As the Dallas Cowboys prepare for the 2014 NFL Draft, there are no shortage of mock drafts projecting which direction they’ll head in the first round. It wasn’t long ago that there was one name sitting atop the list of Cowboys mock drafts—Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
As the draft process has unfolded, however, Donald has risen up draft boards and now most experts don’t consider him a legitimate option to come to Dallas. Actually, you don’t even see Donald’s name in this mock draft roundup; most analysts are predicting that he’ll be long gone by the time Dallas is on the clock.
Even after the signing of free-agent defensive tackle Henry Melton, though, another defensive tackle has replaced Donald as the most popular selection for Dallas in mock drafts—Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan. Of the mock drafts I assessed, Jernigan’s name appears in Dallas’ draft slot more than any other, by a wide margin.
So is there value in studying mock drafts? On the individual level, the value comes in dissecting one potential path the draft could follow. The real value, though, comes when we study multiple mock drafts. When an individual expert projects a player to a team, it doesn’t mean all that much. When a second one does it, that means a little bit more, and a third means a little bit more, and so on. Thus, something that isn’t terribly useful on the individual level has a lot of value when we aggregate the results.
With that said, let’s take a look at the most popular players being sent to Dallas in mock drafts, each of which I’ve assigned a “likelihood rating.” These subjective ratings are 1 to 10, reflecting how probable it is that each particular prospect will get drafted by Dallas.