Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft 2014: Latest 7-Round Predictions and Analysis
The Dallas Cowboys have some serious holes to fill before next season and their last big chance to turn the roster around is the 2014 NFL draft. With 11 picks heading into Day 1, if they're used wisely, the Cowboys have the chance to add a hefty amount of depth and talent.
Dallas has been linked to quarterback Johnny Manziel. ESPN analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. are predicting the team will call safety Calvin Pryor with its No. 16 overall pick, per ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer. The rumor mill is in full swing for Big D, who need to focus heavy on need, specifically on defense this draft.
With the first round just days away, here is one last mock draft predicting which players will become the newest Dallas Cowboys.
Round 1: (Trade) DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Despite all the talk about the Cowboys' love of Manziel, that could very well be smokescreen. This team needs to focus on adding one more piece to its defensive line—specifically, Aaron Donald.
It might take a trade into the back end of the top 10 picks, but the price tag to grab the Pittsburgh product will be well worth it.
Donald led the nation in tackles for loss and sacks per game last season thanks in part to his explosive first step off the snap.
He would be paired with former Pro Bowler Henry Melton on the interior of the defensive line. Those two would be flanked by 2013 standout George Selvie and 2012 Pro Bowl selection Anthony Spencer. With Donald in the fold, Dallas' defensive line will have gone from its biggest weakness to a young, solid unit.
The Cowboys need to spend their first three picks wisely, and the best move they could make at No. 16 is to grab Donald; even if it requires making a trade.
Round 2: S Terrence Brooks, Florida State
Terrence Brooks enters the NFL draft fresh off a national championship and a stout career with the Seminoles.
Brooks knows how to utilize both his impressive speed and agility. He ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash time at this year's NFL combine. With prior experience at cornerback, Brooks would also add something Dallas could definitely use on defense: Versatility.
The Cowboys did select J.J. Wilcox in last year's draft and hope that injury-plagued Matt Johnson will be available. That being said, there is still a definite need at safety.
There is no reason for head coach Jason Garrett to have faith that Wilcox will develop into a starter and Johnson will stay healthy.
If the team could land Brooks, the best-case scenario is that he starts first thing next season. At worst, Brooks provides essential depth at both cornerback and safety while learning the ropes.
Round 3: DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
Despite bringing back Spencer this offseason, the Cowboys still need to address defensive end early on.
Spencer is yet again playing on a one-year deal. He could choose to up and leave Dallas for a bigger pay day elsewhere if he returns to Pro Bowl form in 2014. Dallas would be smart to draft a young talent like Jackson Jeffcoat who could become a full-time starter if Selvie falters or Spencer leaves.
Jeffcoat is a former Longhorn and grew up in Plano, Texas. His father, Jim, played for Dallas from 1983-94. He has to be a familiar talent to the Dallas scouts for more than a few reasons.
During his senior season at Texas, Jeffcoat tallied 22 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and earned himself the Ted Hendricks Award. He knows how to maneuver himself past his would-be blockers using quick feet and his noticeable motor.
Bleacher Report NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller projected in his April mock draft that Dallas would take Jeffcoat in the third round.
This kid has all the potential to be as good as his father and should start his career in the same uniform his dad did.
Round 4: WR Kevin Norwood, Alabama
In the video above, Matt Miller compares Kevin Norwood to Miami's Brian Hartline. Despite having second-year wide receiver Terrance Williams and clear No. 1 option Dez Bryant on the roster, Dallas could use someone like Hartline.
Miles Austin is gone and in many ways is a more polished version of Norwood and Hartline. Like both NFL veterans, Norwood has sure hands and is more of a "move the chains" kind of player. He did show off his speed with a 4.48-second 40-yard dash time at the combine though, which shows he can go deep if needed.
One could argue guard is a more pressing need than wide receiver on offense. At this stage in the draft, though, Norwood has arguably more upside than any of the likely available guards.
If Dallas added another young and promising receiver to its depth chart, there is plenty of reason for opposing defenses to worry. The Alabama product might not be the next Bryant, but he has the potential to replace what Austin brought to the table.
Waiting another round on the offensive line would be worth getting Norwood if he's available.
Round 5: OG Charles Leno, Boise State
Dallas should address other needs first, but the team needs to take an offensive guard in the middle rounds. Come Round 5, Charles Leno would be a fine option for the team.
The Boise State product has a solid 6'4", 303-pound frame and also possesses the ability to move quickly on his feet. He has all the power a scout would expect from someone his size and can move like a player quite lighter than himself.
While they were serviceable in 2013, Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary are not the long-term answers at the position. Leno would bring depth to this offensive line in the short-term and the potential to start a few years down the road.
Leno doesn't possess the upside of someone like Zack Martin, but he could become a decent starter down the road. Dallas could go a few ways in the fifth round, but taking a guard like Leno makes the most sense.
Round 7: CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
While the Cowboys witnessed a stellar season from Orlando Scandrick last year, Morris Claiborne's was just the opposite.
