5 Best-Case Scenarios for Dallas Cowboys in 2014 NFL Draft
The 2014 NFL Draft is just around the corner. It’s one of the most exciting events of the offseason where teams can immediately upgrade their roster.
The Dallas Cowboys will be looking to do just that when they pick No. 16 overall. They desperately need help along the defensive line and will also be in the market for a safety.
On the offensive side, Dallas will be looking at linemen, wide receivers and potentially quarterbacks. Although you never know what owner Jerry Jones has in mind, offensive players shouldn’t be at the top of Dallas’ big board.
With most of free agency complete, let’s take a look at the best-case scenarios for the Cowboys in the draft.
Jadeveon Clowney Falls out of Top 10
Dallas’ biggest need right now is at defensive end. The best defensive end and one of the best athletes in the draft is South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney is projected in the top five in most mocks, so the only way the Cowboys have a chance is if he fell significantly. Even if the defensive end dropped out of the first 10 picks, Dallas would still have to trade up.
If this scenario happened, I could easily see Jones making a splash to move up. Clowney is a game-changing talent and one of the safest picks in the draft, skill wise. He would start instantly and could actually make the defensive line an area of strength.
Aaron Donald Available at No. 16
A more realistic option is that Pitt’s defensive tackle Aaron Donald is available for the Cowboys when they pick. Donald is a consensus first-rounder, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be available at No. 16. Several mock drafts have him going to the Giants at No. 12 and Chicago at No. 14.
Although slightly undersized at 285 pounds, Donald is an impact player with an incredible first step. Like Clowney, he would be someone to start from day one. Paired with Henry Melton, the interior of the line would be solidified for years.
I’m not sure if Dallas would consider trading up to get Donald because of the other prospects available and what it would cost. Donald does have the look of a successful NFL player and the Cowboys would love to land him when they’re on the clock.
Draft Calvin Pryor or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
If Donald is not available, I strongly believe the Cowboys should look to enhance their secondary. There are only two elite safeties in this year’s draft class with Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
The reason I think Dallas should grab one of these safeties is because there really aren’t too many in this draft. After the top two, Jimmie Ward is the only other prospect worthy of an early-round selection.
If Donald is off the board, Dallas would be wise to find someone else who can start right away. Pryor and Clinton-Dix fit the mold.
Draft Kony Ealy, Anthony Barr, or Timmy Jernigan
There’s no doubt the defensive line needs help. If the front office decides to stray away from safety and Donald is gone, there are a few other options.
Missouri’s Kony Ealy, UCLA’s Anthony Barr and FSU’s Timmy Jernigan are all potential picks for Dallas in the middle of the first round. Ealy and Barr are both extremely athletic ends who use their speed to get to the passer.
Jernigan is ranked as the No. 2 defensive tackle by many. He’s got good size at 6’2”, 299 pounds and can move surprisingly well.
I wouldn’t be upset if one of these guys is the choice for Dallas. Jones should be selecting several players along the defensive front, so which position he takes first isn’t of great importance.
Trading back is the worst-case scenario for the Cowboys in the first round. It’s not necessarily a bad move, however, it's one they may be forced to make if all of the players mentioned are taken.
By trading back, Dallas would acquire an additional pick somewhere and still have the chance to get a few high-quality players either late in the first, or in the second round.
Besides the defense, head coach Jason Garrett will want help on the offense, too. The line could use another body and quarterback Tony Romo would enjoy a new receiving target.
UCLA guard Xavier Su’a-Filo and FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin could both be targets.
Follow Chris on Twitter @Bleacher_Imp