“And with the 18th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys trade their pick to…” It’s likely merely imagining Commissioner Roger Goodell utter those words invokes a compulsive gag reflex to which all Cowboy fans are far too accustomed. “What is Jerry Jones doing?” we ask. “He pulls this every year!” we proclaim. Well, I’m here to tell you – Get ready for it.
The top needs on the Dallas Cowboys are Offensive Line, Safety, and Defensive Line (in that order). All three of those groups are fairly deep in the top 100 players of this year’s draft. If the Cowboys play their cards right they could get 3 starters out of this year’s crop. So if the draft is so deep, why would they trade back?
Because it’s possible the players worthy of a mid-first round pick will be gone by pick #18. And of course it’s Jerry Jones and he loves doing stuff like this.
Top offensive linemen like OT’s Joekel, Fisher, and Johnson will be long gone. DT’s Floyd, Lotulelei and Richardson will probably be gone too. Some are projecting top pass rushers like Werner or Mingo may drop, but pass-rushers always go early so what really are the chances of that happening? Despite the local love, Vaccaro has mixed reviews and may not be the best match at safety for Monte Kiffin’s defense (especially since Kiffin said here , he’s playing a ton of Single High Safety instead of just Cover 2). It’s perfectly reasonable to assume all of these players will be gone by the time #18 gets a turn.
In the middle of the first round the Cowboys will probably be looking at a combination of OT DJ Fluker, OG Chance Warmack and/or OG Jonathan Cooper.
Watch the film and you will see Fluker struggled enough against speed rushers that he may be too slow for even RT in the NFL. Yes, he’s a big strong road grader, but if he’s not athletic enough, then what good is all of that strength? Warmack is similarly strong and rated by most as the best OG in the draft. But he also has drawbacks. First, Warmack could be picked earlier than #18 (as you see below, I project him to go to by #11). Second, he may not be the best fit for Bill Callahan’s blocking scheme. This leaves Jonathan Copper, the athletic guard from North Carolina. He’s a great fit but even he may be gone. Then what?
The Cowboys devoted a suspicious amount of scouting efforts on players projecting in the 20-40 range. This is an area mostly between the Cowboy’s first and second round picks. Dynamic DT’s Sylvester Williams and Kawann Short are expected to fall in this range. Wisconsin center Fredrick, Kentucky guard Warford will be there too. Ball-hawking safety Eric Reid is even in this gap. Trading back from #18, the Cowboys could theoretically acquire 1 or 2 extra picks in the top 100. If used correctly they could net 4 to 5 starters from the top of this draft. It may not be the smart move, but you can bet Jerry Jones is at Valley Ranch scheming a way for extra picks. If Cooper is gone at #18 too– He may just have to.
NOTE: Like most Mock Drafts this does not project actual trades. While I only have one QB going in the first round here, I fully expect 2 teams to trade into the back half of the round looking for signal callers.
1. Kansas City Chiefs – Luke Joeckel, Offensive Tackle, Texas A&M: With Alex Smith signed KC is no longer tempted to reach for Geno Smith. Alex Smith is one of the worst rated QB’s in the league when under pressure. Luke will provide an upgrade over Branden Albert on the left side.
Other Possibilities: OT Fisher, DT Floyd
2. Jacksonville Jaguars – Dion Jordan, Outside Linebacker, Oregon: Star Lotulelei’s unknown heart condition really impacts Gus Bradley’s first draft with the Jags. Luckily workout warrior, Dion Jordon, fits the all-important LEO position wonderfully and will be an excellent second choice.
Other Possibilities: DT Floyd, DT Lotulelei
3. Oakland Raiders – Sharif Floyd, Defensive Tackle, Florida: Perhaps no one has benefited more in the offseason than Sharif. He is a big-time talent who will provide youth and skill to the recently depleted Raiders defense.
Other Possibilities: DE Jordan, DT Lotulelei
4. Philadelphia Eagles – Geno Smith, Quarterback, West Virginia: Possibly the most difficult team to mock, Philadelphia has many needs but none of them are glaring enough to make the selection obvious. The safe pick for Philly is to go with OT Fisher but I believe Philly really does like Geno and is trying to keep their interest on the down-low so they can trade back to a team like Detroit, San Deigo, Arizona, or Miami who are all looking for a LT. Philly could trade down with anyone of them, acquire extra pick(s), and still get Geno.
Other Possibilities: OT Fisher, CB Milliner
5. Detroit Lions – Eric Fisher, Offensive Tackle, Central Michigan: With the signing of Chris Houston the need for a CB like Dee Milliner has diminished. The Lions have needs at OT more than anything and if Philly passes on Fisher Detroit will not think twice to draft him.
Other Possibilities: DE Ansah, CB Milliner
6. Cleveland Browns – Dee Milliner, Cornerback, Alabama: Cleveland has two major needs: an outside pass-rusher to pair with Paul Kruger and CB to anchor the secondary. Pass rushers like Mingo and Werner will be tempting but with Milliner still on the board Cleveland will have no choice.
Other Possibilities: DE Werner, DE Mingo
7. Arizona Cardinals – Lane Johnson, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma: Carson Palmer kept Arizona from doing something stupid like draft a QB waaaay too early. Instead the Cards can address a real need at OT. Much to the dismay of San Diego (which in German means “a whale’s ….”err…nevermind).
Other Possibilities: OG Chance Warmack, DE Ansah
8. Buffalo Bills – Ezekiel Ansah, DE/OLB, BYU: If Philly takes QB Geno Smith the Bills will look to the pass-rush. Many pass rushers are available so look for many possible trades between picks 5-10. QB and O-line also need to be addressed so it’s possible Buffalo may trade back and then back up to maximize picks in the top rounds.
Other Possibilities: QB Smith, DE Mingo
9. New York Jets – Jarvis Jones, Outside Linebacker, Georgia: Physical and character issues can only allow a pass rusher to drop so far. The Jets will begin the rebuild with high risk/high reward player like Jones.
Other Possibilities: DT Lotulelei, DE Ansah, S Vaccaro
10. Tennessee Titans –Star Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah: Chance Warmack will be tempting but Star Lotulelei will be too good to pass up. It has been reported that Star has been cleared of previous health concerns regarding the combine-reported heart condition. Only the individual teams know the specifics so Star could really fall farther depending on what specific team doctors feel. It’s worth noting, talent alone places Star in the top 3 of this draft.
Other Possibilities: OG Warmack, OG Cooper