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Cowboys Mock Draft: Defense, Defense, Defense

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(credit: Bill Jones/KTVT/KTXA)

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Bill Jones
Having grown up in Irving, Bill has deep roots in the DFW area. ...
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - I’m just getting started filling up my “2014 Big Green NFL Draft Scouting Notebook,” but on the eve of Senior Bowl week, how about the first Dallas Cowboys seven-round mock draft of the new year.

By the time Dallas selects at 16th or 17th in the first round (a coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens will determine), the really elite defensive players are gone. The Cowboys need as many defensive players as possible out of the top 100 players in this draft, so trade down about 10 spots and pick up an extra 3rd rounder. That worked out very well last year with Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams.

(Selections based on NFLDraftScout.com 1/15/14 projections.)

1st Round

TRENT MURPHY – DE – STANFORD (6-6, 261)

Big, strong, long edge rusher who was a consensus All-America and team captain at Stanford… great no-nonsense work ethic, toughness and nasty on-field demeanor… 15 sacks and 23.5 tackles for loss in 2013.

2nd Round

AARON DONALD – DT – PITT (6-0, 285)

Unbelievable quickness… there are plays where he makes it to the running back for a handoff before the quarterback does… 11 sacks with 28.5 tackles for loss for an interior rusher are off the charts… won the Lombardi, Nagurski, Bednarik and Outland awards… lack of height, length and size makes him a better fit for a 4-3 team which could mean he will slide to 2nd round… will be a handful rushing the passer.

3rd Round

TELVIN SMITH – OLB – FLORIDA STATE (6-2, 218)

Love this player… PLAYmaker… only reason he may slide to 3rd round is because he’s a ‘tweener… at 218 pounds, he played MLB for the national champions but looks like he has the range and athleticism to play safety… insiders say he probably fits best as an undersized WLB… Senior Bowl director Phil Savage calls him a “four down” player… he will be a walk in starter as a nickel LB and will be a top special teams player from day one… as a senior, led Seminoles in tackles and had 3 interceptions, returning two for TDs… makes up for his lack of LB size with great quickness and instincts.

3rd Round

(pick acquired in trade down)

JACKSON JEFFCOAT – DE – TEXAS (6-5, 250)

Impeccable makeup… will play in NFL for 10 years, which would still fall five years short of his father’s 15-year career… son of former Cowboys DE Jim Jeffcoat, who was a 1st round pick in 1983… Jeffcoat’s combine workout will determine whether he’s a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd round pick… injury history drops him to 3rd round for now but stock will go up if he works out well and can post, say, a 7.1 cone drill, 1.60 10 yard split, 35 vertical, 10-0 broad jump with 25 bench reps… very productive with 13 sacks and 22 tackles for loss as a senior… was a terrific basketball talent in high school so he has really good athleticism but the question is whether he best fits as a 3-4 OLB or a 4-3 DE… two pectoral injuries in college will draw the attention of NFL medics.

4th Round

DOMINIQUE EASLEY – DT – FLORIDA (6-2, 285)

Love this player’s dynamic athleticism and ability to disrupt plays with a great get off, a lot of which doesn’t show up on a stat sheet. This is a first round talent whose draft stock has plummeted due to ACL injuries to both knees. He’s a charismatic team leader who plays with a great tenacity… a Michael Irvin-like confidence that spreads through the locker room… I bet his early season knee injury was a big reason Florida’s 2013 season went down the tubes… he may be the Jesse Williams of this draft (the Alabama nose tackle who fell to the 5th round last year due to knee injuries)… Seahawks took a flyer on Williams last year and Cowboys should do same with Easley this year if he slides to the 4th.

5th Round

JOSH STEWART – WR – OKLAHOMA STATE (5-10, 185)

Another playmaker whose numbers fell off his final (junior) year at OSU as he battled through an injury… Denton Guyer product is only 21 years old so his body is still maturing, but he has very natural pass catching ability… could excel as a slot receiver and punt returner… I thought he was the best player on OSU’s team the last couple of years… since it’s a very deep draft for WRs, Stewart could still be available in the 5th round.

6th Round

TREY MILLARD – FB – OKLAHOMA (6-2, 253)

Probably the best all around player on OU’s team the past four years… his senior year was cut short by an ACL injury… as the Cowboys search for a fullback answer in their offense, here he is… a good and willing blocker as a fullback, but this guy can be used as an H-back, a 3rd tight end, or even as a running back… I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns out to be a Peyton Hillis type RB… mature, smart, team captain… probably Bob Stoops’ favorite player, though as a Sooner fan, I never understood why they didn’t use him more, like they did in the 2012 Texas game (8 touches, 164 yards, TD in a 63-21 win)… good receiving and run after catch ability… despite being a full time starter was a core special teams player all four years at OU… NFL teams are foolish if he’s still available in 6th round, as projected.

7th Round

JIMMY GAROPPOLO – QB – EASTERN ILLINOIS (6-2, 225)

Know very little about him but he has a funny name, and he’s a QB from Eastern Illinois… so there you go.

7th Round

CHRIS WHALEY – DT – TEXAS (6-3, 295)

Henry Melton II? Came to Texas as an oversized RB… Rod Marinelli’s eyes will light up when he comes across this player.

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