NFL Draft 2011: Cowboys to Draft J.J. Watt?

Allan UyContributor IApril 27, 2011

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Defensive lineman J.J. Watt #99 of the Wisconsin Badgers rushes the TCU Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl game on January 1, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Come Thursday night, expect to hear the name of Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt as the Cowboys' first pick. According to the National Football Post, Dallas is very keen on taking Watt.

Matt Mosley, writing for Fox Sports Southwest, gives his insight on Dallas' desire to select the Wisconsin product either as part of a trade-down scenario or at the ninth overall pick. Per Mosley's mock draft:

“The Cowboys want to move down in the first round and take either [OT Anthony] Castonzo, Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt or Colorado offensive tackle Nate Solder. If they get stuck at No. 9, the pick will either be Castonzo or Watt...there's a fear that the 20-year-old [OT Tyron] Smith might require too much of a learning curve. The Cowboys could plug in Castonzo at right tackle immediately and never look back. The same goes for Watt at defensive end.”

But why him when so many are predicting the 'Boys will take USC OT Tyron Smith?

Mosley elaborated on a sports radio show last week; Blogging The Boys has a transcript of the interview here. Essentially, from conversations he's had with a high-ranking Cowboys source, Mosley believes that Dallas sees little difference between Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo and Nate Solder.

If that's the case, they probably won't be taking Smith at No. 9.

But could all this be misinformation sent out by Jerry Jones and the scouting department? It's quite possible. Most of everything one hears around this time is a lie, but here's why I think this isn't.

First of all, never in Jerry Jones' tenure as owner/GM have the Cowboys taken an O-linemen in the first round.

This isn't by accident or coincidence. Jerry has said it himself that he usually can't justify the value in taking an O-lineman so early when most need time to develop anyway.

He'd rather get that value later in the draft and spend the first round picks on impact players who can start right away.

I'm not saying these linemen are incapable of starting right off the bat, nor am I saying that Jerry and the scouting department are perennial experts at knowing when to draft O-linemen (if you look at Dallas' draft history in regards to the offensive line, it isn't pretty).

I'm just saying this is the philosophy Jerry goes by.

Secondly, when a team takes an OT in the first round, especially in the top ten where Dallas is picking, you draft a left tackle, not a right tackle.

A lot of these mock drafters don't give Doug Free as much credit as the Cowboys do. Dallas likes Free at left tackle, plain and simple. Although he's technically a free agent, you can be sure he'll be their top priority once a new CBA is in place, so I doubt his status will change.

Ninth is too early to draft a right tackle. If Dallas trades back and gets Watt, they may trade back into the late first or up in the second to get an OT (depending on who’s there).

Lastly, we can't forget the real difference between the '09 and '10 seasons (excluding Tony Romo): the defense.

The Cowboys went from allowing the second-fewest points in '09 to the second-most in '10; they went from the top ten in yards allowed to the bottom ten a year later. The defense's performance was the difference between an 11-5 playoff team in '09 and a 6-10 disaster in '10.

The defense is the reason Dallas' head coach is Jason Garrett and not Wade Phillips.

So, despite the growing need for new blood on Romo's side of the ball, the need on Ratliff's side is a little more pressing. And even though this could all be some elaborate ploy that has duped me and Matt Mosley, I have to give his insight more weight than most of those who say it'll be Tyron Smith, since Mosley's been connected to the Cowboys for awhile now.

Still, maybe the 'Boys are just trying to keep everyone's attention away from their true target, a Prince Amukamara or a Cameron Jordan.

But I'm hitching my wagon to J.J. He's Watt's going to be in Dallas' future, if you ask me.