By Matthew Postins
January 15 was an important date. This was the date that NFL Draft-eligible underclassmen had to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft. You can find that list here on RattleandHumSports.com.
For that reason there was a wave of mock drafts released on the same day, as experts could now take into account the underclassmen without having to put an asterisk next to their name.
My policy on mock drafts? I don’t do one until after the NFL Scouting Combine. By then, we start to get an idea of which teams are talking to which players. It’s not a perfect barometer, but it helps gauge interest. So I’ll file mine then.
In the meantime, I found 11 different NFL Mock Drafts and have their Dallas Cowboys selections below. This time of year you don’t get a lot of consensus. Just one player showed up on more than one mock. The Cowboys select No. 18.
Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri: All of the experts had the benefit of knowing that Monte Kiffin would be the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in 2013. So they could take that into account. Mock Draft HQ, along with two of NFL.com’s experts – Albert Breer and Josh Norris – had the Cowboys taking Richardson. He is NFLDraftScout.com’s No. 3 ranked defensive tackle. At 6-foot-3, 295 pounds, he’s plenty big. Richardson had 75 tackles, 10.5 for loss and 4 sacks. It’s obvious these experts envision Richardson as a possible answer at the three-technique – or the Warren Sapp – position in Kiffin’s Cover 2 defense. He also created three fumbles. That’s a must in this defense.
The other eight mock selections range from near-perfect to interesting to downright curious. But most of the selections address the two positions that most experts agree are key needs for Dallas – the offensive and defensive lines.
Mike Glennon, QB, North Carolina State: NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang had the Cowboys taking a quarterback in the first round. Glennon threw more than 30 touchdown passes last year, something not even Phillip Rivers could do for the Wolfpack. Right now most mocks have three quarterbacks being taken in the first round – Geno Smith, Matt Barkley and Glennon. I could see the Cowboys going for Glennon, or a quarterback, in the second round. But right now they have too many other needs to roll the dice. Rang may not be aware of the cap ramifications of not extending Tony Romo’s contract.
Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan: The No. 2-ranked tackle on the board was Gil Brandt’s pick at NFL.com. Brandt, of course, used to run player personnel for Dallas back in the Tom Landry days. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the Cowboys addressed the offensive line in the first round. At 6-foot-7, 305 pounds, he was an All-America selection. He’s considered close to NFL-ready. He’ll play in the Senior Bowl next week if you want to take a look.
Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama: If you saw the National Championship game, you know why Warmack would be a near-perfect pick here. Football’s Future had Warmack going to Dallas. No. 18 sounds low for the No. 1 guard on the board, but interior linemen aren’t as valued as tackles. At 6-foot-2, 322 pounds, he’s a massive run blocker who could put either current starting guard, Mackenzy Bernadeau or Nate Livings, out of a job immediately.
Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina: Cooper is the No. 2 guard on the board, weighing in at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com took Cooper for the Cowboys, who have to address the interior of their offensive line. He helped the Tar Heels run for nearly 200 yards in 2012. He was an All-American, too. If Warmack isn’t there – and I doubt he will be – Cooper would be a nice consolation prize, if Dallas wants to go that way.
Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida State: As selected by CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler, the No. 6 defensive tackle on the board is 6-foot-3, 305 pounds. He could be intriguing to Dallas because it sounds like Brugler sees Floyd as a tackle, but he played all four defensive line positions for the Seminoles, so he’s versatile.
Star Lotulelei, DT, Utah: Sounds almost too good to be true, right? A guy named Star going to the team with the star on its helmet? Lotulelei is the No. 1 defensive tackle on the board, coming in at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds. He has the size of a run stopper with the ability of a pass rusher. He had five sacks and forced three fumbles last year. I have a hard time seeing him drop to No. 18, but stranger things have happened. NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks picked Lotulelei for the Cowboys.
Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: The No. 3 defensive end on the board is 6-foot-5, 260 pounds and was Walter Football’s selection. He ranked eighth in LSU history with 18 sacks and ninth in LSU history in tackles for loss with 31.5. He’s considered a great straight-line pass rusher. Dallas could take him and put him opposite DeMarcus Ware, but it’s critical to make sure that Montgomery can stop the run. That left end must stop the run in the Cover 2.
Eric Reid, S, LSU: NFL.com’s Charles Davis provided the one defensive backfield selection in all of the mocks I looked at. The 6-foot-2, 212-pound Tigers is the No. 2 free safety on the board. He’s envisioned as a hitting safety in the NFL, and one knock on him is that his tackling ability isn’t fully developed. The Cover 2 requires great tackling.