Setting the Dallas Cowboys' Draft Board: Post-Free Agency Edition

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistApril 3, 2014

Linebacker Anthony Barr pulls in a pass during UCLA Pro Day at Spaulding Field on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
Alex Gallardo

With free agency all but over, we've had a chance to revise the draft board we set for the Dallas Cowboys ahead of the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. With the draft exactly five weeks away, here's who we think Jerry Jones and Co. should be favoring with that No. 16 overall pick.

Dallas Cowboys: Suggested post-free agency draft board
1. Aaron DonaldDTPittsburgh
2. Kony EalyDEMissouri
3. Anthony BarrOLBUCLA
4. Dee FordDEAuburn
5. Ha Ha Clinton-DixFSAlabama
6. Calvin PryorFSLouisville
7. C.J. MosleyLBAlabama
8. Taylor LewanOTMichigan
9. Zack MartinOTNotre Dame
10. Stephon TuittDENotre Dame
Brad Gagnon/Bleacher Report

- It’s entirely possible the Cowboys aren’t done with free agency, because Anthony Spencer is still out there and they have a little money to spend. But even if Spencer is added in earnest, the ‘Boys have to focus on the defensive line.

- I think they need a pure pass-rusher to more of an extent than they need a defensive tackle, especially with Henry Melton on board. But it would be hard to pass on Donald. That won’t likely be a decision they have to make, though, because Donald is expected by many to go in the top 10 or 15.

- Ealy is more a prototypical edge-rusher, and he could have the talent to take the torch from DeMarcus Ware. If they don’t re-sign Spencer, I’d even consider going with Ealy 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.

- Barr is in the third spot because he’s not the best fit for Rod Marinelli’s defense. However, he could be a Von Miller-type edge-rusher, even as a SAM linebacker in that 4-3. And who knows, they could even coach him up to rush the passer as a 4-3 end. The guy had 23.5 sacks the last two years at UCLA, so he’s ready.

- Ford is also a solid candidate to replace Ware but might be more of a long-term project and isn’t the most obvious fit at defensive end in that system. As you can tell, this draft is deep, but it isn’t loaded with DeMarcus Ware types.

- I really don’t think the Cowboys should be desperate for safety help in Round 1, but if those big names are gone, I’d be cool with Clinton-Dix or Pryor, especially if they traded down 10 or so spots to grab either one. Both could start Week 1.

- I’d also steer away from a stay-at-home linebacker in Round 1, but Mosley could be special and that linebacking corps needs a spark. This would be an indication they’re giving up on Bruce Carter.

- Lewan could slide because of character concerns. If that happens, the Cowboys should strongly consider taking him. The talent is there, and they’d have anchor tackles for many years to come. Martin is more of a consolation prize.

- If they decide to stick to defense, Tuitt is an under-the-radar candidate after missing the combine.