Dallas Cowboys' Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer

Alex Hall@@AlexKHallCorrespondent IIIMay 9, 2014

Dallas Cowboys' Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys addressed the offensive line in the first round but still have 10 more picks before the 2014 draft ends. Zack Martin will have plenty more rookies joining him down on Valley Ranch, many likely being defensive players.

    Defensive tackle, defensive end and safety are positions that need to be addressed as soon as possible on Day 2. The Cowboys do need to bring in a few more players to help on offense, but defense needs to be on their mind today.

    With a heavy defensive focus likely, here is Dallas’ full Day 2 primer.

Day 1 Recap and Analysis

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    Martin was a bit of a surprise in the first round but he gives the Cowboys the last piece they needed to complete their rebuilding of the offensive line. With Travis Frederick, Tyron Smith and now Martin, Dallas has the makings of a young and vastly talented front line.

    That being said, it probably would have been a smarter move to take a defensive end or tackle in the first. Dallas finished last season with the worst defense in the NFL. Coordinator Rod Marinelli’s defensive line also lost Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware to free agency this offseason.

    Safety was another area the Cowboys could have gone to give the defense a huge boost. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor were still on the board at No. 16 and fell into the laps of the Packers and Jets, respectively.

    Martin is a fine selection given that Aaron Donald and Anthony Barr were already gone though, and Dallas still made a good pick. Mackenzy Bernadeau and Jermey Parnell aren’t exactly promising or long-term options at guard anyway. Now the Cowboys have a first-round pick at center, tackle and guard up front which should help quarterback Tony Romo rest easy.

    While Martin likely wasn’t first on Dallas’ draft board, he was far from a terrible option given how the first round went.

Updated Needs for Dallas

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    The Cowboys crossed one need off their draft laundry list on Day 1 but the biggest ones still need to be addressed. Hatcher, Ware and Miles Austin all left holes that need to be filled before the 2014 regular season. Here are Dallas’ top remaining needs heading into the second round.

     

    Defensive End

    Anthony Spencer has been re-signed but there’s no guarantee he’ll stay in Big D after this season when his contract runs out. Owner Jerry Jones has handed the veteran three straight one-year deals and Spencer could command a big contract next offseason if he returns to Pro Bowl form in 2014.

    George Selvie surprised in Spencer’s absence last year, but there’s no telling if he is a one-year wonder or a starter for years to come just yet.

    Dallas cannot afford to get comfortable with the idea of Selvie and Spencer as their only starting options at defensive end. The team needs to grab a player in the second round who can challenge both in training camp and step up if either gets injured or leaves Dallas.

     

    Defensive Tackle

    Henry Melton was Dallas’ big offseason addition but he needs a partner in crime on the defensive line. Giving Melton someone to pressure the quarterback with and blow up run plays in the interior of the line is exactly what this team needs.

    A second- or third-round pick on defensive tackle is a must. The Cowboys need to take pressure off their secondary by getting to opposing quarterbacks. Melton was a fine start to revamp the front line but there’s more work to do.

     

    Safety

    Dallas took J.J. Wilcox just last year with the hopes of developing him into a starting safety. While it’s too early to write his career off, there’s reason to take another at his position on Day 2. Wilcox lost his starting job to undrafted free agent Jeff Heath last year and there’s no reason to count on Matt Johnson staying healthy.

    There are question marks with every guy on the roster who could start opposite Barry Church. Bringing in another safety who can fight for a starting job would give Dallas three young players to evaluate and decide who works best for its scheme.

     

    Wide Receiver

    Terrance Williams put up some fine numbers in his first season, recording five touchdowns and 736 receiving yards. That being said, losing Austin leaves a hole on the wide receiver depth chart. Dez Bryant and Williams are the obvious starters but the team still needs someone for the slot position. Cole Beasley performed well in limited time and Dwayne Harris could be another answer for the spot.

    Even though both players have the ability to be the No. 3 receiver, drafting a young wide out is still a smart idea. Bringing in another young talent at the position would give the Cowboys three guys who have the potential to blossom together for a good long time.

    This team loves to pass the ball and will be tempted to add to an already impressive offensive unit on Day 2.

     

    Quarterback

    Jones resisted the urge to take Johnny Manziel in the first round but there’s a real need to find Romo’s heir this year. The starting QB is 34 years old and has had two back surgeries in as many offseasons.

    With guys like Jimmy Garoppolo, Derek Carr and David Fales still out there, this quarterback class has plenty of talent left. Dallas needs to think about addressing this position because of Romo’s age and recent health, and this is a great year to do so.

    There aren’t any can’t-miss kind of quarterbacks left but Wade Wilson and Jason Garrett could do wonders with a number of players still available.

Top Day 2 Targets

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    There are still six rounds left to go in this year’s draft and Dallas has two picks to utilize on Day 2. The defense has more than a few positions that need an impact player. These next two rounds are the last chances to get guys like that. Here’s a look at who the Cowboys have to be thinking about targeting in Rounds 2 and 3.

