We are now less than twenty days away from the 2013 NFL Draft. The next stop on the road to the new season looms large, especially for a team like the Cowboys who did not have a breakout free agency period. In last week’s column, I reviewed the last five years of drafts in Big D. While there have been some questionable war room decisions in the past, the last three drafts have added six players to the core of the team. This week, we will focus on a few options that the Cowboys have in this draft.
As the days, hours and minutes count down, the speculation of who will be picked by what team in what position continues to mount. Regardless of what website you visit or what “expert” analysis you choose to read, you are almost guaranteed to get a different opinion from each person. This is especially true the further down the draft board you go. Almost every one has the same six guys in some particular order, but after that, the variance becomes greater. After doing some research, I found that five different analysts have five different players being chosen by Dallas.
Todd McShay of Scout’s, Inc. has Dallas choosing safety Kenny Vaccaro. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper has North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. Former Cowboys VP of player personnel Gil Brandt sees defensive end phenom Barkevious Mingo falling to the Cowboys. Another former NFL executive and NFL.com contributor Charley Casserly thinks Dallas will choose Alabama guard Chance Warmack. Lastly, FoxSports.com’s latest mock has another offensive lineman, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper, coming to Dallas.
Each one of those selections would be huge helps in continuing the process of adding premium young talent in positions of need for this team. Based off of this information along with other research and my own thoughts and feel for what Dallas will do, here are the five most likely options in descending order that I see coming into fruition for the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, April 25th.
5. Dallas selects D.J. Fluker, Tackle, University of Alabama
Almost every Dallas Cowboys fan hopes that come June 1st, Doug Free is no longer on the roster. While Jeremy Parnell has shown improvements, I can’t imagine him being the starter come week one. Fluker, however, would definitely be the day one starter on the right side of the line. At 6’5″ and 340 lbs, he is a prototypical right tackle with extremely long arms. Putting Fluker on the right side of the line with Tyron Smith would give Tony Romo the type of protection he needs on the perimeter of the line. The only reason this option is not a more likely one in my opinion is that the Cowboys need more help on the interior of their line.
4. Dallas trades the 18th pick to acquire more picks and/or move down in round one
I almost had this as the third most likely option but decided that the four spot would be most accurate given that it relies on another team. Two teams (St. Louis and Minnesota) have multiple first round picks, each with one lower than Dallas. Two other teams (San Francisco and Miami) have three picks in the first two rounds. In reference to the mathematics of the draft, the Cowboys 18th pick is worth 900 points. A trade of Dallas’ first and fifth round picks could net the Cowboys the Vikings first rounder (#23) and their third rounder (#83). Another possible option could be Dallas trading out of the first round completely to acquire both of Miami’s second round picks (#42 and #54) which would give Dallas three 2nd round picks.
3. Dallas selects Chance Warmack, Guard, University of Alabama
Warmack represents one of the safest picks in the entire draft for anyone who will be available outside the top six. He will step in for whoever chooses him, instantly start and be a ten-year pro who sees the occasional Pro-Bowl. Warmack definitely meets a major need of the Cowboys given that the offensive line is the worst unit on the team. Unfortunately, with other teams such as Tennessee and San Diego picking before the Cowboys and also needing offensive line help, it’s not exactly likely that he will be available when Dallas drafts at the 18th spot.
2. Dallas selects Kenny Vaccaro, Safety, University of Texas
I have this option as the second most likely for a number of reasons. When researching multiple mock drafts, he was available for the Cowboys to pick in 4 of the 5 drafts. He is the number one ranked player at his position. The safety position is a huge need for the Cowboys and lastly, he is a hometown option being born in Texas as well as playing his high school and college ball in the state.
Vaccaro has exceptional coverage skills, not to mention elite instincts and recognition skills. At 6’0″ and 215 lbs. he also can provide run support down in the box and deliver big hits to dislodge the ball from wide receivers who may get open in the secondary.
1. Dallas selects Sylvester Williams, Defensive Tackle, University of North Carolina
Here we have the most likely option for the Cowboys. Williams fills a major need for Dallas. With the switch to a 4-3 defense and the Cowboys lacking a true long term option in the middle of their defensive line, enter Sylvester. Williams is a beast inside, dominating opposing lineman and shutting down the run. He is also very effective using his superior strength and quick hands to knock blockers off guard and get to the quarterback in pass rush situations.
Another sensible reason to improve the defensive line is based on the fact that there are plenty of offensive line options that would provide value in round two. Meanwhile the top of the crop on the defensive line will not be available in the later rounds.
Feel free to leave your feedback on who you might like to see or what you would like to see happen with that first round pick.