Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
With the 2014 NFL draft just one month away, the rumors and buzz surrounding the Dallas Cowboys and their potential draft-day decisions have run rampant. It’s always difficult to determine which pieces of information are true and which are illusory.
One reason for that is because NFL teams themselves are responsible for a lot of the false information put out there. They’re typically not going to reveal too much about where they think they’ll head during the draft, so you have to take everything that's said with a grain of salt.
Thus, we need to be concerned less with what the team is saying and more with what makes the most sense. Are the Cowboys going to draft a quarterback? The first place we should look is the current roster construction, not what the team is saying about the situation.
With that said, let’s take a look at some Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL draft “fact or fiction.”
1. The Cowboys Will Draft a Quarterback: FICTION
The idea that the Cowboys could draft a quarterback was shot down very quickly by owner Jerry Jones. He told The Dallas Morning News:
I don’t anticipate drafting a quarterback high with where we are with Romo… An early pick would be more inclined to be one that you would say use now. The other thing we’ve got is when you draft out of that first round, those are four-year contracts and three-year contracts as you go down, so to some degree, you’re just drafting one to develop for somebody else.
Is Jones telling the truth? On the surface, it appears so. While you’d think the Cowboys might pull the trigger on a mid-round quarterback that they have rated really highly, it doesn’t make sense for them to draft a quarterback just for the sake of it.
Despite public opinion, Romo is going to produce at a high level for at least a few more years, assuming he follows the typical quarterback aging curve. Further, with the addition of Brandon Weeden and Kyle Orton likely returning for another year, the Cowboys don’t really have room on the roster to groom a young quarterback.
Could Dallas draft a young signal-caller this year? Sure, but it’s unlikely.
2. Aaron Donald Is the Most Likely First-Round Pick: FACT
Even though he exploded at the NFL Scouting Combine, Pitt’s Aaron Donald is still being sent to Dallas in mock drafts. Mike Tanier of Sports on Earth, Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports are among those who think the Cowboys will land Donald in the first round.
The most likely outcome for Dallas in this year’s draft could very well be a trade down to the back of the first round, or out of it entirely. But in terms of an actual player, Donald has to be the most likely simply because we have a pretty strong idea that the Cowboys will consider him.
First of all, he plays a position of need. Second, he’s a potentially elite pass-rusher, which Dallas needs inside, even after the addition of Henry Melton. And pretty much all media outlets, including The Dallas Morning News and NBC DFW, are in agreement that the Cowboys will consider Donald.
There’s a decent chance that Donald will get selected before the 16th overall pick, but we could see Dallas move up for him, too. Either way, Donald has to be the favorite right now just because we don’t really know how the ‘Boys feel about other prospects.
3. Dallas Will Consider a Wide Receiver Early: FACT
There’s growing sentiment that the Cowboys could draft a wide receiver early in this year’s draft. Not only is that a fact, but it’s something that Dallas should do since there are so many potential No. 1 players in this class.
With players like Jordan Matthews (Vanderbilt), Allen Robinson (Penn State) and Davante Adams (Fresno State) potentially dropping to Dallas in the second round, this draft represents a unique chance to acquire a “second” No. 1 wide receiver at a cheaper price than normal.
Further, upgrading one wide receiver position actually improves two, since Dallas could move Terrance Williams into the slot—a ridiculously large upgrade over Cole Beasley.
4. The Cowboys Must Draft Defensive Linemen Early: FICTION
Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News argues that the Cowboys must come out of the first two rounds with defensive linemen:
I think they’ve got to draft at least two starters on the defensive line. … They have the 16 overall pick. … They’re going to get what’s left for them at 16, and they have to draft, I think in the first two rounds, two defensive lineman.
Call me crazy, but if the Cowboys approach the draft to “get what’s left for them,” they could struggle. While “best player available” is a highly overrated draft strategy, it’s better than saying “okay, we’re weak at this position, so we’re just going to draft it no matter what.”
The reason “best player available” isn't optimal is because it’s shortsighted, failing to take position scarcity into account. Well, drafting a certain position no matter what’s there certainly doesn’t remedy that problem.
5. The Cowboys Can’t Find a Starting-Caliber Defensive End in the Third: FICTION
Related to the last point is the idea that you need to jump on a player in the first two rounds if you want him to start. While a first-round player has a higher probability of starting than a third-rounder, there are a number of mid-round defensive ends in this particular class who are going to offer a ton of value.
Three of those underrated defensive ends are Texas’ Jackson Jeffcoat, Boise State’s Demarcus Lawrence and Arkansas’ Chris Smith.
Smith in particular is one of the most overlooked prospects in this draft. At only 6’1”, Smith is going to drop because teams will deem him undersized. With arms that are over 34 inches long, however, Smith has the length to excel at the next level. He produced 18 sacks and 24.5 tackles for loss in the past two years at Arkansas.
The ideal situation for Dallas is to bring back Anthony Spencer and allow a player like Smith to play as a backup for a season, but the idea that you can’t possibly find a starter in the third round is wrong.
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