     

    1. Louis Nix III

    The Cowboys took a Notre Dame product in the first round and very well could again in the second. Nix has been regarded as one of the best defensive tackles in this draft class and not just because he carries a 6’2”, 331-pound frame around.

    The Fighting Irish product showcased a productive swim maneuver to get around blockers in college. He has the mechanics to start right away and give Melton that partner he needs in the interior line. Expect the Cowboys to pick Martin’s brain about his former teammate before calling in their second-round pick.

     

    2. Kony Ealy

    Ealy was a name that was once touted as a first-round selection. He’d be a steal for Jones and Co. in the second round. Dallas needs a promising young defensive end to ease the pain of cutting ties with Ware. Spencer and Selvie are no guarantees at the position either.

    Bringing in Ealy would mean Garrett has an insurance policy if either his projected starting DEs aren’t available. It would also give him a talent Marinelli could do wonders with.

    Ealy is a fast and decisive player who knows how to home in on the ball-carrier. He fires out on every play and understands the best ways to give opposing offensive coordinators headaches. Dallas would love to get its hands on him in the second round.

     

    3. Terrence Brooks

    Someone who could be available to Dallas in the second or third round is Brooks, who would be a welcome addition to the safety depth chart. He has great speed, running a 4.37 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL Combine. Brooks was a defensive anchor on the Seminoles’ National Championship team because he understood how to make big plays and lead by example on the field. He also has experience playing cornerback, meaning the Cowboys could use him at either position on any given play.

    For a team that has lost many of its notable leaders on defense, Brooks would be a welcome addition.

     

    4. Derek Carr

    After likely toying with the idea of taking Manziel in the first round, the Cowboys will still have quarterback on the mind on Day 2. Carr is the best quarterback available. He would be a fine project for Wilson and Garrett, both of whom are former NFL quarterbacks.

    Carr can throw the deep ball as good as any other at his position in this draft. NFLDraftScout.com’s Frank Cooney called him the most NFL-ready quarterback in this draft class.

    Unlike other names already off the board, there’s no need to worry about Carr’s mechanics. He knows how to set up in the pocket and deliver the football with proficiency. While Carr isn’t Dallas' most likely second-round selection, there’s no doubt he’ll be mentioned in the war room.

What the Experts Are Saying

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Some of the NFL draft's top experts are predicting the Cowboys address their defensive struggles on Day 2 of the draft. Given the issues that were highlighted in 2013, there’s no reason not to upgrade this side of the ball. Let’s take a look at some projected Day 2 selections for Dallas.

     

    Todd McShay: Timmy Jernigan

    On May 2, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. worked together to create a full three-round NFL mock draft. McShay was tasked with predicting Dallas' second-round pick and chose to take defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Here’s Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas with his take on the selection:

    In Jernigan, McShay took a player that he twice projected to the Cowboys in the first round. If this scenario played out, then the Cowboys would be OK with it. They view Jernigan as a one-technique, which is not valuable enough to take in the first round. They would be getting a disruptive player in the second round.

    Archer and McShay are right on here. If Jernigan falls to the ‘Boys in Round 2, they have to take him. The Florida State product knows how to use his footwork and hands to maneuver past offensive lineman and sneak into the backfield. He’s also a tough guy to get out of the way at 6’2”, 299 pounds.

     

    Matt Miller: Louis Nix III

    Miller didn't have a write-up for why he likes Nix to Dallas in the second round but it’s pretty obvious why he does. Nix is a great option to help Melton create the kind of pressure the Cowboys need up front on defense.

    They cannot afford to have another season with quarterbacks tallying 400-plus passing yards and hardly having to move out of the pocket. Nix and Melton would put an end to that occurrence and help the team’s sack total.

     

    Peter Schrager: Jackson Jeffcoat

    Schrager didn't have any write-up for Dallas' projected selection of Jeffcoat in the third round. That being said, the Texas product is the perfect pick for the 'Boys at that point in the draft. Jackson's father, Jim, played for Dallas from 1983-1994 and it’d only be fitting if his son started there too.

    Jackson is a strong and smart defensive end who would be a huge addition for the Cowboys' defensive line.

4 Predictions for Day 2

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Cowboys are always a team to watch for in terms of trades and shocking selections. While many will say there’s no telling what is on Jones’ mind, here are a few predictions for Day 2.

     

    Dallas makes trade to move up in second round

    More than a few big names fell out of the first round but could be gone by No. 47 overall. Names like Carr, Jernigan and Ealy could all likely be gone before Dallas has a chance at them. The trade will cost a 2015 pick but that’s a price worth paying for this kind of player.

    Look for the ‘Boys to work a trade to grab an arguable first-round caliber player in the early part of the second. If Dallas could move up to grab either Ealy or Jernigan, it couldn’t ask for a better first couple of rounds.

     

    Kony Ealy becomes a Cowboy

    When the Cowboys do move up in the second, it has to be for Ealy. He recently told NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread that they have high interest in him and for good reason.

