The draft is close to two weeks away and Will McClay is probably tightening up the draft board by now. That being said, it looks like the Cowboys have done their due diligence by bringing in a lot of top tier prospects, more than in previous drafts. We see a lot of familiar names and a lot of play makers all over this prospect list, so to me, the Cowboys are likely going to roll with two scenarios:
1. Stay put at #16 and hope that Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M; Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M; Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh; Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA remain on the board. If any of these guys are still there, the Cowboys will make the selection.
2. If none of the above players are on the board, then the Cowboys will be looking for a trade down. The Cowboys are completely ready and prepared to make the trade down. The prospect visits have the Cowboys covered. If you look at their visits (private or otherwise) then you can see a bunch of these guys being there anywhere in the 1st round.
The Cowboys can get a premium guys like:
Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Brashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson
Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State
These are all guys the Cowboys have met with and each of them would be an instant impact player. Like previous drafts we will surely see a guy that was projected as a 2nd-3rd rounder go in the 1st round, and we’ll see a few guys projected to go in the 1st round drop to later rounds. It happens every single year, and this will be no different. Be ready for a possible surprise pick by the Cowboys. If you’ve been keeping up to date with the latest draft news here, then you’ll be ready, there shouldn’t be too much shock.
A few things to remember, The Cowboys have not drafted a DT in the first round since 1991. And while the fans love Donald, he may not be available without paying a heavy price in a year the Cowboys need to revamp the defensive line with multiple picks.
Stephen Jones has alluded that the Cowboys can find defensive tackles later in the draft. Here’s where players like Will Sutton come into play. The Cowboys visited him at the Senior Bowl and they brought him in for a visit, so there’s some serious interest there. You can bet the Cowboys scouts were on hand when ASU played Notre Dame in AT&T Stadium, so that’s at least 3 times the Cowboys have looked at Sutton.
Here’s some commentary on Sutton leading up to the game against Notre Dame at AT&T Stadium:
Sutton hadn’t made much of an impact the first few games for a couple of reasons: One, they were facing mostly run-based power teams like Wisconsin and Stanford; two, he’s been seeing a lot of double and triple teams. Makes sense. His first step is so quick that it precedes his reputation. But he finally broke out against the Trojans with two tackles for a loss and a sack. I think, as the season pushes on, we’re going to see more pressure from the front seven based on the teams they’ll face. (espn)
The Cowboys have interest in Kerry Hyder, who is slated to be a late draft pick, but he fits the mold of a 3-tech with explosiveness. I have Hyder on my list of potential best fits using the NFL Combine results. Caraun Reid is also on the radar as well. So, missing out on Donald won’t be a death blow, although it will feel like it to fans.
The trade down scenario would benefit the Cowboys greatly this year, and they have brought in serious talent to pull it off. The defensive line will be addressed with multiple picks and that can’t happen of the Cowboys get anxious and trade away multiple picks to move up.