Could Two Troubled, But Talented Players Fall to Cowboys?


Nov 15, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley (3) breaks a tackle by Auburn Tigers defensive back Joshua Holsey (15) during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated Auburn 34-7. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This is the time of year when Cowboy Nation gets the pleasure of speculating how our Dallas Cowboys will get better during the off season. It appears the days of owner and general manager Jerry Jones opening the checkbook to sign players like cornerback Brandon Carr to a five year contract worth $50.1 million with $25.5 million guaranteed are over.

In 2014, the Cowboys signed free agent defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain. Mincey and McClain combined used a mere $1.1 million of salary cap space. Inside linebacker Rolando McClain signed a one year deal worth $700,000. These smart contracts are part of the reason Jerry Jones was named NFL Executive of the Year.

That’s why we’re excited by the upcoming NFL draft predictions. In fact, I did a few mock drafts of my own using Fanspeak’s 2015 NFL Draft Simulator. It’s far easier to criticize or applaud the player selected by the Cowboys front office afterwards than it is to pull the trigger on a draft pick.

With the 27th pick in the 2015 draft, it’s easy to think of selecting a pass rushing defensive end or a cornerback. You could believe that any players selected in the first round should be able to step on the field and contribute immediately. You would also be right in thinking that a player selected in that slot is more of a high second round pick that doesn’t need to play immediately.

In 2014, the Arizona Cardinals selected strong safety Dione Bucannon from Washington State with the 27th pick. He’s listed second on their depth chart behind Tony Jefferson. With the 28th pick, the Carolina Panthers selected Kelvin Benjamin, a wide receiver from Florida State that made an immediate impact with 73 receptions, 1,008 yards and 9 touchdowns. Personally, I can hear brains exploding if the Cowboys selected a tight end or wide receiver in the first round, even if they were the best player available.

I set rules for myself with my mock drafts. As usual, there weren’t any players selected from smaller, NCAA Division 2 or lower schools. I also wanted to get the best value possible. Each player is given a position on the big board, so if I could get the 20th ranked player with the 60th pick and he went to a college with a solid football program – I grabbed him. Finally, I tried to make selections that might make sense with possible free agent scenarios.

As a result, my first round selections consisted of the following: Offensive tackle – La’el Collins from LSU, Running back – Todd Gurley from Georgia and Cornerback Marcus Peters from the University of Washington. With the exception of Gurley, I have never heard of these players (I live in SEC country).

Hindsight research says that Collins (6′ 5”, 321 pounds) plays left tackle which is locked down by Tyron Smith. The pick makes sense when you consider that the Cowboys might allow Doug Free to leave in free agency because he’s 31 years old. Free’s backup, Jermey Parnell is 28, but might get pursued by other teams and become too expensive. Placing Collins on the right side of the line could guarantee youth and dominance up front for the next decade.

Todd Gurley (6′ 1”, 226 pounds) could see immediate playing time by backing up running back Ryan Williams. If or maybe I should say when, DeMarco Murray (a third round pick) signs with another team for big money, Williams can fill his shoes. If the Cowboys front office wants to show a low tolerance for off the field behavior, they may cut or trade backup running back Joseph Randle. That would open the door for Gurley to become the backup and eventual starter. My only fear was picking a running back in the first round. Gurley was ranked 8th, so when he fell to the 27th pick, it forced my hand.

Finally, Marcus Peters (6′, 190 pounds) is listed as having first round talent. He was dismissed from the team after arguing with assistant coaches. It seems like he may not fit the mold of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett‘s right kind of guy mentality. I did notice that Peters was the eighth player to be suspended or dismissed since head coach Chris Petersen took over the Washington Huskies program. That may need to be considered along with his talent.

Peters or cornerback Tyler Patmon might be the Cowboys defender chosen to cover New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for the next 6 years. The position will be a priority if Brandon Carr doesn’t choose to take a pay cut. The Cowboys could also part ways with Morris Claiborne. A talented cornerback could be worth the risk.

Here’s my mock draft results using Fan Speak, DraftTV and Composite big boards.

Mock Draft #1Mock Draft #2Mock Draft #3
Round 1CB – Marcus PetersWashingtonRB – Todd GurleyGeorgiaOT – La’El CollinsLSU
Round 2DT – Gabe WrightAuburnCB – Kevin JohnsonWake ForestDT – Malcom BrownTexas
Round 3RB – Todd GurleyGeorgiaDT – Gabe WrightAuburnRB – Mike DavisSouth Carolina
Round 4DE – Cedric ReedTexasDE – Za’Darius SmithKentuckyCB – Alex CarterStanford
Round 5CB – Nick MarshallAuburnOT – Austin ShepherdAlabamaDE – Markus GoldenMissouri
Round 7 **DT – James CastlemanOklahoma StateS – Adrian AmosPenn State
Round 7 **S – Jermaine WhiteheadAuburnG – Miles DieffenbachPenn State

**Computer issues stopped my first mock draft after five rounds

Have a little fun and try the mock draft simulator – then tell me who you selected with your first round pick and why in the comments.

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