With the 18th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Jerry and co. are going to have a difficult decision to make. The Cowboys have an array of talented skill players, but have neglected the essential core of the trenches for too long. In my opinion, they must use their first two picks on a defensive and offensive lineman. With interior lineman being an enormous weakness in the 2012 season, let’s take a look at the two guards that are projected to be drafted in the first round.
Chances are if you’re talking guards in the 2013 draft, the first name that is going to come up is Alabama’s Chance Warmack. He has elite strength and has the ability to overwhelm and dominate opposing defensive players. Scouting reports show that while he has impressive strength and nastiness, he has sloppy technique at times and has been described as plodding and lacking quickness.
Against Tennessee and LSU you see him moving guys off the line and even some pulling and getting to the second level, but there really is no comparison to the quickness of Jonathan Cooper (as shown below). Warmack clearly has the strength and pedigree advantage over Cooper, blocking for Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Eddie Lacy – helping two of those backs become 1st round picks, with the 3rd (Lacy) being projected in the 1st round currently.
Warmack would be a clear upgrade for the Cowboys, but is not likely to be available to them at 18, despite the fact that guards are not routinely taken in the first round of the draft.
Jonathan Cooper|Guard|North Carolina
While Cooper isn’t as well known as Warmack, his stock has been steadily climbing since the Senior Bowl. His scouting profile is sort of the inverse of Warmack’s – mauler vs. technique.
Some scouting reports note that he doesn’t have elite strength and, that at times he has trouble with bull rushers. His excellent technique and athleticism have proven to be adequate compensation thus far in his career, and his talent projects well as a pro. He also provides flexibility with his athleticism for his potential to play both the guard and center positions.
To me, everything I need to know is shown on the screen pass at the 1:40 mark of this video. The kid has wheels, and could be a huge asset in helping the Cowboys’ offense develop a potent screen game. They have a dangerous pass-catching threat in DeMarco Murray coming out of the backfield, and two big physical wide receivers in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin who can make plays in the open field.
Both of these guys played on the left side in college, so they could easily be a plug-and-play option for the needed replacement of Nate Livings. Former scout and current dallascowboys.com analyst, Bryan Broaddus, lays out the difference between Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper nicely.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Cooper going to San Diego with the 11th pick and Warmack going to Dallas at 18.
The Bleacher report’s Wes Stueve has Warmack going 16th to St. Louis and Cooper 20th to the Bears.
SI.com’s Don Banks has Warmack going 10th to the Titans and Cooper going… what? He didn’t even rank Jonathan Cooper in the first round at all. Shennagins, I say.
The Landry Hat’s own Reid Hanson has Warmack going 10th to Tennessee and Cooper going 22nd to St. Louis.
While not a Mock Draft, SI.com has Warmack as the 2nd best prospect in the draft and Cooper at 12th on their Big Board.
Ultimately, I think if one of these two guys falls to the Cowboys at 18, they have to take them, even if it’s not a sexy pick. There is a lot of depth at OL and DL in this draft, and if the Cowboys are going to get over the hump of 8-8 mediocrity, they simply must upgrade in the trenches.