With the NFL draft quickly approaching, and the NFL combine kicking off this weekend, the draftniks are out in full force detailing who should take who, and where.
Over the years, there hasn't been a more scrutinized franchise in the league when it comes to draft strategy than the Dallas Cowboys. Even though it's gotten better in the last couple of years, Jerry Jones and the other folks running the war room have left a lot to be desired.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock detailed a draft plan for the Cowboys, who enter a draft rich with depth and seen as one of the best draft classes, top to bottom, in years.
“I had one GM tell me the other day that having a top 20 pick this year is very similar to having a top 10 pick last year,” Mayock told reporters on Tuesday, via The Dallas Morning News. “So I think there’s more depth. I think there are certain positions that are stacked this year and you can get a quality player through three or four rounds.”
It's been widely suggested the Cowboys' two biggest draft needs are at safety and on the defensive line, particularly a pass-rusher. Mayock said there are two elite safeties, Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, in this class, and either could be available when the Cowboys pick at No. 16 in the draft.
“They are different players,” Mayock said. “For me, Calvin Pryor is like a bigger, stronger Bob Sanders. He flies around, he hits people, he explodes everywhere. I think he is a little better in the box than he is on the back end. … Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, from the other hand, has got better range, and I think he’s more of a deep-third, deep-half guy. He tackles well and he can invert up into the box. I think he’s a complete player, so both of those guys, I wouldn’t even blink if they went at No. 10. But it depends what flavor you’re looking for because they are a little bit different type players.”
At defensive line, Mayock rated Jadeveon Clowney as his No. 1 prospect and Missouri defensive end Kony Early as his No. 2, but both of those guys will most likely be gone when Dallas gets on the clock. Several mock drafts have the Cowboys taking Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“He’s a guy I loved at the Senior Bowl and love him on tape and he’s explosive and he’s quick,” Mayock said. “Now, the problem with the shorter defensive tackles is that when they don’t win with their first move, they don’t win with their quickness, they can get stuck on blocks because they don’t have the length to get off the block. And that’s the concern with Donald."