With the NFL Draft a mere month away (May 8-10), NFL Mock Drafts are at an all-time high. And for the Dallas Cowboys, this draft is particularly important since they suffered some big losses this offseason. In 2014, the Cowboys will be without Pro Bowl and starting defensive lineman DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, and Jason Hatcher. Combine those moves with the fact the Dallas sported the worst defense in the NFL last year, and the thought of going into the regular season without them is terrifying.
Although the Cowboys did sign free agent defensive tackle Henry Melton recently, the rest of their free agency signings have been lackluster as the team has been limited due to their lack of salary cap space. And the front office picked one heck of a time to finally start acting prudent financially. Therefore, the onus is now on the upcoming draft for Dallas to rebuild this debacle of a defense.
And one of the best ways to insure a successful draft is to hedge your bets by getting more picks. And that’s exactly what the Cowboys decide to do in NFL Mocks lasted mock draft. In this proposed scenario, Dallas would trade their 16th overall pick to the Green Bay Packers in-exchange for the 21st, 85th, and 161st picks in the draft. So the Cowboys would essentially move down just five spots in the first round and get a much needed extra third and fifth round pick.
This would also put them in prime position to fill a big need on their depleted defensive line. Here’s what NFL Mock’s Sayre Bedinger predicts Dallas would do with their new first round pick:
“The Cowboys traded down in this mock draft, and still end up getting one of the best defensive end prospects in a draft that has plenty. (Missouri defensive end Kony) Ealy is a big prospect who would step into the slot left empty by Cowboys legend DeMarcus Ware, now a Denver Bronco. This is a dynamic athlete who, when all is said and done, could go much higher than this.”
At #16, Ealy is a bit of a stretch. He makes a little more sense at #21. On top of that, Dallas could use the extra picks to fill their various other team needs. But ESPN’s Draft Guru Mel Kiper Jr. actually ranks Ealy as the third best defensive lineman in this draft, behind South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney and Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt. In fact, Kony falls to the third round in Kiper’s latest mock draft.
But Landon Haaf over at WFAA Sports thinks the lack of talent at the defensive end position in this draft might force Dallas’ hand:
“It’s a thin draft at the defensive end position, and the Cowboys need one. Before Ware’s departure, I would’ve said that interior line or safety should be much higher priorities, but now the defensive end position would be more justifiable in the first round. Ealy won’t be the top prospect on the board at no. 16, but he will likely be the top pass rusher to fill Ware’s shoes. So seeing Ealy put on a Dallas Cowboys cap on draft day shouldn’t surprise anyone.”
Regardless, it appears most experts agree the Ealy is a project that will need some time to develop. I’m not sure if he’ll find that time in Dallas as a first round pick that’s expected to contribute immediately. Still, this is a trade I think most Cowboys fans would be “fans” of…even if Ealy isn’t the right pick.