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Setting the Dallas Cowboys' Draft Board: Post-Combine Edition

Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press
Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistFebruary 27, 2014

Now that the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine is in the books, we have a chance to establish a suggested draft board for the Dallas Cowboys.

We're not sure Jerry Jones listens to his own coaches, let alone the Bleacher Report NFL team, but just in case, here's what we're thinking America's Team should be thinking with that No. 16 overall pick. 

Dallas Cowboys: Suggested post-combine draft board
ProspectPositionSchool
1. Aaron DonaldDTPittsburgh
2. Kony EalyDEMissouri
3. Louis NixDTNotre Dame
4. Ra'Shede HagemanDLMinnesota
5. Timmy JerniganDTFlorida State
6. Ha Ha Clinton-DixFSAlabama
7. Calvin PryorFSLouisville
8. Dee FordDEAuburn
9. Stephon TuittDENotre Dame
10. C.J. MosleyLBAlabama
Brad Gagnon/Bleacher Report

—Donald makes so much sense as a guy who can come in and start right away in place of, or next to, Jason Hatcher. He’s a great fit, and his stock is rising after putting on shows at the Senior Bowl and combine. The problem is that there’s now a very good chance he’ll be off the board before Dallas is on the clock.

“I would love to play for anyone, but it would be great to play for them,” Donald said of playing for the Cowboys, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. “I love the way they play up front. They let their three-tech just go attack.”

He’s not a can’t-miss prospect, but he’s probably as close as you’ll get outside of the top 10. The question now is whether he’ll get out of the top 15—unless the Cowboys trade up.

Ealy is more a prototypical edge-rusher, and he could have the talent to take the torch from DeMarcus Ware. If Ware gets away and Anthony Spencer isn’t retained, they might have to go this way over Donald. That said, there’s a good chance they won’t have that choice. In fact, both could easily be off the board, which is why there are more than two players on the above chart.

—Nix didn’t exactly shine at the combine, but that’s only one part of the draft process. We’re enamored with what he brings to the table physically, but he also appears to have more bust potential than Donald or Ealy.

Hageman is versatile enough to be coached up for any spot on the line and has a lot of upside. That keeps him ahead of Jernigan, but right now I don’t think either player would merit being picked 16th. And thus, you can see why we wouldn’t be surprised to see Dallas trade back for the second straight year.

—I think Dallas is in better shape at safety than most give them credit, and Clinton-Dix and Pryor aren’t the best fits if they’re looking to complement Barry Church rather than replace him. Still, if the Cowboys drop back five or 10 spots, either would be a steal as the best player available.

—Ford’s stock also fell a tad when he was medically scratched at the combine. He’d also be a potential long-term project and would probably have to bulk up to become a star defensive end. That’s why he’s so low despite being a big name.

Tuitt could be flying under the radar after missing the combine. Dude had 21.5 sacks at Notre Dame. Someone to keep an eye on.

—I don’t believe a team that runs a 4-3 should be looking at a linebacker in Round 1—especially one with as many needs elsewhere as Dallas. That said, Mosley would be a nice pickup if they made a similar trade to the one they made last year, accumulating more picks in the process.

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