ESPN Dallas' Todd Archer wrote a while back that after Claiborne's issues in 2013, it's likely Garrett will hand Scandrick one of the starting corner gigs. Because of the former first-round pick's sophomore slump, Dallas should add depth to CB later on in the draft.
Mitchell understands when to accelerate when covering his assignment and knows when to gamble. While that gambling mentality burned him a few times while he was at Oregon, it also led to some big plays.
Dallas has put plenty of time and effort into the cornerback position in recent years. That shouldn't stop the team from drafting some depth. Mitchell would give the 'Boys some insurance and could develop into a decent role player with some help from coordinator Rod Marinelli.
Round 7: QB Keith Wenning, Ball State
Keith Wenning lit up the record books at Ball State this past season, which had to catch the eye of at least one Dallas scout.
The Cowboys invested plenty of money into Tony Romo last offseason, but they would be wise to look for a quarterback in this draft. Romo has had two back surgeries in as many offseasons and turned 34 last month.
As for Romo's backup, Kyle Orton, the team hasn't even heard if he is officially coming back for next season. The Cowboys must have brought in the likes of Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie in part for insurances reasons if Orton walks.
All that being said, even with Weeden and Hanie signed, Dallas could use a young arm to develop. There's no guarantee that Wenning will become Romo's heir, but Wade Wilson and Garrett could make something of him.
The former Cardinal showed fine ball placement and a fairly strong arm en route to 35 touchdowns and 4,148 passing yards last season. Wenning would be a cheap investment that could become a reliable backup with the proper coaching. Worst case, the Cowboys cut him a few years down the road and haven't lost much money from a failed investment.
Round 7: FB Jay Prosch, Auburn
The Cowboys elected to go through most of the 2013 season without a true fullback on their roster. While Garrett could choose to go that route again, Jay Prosch could be of help in the running game.
Prosch has some impressive strength and uses that to clear through defenses for his running back. The Auburn product admittedly didn't show promise in the passing game in college, but the 'Boys don't need him for that. They need him to throw his 6'1", 256-pound frame around and give DeMarco Murray some space.
Some say that the fullback is a dying position in today's pass-happy NFL, and that's not entirely false. Prosch is that throwback type of player that could be well worth a spot on the final 53-man roster, though.
Even if his position is on its way out, there is plenty of reason for the Cowboys to look Prosch's way. With six picks in the final round, Dallas can afford to take a late gamble that could improve its rushing efforts.
Round 7: RB David Fluellen, Toledo
The Cowboys chose to let Phillip Tanner walk this offseason, and that leaves them room to bring in a rookie rusher.
Dallas currently has DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle on the roster, but some camp competition would be a smart move. Randle needs to show he can average more than three yards per attempt. Dunbar shined in limited action, but there's no proof he can be consistent with that production.
Both players could use a healthy push from a young and hungry player looking to make the final roster. David Fluellen rushed for almost 1,500 yards his junior season at Toledo and another 1,100 last season. He also showed strong receiving skills out of the backfield.
While his 4.72-second 40-yard dash time at the combine isn't eye-popping, his ability to be a receiving asset is what makes him intriguing for Dallas. Considering the offense brought in with Scott Linehan, who already loves to pass, the Cowboys need as many pass-catchers as they can get.
There isn't huge potential for Fluellen to become an NFL starter, but he has all the makings to be a nice Bryce Brown kind of player.
Round 7: OT Matt Patchan, Boston College
Dallas has Tyron Smith and Doug Free taking care of starting tackle duties but need depth across the line.
Jermey Parnell and Darrion Weems are Garrett's lone options at tackle if Smith or Free go down. Drafting some depth with his plethora of seventh-round picks would be smart of the Dallas head coach.
Matt Patchan was one of Boston College's most reliable options on the offensive line for some time. He helped clear holes for Heisman hopeful Andre Williams and showed high football IQ while with the Eagles.
Murray could always use a solid blocker in the running game, and that's something Patchan can certainly bring to Dallas. The 6'6", 302-pound lineman has the ideal frame the Cowboys have always looked for in linemen and shows some impressive quickness at his size.
Dallas could use some depth on its offensive line, and Patchan can provide that. He's a sound pick in the draft's final round if the Cowboys can grab him.
Round 7: LB Denicos Allen, Michigan State
From Sean Lee to Bruce Carter and Justin Durant, Dallas has been plagued by a linebacker-targeting injury bug in recent years. On more than one occasion, the team has had to sign veterans off the street due to this recent trend.
Drafting Denicos Allen in the draft's final round wold give the Cowboys much-needed depth in the linebacker corps. He also comes from a storied college football program and possesses some impressive talent.
While Allen still needs more coaching up before truly being NFL-ready, he flies around the field. He seems to have a born ability to make quick decisions that usually work out well for his defense.
Some might worry about his size at 5'10", 225 pounds but every seventh-rounder has his faults. Allen does his best to prove scouts wrong about his size through making big tackles and finding his way to the quarterback.
Linebacker depth is something Dallas would be wise to address in the final round and Allen is as good a selection as any at the position this late.
Note: All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.