Ranking the Top 5 Players on the Dallas Cowboys 2013 Draft Board
However, it's never too soon to stop and look forward towards the 2013 NFL draft.
Dallas, despite its last season surge, has quite a few holes to fill. And the draft is the best, and cheapest, place to fill them.
Young players with talent abound are available, and there are a number of players who could help the Cowboys immediately. Dallas’ biggest needs are on the offensive and defensive line, not to mention the safety spot.
With that being said, let's take a look at the top five players the Cowboys should target on their 2013 draft board.
*Note: This list is based on a realistic estimate of where the Cowboys will pick, anywhere from around 18-24. So, there will be no players projected to be selected in the top five or 10 as a part of this list.
5. Johnathan Jenkins, NT, Georgia
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jenkins is the third best nose tackle in this draft behind Utah's Star Lotulelei and Ohio State's Johnathan Hankins, but the 6'3", 358-pound brute from Georgia is still a heck of a prospect.
He eats up two blockers on every play and is quick enough against the pass to provide pressure.
Selecting Jenkins would require Jay Ratliff to move to defensive end, but it would be a doubly beneficial move for Dallas.
Ratliff would receive less wear and tear on the outside, making his explosiveness and ability to rush the passer all the more valuable.
Jenkins, for his part, would finally provide Dallas the huge plug on the middle of the D-line it has lacked.
4. Barrett Jones, C, Alabama
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
This may seem like a bit of a reach. Jones is projected as a late-first, early-second round pick, but he’d be worth the reach.
Jones is the most versatile lineman in the draft with the ability to play all five positions at an elite level. Jones is a two-time All American selection, once at left tackle and once at center. He's also done nothing but win at Alabama, and he excels in the classroom.
Jones is everything a team could want in a prospect. The only real problem is his average quickness and normal sized arms—well, at least for a guy that’s 6’5”.
But his instincts and smarts allow him to overcome that.
The Cowboys have a need at center, and Jones fits the bill perfectly. And if Dallas feels that center is not a valuable pick in the first round, he's more than capable of playing right tackle or either guard spot.
3. Barkevious Mingo, DE/OLB, LSU
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
At one point in the draft process, Mingo was projected as a top-three pick in the draft. But his stock has taken quite a hit over the past few months.
However, if Mingo falls to the middle of the first round, he presents a tremendous value—too much for Dallas to pass on.
Mingo features freakish athletic ability. His long arms, quick first step and track speed allow him to cause havoc in the backfield.
He's still raw, but with a little polish, Mingo could be a dominant force in the NFL.
2. Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, Texas
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Since Darren Woodson retired, the Cowboys have had a hole at the safety spot.
Vaccaro could fill it.
The University of Texas product is known as a big hitter, but he provides so much more than that.
Vaccaro is an instinctive player who is quick to the ball and almost never misses an open-field tackle.
He’s also excellent in coverage. He played as the nickel corner against three-wideout sets for much of the year at Texas, making him more than capable of covering tight ends and running backs on the next level.
But, perhaps most importantly, Vaccaro is a leader. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and his teammates respect the heck out of him. He'll be a great presence in any NFL locker room.
Vaccaro would fill the gap Woodson has left—not only Woodson’s skills, but also his presence on the team.
1. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Warmack is the top offensive guard prospect in this draft for a reason.
He's an absolute mauler on the inside.
At 6'2", 322 pounds, Warmack is not huge for his position, but he gets the job done with leverage and an explosive first step.
Warmack excels at pushing quickly to the second level in run blocking, and holds up well in pass protection. He has strong hands and quick feet that allow him to easily deal with lumbering defensive tackles.
His stature will limit him to an inside line position in the NFL, but that shouldn't bother Dallas. He would provide an instant upgrade at left or right guard over Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau.
If Warmack slips to Dallas, it should scoop him up quickly.