I would be absolutely shocked if the first nine picks are not, in some order, constructed of the players I named. There are five teams (Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland and Minnesota) who are all in desperate need of a quarterback and only three top options available. All will be gone by the eighth pick. Clowney is not dropping any further than Atlanta’s sixth pick and Mack is the other bona fide defensive stud who is a top seven lock. St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Buffalo all need to protect their quarterbacks and have no one currently on their rosters to do so. Even if Oakland zigs instead of zags and takes a quarterback, Minnesota would be ecstatic to have the option of either taking the best skill position player in the entire draft or trading down, acquiring more picks and grabbing a QB like Derek Carr late in round one or early in round two. Either way, Watkins is gone by pick number eight.
The highest amount of variability really comes in picks ten through fifteen.
- Detroit absolutely needs defensive help, especially in the secondary, so they are probably flipping a coin between Dennard and Gilbert.
- Tennessee would love the dilemma of choosing between Barr and Donald for their front seven and could even choose whoever Detroit passes up as a building block for their secondary.
- This idea trickles down to the Giants who are in need of a defensive line makeover after losing players like Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph the past two seasons and have to be hoping Donald is still there at twelve. They could also throw a huge monkey wrench (and inadvertently a huge help to Dallas) and address their offensive needs by drafting Evans or North Carolina TE Eric Ebron.
- St. Louis could really go in either direction like the Giants. They could certainly stand to improve their up and coming defense by taking a playmaker in the secondary like Dennard, Gilbert, Clinton-Dix or Pryor. The Rams could also continue to surround QB Sam Bradford with weapons and look at Evans or Ebron as well.
- Chicago and Pittsburgh are in the exact same boat. Both certainly would not let Donald get past them, after the Bears lost Henry Melton and with Pittsburgh is the market for a replacement of Casey Hampton. If Donald is gone, look for both teams to address the ineffective secondaries.
Following the script above, it is exciting to see how things really open up for the Cowboys.
- If Tennessee goes with Barr, the Giants and Rams address the offense and Chicago and Pittsburgh focus on the secondary, the Cowboys would land Donald.
- If the Titans, Rams and Steelers all go with a defensive back, the Giants take an offensive player and Chicago takes Donald, Dallas could land Barr.
- Even with the Titans taking Barr and the Giants nabbing Donald, all it would take is St. Louis or Pittsburgh to go offensive with their pick and suddenly a corner back like Dennard or Gilbert or a safety like Clinton-Dix is available.
- And again, the worst case scenario appears to be the Cowboys have to choose between Mosley, Pryor or trading down and acquiring more picks while getting a defense end to harass quarterbacks.
As it appears, it is a definite fact that the Cowboys can upgrade their defense when the time comes to turn in their selection to Commissioner Roger Goodell. For once, it seems that there is a win/win situation presenting itself that even Jerry Jones cannot screw up. Cowboys fans have a month to find out what present they get to open up on NFL Christmas. It’s looking pretty certain this one will not a return receipt to accompany it.