With the Dallas Cowboys offseason now in full swing, the focus shifts to free agency signings and the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft. And with the draft, always comes the speculation about whom the Cowboys’ may select on April 30th as their first round pick. And that means mock drafts!
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And when it comes to the mock drafts, it’s all about ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. A veteran of draft analysis since 1984, Kiper is the definitive name when it comes to draft prediction.
On Thursday, the 30-year draft guru released his much anticipated first mock draft of the year. And here’s his selection for the Cowboys in the first round and the explanation of the pick.
With the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select…
Oct 4, 2014; Fort Worth, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive tackle Jordan Phillips (80) celebrates a turnover against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Phillips, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma
"Kiper’s Analysis: The Dallas defensive line held up reasonably well this season with merely OK talent, but a lot of that had to do with how much the efficient offense was able to keep it off the field and fresh. The unit isn’t going to simply get better unless it adds more talent. Phillips is still pretty raw, but he’s got tremendous upside. At 6-foot-6, when you see him run you can barely fathom that he’s carrying more than 330 pounds. Put a kid like this under the tutelage of Rod Marinelli and you could end up with something truly special. Dallas needs to prioritize defense in this draft after getting the offense where it needs to be, and Phillips is a reasonable upside play."
Phillips was a sophomore at Oklahoma this season, so he’s really a project. You are looking at probably one or two seasons (or more) to get him truly NFL ready.
A beast of a man, the 6-6, 334 pound Phillips did record 31 tackles and 2.0 sacks for the Sooners’ this season. Scouts Inc. has him ranked as the 11th highest rated player on their big board, with an overall rating of 91.
As a first round pick, there will be instant pressure for Phillips, or any other prospect to perform in Dallas. And living up to the Cowboys’ previous first round pick, All-Pro guard Zack Martin, will be nearly impossible.
I’m not sold on this pick as Dallas has an excellent three-technique defensive tackle in Tyrone Crawford under contract for another year, and should look to extend him some time this upcoming season. And as one-technique defensive tackles are relatively easy to find, I’d look more towards a selection of a defensive end, cornerback or safety with this top pick.
If running back DeMarco Murray does not re-sign in Dallas, a player like Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon could be a great selection here as well. Although Kiper has Gordon going to the Arizona Cardinals three selections earlier.
Though defensive tackle may be the best player available on the board this late in the first round, never underestimate the possibility of the Cowboys’ front office electing to move up or down off this pick in order to get the player they covet or more selections in later rounds.
To see Kiper’s entire mock draft 1.0, click here. (Must have an ESPN Insider subscription to view the entire article)