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"Ben, San Antonio: Who should the cowboys front office and staff keep an eye on and study about with less than a month left before the scouting combine on Feb. 22, in Indy?"
Click on the link to read the answers from the Landry Hat’s writers.
Johnathan Barger: Janoris Jenkins should be on the radar. He was an all-american quality CB when he was at Florida, and he was a top 15 pick before all of his off the field issues happened. Jerry has been known to go after the troubled-child pick. Jenkins will not go as high as 14, but I wouldn’t say no to that pick in the lower 20’s. It might be a possible trade down situation, or draft another need (Barron – Safety or DeCastro – Guard) with 14th, and then trade up to get Jenkins in the 20’s. And then you have the coolness of having 2 starting CB named Jenkins.
Todd Toombs: There are lots of “need” positions on this team. The most obvious is at cornerback. Morris Clayborne out of LSU is at the top of most draft boards at cornerback but he is unlikely to be available at the 14th pick. Clayborne is considered to be from the Patrick Peterson mold and can play a role like Peterson does in kick returns. The Cowboys would be very lucky to get him. Dre Kirkpatrick from Alabama is the next highest ranked cornerback and is considered the bigger, more physical player. At 6’3”, he can match up with some of the bigger wide outs. There are some mock drafts that have him available at 14 and the Cowboys should snag him if they can. Janoris Jenkins is an intriguing pick – very talented player at Florida before he was dismissed from the team due to off the field issues. He’s a definite character risk and I’m not sure Jerry would want to deal with that. He likely falls to later rounds and would be a better risk there – but, if he has an outstanding combine, GM’s will turn a blind eye to the off the field stuff and he could go in the first round. Alfonzo Dennard out of Nebraska is the next best rated cornerback and likely still available at 14 if Clayborne and Kirkpatrick are off the board. He’s on the short side (5’10”) but has great skills and can provide run support at 205 lbs.
I could actually see Jerry Jones packaging a deal to try to move up in the draft and get Clayborne (currently projected at the 4th or 5th pick) but that’s maybe wishful thinking.
Mark Contreras: I think the obvious pick here is Alabama OLB Courtney Upshaw. After his National Championship Game performance, he has the NFL buzzing about him and I believe he could fall to #14. Additionally, these playoffs have made it more obvious that you can score as many points as you want but if you can’t stop the other team, you can’t win in the playoffs. If it wasn’t obvious to us Cowboys fans this year, just refer back to 2007 and 2009 for examples that hit closer to home. I want a cornerback as bad as anyone but if we can cut a weak-minded loser (Anthony Spencer) and add a champion that wants to “eat,” sign me up for that pick any day of the week. Remember, we need good football players this (read: every) year, not a good fill-in-the-blank-need. If CJ doesn’t mind me adding a second one (for a later round), Michigan State QB Kirk Cousins. I want him. (On my team……… grow up).
Seth Jones: If Alex Okafor from Texas comes out, then he deserves a hard look. Texas defensive linemen are typically complete bad arses. Okafor has been forearming and bull rushing fools with authority, and I see him as a long time, reliable NFL player. Also, they need to look at centers like Michael Brewster and David Molk who may still be around in the 4th and 5th rounds. Even if you don’t find an immediate starter, you always need a back-up center who doesn’t suck. If you don’t have a center, you don’t have an offense, in many cases.
C. Joseph Wright: As I have stated before, I don’t think the Cowboys will be looking for an interior lineman in the first round; I think they would and should pass on DeCastro. They need to improve the defense.
They will likely go with a veteran lineman in free agency and then hope that Kevin Kowalski, Phil Costa, Bill Nagy, David Arkin, or Kyle Kosier (still under contract) can man the 3 interior spots.
It may be a bit early to be focusing on a few players, but with the first 3 or 4 picks, I would be looking for players that filled the following needs:
– A true NT, preferably one over 320 lbs. Rob Ryan needs a traditional 3-4 NT to run his defense, and he must want to have the freedom to move Jay Ratliff around more. Freeing up Ratliff should instantly improve the pass-rush. A behemoth NT should also improve the run defense.
– A cover corner, preferably one at least 6’2” and over 205 lbs. The shortcomings of the secondary are well documented.
– A pass-rusher, whether it be a DE or an OLB. Whether they re-sign Spencer will factor into this need.
I could see using a pick in the first 4 rounds, including the 14th pick overall, to address each of these needs. The order in which you address each of the 3 glaring needs should be premised on what you believe you can get in the later rounds.
The other thing to remember is that any draft pick must be the “RKOG” (right kind of Guy) to fit into Garrett’s plans, so that means no knuckleheads or ‘troubled’ players.