Most Dallas Cowboys fans are familiar with the players the Cowboys seem to be targeting in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. However, many fans may not be familiar with players the Cowboys should target in Round 2.
The second round may have some of the best value in the whole draft, especially for a team like the Cowboys. While there may not be enough value for the Cowboys to fill one of their needs at the defensive end or tackle spots, the second round is ripe with value players at both positions.
In the second round, the Cowboys hope to get an impact player that could start right away. Because of the wealth of defensive talent slated for the second round, the Cowboys would figure to go that route here, especially if they went offense in the first round with a player like Zack Martin. But if not, don't put it past the Cowboys to target a guard here.
With Tony Romo turning 34 and Jason Garrett heading into the final year of his contract, the Cowboys are looking to win now and their second-round pick should reflect that.
I've already covered why the Cowboys should covet Scott Crichton in particular, but who else should Dallas be prepared to draft in the second round?
The Cowboys have shown a tendency to select players in the second round that have had an injury history. In the 2010 and 2011 NFL drafts, the Cowboys selected Sean Lee and Bruce Carter in the second round, both players who had injury concerns but also had a lot of talent.
Florida's Dominique Easley fits that bill for the 2014 NFL draft. Based solely on his tape, Easley is one of the most dynamic players available in the draft:
Dominique Easley has just passed Aaron Donald as my highest graded interior lineman based on tape only at this point. .— Ryan Riddle (@Ryan_Riddle) March 24, 2014
If healthy, Easley would likely be challenging Aaron Donald as the best defensive tackle in this year's draft. However, Easley tore his ACL in late September, having suffered the same injury to his other knee earlier in his college football career.
Nevertheless, Easley's knee seems to be progressing just fine, and he should be ready to go sometime in training camp:
Medical report on Easley turned out well. Rehab has been positive and is making progress to be ready at some point during training camp.— Bryan Broaddus (@BryanBroaddus) April 30, 2014
Easley figures to best fit in the Cowboys' scheme as a 3-technique defensive tackle. Even though the Cowboys signed Henry Melton earlier this offseason, that does not preclude them from selecting another 3-technique high in the draft. Melton is signed to what is essentially a one-year deal with a three-year option. The Cowboys must be ready if Melton doesn't play to a high enough level to warrant them picking up the three-year option.
Nonetheless, Easley would bring versatility to the Cowboys' defense line. He has lined up at every defensive line position during his time with the Gators. Although, as Miller stated in the video above, Easley's size (6'2", 288 lbs) and skill set best lends itself to the 3-technique spot.
Easley has possibly the best initial burst out of all the defensive tackle prospects in the draft. Often he beats offensive linemen with his quickness alone.
When his quickness doesn't have him blowing past offensive linemen, Easley shows good pass-rushing techniques with good hand usage, and he utilizes leverage very well.
Easley would thrive in Rod Marinelli's one-gap 4-3 scheme. In a one-gap scheme, the emphasis is for the defensive lineman to use their "quick twitch" or quickness to explode through their gap and wreak havoc in the backfield.
If Easley were available in the second round, it would be very hard for the Cowboys' front office to pass on him.
Arizona State's Will Sutton is a hard nut to crack. If you judge him solely on his 2012 tape, you see an elite 3-technique prospect that would be an ideal fit for the Cowboys. If you look at his 2013 game tape, you see a slow, pudgy defensive tackle who doesn't have many of the qualities of a 3-technique in the Cowboys' scheme.
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The main cause of this drastic difference in play over those two years has been said to be because of Sutton's weight gain after the 2012 season. Sutton played at around 280 pounds in 2012 but reportedly jumped up to 307 pounds in 2013.
Much like Easley, Sutton is projected to be a 3-technique defense tackle.
However, Easley wins with his elite quickness, while Sutton wins with his incredible hand usage. Sutton is not slow off the snap by any means, but he is not on the same level as Easley.
Nevertheless, Sutton's hand usage may be the best out of the defensive line prospects outside of Donald.
Even when Sutton was slower and more sluggish in his 2013 campaign, the times that he won were because of how refined his pass-rushing moves are and how good Sutton is with his hands.
Sutton tends to be overaggressive at times and that can lead to him overrun plays. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing in the Cowboys' scheme. The defensive linemen are expected to aggressively attack through their gap and up the field. While it will lead to Sutton missing some plays, it will also lead to him making a lot of plays as well.
The hope is that with Sutton returning closer to his 2012 weight, he will be able to play more like he did in 2012.
If the Cowboys feel comfortable with Sutton's weight loss and believe he will return to the type of player he was in 2012, then Sutton would be a great selection for the Cowboys in the second round.
The loss of DeMarcus Ware has left a huge void at weak-side defensive end for the Cowboys. The Cowboys are in desperate need of a player who can bring constant pressure to the quarterback. Selecting Lawrence would be a huge step in the right direction.
Lawrence was a very productive player at Boise State, and he showed the traits you need to evolve into a great defensive end in the NFL.
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Lawrence has a long and lean frame (6'3", 251 lbs with 33.75" arms) that has plenty room for bulk to be added.
Lawrence uses his elite length and huge 11-inch hands to keep blockers off of him long enough for him to be able to disengage and make a play. He has a diverse range of pass-rushing moves, and he has shown the ability to win with speed and power.
Lawrence has also shown that he can bend around the corner and accelerate to the quarterback. He doesn't have elite quickness but is quick enough to make plays in the NFL.
Lawrence would fit in well in the Cowboys' defensive scheme because of his aggressive nature. Lawrence can make an instant impact for the Cowboys in the pass-rushing department.
However, Lawrence does need to add some bulk to his frame. Tackles often pushed around Lawrence in the run game because he didn't have the strength to be able to anchor down.
While Crichton is much more powerful and strong, Lawrence is much more developed as a pass-rusher at this moment.
Lawrence would bring the Cowboys a young dynamic defensive end who could help fill the void left by Ware. If he is available at No. 47, it would be difficult for the Cowboys to pass on him.
UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo is a versatile offensive lineman that would bring the Cowboys a good player in the second round.
Su'a-Filo has played both tackle and guard while at UCLA, but he projects better at guard then tackle because of his size. Su'a-Filo has good size for a guard (6'4", 307 lbs), but average for a tackle, with great athleticism.
Su'a-Filo has a knack for being able to secure blocks at the first and second level of the defense, a necessity in the Cowboys' run-blocking scheme. He shows the rare ability to have power while still having the quickness to make blocks at all levels. He uses his foot quickness to get in position to make plays and finishes them off with his great strength.
Su'a-Filo has the strength to anchor against defensive tackles and the quickness to get out to the second level and block linebackers.
Where Su'a-Filo finds trouble is when tasked to block long-armed defenders. Su'a-Filo will often let them get into his body and get pushed back.
Nevertheless, since Su'a-Filo will most likely line up at guard, he could get help from the center if he is having trouble.
Su'a-Filo has the skill set to thrive in the Cowboys' scheme and would give the Cowboys another young, talented offensive lineman to go with Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick.
The Cowboys are often linked to another versatile lineman, Zack Martin, in the first round. However, if the Cowboys don't get him in the first round, Su'a-Filo would be a great choice in the second round.
Who is the Best Option for the Cowboys in the Second Round?