With most looking for the "sexy" Jerry Jones' selection, the 'Boys went in the exact opposite direction. The choice was an interesting one, considering most analysts figured Frederick would be available for Dallas in the second round.
Will Jones and the Cowboys make up for it on Day 2?
We all had a strong feeling the Cowboys would draft a lineman in the first round, and I think that trend will continue in the second round with a defensive player. I've frequently mocked Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short to Dallas in the second round, and I'm sticking with it.
Short is a dynamic player who can play the run and pass. From my scouting report on Short:
At 6-3, 308 pounds, Short has prototypical size for a 4-3 defensive tackle. He’s a unique player in that he can play with both a one-gap and two-gap mentality; that is, he’s strong enough to hold up at the point, but he can penetrate and make plays in the backfield as well. It’s the latter style of play at which Short excels, though.
I really like Short's fit as a potential three-technique for the Cowboys. He'd eventually replace Jay Ratliff, even as soon as in 2013.
The problem for Dallas is that Short is probably the consensus top defensive tackle left on the board, so he might not fall to it in the middle of the second round. Still, I don't think a trade up is out of the question for Jones.
Now equipped with an additional third-rounder, the Cowboys have ammo to make a move if they covet Short.
I slotted J.J. Wilcox to Dallas in my original mock draft here on Thursday morning. He’s a high-upside safety out of Georgia Southern with a 6', 213-pound frame and 4.51 speed. I have a feeling the Cowboys really like Wilcox, as do I.
They’ve had him in for a visit, and the team has been known to seek small-school players in the middle and late rounds. As it stands, he’s the 12th-best player remaining on my board—significantly higher than most media types, but I think Wilcox will surprise people.
Wilcox would come in and compete with Matt Johnson for a starting job opposite Barry Church. In Johnson and Wilcox, the Cowboys would have two athletic small-school safeties—giving them much-needed options at a position of extreme importance in Dallas.
The Cowboys need a running back. DeMarco Murray is obviously talented, but the team fears that he’s injury-prone and can’t handle the load by himself. Although much of what we perceive as “injury-proneness” is just randomness, there’s no doubt that Murray seems to be susceptible to injuries.
Enter Montee Ball.
While I think there are superior backs available, the Cowboys likely will look for one they deem as “durable.” Ball was a workhorse at Wisconsin, rushing 663 times in the last two seasons. His 55 rushing touchdowns in that span isn't too shabby, either. From my scouting report on Ball:
The first thing that stands out about Ball is his production. He ran for over 5,000 yards at Wisconsin, including over 3,700 in the past two seasons. Ball had nearly 1,000 career carries, yet still managed 5.6 yards-per-carry. That’s a good mark for a player who had so many touches. Ball’s 77 career rushing touchdowns are eye-popping. A lot of scouts ignore college production, but it’s meaningful. Using college stats alone, a simple algorithm can typically identify successful running backs better than NFL teams (in regards to where the players were drafted).
Also keep an eye out for Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle.
The question with Marshall wide receiver Aaron Dobson won’t be whether the Cowboys like him, but rather whether he’ll be available in the fourth round. With 4.43 speed at 6'3", 210 pounds, that’s a big question mark, but we’ve seen small-school players drop in the past.
In terms of his measurables, Dobson compares favorably to some of the bigger receiver prospects in this draft. The problem for me is that he never caught more than 57 passes or hauled in greater than 689 yards in a single season.
That lack of production is concerning. Nonetheless, the ‘Boys love big, fast receivers.
Think the team doesn’t need another wideout? While there are high hopes for Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, the Cowboys are one Miles Austin or Dez Bryant injury away from being dangerously thin on the outside.
Beasley certainly can’t play there and Harris is a stretch. With Austin’s injury history, don’t be surprised to see Dallas target a wide receiver in the later rounds.
There are all sorts of theories regarding why the Cowboys’ running game was so poor in 2012, and there are probably all sorts of legitimate answers as well.
Perhaps the primary reason, though, was the loss of tight end Martellus Bennett. Although he was widely considered a “knucklehead” (for lack of a better term), Bennett was one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. In his last three years in Dallas, I tracked the ‘Boys as totaling 5.5, 5.4 and 5.9 yards-per-carry, respectively, when running behind Bennett.
Those numbers were significantly higher than when rushing with Jason Witten at the point.
In Dion Sims, the Cowboys would land a tight end who can immediately help in the running game. He's 6'6", 262 pounds and shocked many with a 4.68 40-yard dash and 35-inch vertical. That's great explosiveness for someone Sims' size, and it points to potential upside as a receiver.
Dallas likes what it has in second-year tight end James Hanna, but Sims would represent a major upgrade over Hanna as a blocker.
The Cowboys are set at defensive end in 2013, but the future after that is murky.
Anthony Spencer is playing on a franchise tag, and I have a feeling he won't be back in Dallas in 2014. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Ware is still a dominant player, but it won't always be that way. Thus, look for the 'Boys to jump all over a defensive end if they see value.
South Carolina's Devin Taylor, 6'7", 266 pounds, is an interesting case because he had only modest production in college, totaling 18.5 sacks over a four-year period. Taylor's 35.5 tackles for loss are better, but they still don't compare with his workout numbers: a 4.65 40-yard dash, 10-8 broad jump and 35-inch vertical.
Plus, Taylor has absolutely massive 36-inch arms. And guess what? Arm length is the best predictor of NFL success for pass-rushers—better than a short shuttle or bench press or 10-yard split or anything else. Taylor's a project, but he's worth the late-round investment.