The options for the Cowboys at No. 14 are widespread, as they often are in the muddled middle of the draft after the mostly predictable first 10 picks have found their places of NFL employment. Defensive tackle may not be the strongest need, but many pundits who are paid to assess the futures of young football players have said that Dontari Poe could be too difficult to pass on in this spot.
1. Let’s start with a bit of a wild card. Michael Floyd’s projections have been widespread, and Todd McShay has labeled him as an option for the Cowboys if he falls out of the top 10. Would drafting a wide receiver in the top half of the first round be given serious thought with Miles Austin still around, and just two years after Dez Bryant was a first rounder?
I’m having a hard time believing this is the direction the Cowboys would go in the first round. Nothing against Floyd’s talent, but Dallas has a lot more problems that need immediate attention rather than adding another receiver to an already potent mix.
You mentioned Austin and Bryant, but don’t forget that Jason Witten is also a prime receiver in the Cowboys offense. Losing Laurent Robinson to free agency hurt, as he was outstanding last year in his only season in Dallas. And the Cowboys do need another reliable receiver, especially for depth purposes. But I would be pretty shocked if they spent a first-round pick on that position at this point.
2. Mark Barron has been discussed as a player who’s high on the draft boards of other teams holding picks around Dallas in the first round (Chargers, Jets, Eagles), but the Cowboys will likely have the first shot among the teams looking for a safety. Is the value right for Barron at No. 14?
I think Barron is a viable option for Dallas at No. 14. Dallas’ safety play over the past decade has ranged from middling to atrocious. In fact, the lack of talent at that position probably hurt the team more than the problems at cornerback over that time.
Not only were wide receivers killing us deep over the middle, but tight ends were doing the same. Gerald Sensabaugh has been a pretty good addition and he’s had his ups and downs, but we haven’t found anybody decent to pair with him. Brodney Pool was signed to a one-year deal in free agency, and the coaches like his ball skills, but a one-year contract is very short-term thinking. Barron would definitely be a long-term solution (one would hope), but the last time Dallas drafted a safety high in the first round (Roy Williams), it didn’t work out well in the long run. Personally, I’m not sure I’d want to use the pick on a safety, but there’s no doubt that the Cowboys need help there.
3. The Cowboys have hosted Stephon Gilmore and Dre Kirkpatrick for visits, both of whom would likely require a trade down if there’s true interest. But cornerback isn’t a strong position of need in the first round after Brandon Carr was signed, right?
Well, in the pass happy NFL of today, quality cornerbacks are at a premium. There a few factors in the mix in regards to a corner in the first round.
Firstly, current starter Mike Jenkins (opposite Brandon Carr) is in the final year of his contract and will be a free agent next March. His play in Dallas has ranged from excellent to awful, and it’s been a true roller-coaster ride with him. When he plays up to his ability, he’s a quality corner, and last year he showed some toughness by playing through an injury.
Still, I don’t think the organization is absolutely sold on him, so this year is key. Dallas could protect themselves from the future by grabbing one of the two guys you mentioned. The second issue is that past Carr, Jenkins, and Orlando Scandrick, the Cowboys’ cornerback cupboard is bare. It’ll take just one injury to get the secondary into deep trouble. So looking at both the future and at depth, cornerback is definitely a position where I could see Dallas going.
4. What about a guard? David DeCastro’s name has been tossed around…
Personally, that’s my pick. The Cowboys are going through the process of re-building the offensive line. Tackle Tyron Smith, last year’s first-round pick, looks to be exactly what the Cowboys needed, and he was superb in his rookie campaign. The interior of the line was a big problem, and Dallas let Kyle Kosier go after he was a starter for years. They signed a couple of vets at guard in free agency (Nate Livings, Mackenzy Bernadeau), but I think they are stop-gap solutions at best.
DeCastro seems like the kind of guy who would start on the line for the next decade alongside Tyron Smith. I would love to see him in Dallas.
5. Any sleepers you’d like the Cowboys to go after in the mid to late rounds?
I don’t have any particular sleepers I’m looking for, but there are certain positions I think the Cowboys might look at in the later rounds.
It’s possible they may have another running back in mind, even though they have DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones. As mentioned above, they’ll probably take a shot at a No. 3 receiver. If they don’t go cornerback early, I expect they’ll pick up one or two later on. Lastly, center is another position they need to fortify, and inside linebacker could be on the menu too.