Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Fresh 7-Round Predictions Post-Week 1 of Free Agency

Jonathan Bales@thecowboystimesAnalyst IMarch 17, 2014

Dallas Cowboys Mock Draft: Fresh 7-Round Predictions Post-Week 1 of Free Agency

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    This seven-round, post-free-agency mock draft is a way to better understand the probability of certain prospects falling to the Dallas Cowboys with each of their eight draft picks.

    When completing mock drafts, the goal isn't to hit the nail on the head with every pick, but it's to study some potential players who could interest a team and understand different paths the squad could take in this year's draft.

    In this mock draft, I'll propose a prospect likely to interest Dallas in each round, putting forth a reason the Cowboys will target that player and a reason the team might stay away. Although every player should interest Dallas in some capacity, we can play devil's advocate to learn what might scare the Cowboys away, too.

Round 1: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

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    The Cowboys would love to land Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the first round, but it seems unlikely that he'll fall to them after his outstanding combine performance. Even if the 'Boys sign free agent Henry Melton to play inside, which is certainly possible since Melton is visiting Dallas on Monday, according to Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas, they still need another defensive tackle.

    Enter Florida State's Timmy Jernigan. 

    Why Dallas Will Want Jernigan

    A lean 299-pound defensive tackle with quickness, Dallas might deem Jernigan capable of bolstering their interior pass rush. Jernigan is also perhaps the only first-round-worthy defensive tackle outside of Donald who could play in Dallas' scheme.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    Production. In three seasons, Jernigan had only 8.5 total sacks and 25 tackles for loss. Those numbers are poor and, along with Jernigan's lack of elite explosiveness (29.5-inch vertical and 8'5" broad jump), the numbers suggest that maybe he's not ready to consistently get to the passer at any level.

Round 2: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

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    With veteran defensive end DeMarcus Ware sadly set to suit up for another team in 2014, the Cowboys are extremely bare at defensive end. They could potentially re-sign Anthony Spencer, although that seems unlikely given his age. 

    Oregon State defensive end Scott Crichton might be one potential answer for Dallas.

    Why Dallas Will Want Crichton

    A 6'3", 273-pound redshirt junior, Crichton has the prototypical size for a 4-3 defensive end. His 32.75-inch arms are plenty long enough to fend off blockers. Crichton could potentially start for Dallas right out of the gate.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    Again, a lack of production, or at least a perceived lack of it. Crichton racked up an average of just over seven sacks per year at Oregon State, which is neither elite nor horrible. The reason teams shouldn't be concerned about Crichton's ability to get into the backfield, however, is that he had a ridiculous 51 tackles for loss. Because of that, Crichton figures to offer value in the second round of this year' draft.

Round 3: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

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    Both defensive tackle and defensive end are interesting for Dallas because, with massive holes at each, the team could very well take two players at each position early in this draft. The hypothetical selection of Crichton in the second round shouldn't prohibit the team from drafting another defensive end in the third.

    Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is highly athletic, running a 4.63 40-yard dash and jumping 36 inches vertically at the NFL Scouting Combine.

    Why Dallas Will Want Jeffcoat

    The Cowboys seem to have a bit of a fascination with Big 12 players, so Jeffcoat should get an extra little look. He also broke out in 2013 with a ridiculous senior campaign that included 13 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    Jeffcoat's weight. At only 247 pounds, there's a very real chance the Cowboys deem Jeffcoat either too light to play in their 4-3 system or a pass-rush specialist.

Round 4: Cyril Richardson, OG, Baylor

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    One of the more overlooked needs for Dallas is guard. In Mackenzy Bernadeau and Ronald Leary, the 'Boys have two players who are decent but maybe not the future of the position. Dallas could benefit from finding a long-term answer to work next to center Travis Frederick.

    Baylor guard Cyril Richardson, another Big 12 alum, should interest the Cowboys.

    Why Dallas Will Like Richardson

    The Cowboys will like Richardson because he has guard/tackle versatility. He played left tackle for Baylor when RGIII was playing quarterback before kicking inside last season.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    Lack of athleticism. Richardson is a big, physical interior lineman who ran a 5.36 40-yard dash. With the team moving toward more zone-blocking concepts, it's very possible they'll target a guard with better movement skills.

Round 5: Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Even after selecting Joseph Randle in 2013, there's a very good chance that the Cowboys address the running back position again this year. With starter DeMarco Murray set to become a free agent in 2014, the team needs to find the future at the position.

    George Southern's Jerick McKinnon projects as one of the most underrated backs in this class.

    Why Dallas Will Want McKinnon

    At 5'9", 210 pounds with 4.41 speed, a 4.12 short-shuttle time and capable of jumping 40.5 inches vertically, McKinnon is a ridiculous athletic specimen.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    McKinnon's school. Playing at Georgia Southern, McKinnon didn't exactly face top competition in college. The good news is that non-BCS running backs have historically offered far more value than big-school running backs. McKinnon is going to be a steal.

Round 7: Marqueston Huff, FS, Wyoming

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Cowboys have a bunch of potential options at safety in J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson and Jeff Heath. None are a sure thing, though, so the team might want to add a little more competition.

    Wyoming's Marqueston Huff is a 5'11", 198-pound true free safety.

    Why Dallas Will Want Huff

    Huff has good range at safety and should be able to play a "center fielder" role for Dallas. That would allow safety Barry Church to stay near the line of scrimmage where he's best-suited.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    Huff's school. Picking a small-school running back is one thing, but Dallas has been burnt on small-school safeties in the past (Akwasi Owusu-Ansah and perhaps Wilcox). That shouldn't be a reason to avoid Huff, but it might scare away the team.

Round 7: Jeff Janis, WR, Saginaw Valley

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Wide receiver is very interesting because Dallas could very well address the position anywhere in this year's draft, even in the early rounds. It's an underrated need for the team that could benefit from a big, physical player who will remain relevant in the red zone.

    Saginaw Valley's Jeff Janis dominated in college with 83 receptions for 1,572 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013 alone.

    Why Dallas Will Want Janis

    At 6'3", 219 pounds with 4.42 speed, few wide receivers have the size/speed combination of Janis. That alone will interest Dallas, especially in the late rounds. 

    What Might Stop Dallas

    The defense and wide receiver depth. There's really nothing not to like about Janis, but the Cowboys would very well be looking for defensive depth late in the draft. Further, they already have mediocre talents in Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris, so that might limit their willingness to bring in another receiver.

Round 7: Michael Sam, DE, Missouri

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    A few weeks ago, it might have seemed silly to mock Missouri defensive end Michael Sam in the seventh round. But after a very unimpressive combine in which Sam ran just a 4.91 40-yard dash at 255 pounds and recorded just 17 reps on the bench press, there's a possibility that the defensive end won't even get drafted this year.

    Why Dallas Will Want Sam

    Head coach Jason Garrett loves high-character players, and, by all accounts, that's exactly what he'd get in Sam. Sam's 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss in his senior season should help, too.

    What Might Stop Dallas

    Sam recorded only seven sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss combined in three seasons prior to 2013. His lack of explosiveness at 255 pounds is a serious concern.