Assigning Odds to Every Potential Dallas Cowboys First-Round Pick
There’s really not too much of a consensus on which direction the team will head, however. There’s a limited number of elite players at the positions of most need to Dallas, defensive end being chief among them.
Nonetheless, there are a handful of prospects who seem like they could possibly interest the ‘Boys in the first round. Let’s assess the odds of each of them ending up in Dallas in 2014.
Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt
The one true “consensus” player being mocked to Dallas—the player the Cowboys would unlikely pass up if he’s available in the mid-first—is Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Even though the Cowboys signed veteran defensive tackle Henry Melton, that deal could potentially be for just one year if Melton doesn’t live up to expectations.
Thus, the selection of Donald would be just as much about filling a position that’s still a big need as it is about taking the best player available. The only problem for Dallas is that Donald’s stock has skyrocketed since the combine, and it’s now unlikely that he will be available at pick No. 16. The probability of Dallas taking Donald if he’s on the board might be something like 75 percent, but the lower odds of him actually being there make the selection less likely.
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
The most overlooked position of need for Dallas is right tackle, where Doug Free almost certainly is not the answer. While most believe Free will remain at the position at least in 2014, there are a few scenarios through which the Cowboys might have a new face there this season.
Because Donald could very well be off of the board, and since there aren’t necessarily any elite defensive ends projected to be available when Dallas is on the clock, a first-round offensive tackle isn’t out of the question. Michigan’s Taylor Lewan has prototypical size and would be an immediate upgrade over Free.
With Greg Robinson and Jake Matthews likely getting selected ahead of Lewan, there’s a decent chance he’ll be on the board for Dallas.
Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
The Cowboys should really just let their young safeties compete for the starting job opposite Barry Church. If you look at first-round options Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, you actually see two players who are less athletic than Matt Johnson, J.J. Wilcox, and even Jeff Heath.
Still, we don’t know exactly how the Cowboys feel about the free safety position, and they might want to just end the ongoing search by landing one in the first round. Both players seem like reaches in the mid-first, but drafting Pryor is not out of the question since the Cowboys have continually been picked on at free safety over the years.
Anthony Barr, DE/OLB, UCLA
UCLA outside linebacker/defensive end Anthony Barr is a player not many are discussing who could very well interest Dallas quite a bit. If he were guaranteed to remain on the board, you could argue that Barr would be the most probable choice for Dallas outside of Donald.
At 6’5”, 255 pounds, Barr has long 33.5-inch arms and ran a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash. He has what it takes to transition to being a full-time, hand-in-the-dirt defensive end in a 4-3 system.
The only thing holding back Barr to Dallas is those pesky 15 other teams selecting ahead of the ‘Boys. Barr is likely to get selected ahead of Dallas, so the team’s potential interest in him is somewhat negated by the unlikelihood of Barr being on the board.
Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Unlike Barr, it’s a virtual certainty that Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will be available for Dallas in the first round. Unlike Barr, however, Jernigan doesn’t play a position that’s considered “vital” by many.
Yes, defensive tackle is important, but Jernigan plays the “one-technique” position. That’s the same position as Sharrif Floyd, the defensive tackle Dallas passed on last year because the team doesn’t value one-techniques that highly.
If Jernigan is an option for Dallas, it’s probably more in the back of the first round, assuming the Cowboys would trade down, or even in the second round. Still, as The Dallas Morning News reported, Jernigan visited Valley Ranch, so we can’t rule him out just yet.
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel isn’t really much of an option for Dallas. Even if he slips to them in the first round, the Cowboys would be far more likely to trade down than to draft a player who would sit for years behind Tony Romo.
It’s not as simple as “let’s bring in Manziel and just have him compete with Romo” since the veteran quarterback would cause the Cowboys to eat over $19 million in dead money even if they let go of him after this season, according to Spotrac.
It’s certainly possible that Dallas drafts a mid- or late-round passer, but these odds are simply to show that the Cowboys are highly unlikely to draft Manziel or any other quarterback in the first round.