IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) — We’re less than a week away from NFL Draft Day, and it’s time to empty more of my 2014 Big Green NFL Draft Scouting Notebook. It’s been filled to overflowing for the past three months with notes gleaned from studying more than 300 draft prospects.
Thanks to around 100 underclassmen turning pro this year, this may be the deepest NFL Draft class ever. Most analysts concur there will be a number of future starters picked as late as the 4th round this year. The rule of thumb is that you can usually count on getting a future starting player only in the first 3 rounds.
However, at the top of the draft, there seems to be only the usual amount of elite, dynamic players. There are probably no more than 15 of them this year. Not surprisingly, the Cowboys pick 16th.
So, assuming the Aaron Donald’s, Kahlil Mack’s, Zach Martin’s, and Odell Beckham’s of the draft world are gone by the time the Cowboys select, there’s only one thing left to do.
The two most despised words for many Cowboys fans.
But this is the year to trade down. And if, say, only one quarterback is taken in the top of the 1st round (which seems likely), there should be needy teams at the top of the 2nd round who want to trade back into the 1st to get their QB.
The goal for the Cowboys is to acquire as many top 100 draft picks as possible. The player you draft at #40 may be about the same player you could get at #20 (or #16). Do what Jimmy did in the 90’s and what the Seahawks have done of late. Throw numbers at it.
So, here it is, the 2014 Cowboys Mock Draft 2.0:
Donald, Barr, Martin, Evans, Beckham are all gone at 16. The phone is ringing in the Cowboys draft room. It’s Cleveland, which took WR Sammy Watkins at #4. The Browns are desperate for QB Derek Carr. Done deal!
TRADE: Dallas sends its 1st round pick (16) to Cleveland for the Browns 1st (26), 3rd (71), 4th (127), and 6th (180) round picks. The deal adds up perfectly on the trade value chart. Dallas is now picking 26th in the 1st round.
TRADE: San Francisco wants a wide receiver and can’t wait longer for Marquise Lee. Dallas trades its 1st (26) and 4th (127) round picks (acquired from Cleveland) for the 49ers 1st (30) and 3rd (94) round picks. The Cowboys still have a number of players they covet, now sitting at #30, but all of them could still be available in the mid-2nd round. The phone rings again.
TRADE: Minnesota’s new offensive coordinator Norv Turner is enamored with LSU QB Zach Mettenberger and fears he won’t make it to pick #40. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer and Turner have a great trade partner in Dallas. Dallas sends its 1st round pick (30) to Minnesota for the Vikings’ 2nd (40) and 3rd (72) round picks. It’s more than the Vikings should be giving up, but they want their QB.
So, three trades leave the Cowboys with 6 of the top 100 picks in the draft, rather than 3. Now, time to get to work:
2nd Round – #40
DOMINIQUE EASLEY – DT – FLORIDA
6-2, 288 pound beast of a pressure player who would be a top 10 pick, if not for those two ACL injuries. We’re assuming Easley checked out fine on his medical re-check last week in Indy. And, we can afford to take a flyer on this potential impact player since we now have a multitude of draft picks. Easley is expected to be full speed by training camp.
2nd Round – #47
TELVIN SMITH – LB – FLORIDA STATE
Wrote about Smith in last week’s mock…6-3, 224 pound weak side linebacker who will be a walk-in starter alongside Sean Lee at nickel LB and, by midseason perhaps, a 4-down players… the heir apparent to Bruce Carter at the Will LB position…great instincts, read and react ability, and passion…extremely confident team leader…think Michael Irvin.
3rd Round – #71
KAREEM MARTIN – DE – NORTH CAROLINA
6-6, 272 pound 3-down player who can play either right or left DE and be an effective inside rusher as well…35 inch arms…timed an incredible 1.53 10-yard split at Indy…smart, well-spoken team leader…HC Larry Fedora says Martin “has great length, can run and has no ceiling.”
3rd Round – #72
BILLY TURNER – T/G – NORTH DAKOTA STATE
4-year starter and 2-time 1st team All American playing for the 3-time national champion Bison…6-5, 314 pounder made 56 starts in his career (44 at LT, 12 at RT)…may project inside to guard to start his NFL career but could be Doug Free’s eventual replacement at RT…another very well spoken team leader who has an air of confidence about him.