    Ealy is a tremendous talent and should be off the board by now. Jernigan and Nix are tempting but the Missouri product just brings too much to the table for Dallas not to move up for.

     

    Dallas waits until the third round for a DT

    With Ealy in the fold, the Cowboys will no longer be looking in Jeffcoat’s direction. With guard and defensive end taken care of, they will have to look to take care of defensive tackle.

    Someone like Ego Ferguson or DaQuan Jones could be available at that point in the draft. While both will need some time to really get to an NFL-type caliber, both could still start right away. Even though defensive tackle is the team’s top need, Dallas will have had two great chances to fix other positions.

    Waiting on a defensive tackle after the first two rounds would be an interesting move but not exactly surprising.

     

    No seventh-round picks are traded away

    Those six seventh-round selections are fine trade bait but won’t come into play on Day 2. In a draft this deep, there will be more value than usual in the final round this year. Dallas also probably wouldn’t mind picking up six cheap players considering its cap woes this past offseason. Regardless of whether they choose to trade some away or keep all six, the Cowboys won’t be moving any seventh-round picks on Day 2.

Updated Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Dallas has 10 more players to select before filling out its 2014 draft class. Offensive guard was addressed in the first round but there are plenty more holes to fill. Here's what to expect out of the Cowboys in Rounds 2-7. This mock draft does not take possible trades into account.

     

    Round 2, Pick No. 47: Louis Nix III

    If the Cowboys don't move up, they will lose out on Ealy. Since this mock draft doesn't take trades into account, this pick assumes Ealy will be gone by pick No. 47. Despite missing out on the impressive defensive end, Nix would be a fine consolation prize.

    Before Day 2 is over, Dallas needs to address its need at defensive tackle need and Nix is the perfect player to do so with. CBSsports.com's Rob Rang and Dane Brugler compare him to B.J. Raji, albeit noting his lack of consistency. While that may be a red flag, his ability to utilize his big frame and overpower defenders is worth the risk.

     

    Round 3, Pick No. 78: Jackson Jeffcoat

    He's the perfect player to come in and provide help at defensive end. Jeffcoat knows how and when to use his power and speed to make life difficult for offenses. For his impressive senior season, he was chosen as the 2013 recipient of the Ted Hendricks Award for best defensive end in the nation.

    Jeffcoat has all the talent to succeed in the NFL. With the help of Marinelli's coaching, he can become as successful as his father was in a Dallas uniform.

     

    Round 4, Pick No. 119: AJ McCarron

    Dallas still really needs to address safety but at this point it's worth waiting if a solid quarterback is available. McCarron isn't exactly polished and ready for the NFL but the Cowboys don't need him to be.

    Romo still has some years to go before hanging up the cleats and McCarron could learn plenty from No. 9. If anyone knows the benefits of holding the clip board and being an understudy, it's the former undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois.

    It's time to draft Romo's heir and McCarron would be a nice fit if Dallas can land him in the fourth.

     

    Round 5, Pick No. 158: Ed Reynolds

    It feels pretty late to take a safety but Ed Reynolds is no slouch. At 6'2", 205 pounds he has a nice frame that comes in handy in coverage. The Stanford product showed great ability to fly to the ball-carrier and make smart calls in college.

    Given Dallas' muddled safety situation, he has as good a chance as Wilcox, Heath or Johnson to win the starting gig opposite Church.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 229: Mike Davis

    Davis is another Texas product that Dallas has to like. He is a homegrown talent with an ability to burst off the line of scrimmage and fly by would-be defenders. Catching eight touchdowns for the Longhorns in 2013 gives an example of his reliable hands. Given time, he could develop into a solid No. 3 or No. 4 option for the 'Boys.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 231: David Fluellen

    With Phillip Tanner gone and an underwhelming rookie season from Joseph Randle, a running back is a late-round need. Lance Dunbar and Randle could use a good camp battle to keep them motivated and their eyes on grabbing that No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 238: Tyler Starr

    Dallas has seen what can happen to your defense when your linebackers are plagued with injuries. Starr would serve as a nice backup to have so the team doesn't have to look toward the street if the injury bug hits the linebackers again in 2014.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 248: Gabe Ikard

    Frederick was a great fit at center last season and performed well, but Dallas could use another center purely for depth reasons. Phil Costa is no longer on the roster, and Frederick and Ryan Cook could use an insurance policy just in case injuries occur.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 251: Matt Patchan

    Ikard will provide some good depth on the offensive line but another body would be helpful. Patchan has all the raw qualities of a good tackle. He stays balanced, fires off on every snap and is generally reliable to hold his block. He'd be a nice addition to backups Darrion Weems and Jermey Parnell at the position.

     

    Round 7, Pick No. 254: Kendall James

    Dallas doesn't have a huge need to address cornerback but at pick No. 254, it's a good position to add depth to. Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr are the top CBs but they could use some backups. James can provide the Cowboys with a young corner to attempt to develop. At the very least, he's another name to add to a bit of a shallow position depth chart.