The 2013 NFL Draft remains one of the most important drafts for this franchise in it’s history.
The Cowboys are coming off of two 8-8 seasons that have left it’s fans in a whirlwind. They want answers and they want them now.
With tons of needs and a limited amount of picks and money the Cowboys are going to have to be perfect with their draft board to ensure they are maximizing their resources.
The goal? To, at the very least, get three starters, one sure-fire franchise caliber player and six guys who can contribute immediately to turning this team into a competitor.
There are tons of prospects in a very deep draft that is full of good players but lacking in true superstars.
I’ve ranked the top players at each position according to the Cowboys and their scheme.
Lets take a look at how your favorite prospects ranks against the others.
(Disclaimer: This list is specifically based on player fits with the Cowboys. The Cowboys will not like every elite prospect and every elite prospect will also not fit the Cowboys scheme.)
1. Geno Smith, West Virginia
2. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
3. Matt Glennon, NC State
4. E.J. Manuel, Florida State
5. Matt Barkley, USC
6. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse
7. Tyler Bray, Tennessee
8. Landry Jones, Oklahoma
9. Matt Scott, Arizona
10. Zac Dysert, Miami of Ohio
Sleeper: Jordan Rogers, Vanderbuilt
It’s unlikely that the Cowboys will look at a QB in this draft. Quite simply, this draft isn’t filled with any elite talent.
The Cowboys tend to like balanced quarterbacks who have a solid arm but also decent pocket presence and mobility. A guy like Aaron Murray would have been great for this team but his return to Georgia this year really hurt that chance.
Geno Smith remains the only first round talent and the cards fall behind him pretty routinely. If the Cowboys look at a quarterback expect them to look at a cheap upside guy like Tyler Bray or E.J. Manuel if they are at a value pick position.
1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
2. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
3. Eddie Lacy, Alabama
4. Mike Gillislee, Florida
5. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford
6. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State
7. Montee Ball, Wisconsin
8. Andre Ellington, Clemson
9. Kenjon Barner, Oregon
10. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
Sleeper: Christine Michael, Texas A&M
The Cowboys have never been a team to allow injury to devalue an elite skill set.
Why should that stop now?
Lattimore is coming along well in his rehab and even if he can’t play in 2013, he’s still an elite option for the future. Meanwhile, Bernard, Lacy, Ball and Taylor are battling on peoples boards.
The Cowboys will take a different approach then most teams I think. You’ll notice that guys like Ball and Bell are down on my rankings, that is due to the Cowboys looking for a scat type back.
If the Cowboys aren’t getting an every-down back then they will nab a scat-back type like Gillislee or Ellington. Both those guys are ranked high on my rankings but will be cheap.
Remember, these are my rankings according to what the Cowboys will see.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
2. Tavon Austin, West Virginia
3. Keenan Allen, California
4. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson
5. Terrance Williams, Baylor
6. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
7. Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech
8. Justin Hunter, Tennessee
9. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
10. Markus Wheaton, Oregon State
Sleeper: Marquis Goodwin, Texas
Honestly, I don’t think the Cowboys draft a wide receiver in this draft. However, it doesn’t mean they wont.
We know that Jerry Jones loves sexy picks and if he can find a way to move back in the first to pick up another second and still grab Tavon Austin, he will. Austin could be a scat-back and slot receiver ala Darren Sproles or Randall Cobb.
Mostly the Cowboys are going to look at speed guys who can play the slot and special teams. They’ll want a dual purpose player if they decided to go this route so guys like Austin, Allen, Williams, Bailey and Goodwin all make sense.
The only exception will be if they see a developmental guy who can play outside and eventually replace Miles Austin.
My gut says they like their current guys though and none of the above-mentioned receivers end up in Dallas.
1. Zach Ertz, Stanford
2. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
3. Dion Sims, Michigan State
4. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
5. Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State
Sleeper: Joseph Fauria
There are not a lot of guys to love in this tight end group. The Cowboys are losing John Phillips but feel comfortable with James Hanna as their receiving tight end behind Jason Witten.
If the Cowboys do go tight end they’ll be looking at balanced guys who are good blockers. This list above doesn’t include some of the elite pass-catchers because their ability to block is so bad.
The Cowboys have a run-balanced offense and blocking tight ends are crucial to it’s success.
1. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina
2. Chance Warmack, Alabama
3. Larry Warford, Kentucky
4. Kyle Long, Oregon
5. David Quessenberry, San Jose St.
6. Barrett Jones, Alabama
7. Brian Winters, Kent State
9. Justin Pugh, Syracuse
9. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee
10. Alvin Bailey, Arkansas
Sleeper: Omoregie Uzzi
The Cowboys are fortunate to need an offensive guard in a draft where depth is insane.
There is belief that the Cowboys might switch to a zone running scheme and if they do they’ll need an athletic guard.
Jonathan Cooper has great athleticism and all-around ability and fits the Cowboys’ scheme perfectly.
While Chance Warmack and Larry Warford are both solid prospects they don’t have the ability to move around like Cooper does but all would be welcomed additions.
The Cowboys could hold off and walk away with Kyle Long and feel like they have a solid long-term option at the position.
Guard may be a need but it isn’t an instant necessity. Expect the Cowboys to look for best need-to-value ratio during the draft.
1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Lane Johnson, Oklahoma
4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama
5. Menelik Watson, Florida State
6. Terron Armstead, Akransas-Pine Bluff
7. Kyle Long, Oregon
8. Oday Aboushi, Virginia
9. Brennan Williams, North Carolina
10. Chris Faulk, LSU
Sleeper: Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin
A really great, deep class this year at tackle. With Doug Free playing so poorly the Cowboys will be looking to upgrade position. I have a feeling that the Cowboys will try to fill the position in-house. However, if the right value presents itself the Cowboys will pull the trigger.
