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With the 2013 NFL Draft a little over a week away, the number of mock drafts and possible iterations are mind numbing.  I’ve tried to avoid jumping in too because it is a little overwhelming to try and predict the selections of 32 different teams with any degree of confidence when there are countless possible trades and each selection has a domino effect on every subsequent pick.  And, there’s seven rounds of this stuff!  Don’t you people have real jobs?

Unlike last year where the first two picks were a sure thing, there is almost no team that is certain to pick a particular player.  Trying to figure it out can be entertaining, but it is really kind of pointless.  Besides, the only team we really care about having a good draft is the Dallas Cowboys, right?  We can possibly expand that to include the rest of the NFC East, but beyond that do we really care?  If the Cowboys are going to “build through the draft” as so many of you seem to endorse, that has to start by having better draft classes than the teams they must beat to win the division.

When you start looking at mock drafts, there are the experts like Mike Mayock, Todd McShay, and Mel Kiper, Jr. who literally live and breathe the draft.  Knowledgeable guys who can accurately list the strengths and weaknesses of the backup right tackle at Towson State without breaking a sweat.  But, at the end of the day not necessarily a whole lot more accurate when you compare their mock drafts to the actual draft.  Team needs versus player stats are one thing – predicting human nature, ego, smoke screens and misinformation, and the myriad of trades up or down that teams can make, is another completely different exercise.  Each team has a “big board” that ranks every single player in the draft from top to bottom.  As a player is selected in the draft, their name comes off the board.  When their turn comes up, most successful teams, select the highest player on their board regardless of need.  But, there is an art to laying out the ranking – should OT Eric Fisher be ranked above CB Dee Milliner to take just one example involving two probable top ten picks?  Two very good athletes, but two totally different positions and skill sets.  Multiply that equation by at least 12 unique positions on both sides of the ball and you start to understand how difficult of an exercise it can be.  And, how different each team’s board might look.

One of the better sites in my opinion that tries to boil it all down with cold, hard logic is the consensus mock draft done by Draftek (link to it here).  They use a computer to try and churn through all the statistics and possible scenarios and remove some of the personal biases that no doubt exist.  It too, is far from perfect, but I like the idea of trying to blend all the mock drafts into one overall average.  So, let’s look at their most recent mock released 4/16 as it pertains to the 4 teams in the NFC East.  First, the Cowboys. 

2013 DRAFTEK CONSENSUS MOCK DRAFT
COWBOYS
NEED S, OL, DL
RND
1 (18) Sheldon Richardson, DT
2 (47) Darius Slay, FS
3 (80) Travis Frederick, OC
4 (114) Le’Veon Bell, RB
5 (151) Devin Taylor, DE
6 (185) Etienne Sabino, OLB
7 (224) Traded to Miami

Right off, I hate this draft for the Cowboys and hope it doesn’t unfold this way.  What happens is that the offensive lineman most coveted by the Cowboys are all off the board when the 18th pick in the first round comes up.  That forces them to look at another position of need instead of reaching for the best offensive lineman still available.  In that sense, Richardson is not a bad pick and would add immediate help to the defensive line.  But, I’m a little surprised that they have the Cowboys passing on Safety Kenny Vacarro and letting him fall to the Giants with the very next pick.  The Cowboys need help on the defensive front – key to Monte Kiffin’s defense – but I would think the need is greater at safety.

The Cowboys get their safety in the 2nd round – Danny Slay – but it is not one of the names that has been thrown around as Vacarro, Elam, and Cyprien are all off the board when the 47th pick comes around.  (Imagine Slay and McCray playing safety…)  This is one situation where I could see the Cowboys trying to trade back up into the bottom of the first round to get one of those three players.

They get some interior offensive line help with their 3rd round pick, but the odds at this late stage that Frederick is a player that can come in and contribute this season start to get significantly longer.  The Cowboys history is littered with bad middle round offensive lineman draft picks that never panned out.  I’d feel better about a first or second round pick for the offensive line depending on who is left.

Their 4th round pick if he falls to them would be a good one.  Bell, from Michigan State, would be a bruiser and good change of pace back to Murray that the Cowboys need.

The 5th and 6th round picks are flyers on relatively unknown players but again a defensive emphasis throughout the draft with the selection of a defensive end and another linebacker.  The team would have to feel good about their chances of landing Eric Winston or another player or two in free agency if it actually plays out this way.  If this is roughly how it comes down, I would be very upset if I’m Tony Romo.

Now, let’s look at the rest of the NFC East.

2013 DRAFTEK CONSENSUS MOCK DRAFT
EAGLES GIANTS REDSKINS
NEED OL, DL, QB, S LB, OL, DL, CB S, CB, OL, DL
RND
1  (4) Geno Smith, QB (19) Kenny Vacarro, S (22) Traded to St. Louis
2 (35) Sylvester Williams, DE (49) Jordan Poyer, CB (51) David Amerson, CB
3 (67) Jamie Collins, OLB (81) Barrett Jones, OC (85) Bacarri Rambo, FS
4 (101) Kyle Long, OT (116) Dallas Thomas, OT (119) DJ Hayden, CB
5 (136) William Campbell, DE (152) Mike Gillislee, RB (154) Josh Boyce, WR
(162) Steve Beauharnais, ILB
6 (196)Traded to Denver (187) Marquis Goodwin, WR (191) Michael Mauti, ILB
7 (210) Khaled Holmes, OC (225) David Bass, DE (228) Braden Hansen, OC
(212) Zeke Motta, SS (253) Brandon Magee, OLB
(218) Ricky Wagner, OT
(239) Mike Edwards, CB

As for the Eagles, they get their QB of the future in Geno Smith with the 4th overall pick.  Most likely a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense, but not likely another player that has the immediate impact that RGIII delivered for the Redskins (but not many would).  They address their defensive line needs with their 2nd and 5th round picks, surprisingly pick a linebacker with their 2nd round pick, and get a solid tackle in Kyle Long (another talented son of Howie Long and brother to Chris Long) in the 4th round.  They finish with 4 picks in the 7th round where they take a long shot on some offensive line and secondary help.

The Giants would be absolutely thrilled with their draft if it actually unfolds this way.  Not only do they get the most coveted safety in the draft in Vacarro, but they would also potentially land a solid cornerback in the second round providing immediate improvement to their secondary.  The third and fourth round get them offensive line help with Jones and Thomas and then they get quality players at both RB and WR in Gillislee and Goodwin.

Finally, the Redskins make a much smaller splash this year with no first round pick but their focus is clearly going to be on shoring up their secondary.  They accomplish that with this draft but I don’t see any names that make me think there will be any immediate help in that group.

So, there you have it: one possible scenario among millions for the draft in the NFC East.  Will this be another year like 2011 where the Cowboys do exactly what was expected (drafting Tyron Smith in the first round with the 9th overall pick) or more like last year where the Cowboys pulled the surprise trade up to get Morris Claiborne at #6?  Only time will tell.  Let’s just hope our “GM” doesn’t get in the way.  We need a solid draft!  Go Cowboys!

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