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Many people I know thought highly of the trade to get Morris Claiborne, and I like the change in strategy. I really thought that Dallas would get the second-round pick back by dealing Mike Jenkins, but that did not happen.
The third-round pick of Tyrone Crawford has merit, though not everyone is sold. At the least, he should provide more depth on the defensive line, even if he looks a little bit more like an outside linebacker than a defensive end for a 3-4 defense.
With the first of two fourth-round picks, Dallas took OLB Kyle Wilber of Wake Forest. ESPN thought he had “exceptional” intangibles, noting: “A well rounded individual. Hard worker and takes coaching well. Respected by coaches and teammates. Named a team captain as a senior.” NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks said that Wilber “is a raw edge rusher with good first-step quickness and length.” Not bad.
But then Dallas took Eastern Washington safety Matt Johnson. Brooks said Johnson will be a special teams player. ESPN didn’t even evaluate Johnson. Sound like a decent seventh round pick? Perhaps a sixth rounder? Well, the Cowboys got him in the fourth.
The Cowboys finally got a receiver by taking Danny Coale of Virginia Tech. Someone immediately said that he fit the mold of a “Wes Welker type,” though at 6’0, 201 pounds, he is bigger than Welker. ESPN had Coale rated very high in terms of ball skills and competitiveness, but he is likely going to be a special teams player. The big problem for next year is that Dallas still doesn’t have a third WR, and it would be a surprise if Coale was the guy.
Dallas grabbed Oklahoma tight end James Hanna in the sixth round. ESPN said he is durable, while NFL.com said he is a “sneaky fast pass catcher.” It isn’t often you hear “sneaky fast” used to describe a tight end.
The final pick was a linebacker named Caleb McSurdy of Montana. He will compete for a roster spot by standing out on special teams. NFL.com said he “was a force in the Big Sky Conference in his senior year,” which is hopefully a good indication that can tackle while on the kickoff unit.
- Cowboys stay defensive until taking West Virginia receiver in fifth round (star-telegram.com)
- Cowboys Grab Boise State DE Tyrone Crawford in the 3rd (knowyourdallascowboys.com)
- Cowboys take another project defender (espn.go.com)
- Trendy Dallas Cowboys gain edge on defense in draft (star-telegram.com)
- Cowboys stay local with TE pick Hanna (espn.go.com)
- Dallas Cowboys draft LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in the first round (examiner.com)
A few have suggested that the Dallas Cowboys might move up in the 2012 Draft, but almost nobody counted on what happened.
Several thought that Alabama safety Mark Barron would be gone by the #14 pick, so the draft gurus started saying that Dallas would take a defensive tackle. One name thrown out there was LSU DT Michael Brockers.
Right team, wrong player.
Jerry Jones and team sent their #14 pick and their #45 pick in the second round to St. Louis to acquire LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. He was the highest-rated corner in the draft and joins a secondary that features another former first-round pick in Mike Jenkins.
Claiborne is a former receiver, and his ball and cover skills have been rated as “exceptional.” He missed only one game in the past two years. He won the Thorpe Award as the nation’s best defensive back and helped to lead LSU to an SEC title. Some had Claiborne going as high as #3 to the Minnesota Vikings.
He joins Jenkins, Brandon Carr, and Orlando Scandrick. Given that Dallas gave Carr more than $50 million and given that the team signed Scandrick a long-term deal last year, they are not going anywhere. However, Jenkins has not evolved as hoped since his solid 2009 season, and he has battled injuries. The Cowboys might try to add more picks by trading Jenkins.
- Dallas Cowboys owner coy on draft, but four players circled in first round (star-telegram.com)
- NFL Draft Rumors: Latest Draft-Day Buzz from Around the League (bleacherreport.com)
- Averaging The Mocks 5.0: Mark Barron The Favorite For Dallas Cowboys (bloggingtheboys.com)
- Morris Claiborne and the Tampa-2 scheme (espn.go.com)
- 2012 NFL Draft Rumors: Vikings Eyeing Morris Claiborne (minnesota.sbnation.com)
Dallas was aggressive in getting a solid corner in free agency with the addition of Brandon Carr, but the Cowboys still need help at safety to shore up the pass defense. I don’t think another corner is out of the question at this spot, but Barron is the best safety in the draft, and the Cowboys can’t go wrong if he’s available. I can also see Dallas going offensive line here, as that unit could use some help, but Barron makes sense.
In the second round, Kiper sees the Cowboys taking Wisconsin guard Kevin Zeitler. ESPN also reported that the Cowboys attended Wisconsin’s pro day.
Kiper’s comment about Zeitler:
Would be the top guard in the draft class in some years. If Dallas doesn’t go DeCastro early, Zeitler fits here.
