NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for Dallas Cowboys

Jason Henry@thenprojectCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2013

NFL Draft Picks Who Would Be Instant Starters for Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of options with the 18th pick in April’s draft. They need assistance on the offensive and defensive line, as well as secondary and fullback.

    When they do go to make their pick, Dallas will probably stick with drafting a guard or defensive lineman to replace Jay Ratliff, who may be released after his DWI arrest this month, in the first round.

    If they decide to go that route, I have a few players in mind that would fit well, and probably start immediately.

    Here are a few potential draft picks that would start right away for the Cowboys.

Johnathan Hankins, DT, Ohio State

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    There are more than a few mocks around that have the Cowboys picking Hankins at 18. While I like him and his potential, I’m not sure that he would be the greatest fit for Dallas up front.

    In college, Hankins played everything from nose tackle to defensive end, so moving around to the one and three-technique wouldn’t be a stretch for him.

    He seems to wear down during games and is mainly a bull rusher when attacking the passer. Hankins isn’t a bad player and he wouldn’t be a terrible pick, I just think the Cowboys have other options for a defensive tackle down the road.

    What I do like about Hankins is his ability to push the pocket and move a team’s offense to the opposite side of the field on running downs.

    He can be a force in the middle and has a lot of upside.

    If the Cowboys decide to draft Hankins, it would send a clear signal that Ratliff’s days in Big D are done.

Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama

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    I recently analyzed Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller’s pick of Jesse Williams for the Cowboys where I gave reasons as to why Dallas should pass on him.

    I also posted a poll for readers regarding the team’s position on Williams and if they should draft him. An overwhelming 66 percent of respondents said the Cowboys should not draft him.

    I’m with the majority and believe the Cowboys will keep looking.

    If they don’t, and they go ahead and choose Williams, there are a few plus factors.

    Williams is 320 pounds and would command a double team. That would free up defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford to get after the quarterback. Crawford is still smaller than Kiffin’s star three-technique tackle in Tampa. Warren Sapp weighed in at 303 pounds, but he still fits within the mold.

    If the team releases Ratliff and takes Williams, Jesse would play the one-technique and his pairing with Crawford would make-up the “Tampa-2”, or “Dallas-2” in this case.

Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

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    Short would have no problem stepping into a starting role for the Cowboys in 2013. Not only can he play the run well, but he can actually rush the passer and is quick off the line.

    Out of the other two linemen listed, Short would have the largest impact on the Cowboys defensive line when it comes time to put pressure on the quarterback.

    As mentioned in my breakdown of Short, he won’t go until the later rounds, and the Cowboys can focus on shoring up the offensive line in the first round.

Kenny Vaccaro, FS, Texas

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    ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Cowboys picking a safety in the first round. Dallas is light at the position due to injuries and lack of experience, but picking a safety this high when there are so many issues on the offensive and defensive front doesn’t seem to be in the playing cards.

    If Dallas does choose Vaccaro, they would be hard pressed to find a better player.

    In watching some of his snaps against Oklahoma State last year, he showed that he’s not afraid of contact, but can let defenders slip away by trying to arm tackle or just taking a bad angle.

    He seemed to have good fluid motion in his hips and kept his focus once the ball was snapped. Didn’t see him with his eyes fixated in the backfield or trying to play the other side of the field, he concentrated on his defender and his responsibility.

    Vaccaro is aggressive and would seem to be a decent fit in Kiffin’s defense. The Tampa-2 calls for corners to press a lot, and Vaccaro would have to cover over the top. He would also be responsible for quarterbacking the secondary.

    If the Cowboys aren’t sold on Vaccaro or picking a defensive back in the first round, former Cowboys scouting director Larry Lacewell does not think the Cowboys have a safety on the roster that fits in Kiffin’s scheme.

    “The one position I don’t have clear in my head for them is the g--damn safety,” Lacewell said. “I don’t know who it is. I don’t know who the hell it is.”

    Jones still leans heavily on Lacewell for advice, so maybe Vaccaro is more of a reality than a dream.

Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

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    It’s still a little odd to see Missouri in the SEC, isn’t it?

    At any rate, Richardson played one year in the SEC and showed that he’s ready for the big time.

    Richardson is explosive off the line, has quick hands and plays the run pretty well.

    Because of the Ratliff situation in Dallas, I’m just not sure where the Cowboys are headed with their two defensive tackles.

    Before his arrest for DWI, Jones envisioned Ratliff and Tyrone Crawford playing the one and the three technique positions, but now that Ratliff’s future has some doubt, who knows what the lineup may look like.

    If Ratliff is released, I fully expect for Richardson to be vetted by Dallas. His size, 6’2” and 290 pounds, would allow for him to mesh well in Kiffin’s scheme.

    We just have to find out what’s going to happen with Ratliff first.