Peter King: Dallas Cowboys At 27, Three Names To Watch For


Late Tuesday night, and longtime NFL writer Peter King posted an article titled Ten Things I Think I’m Hearing About the Draft. And one of those ten things was about prospective players the Dallas Cowboys could be eyeing in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft.

"“I think Dallas, at pick 27 in round one, would love Melvin Gordon to fall to that spot. But two names to watch if the Cowboys stay at 27: UCLA inside linebacker Eric Kendricks and Mississippi State inside ‘backer Benardrick McKinney.”"

Those names fall in line with what the experts have been discussing the past few weeks. And all three players have spent time at Valley Ranch recently as part of the team’s allowed official visits.

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But King also released his final mock draft on Tuesday. In it, the veteran writer had Gordon being selected by the Arizona Cardinals 24th overall. And despite both Kendricks and McKinney being available, King elected to draft Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown for the Cowboys instead. Neither linebacker was taken in the first round of his mock.

All three players would certainly fill needs for Dallas. Gordon is considered one of the top two running backs in this very deep and talented class. He had one of the best seasons in NCAA history last year, recording 2,587 rushing yards and a total 32 touchdowns in just 14 games for Wisconsin in 2014.

But Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones was quoted on Tuesday saying that the running back position was not a must in this draft, and thereby not an urgent need. That statement seems to contradict King’s report about the team hoping Gordon falls to them in the first round.

But the exodus of running back DeMarco Murray this offseason combined with the multiple questions that surround the Cowboys’ current offensive backfield seem to suggest that they do indeed have a need at the position. But the depth of the running back class gives Dallas a lot of options in later rounds.

The Cowboys also have a clear need within their linebacker corps. Despite re-signing one-year wonder Rolando McClain and the return of defensive leader Sean Lee, both players have struggled with injuries. And considering the twice-retired McClain is only on a one-year deal, the Cowboys do need a more permanent solution at his position.

So drafting a linebacker high certainly makes sense. And these are two of the best. Kendricks recorded 149 total tackles, 11.5 tackles for a loss, 4.0 sacks and three interceptions at UCLA last year. McKinney recorded 71 total tackles, 8.0 tackles for a loss and 3.0 sacks in 2014 for Mississippi State.

But what is really interesting in King’s statement is the fact he does not mention either a pass rusher or a cornerback as possible targets in Dallas. With top-ranked edge rushers like Missouri’s Shane Ray and Nebraska’s Randy Gregory tumbling down draft boards due to off-the-field issues, the Cowboys are instead being linked to the draft’s top linebackers.

And with the Cowboys defensive backfield in shambles with Brandon Carr‘s suspected impending salary cut, Morris Claiborne‘s injury/expiring contract, and Orlando Scandrick‘s apparent hold-out; the cornerback position seems to be Dallas’ biggest need by far. Yet, none of the top corners in this draft are mentioned.

At this point, what the Cowboys will do at 27th overall is anyone’s guess. In fact, I’m fairly sure Dallas themselves won’t really know what they are going to do until their number is actually called. Welcome to the NFL Draft.

Next: Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones Not Drafting A Running Back A Mistake