A real name to watch is Terron Armstead who has really been a name that’s skyrocketing. The Cowboys will definitely miss out on the top-3 guards and Armstead could be around in the third round and offer the Cowboys a guy with an elite skill set and limitless potential.
1. Travis Frederick, Wisconsin
2. Barrett Jones, Alabama
3. Brian Schwenke, Claifornia
4. Khaled Holmes, USC
5. Braxton Cave, Notre Dame
The center class is always really shallow which is why there isn’t a “sleeper” in this set of rankings.
The Cowboys would love for Barrett Jones to fall passed the second round and be staring at them in the face in the third. His versatility on the offensive line is invaluable and his Lisfranc injury is the only thing keeping teams from looking at him in the first round.
The Cowboys need an upgrade here in someway. They could probably find a decent value somewhere in this draft.
1. Bjoern Werner, Florida State
2. Ezekiel Ansah, BYU
3. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
4. Datone Jones, UCLA
5. Alex Okafor, Texas
6. Cornellius Carradine, Florida State
7. Sam Montgomery, LSU
8. Margus Hunt, SMU
9. William Gholston, Michigan State
10. Devin Taylor South Carolina
Sleeper: Joe Kruger, Utah
Values are all over the place right now for defensive ends. The Cowboys could use depth all over the defensive line, especially with their pending transition to the 4-3 Tampa 2.
Don’t expect the Cowboys to reach with such a deep class but I believe the Cowboys will target bigger guys who can play well against the run but still possess the speed to get to the passer. There aren’t many size/speed guys who have elite potential but someone like Okafor or Jones is really tempting.
The Cowboys really could take any of the ranked guys and find themselves with a very solid franchise caliber player.
1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida
2. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri
3. Star Lotulelei, Utah
4. Kawann Short, Purdue
5. Jesse Williams, Alabama
6. Johnathan Hankins, Ohio State
7. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina
8. Jordan Hill, Penn State
9. Brandon Williams, Missouri Southern State
10. Akeem Spence, Illinois
Sleeper: Bennie Logan, LSU
The ranks are thin at defensive tackle in Dallas with Jay Ratliff on thin ice within the organization and Josh Brent no longer with the team. The Cowboys still expect to have Ratliff next season but he’s getting older and hasn’t been healthy.
It’s time for the Cowboys to get younger at the position.
The team drastically needs a 1-technique and a 3-technique who can come in and be productive in the future. Star Lotulelei or Sharrif Floyd would be ideal but will likely be gone by the time the Cowboys pick.
Sheldon Richardson has an elite skill-set as a 3-technique but his inability to slide to the 1-technique position might deter the Cowboys. Watch for someone like Kawanna Short, Jesse Williams, or Sylvester Williams to be on the Cowboys radar in the mid-rounds.
1. Dion Jordan, Oregon
2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia
3. Barkevious Mingo, LSU
4. Arthur Brown, Kansas St
5. Sean Porter, Texas A&M
Sleeper: Zaviar Gooden, Missouri
This is a short list mostly because I don’t see the Cowboys picking anyone at this position.
The Cowboys are in need of a SAM linebacker but I don’t think they’ll reach for one. One guy to really watch will be Sean Porter. Porter is a guy who can do everything and has the balanced skill set to be an impact player from any position.
Another guy to watch will be Zavier Gooden who had a great season and is always all over the field.
1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia
2. Kevin Minter, LSU
3. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina
4. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
5. Jon Bostic, Florida
Sleeper: Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
Bruce Carter and Sean Lee. That’s all you really need to know here. The Cowboys might look for depth but I can’t think of a single player the Cowboys could draft here who would have any real purpose.
I do think that they bring in Bruce Taylor as an undrafted free agent. Taylor has been plagued with injuries but he’s an athletic backer who is exceptionally smart. He is a bit undersized but he has a great skill-set and would be an ideal depth/special teams player.
1. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
2. Desmond Trufant, Washington
3. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State
4. David Amerson, NC State
5. Darius Slay, Mississippi State
Sleeper: Josh Johnson, Purdue
The Cowboys will be looking for long corners who are physical and imposing. I think they will let Mike Jenkins test free agent waters and there may be a void there.
A guy like Darius Slay makes sense if you can get him in the late rounds. He’s long, physical and athletic and projects to be really solid in a Tampa 2 defense.
I digress though; the Cowboys have Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. I can’t imagine corner being a huge priority on draft day.
1. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
2. Jonathan Cyprien, Florida International
3. Matt Elam, Florida
4. Eric Reid, LSU
5. Phillip Thomas, Fresno State
6. Shawn Williams, Georgia
7. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
8. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
9. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina
10. T.J. McDonald, USC
Sleeper: Ray Ray Armstrong
The Cowboys have seriously needed a franchise caliber safety since the departure of Darren Woodson.
There are four safeties that could be that.
Vaccaro is the elite “can’t miss” prospect that really does grade out better than Mark Barron did last year. He does everything well and has superstar written all over him. Some draftniks believe he could be there at 18 and the Cowboys will have to seriously entertain the idea to draft him.
Cyprien, Elam and Reid round out the rest of the really solid safety prospects who could be franchise guys. All are great well-rounded guys who can blossom in the Cowboys scheme.
Specifically, the Cowboys are looking for rangy guys who can make plays in the deep part of the field. The Tampa 2 defense will rely heavily on the free safety and occasionally will rely on him in single-high coverage.
For the Cowboys to be successful and upgrade here is a necessity.