Picking mid-1st round usually means a crack at starting-talent. As we saw last year, however, a detailed draft board and knowledge of other teams’ needs can lead to more than one starter – if you’re willing to trade.
There’s no doubt that the Cowboys most pressing needs this year are one the defensive side of the ball. The biggest holes are on the line (the middle or the ends depending who you ask) and in the secondary. This is why most mock-drafts have the ‘Boys selecting either DE Kony Ealy out of Mizzou, or Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, Safety from Alabama.
While both players could provide great help to this unit, neither is a sure-thing. Although Clinton-Dix is widely considered the best safety of the class, his ranking is largely owed to the scarcity of his position. It’s not to say he isn’t a supreme talent, but he doesn’t compare to the Eric Berry-s or Earl Thomas-es of years’ past.
With that in mind, perhaps the Cowboys should move down a few slots in favor of an extra pick, as depth is a concern for the oft-injured team. As of right now, talents such as Ra’Shede Hageman (DT-Minnesota) and Timmy Jernigan (DT-Florida) are both expected to be chosen well after the Boys’ pick at 16/17. Their appeal doubles when you consider the injury history of the two Defensive Tackles ranked ahead of them – Louis Nix III and Stephen Tuitt – both out of Notre Dame.
Now, many of the players the Cowboys eye will not be available long after 16/17, so don’t expect a jump 12 spots back as was the case last year.
Instead, a team like the Kansas City Chiefs could be interested in moving up from 23 to snatch TE Eric Ebron (UNC) if he’s still on the board (as the Jets would almost certainly grab him at 18 if they could). Consider even Cincinnati – at 24 – looking for the perfect compliment to A.J. Green (Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin, anyone?).
It’s hard to forego an early pick, but last year showed the benefits of responsible drafting. While many fans still wonder if we could’ve waited on taking Travis Frederick (you could feed that wonder by reading my other article, here), just about everyone is happy with his selection and the resulting bonus of the trade: Terrance Williams. Moving down 7 or 8 spots probably won’t net us a 1st and a 3rd, but even an additional 4th or 5th round pick would be helpful. Who knows; maybe the Cowboys will find this year’s Richard Sherman.