Matthew Postins sets out to begin his 2014 NFL Mock Draft
By Matthew Postins
We’re still more than three months away from the 2014 NFL Draft, but the first major benchmark of the pre-draft season came in Mobile, Ala., last weekend as the Senior Bowl concluded the all-star game season. These all-star games give scouts an opportunity to interact with players for several days, watch them work out under NFL coaching staffs and have one-on-one talks, all important tools for teams to tweak their big boards for the draft.
It also means that everyone is publishing mock drafts. Mine is in the works and should be available next week.
With the Senior Bowl concluded, RattleandHumSports.com’s Mock Draft Tracker returns, as we research what top experts see as the Cowboys’ first-round pick. Note that the Cowboys could end up with the No. 16 or No. 17 selection, depending on their coin flip with the Baltimore Ravens at the NFL Scouting Combine next month.
Rob Rang: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dane Brugler: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
There is agreement by both CBSSports.com draft experts that have mock drafts up on the site. There is no question the Cowboys need help at defensive end. In fact, they need help across the entire defensive line. Ealy had 14 career sacks at Missouri, including nine his junior year in 2013. Scouts love his speed, his ability to rush the passer and stop the run, and his height. Scouts want to see him improve his play with his hands and ball awareness. He projects as a left defensive end in the NFL.
CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco and Clark Judge have not published their first mock drafts.
Something to consider: Rang believes Minnesota DT RaShede Hageman could be there for the Cowboys, as he has Hageman going at No. 21 to Green Bay. Brugler also believes a top DT will drop to the Packers, but he thinks it will be Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III.
Daniel Jeremiah: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
Bucky Brooks: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Charles Davis: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Matt Smith: Calvin Pryor, FS, Louisville
Upgrading the safety position is proving to be popular in mock drafts. The Cowboys need help at strong safety, so by drafting Pryor or Clinton-Dix they’re acknowledging that last year’s third-round pick, J.J. Wilcox, may never project to being what they hoped he would become. NFL.com calls Pryor a “complete safety” and says he may be the hardest hitter in the draft. Clinton-Dix had seven interceptions at Alabama, can be physical with tight ends and can play high or low safety, according to NFL.com.
Something to consider: All four experts believe some solid offensive line help could be available around the Cowboys’ selection, including Notre Dame’s Zack Martin and Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio.
Mel Kiper Jr.: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
Kiper says that he doesn’t see a decent free safety on the Cowboys’ roster. Barry Church might disagree. Clinton-Dix could certainly come in and play either safety position.
Something to consider: Notre Dame DT/DE Stephon Tuitt has been available in the early 20’s of most mock drafts. He could be a solid interior option for the Cowboys.
Dan Hope: RaShede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Hageman is an absolute beast. He’s 6-foot-6, 311 pounds and could play at either tackle position in the Cover 2. He might be perfect for the under tackle position that Jason Hatcher played a year ago. Hatcher, at 31, had 11 sacks. Imagine what a young, talented player with a huge motor could accomplish. Hageman was one of the stars at the Senior Bowl and few offensive linemen could handle him.
Something to consider: Hope has Michigan State CB Darqueze Dennard going at No. 23 to San Francisco. If you’re worried about Morris Claiborne’s long-term ability, that’s something to keep in mind.
Eric Edholm: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Clinton-Dix is a popular selection, as noted above.
Something to consider: Edholm has Alabama LB C.J. Mosley dropping to No. 21 and Green Bay. Linebacker is a secondary need for the Cowboys, but Edholm calls him one of the “Ten best pure players in this draft.”
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Nix is a tackle that has played at a high level for some time in the college game and has the maturity and strength to play at the one technique, which is more of a run-stopping position in the Cover 2. Some are going to say that Nix, at 340 pounds, is a better fit for the 3-4. But something tells me that Monte Kiffin could find a way to effectively use the space-eating tackle.
Something to consider: Walter Football sees Stanford guard/tackle David Yankey sliding to Cleveland at No. 26. If the Cowboys want to upgrade at right guard, he’s a good option.
Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo
Now this is an intriguing pick. I wrote earlier that linebacker is a secondary need. Well many consider Mack to be a Top 10 talent, and if he drops to the Cowboys he must be a consideration. The question is where does he fit? He’s 248 pounds and his skills better fit rushing the passer. One thing he does is create turnovers, as he holds the NCAA record for forced fumbles with 20.
Something to consider: Michigan OT Taylor Lewan and Notre Dame OT Zach Martin are both selected immediately after Mack in this mock draft.
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Ealy seems to be the early consensus pick here. Note that the majority of the mock drafters assume the Cowboys are going to get the No. 17 selection.
Something to consider: Two names Texas football fans are familiar with – Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans and TCU cornerback Jason Verrett – are both available in this mock draft when the Cowboys pick at No. 17.
Chris Burke: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Burke values Nix’s run-plugging ability, whether the Cowboys are playing a 4-3 or a 3-4.
Something to consider: Baylor G Cyril Richardson goes at No. 25 in this mock draft. He could solidify the Cowboys’ right side of the offensive line for years to come.
Eric Galko: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
If the Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski, Bednarik and ACC Defensive Player of the Year somehow, someway drops to the Cowboys the entire Cowboys brain trust should do a happy dance for their War Room camera and take him without hesitation. He’s the perfect five for the three technique in the Cover 2.
Something to consider: LB Kyle Van Noy is a versatile defender that some scouts are saying is undervalued right now. He’s be a great fit at outside linebacker, even though he’s a shade bit for the scheme. But he makes plays.