With the seventeenth pick of the first round, the Dallas Cowboys select…
No one really knows, but everybody has an opinion. Unless you’re a fan of the 49ers, Broncos, Patriots or Seahawks, the next event you have to look forward to is the NFL Draft in early May. When Commissioner Goodell walks up to that podium and delivers the Cowboys pick to the millions of football fans all over the globe, it’s anyone’s guess as to whose name will be on that index card.
One thing is for sure… it better be a defensive player. We all know Jerry Jones is crazy but he can’t be blind. There is no question this draft must be predominately defensive minded. All of the mock draft “experts” seemingly agree. The area of need on the defense however seems to be a sticking point. It’s the classic chicken versus the egg argument. Which is the greater need? A pass rush or someone to cover out in space? For me, you can have an average secondary and be ultra successful IF you can get to the quarterback early and often. I do not see it the other way. Eventually, if the quarterback has enough time, he’ll find someone open because you can’t cover someone forever. The “coverage sack” is a few and far between situation.
Let’s now take a look at some of the options Dallas will have at pick number 17 according to some major sports websites and see who they have Dallas passing on as well.
COWBOYS PICK – Kony Ealy, DE – Missouri
PASSING UP – Timmy Jernigan, DT – Florida State, Calvin Pryor, S – Louisville, Stephon Tuitt, DE – Notre Dame, Louis Nix, III, DT – Notre Dame
At 6’5″ and 275 lbs., Ealy has enough size to play at the NFL as a pass rusher, relying mainly on his best attribute which is his speed. He is decent against the run but certainly is best suited as a rush man much like DeMarcus Ware. Ironically, if the Cowboys do go in this direction, he may be replacing Ware instead of playing along side of him.
THREE STRENGTHS – 1. Speed. 2.Size. 3. Level of competition he played against.
THREE WEAKNESSES – 1. Does not get off blocks quickly. 2. Undisciplined versus the run. 3. Relies too much on speed.
OVERALL – Ealy would be a pick in the mold of a Jason Pierre-Paul type and certainly would help improve a poor defensive line. He may have more of a boom/bust outlook than a more solid option such as Jernigan or Tuitt. Cowboys fans should be happy if this pick comes into fruition.
(CBS has two draft analysts: Charles Davis and Daniel Jeremiah)
COWBOYS PICK – Hasean Clinton-Dix, S – Alabama (Davis) / Calvin Pryor, S – Louisville (Jeremiah)
PASSING UP – Tuitt, Pryor & Jernigan (Davis), Clinton-Dix, Darqueze Dennard, CB – Michigan State, Ealy, Nix, III (Jeremiah)
Dix has decent size at 6’1” and 210 lbs. but is primarily adept at making plays in the passing game. He certainly had many high-profile games as one of the leaders for an Alabama team that won two national titles while he was in school. His athleticism and instinct to play the position are top-notch. Pryor is a big hitter who excels against the run and puts fear into receivers who come into his zone. He also was statistically superior to Clinton-Dix getting five more interceptions over his career.
THREE STRENGTHS (Clinton-Dix) – 1. Athleticism. 2. Speed. 3. Instincts
(Pryor) – 1. Desire to tackle. 2. Ability to stop the run 3. Size/Strength combo
THREE WEAKNESSES – (Clinton-Dix) – 1. Low interception rate. 2. Not a physical tackler. 3. Does not have great leaping ability.
(Pryor) – 1. Too similar to Barry Church 2. Big hits could draw many flags. 3. Level of competition he played against.
OVERALL – Clinton-Dix would be the better option if the Cowboys went with a safety, however Pryor could be available in round two which would allow for the Cowboys to fill a greater need along the defensive line and still get a safety. Clinton-Dix would be the perfect complement to Church as his coverage skills could mask a lot of the Cowboys failures to make plays in the back field.
The consensus appears to be Clinton-Dix as both ESPN’s Mel Kiper and Yahoo! Sports also have Dallas drafting him and passing on line help such as Ealy, Tuitt and Nix. While I don’t think choosing the Alabama star would be a bad option, as I stated earlier I think the line deserves the most attention. The 17th pick may be too early for Ealy and Tuitt but going with Clinton-Dix in round one would pigeon-hole Dallas into addressing the line in the next two rounds. Tuitt’s production at Notre Dame is awfully had to look past as he had 21.5 sacks in his career and is a monster of a man who also possesses rare quickness which makes him versatile as both an inside and outside option. With the tutelage of Rod Marinelli, a player like Ealy or Tuitt could be an unstoppable force for years to come.