At this point it's one of the easier drafts to predict. With no seventh-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft next April, it appears that the Dallas Cowboys will take nobody in the final round of the annual player selection meeting in New York City.
With no seventh-round pick allocated at this time, Dallas has to hit big and hit often with the minimal resources that it has available.
Despite the presently limited selections, this is easily the biggest draft ever for owner and general manager Jerry Jones. I can't think of a time previously when his seat as GM has been hotter. Further, never before has his alleged gut feeling about players, coaches and the overall direction of the franchise been so highly questioned.
Interestingly, Jones has the unenviable task of trying to avoid missing the NFL postseason for a fourth consecutive year for the first time under his ownership.
A bit of Cowboys history:
Dallas' longest stretch without postseason play was following its inception as an expansion team in 1960. Counting that first winless season, which included one tie, the Cowboys would wait six seasons before qualifying for the NFL playoffs for the first time.
The next-longest stretch was a five-season drought from 1986 through 1990.
Now, we can't charge that particular fruitless run in the late 1980s to Jones. He actually bought the team in 1989 and quickly re-directed the franchise thanks to hard-nosed former head coach Jimmy Johnson and, above all else, the monstrous Herschel Walker trade during his first year at the controls.
But Jones would suffer through his first three-season run with no postseason appearances beginning in 2000, essentially the end of the "Aikman-era."
As of right now, Jones sits in a similar position, having not seen a playoff game since early 2010. If this trend continues for another season, which certainly looks possible given this offseason's "uncomfortable" changes, the billionaire from Arkansas will have set a personal low with four consecutive years as an observer of the postseason following an NFL regular season.
To avoid this pitfall, Dallas has to have a much better draft than, for example, the 2009 NFL draft which, as of now, features exactly one player from that draft class—unrestricted free-agent linebacker Victor Butler is expected to be gone soon.
This mock draft is not a prediction of what will happen but rather a prediction of what could happen given where the Cowboys sit this offseason.
I'm projecting a seventh selection to Dallas on the basis that I believe the Cowboys will make an aggressive move in order to gain at least one additional selection, in this case a second third-round pick. With precious little in the way of free-agent cash to spend, I don't see how Jones has any other choice.
Whether the extra selection comes via traded player, such as Anthony Spencer, or by simply trading down in the first round, I think the Cowboys are going to pursue any and all angles with which to add as much talent as possible. Further, with no contract extension seeming eminent for quarterback Tony Romo, the Cowboys need every pick they can get since free agency probably won't provide any shortcuts this year.