- Should the Cowboys Go After a Safety or a Corner? (knowyourdallascowboys.com)
- Dallas Cowboys Draft: Most Still Looking at Kirkpatrick or Barron (knowyourdallascowboys.com)
- 2012 NFL Draft: Why Mark Barron Still Isn’t a 1st Round Pick for Mel Kiper Jr (bleacherreport.com)
- 2012 NFL Mock Draft: Prospects Mel Kiper Jr Is Overrating (bleacherreport.com)
- Mel Kiper Jr 2012 NFL Mock Draft: Breaking Down the Worst of Mel’s Mock (bleacherreport.com)
Now that the Cowboys have signed several free agents, picking a corner or a safety is no longer imperative. Several sites have listed a bunch of new names.
G David DeCastro, Stanford
LB Courtney Upshaw, Alabama
CB Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
LB Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
S Mark Barron, Alabama
DE Quinton Coples, North Carolina
LB Melvin Ingram, South Carolina
DT Michael Brockers, LSU
OL Cordy Glenn, Georgia
DT/DE Fletcher Cox, Mississippi State
One name that did not show up on either list was Memphis DT Dontari Poe, who does show up Football Future’s mock draft.
14. Dallas – Dontari Poe, NT, Memphis
Poe is the type of nose tackle teams can build an entire defense around. He has a truly rare athleticism and size combination, and brings the versatility to play on the nose but also on the edge as a 5 tech.
Here is a video of Poe at the 2012 NFL Combine.
Mock drafts are sometimes entertaining to review, though some get carried away trying to pick like nobody else.
That hasn’t been much of a problem for those guessing who Dallas will take with the #14 pick. It is still coming down to Alabama CB Dre Kirkpatrick and Alabama S Mark Barron.
Here is a sampling of some sites:
Mel Kiper: Barron (subscription required)
It was another disappointing season for the Cowboys and the organization will have to go back to the drawing board to try and figure out why the team continues to underachieve. One area where an upgrade is called for is cornerback since Terence Newman is overpaid and past his prime. Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick is a tall, rangy cover guy who isn’t afraid to hit and also played in what is essentially a pro style system under Nick Saban in college. With that said, Kirkpatrick isn’t the elite, shutdown corner that some have made him out to be and is probably more of a mid first round value than a top ten pick. Kirkpatrick also has some off-the-field concernsfollowing an arrest in mid-January, but that isn’t the type of thing that will scare off Jerry Jones. Dallas could also use a safety like Mark Barron of Alabama or perhaps even an outside linebacker such as Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw or South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram since Anthony Spencer is going to be a free agent. After using a first round pick on an offensive lineman for the first time in two decades last year, don’t be shocked if Jones tries it once again with Stanford OG David DeCastro.
* * *
Okay, so there are a few more names floating around out there. Consider these points:
Jerry Jones has made public statements that the secondary is the biggest area of need on this team and if they have a shot at the 2nd best CB in this draft at the 14th pick, it may be too tempting to pass up. Dallas has also shown that they are not afraid to take guys with question marks. He will be able to come in and start immediately and add the playmaker they don’t currently have in this secondary.
With all the Alabama players floating around, I thought perhaps DeCastro might have played for Samford, which is located in Birmingham. Alabama. Get it? Oh, never mind.
The Cowboys have neglected their offensive line for years and they have zero depth. At 6′ 5″ 312 pounds DeCastro is a monster with quick feet. S Mark Barron is also an option here, but DeCastro is better value.
ESPN’s Calvin Watkins ran a post about the Cowboys’ needs at safeties. According to his piece, the Cowboys’ need at the position is 3 out of 5, given that Dallas signed Gerald Sensabaugh through 2016.
Several wonder whether the team should resign Abram Elam, who had 68 tackles and one forced fumble but no interceptions in his return to Dallas. The comment about Elam:
Signing Elam might be a good thing for the Cowboys since he knows Ryan’s defensive scheme, but he might want a long-term deal and that’s something the franchise might be unwilling to offer.
Mel Kiper released his most recent mock draft and had Dallas taking Alabama safety Mark Barron. Here are Kiper’s comments:
Dallas got shredded far too often with the passing game in 2011, and while Barron might be a very slight reach here in terms of his current grade, he’s a perfect fit for the Cowboys. I have “defensive back” on my sheet as a big need in Big D, meaning they can’t go wrong with either the top safety or the top cornerback here, and Barron offers the most value. Better in run support right now than he is in coverage, Barron could get better against the pass, but he’s an upgrade for the Cowboys.
(Incidentally, the last time Dallas drafted an Alabama defensive back was in 2001 when the Cowboys took safety Tony Dixon. That’s not a fair comparison under any circumstance, though.)
Personally, I think the team has greater needs at corner. Several have mentioned another Alabama DB, Dre Kirkpatrick, as the team’s pick at #14.
What do you think?