Ohio State's Ryan Shazier has been linked to being a possible Cowboys pick ever since he was reported as one of the Cowboys' 30 national pre-draft visitors. Shazier is a very athletic linebacker who was a playmaking machine in college. However, the Cowboys must be worried about the hamstring injuries that have crept up during his playing history, especially with the Cowboys' history of trouble with players and hamstring injuries.
If the Cowboys selected Shazier, he would project to battle Bruce Carter for the "Will" linebacker position. However, Shazier's small frame (6'1" and 237 pounds) would most likely limit his ability to make an impact for the Cowboys until he is able to add more bulk to his frame. His frame may limit his ability to be on the field on running downs because he doesn't have the strength or size to take on blockers in the NFL.
Overall, Shazier would most likely be a good option for the Cowboys if they traded down in the first round. At pick No. 16 the Cowboys need to be looking for a player who can make a bigger impact at a need position.
While Shazier is a scheme fit and has the ability to start his rookie year, he doesn't have the value or the ability to make as immediate an impact as players like Jimmie Ward would.
Florida State's Timmy Jernigan has been discussed as a possible Cowboys pick ever since he declared for the NFL draft.
Jernigan is a great fit in the Cowboys' scheme as a 1-technique defensive tackle. Jernigan has the size (6'2" and 299 pounds) to fit in well in Rod Marinelli's one-gap 4-3 scheme. He is strong enough to hold up against the constant double-teams that he would most likely face and he uses great hands to engage offensive lineman and get off blocks.
Jernigan would be a starter at the 1-technique position from the moment he was drafted and would go a long way toward solidifying the interior defensive line. He would make an immediate impact in the run game for the Cowboys and give them a viable player at the 1-technique position.
However, in Marinelli's scheme the Cowboys don't value the 1-technique position in the first round, according to Rowan Kavner of DallasCowboys.com. They believe whichever player plays that position would likely have to come out on passing downs. The Cowboys don't believe a player who would have to come out on passing situations has enough value to warrant a first-round selection, as evidenced by their passing on Sharrif Floyd in the 2013 NFL draft.
Altogether, while Jernigan would be an instant starter, a good scheme fit and make an immediate impact, he doesn't give the Cowboys as much value in the first round as another prospect like Aaron Donald or Anthony Barr would.
The Cowboys are in desperate need of a free safety and many believe that Louisville's Calvin Pryor would be a good player to fill that void.
Pryor is a violent hitter who plays downhill with prototypical size (5'11" and 207 pounds). He would step in as the starter at free safety instantly. Pryor would bring physicality to the defense that has been missing for the last couple of years.
However, the Cowboys should only target a free safety in the first round if he has elite coverage skills, and Pryor is not an elite coverage player. He is stiff when changing directions and wasn't asked to cover many receivers one-on-one in college. Because of this, Pryor doesn't have enough value to be a target at No. 16.
While Pryor would likely be an immediate starter, he does not have the ability to make an instant impact or the value that a player like Anthony Barr has.