Welcome to my third edition of Mock Talk, where I gather up the different mock drafts around the Internet (at least those that I can get to – Hey ESPN, seriously – I have to pay to find out what Mel Kiper thinks?! You run him on a continuous loop every hour at this time of year).
As expected there was a flood after the end of the NFL Scouting Combine.
The significance of the scouting combine is that we can start to narrow things down a bit. But we’re still making assumptions about what teams will do in free agency. So those moves – which start March 12 – will affect mock drafts around the Internet.
I’ll be jumping into the Mock Draft pool on March 1 with my first one of the offseason. I’ll publish one about every two weeks until draft weekend.
So, here we go.
A couple of NFL.com writers have updated their mocks drafts, but not all of them. Some, in fact, have only done their Top 10. So we focus below on the writers who have updated their mocks since the last time we met.
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (selected by Gil Brandt): Brandt had Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher going to the Cowboys when we last checked in. Now it’s Cooper, probably the second guard off the board, who has Brandt’s eye. By the way, Brandt has the top guard, Alabama’s Chance Warmack, going No. 10 to Tennessee.
DT Star Lotulelei, Utah (selected by Bucky Brooks): This is Brooks’ third mock so far, and he had Lotulelei going to Dallas originally. Lotulelei has fallen back because of a heart condition that was discovered last week. It’s unclear how this will impact Lotulelei’s draft status, as he’s going through more tests. But teams will certainly vet him much harder now. If Lotulelei is given a clean bill of health and drops to this position, the Cowboys would have a great three technique defensive tackle.
CBSSports.com flooded the marketplace with a half-dozen mock drafts on Wednesday and, frankly, they were all over the place.
DT Kawaan Short, Purdue (selected by Rob Rang): Rang had the Cowboys taking Short in his last mock and he’s not changing his mind, citing the former Purdue All-American’s power and quickness. He projects as a three technique in the Cover 2, a position the Cowboys need help at in 2013 and beyond.
OG Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (selected by Dane Brugler): Rang’s NFLDraftScout.com cohort has the Cowboys going offensive and taking Cooper. Questions remain about whether the Cowboys will release tackle Doug Free or move him to guard, or whether guard Mackenzy Bernadeau will move to center. That could impact this pick.
OT D.J. Fluker, Alabama (selected by Clark Judge): CBSSports.com’s senior NFL columnist released his first mock and had the Cowboys taking Fluker, the massive right tackle from Alabama. I still have concerns related to his weight in the long-term. By the way, Judge has the Raiders pulling the trigger on Chance Warmack at No. 3. That’s a bit out there.
OG Chance Warmack, Alabama (selected by Pete Prisco and Pat Kirwan): CBSSports.com’s senior NFL columnist is up to Mock Draft No. 2 and had the Cowboys taking the No. 1 guard on the board. This is more like it for guards. Many believe Warmack will be a starter from Day 1. Kirwan wrote that Warmack “fits the mold of the great Cowboys linemen of the past.”
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (selected by Will Brinson): Richardson is a popular player in mock drafts, in terms of the No. 18 overall selection. What’s interesting is that most of the CBS mock drafters had Richardson being selected before No. 18. Richardson, like Short, projects as a three technique in Dallas’ new Cover 2.
Yahoo Sports’ Shutdown Corner
Yahoo’s Shutdown Corner is edited by a friend of mine, Doug Farrar, who is based in Seattle and covers the Seahawks and the NFL for a number of outlets. He posted his post-combine mock draft on Thursday.
TE Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (selected by Doug Farrar)
Wow. This is the first real “What the heck” pick I’ve seen. Farrar writes that “Well, we know that Jerry Jones won’t be “wasting” any high picks on Dallas’ offensive line. So, they might as well get Jason Witten’s eventual replacement now, and allow Tony Romo one more hot route per play while he’s getting his block knocked off.” There’s actually a certain logic to that. Eifert is far and away the top tight end in the draft. But here’s the thing – Witten is signed through 2017 and his contract and cap terms are reasonable. It doesn’t make any sense. But we’re talking about Jerry Jones. It’s exactly the kind of “out there” pick Jones is liable to make. Nothing against Eifert, but he address no clear need in Dallas.
In our last check Walter Football had the Cowboys taking LSU DE Sam Montgomery. In its new updated mock the selection is:
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
This is a bit interesting. I happen to believe the Cowboys are fairly set at the position with Gerald Sensabaugh and Barry Church, the latter of which will be coming off an Achilles’ tendon injury. Adding Vaccaro would certainly provide some great depth, but it would be at the expense of positions where there is more need.
Note: Walter Football is one of the few sites dipping its toes into the later rounds of the draft. Here are its current post-first round picks: Florida State DE Tank Carradine (second round, No. 47 overall), North Carolina OT Brennan Williams (third round, No. 80 overall), and Arkansas OG Alvin Bailey (fourth round, No. 111 overall).
This is an interesting site that uses computer modeling, team correspondents and other factors to put together a seven-round mock draft. Draftek spat out a new name right before the Combine:
DT Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State: The anchor of the Ohio State defensive line was pegged by the computer to be the run-stopping tackle in the Cowboys’ new Cover 2 alignment. The computer says the Cowboys would take Hankins over Florida’s Sharrif Floyd and Oklahoma OT Lane Johnson. Not likely.
Here’s how DraftTek sees the rest of the Cowboys’ draft: Wisconsin C Travis Frederick (second round, No. 47 overall), Texas A&M OLB Sean Porter (third round, No. 80 overall), and South Carolina DE Devin Taylor(fourth round, No. 111 overall), Oregon RB Kenjon Barner (fifth round, No. 144 overall), and Connecticut CB Dwayne Gratz (sixth round, No. 175 overall). I think someone needs to give the computer some new data.
DT Sheldon Richardson, Missouri: He remains a popular pick at No. 18.
Thoughts? I think it’s clear that mock drafters believe the Cowboys will address either the defensive line or the offensive line. But there is plenty of variation, so it’s clear that prognosticators are divided about how that will be addressed in the first round. The Cowboys clearly need upgrades on the offensive line, but the investment made in the new defensive staff almost demands that a first-round pick be taken on defense. Fortunately for Dallas the lines are two of the deepest positions in this draft, so there’s a good chance that whichever way they go in the first round they’ll be able to address the other need in the second round. The next step is pro days, which start this month around the country.