3rd Round – #78
JACKSON JEFFCOAT – DE – TEXAS
Another player I wrote about recently, the 6-3, 253 pound edge rusher had virtually identical college career stats as Demarcus Ware…60 tackles for loss and 27 ½ sacks…son of former Cowboys 1st round draft pick Jim Jeffcoat, who had 102 career sacks following in the footsteps of the late, great Harvey Martin.
3rd Round – #94
JOSH HUFF – WR – OREGON
5-11, 206 pound playmaker who will slide perfectly into Miles Austin’s slot receiver position…averaged over 18 yards per catch his senior year…a tough, physical player who gets lots of yards after the catch…a very versatile player who is a good downfield blocker and willing special teams player too…can play outside or in the slot.
4th Round – #119
DAVID FALES – QB – SAN JOSE STATE
In a draft fairly deep with serviceable QBs, the 4th round could be a sweet spot to find a QB to develop…one coach who saw both play in person tells me Fales has a stronger arm than 1st round prospect Derek Carr….in a head to head matchup vs. Carr in November, the 6-2, 212 pound Fales completed 37 of 45 passes for 547 yards and 6 TDs in a 62-52 win over Fresno State…led Spartans to an 11-2 record in 2012.
5th Round – #158
DAVON COLEMAN – DT – ARIZONA STATE
6-2, 297 pounder who most analysts project to be around a 7th round pick, but I believe his measureables and a breakout senior season will catch the attention of NFL scouts…totaled 15 tackles for loss and 8 ½ sacks in 2013…35 bench reps…though overshadowed by teammate Will Sutton, you can make the case Coleman was the better player last season.
6th Round – #180
TREY MILLARD – FB – OKLAHOMA
Love this player…don’t be deceived, he’s much more than a fullback…might even be the big short yardage back the Cowboys have been looking for…6-3, 247 pounder can catch the ball out of the backfield, be a lead blocker and 3rd tight end….great makeup…very intelligent…he’ll play a lot of years in this league…was a core special teams player at OU even though he was also a 4-time all-conference player…was considered as high as a 3rd round prospect before tearing his ACL in October.
7th Round – #229
VINNIE SUNSERI – S – ALABAMA
Another smart, athletic player who may see his stock fall sharply after tearing an ACL last season….coach’s son who is a student of the game and displayed playmaking ability his junior year last fall…returned two interceptions for TDs, including one vs. Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M…5-11, 210 pounder will walk in and become core special teamer and could develop into a regular at safety.
7th Round – #231
TYLER SHATLEY – OG – CLEMSON
6-3, 300 pounder who lifted 225 pounds 40 times at his Clemson’s Pro Day…after rushing for 2000 yards and 31 TDs in high school, Shatley arrived at Clemson as a fullback and grew into an offensive guard…Head Coach Dabo Swinney says, “He’s fast, powerful and very, very smart…one of our best football players…the epitome of a football player.” Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris says Shatney is “the perfect player to build an offensive line around. He’s a winner. He’s passionate. He’s rugged. He’s mean. He wants to be that guy that’s running the show.”
7th Round – #238
KENNETH ACKER – CB – SMU
Very athletic, playmaking 5-11 ½, 190 pounder who June Jones toyed with playing both ways at SMU…3- year starter…All-State offensive and defensive player in high school, and an All-State point guard on the basketball team.
7th Round – #248
JOSH HARRIS – RB – WAKE FOREST
5-10, 206 pound Duncanville product opened eyes with a 4.36 forty and 28 bench reps…rushed for nearly 2200 yards in collegiate career and is a capable receiver out of the backfield.
7th Round – #251
JEROME COUPLIN – S – WILLIAM & MARY
6-1, 213 pound small college All-American began catching the attention of NFL scouts after posting explosive numbers at his Pro Day…41 ½ vertical…11-2 broad jump…smart, hard worker, team captain…good size with extremely long arms…covers a lot of ground…Cowboys drafted CB B.W. Webb from same school in 4th round last year.
7th Round – #254
EDDIE LACKEY – LB – BAYLOR
Athletic, playmaking 6-0, 220 pounder who has terrific speed…intercepted 7 passes in two years at Baylor and was an integral part of the Bears’ defensive improvement…flying under the radar during this draft season since he wasn’t able to work out due to post season shoulder surgery…only 21 years old…could develop into a very nice player.
So, there you go. Three trades later, the Cowboys were left without a first round pick, but come away with six of the top 94 picks in the draft and 15 overall selections…2 defensive tackles, 2 defensive ends, 2 linebackers, 2 safeties, 1 cornerback, 2 offensive linemen, 2 running backs, 1 wide receiver, and 1 quarterback.
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