pouncey as the Cowboys’ selection in our last mock draft, but in this particular version he won’t be available for Dallas. A lot of people may be surprised to see Pouncey this high, but some teams reportedly have him as a top 10 overall player.

20. Houston Texans- Ryan Mathews, RB, Fresno State

Local Houston newspapers have reported the Texans are going to select either Earl Thomas or Ryan Mathews. We think Thomas will be long gone, so Mathews will come into Houston with an immediate opportunity to start over Steve Slaton.

21. Cincinnati Bengals- Derrick Morgan, DE, Georgia Tech

With the signing of WR Antonio Bryant, the Bengals’ focus will likely shift to the defensive side of the ball. Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall are excellent cornerbacks who could benefit from the pass rush abilities of a player such as Derrick Morgan.

22. New England Patriots- Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State

Stories of Bryant missing meetings and even showing up late to games could be erroneous, but they still may hurt a player who already had character concerns. If Bryant drops into the 20’s he is dangerously close to Jerry Jones’ trade range. If the Cowboys stand pat, the Patriots would love a play-maker like Bryant to possibly replace Randy Moss in 2011.

23. Green Bay Packers- Charles Brown, OT, USC

Charles Brown is an undersized, athletic tackle who fits best in a West Coast offense because of his superb ability in pass protection. Green Bay re-signed tackle Chad Clifton but will lose OT Mark Tauscher, so Brown fills a need.

24. Philadelphia Eagles- Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri

We love the upside of Texas LB Sergio Kindle.

Weatherspoon impressed at both the Combine and Missouri’s Pro Day, displaying the sort of consistency NFL coaches love. Philly may also go with Kyle Wilson or Joe Haden here if they happen to fall, but linebacker is a prime need.

25. Baltimore Ravens- Sergio Kindle, LB, Texas

We had Kindle rated as the #8 overall prospect on our Big Board, so Baltimore would be acquiring tremendous value here. Their wide receiver position is no longer weak with signings of Donte Stallworth and Derrick Mason and the trade for Anquan Boldin.

26. Arizona Cardinals- Taylor Mays, S, USC

Honestly, we think Mays is going to be an average player at best in the NFL, but a lot of people obviously disagree. Some team will fall in love with his workout numbers, and Arizona would probably love to see Mays drop to them after losing Antrel Rolle.

27. Dallas Cowboys- Jared Odrick, DT/DE, Penn State

At this point, Cowboys fans will likely be screaming for the team to select Maryland LT Bruce Campbell. Despite the need for an upgrade at tackle, we still see Odrick as the most likely pick. There is a good chance either Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher, or Stephen Bowen will not be back in 2011, and in addition to playing defensive end, Odrick can also become the primary backup to DT Jay Ratliff. If Odrick is gone at this point, which is a decent possibility, we see Bruce Campbell, Golden Tate, Brian Price, and Devin McCourty all as legitimate options for Dallas.

McCourty may seem like a reach to some, but don't be shocked to see him be a first round selection.

28. San Diego Chargers- Jahvid Best, RB, California

We love Jahvid Best’s skill set, and despite concerns about his size, he is actually the same size as C.J. Spiller. RB Darren Sproles may or may not return to San Diego, but either way the team must address the position early in the draft.

29. New York Jets- Golden Tate, WR, Notre Dame

Questions about Tate’s speed disappeared after his 4.42 official 40 time in Indianapolis. WR Braylon Edwards may not be in New York next season, so the Jets have to stock up on weapons for Mark Sanchez.

30. Minnesota Vikings- Devin McCourty, CB, Rutgers

A bit of a sleeper to sneak into the first round, McCourty displayed superb fluidity and change of direction at the Combine. In addition, he also possesses above average size and speed. Minnesota is desperate for an upgrade over Cedric Griffin.

31. Indianapolis Colts- Brian Price, DT, UCLA

We see Price as a legitimate option to convert to defensive end in a 3-4, but a lot of teams see him as a three-technique defensive tackle. He is an underrated player that will fit in well with Indy’s undersized defense.

32. New Orleans Saints- Jermaine Gresham, TE, Oklahoma

The Saints are pretty free to select the best player available at this point. Linebacker is a bit of a question mark right now, so Brandon Spikes may be an option. Also do not rule out the Golden Child, Tim Tebow. Sean Payton is creative enough to concoct ways to utilize Tebow’s talent without disrupting the productivity of Drew Brees.

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Cowboys Potential Draft Picks: Vladimir Ducasse, OG/OT, UMass

UMass lineman Vladimir Ducasse is very raw, but his upside at all five offensive line positions is off the charts.

In our first Post-Combine Mock Draft, we had the Cowboys selecting Florida G/C Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. We anticipate that Dallas will greatly covet the versatility which Pouncey possesses. Selecting Pouncey would give the Cowboys a viable backup at both guards spots and center.

The quandary the ‘Boys find themselves in, though, is that their starters at offensive tackle are a bigger concern than those at guard and center. Doug Free is an excellent swing tackle (a tackle who is the primary backup to both the starting left and right tackles), so the depth is superior on the outside of the line than on the inside.

So does Dallas target an offensive tackle who may or may not have an immediate impact, or a guard/center who likely would not contribute right away but would provide much-needed depth for the interior line positions?

The solution to the Cowboys’ woes may come in the form of a Haitian-born lineman from the University of Massachusetts.

Scouting Report

Ducasse is the epitome of “high upside.” He was born and lived in Haiti until 2002 when he moved to Massachusetts to live with his aunt. He did not even play football until his junior year of high school.

At 6’5”, 332 pounds, Ducasse is a mammoth lineman. Scouts are drooling over his size and athleticism, but there is no consensus as to where Ducasse will make an impact in the NFL. At the Senior Bowl, Ducasse played all five offensive line positions, and even lined up on the defensive side of the ball. Ducasse’s natural strength is off the charts and he has very long arms, so there is no doubt that he could be the potential successor to Flozell Adams at left tackle.

Ducasse is very raw, so there are concerns about how fast he can make an impact for the Cowboys. He can sometimes get too high in his stance and may take a year or two to develop. The return on investment Ducasse could provide is huge, though. Just imagining a player who could potentially be a “swing lineman” (as opposed to just a swing tackle) must have Dallas ecstatic.

In a way, Ducasse’s inexperience is a good thing. It will allow coaches to teach him proper technique from scratch rather than having to correct poor habits. However, this may take a significant amount of time, and there are questions about how long a “win now” team like Dallas will wait.

There are also concerns about Ducasse’s intelligence after he scored just 13 on the Wonderlic exam, but we see these questions as unjustified. One must take into consideration the fact that English is not his first language and he did not speak it regularly until 2002.

Projection

Ducasse figures to get selected somewhere in the second round. We see him as a top 15 talent in terms of natural ability, but his inexperience will scare some teams away. Thus, the value and upside the team which selects Ducasse will receive is enormous. We believe his versatility and raw athleticism will shoot Ducasse up draft boards, so he may only be an option for Dallas if they trade out of the first round or move up in the second.