Dallas Cowboys: Mark Barron

Kiper mock 1.0 reaction: Cowboys

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
The Dallas Cowboys enter the 2014 NFL draft needing to find as much defensive help as possible, preferably along the defensive line.

In Mel Kiper's first mock draft Insider for 2014, he has the Cowboys selecting Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with the 17th overall pick. (Kiper has the Baltimore Ravens winning the coin flip that will decide the final positioning at the NFL scouting combine.)

Two defensive linemen -- Florida State's Timmy Jernigan and Notre Dame's Louis Nix -- went to the Chicago Bears and Pittsburgh Steelers at Nos. 14 and 15. Notre Dame's Stephon Tuitt went No. 23 to the Kansas City Chiefs. Oregon State's Scott Crichton went to Denver at No. 31.

Clinton-Dix is a sound pick. The Cowboys need safety help next to Barry Church. J.J. Wilcox, their third-round pick in 2013, and Jeff Heath, who was undrafted, handled that role last season and struggled. Wilcox lost his job to Heath with a knee injury and could not reclaim the starter's role, though he did split snaps later in the year.

Clinton-Dix is athletic and can play the center field safety role. He missed two games last year because of a suspension for accepting a loan from an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He finished the season with 52 tackles and two interceptions. In 2012, he had five interceptions.

The Cowboys' defense is predicated on the pass rush and turnovers. Clinton-Dix could help with the latter, but the Cowboys need a lot of help with the former.

Two years ago, the Cowboys were high on Alabama safety Mark Barron but traded up to get cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. Barron went one selection later to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Something else to note is Jason Garrett's relationship with Alabama coach Nick Saban. Garrett was on his staff with the Miami Dolphins and considers Saban one of his mentors. He will know all he needs to know about the Alabama players heading into the draft.

W2W4: Cowboys vs. Buccaneers

September, 23, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The home opener has arrived, with the Cowboys taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. We preview:

The series: The Cowboys lead the all-time series 12-3 and have won the last four meetings, including last season's meeting in Tampa Bay, 31-15. Of the 15 regular-season meetings, eight have been held in Dallas, where the Cowboys have a 7-1 mark. Nine of the games have been decided by double digits and two by three or more touchdowns.

Romo has success against Bucs: Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is 3-0 lifetime against the Bucs, having completed 70.9 percent of his passes for 908 yards with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He has a 144.8 quarterback rating against the Bucs. Part of the reason why Romo has success is the Bucs have been pretty bad since he became the starting quarterback during the 2006 season.

Home openers and home records: First, the good news: The Cowboys are 35-16-1 lifetime in home openers. The bad news: The Cowboys have lost two of their last three but defeated Washington, 18-16, last season. Cowboys Stadium isn't an imposing facility, which is apparent from the 13-11 regular-season home record. Cowboys coach Jason Garrett downplayed the home record at the $1.3 billion palace, but several players said you have to take command of the home field. The Cowboys are just 2-2 in September home games at the stadium.

Who's not playing: The Cowboys will not have nose tackle Jay Ratliff (ankle), center Phil Costa (back) or defensive end Kenyon Coleman (knee). Safety Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) is doubtful. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan revealed that outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is playing with a health issue. Ware practiced this week with no reported problems, but he was limited early in the season with a hamstring injury. Tampa Bay's staring cornerback Eric Wright (back) is probable for the game.

To kneel or not to kneel: As the New York Giants were taking a knee to close out last week's victory, Bucs coach Greg Schiano ordered his team to tackle quarterback Eli Manning during the kneel down. That prompted Giants coach Tom Coughlin to scream his displeasure at Schiano after the game. If the Cowboys are in similar situation Sunday, will Schiano tell his team to do it again?

Cowboys meet Mark Baron: Many draft experts projected the Alabama safety would get drafted by the Cowboys, and with good reason. The Cowboys safeties struggled last season, but the team instead made a move to draft cornerback Morris Claiborne from LSU. The Cowboys face Barron, a strong safety, on S unday. Barron is credited with 13 total tackles -- nine solos -- by the Buccaneers coaching staff. Barron has also broken up four passes.

The Other Side: Rick Stroud, Tampa Bay Times

September, 20, 2012
IRVING, Texas – For this week’s episode from The Other Side we bring in long-time Buccaneers’ beat man Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Mike Golic from Mike and Mike joins Coop and Nate to discuss the Cowboys' loss to Seattle, the upcoming matchup with Tampa Bay and more.

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Todd Archer: What's the biggest difference Greg Schiano has made? When we saw the Bucs last December they seemed, to be polite, disinterested under Raheem Morris?

Rick Stroud: Schiano has done a great job of changing the culture of the Buccaneers. He developed a reputation for being highly organized and a disciplinarian in 11 seasons at Rutgers. But the Bucs had one of the youngest teams in the NFL last season, coming off a lockout, and they didn’t handle their success very well from 2010, when they went 10-6 under Morris.

Schiano has a saying: TBA – Trust, Belief, Accountability. He has weeded out the players who didn’t buy in, as evidenced by the release of S Tanard Jackson and the trade of TE Kellen Winslow and DT Brian Price.

That got the players’ attention. On the field, he is a stickler for details and a bit of a control freak, quite frankly. Nothing escapes his attention, from the way players must have their ‘toes on the line,’ during warm-ups to the temperature in meeting rooms.

TA: What's been the reaction to the kneel-down controversy?

RS: Surprisingly, it’s been split. The Giants and Tom Coughlin obviously didn’t like it. Heck, most of the Bucs own players would only respond by saying they do whatever coach asks them to do. But Schiano is a hard-nosed coach who is trying to get his team to play every play hard. Also, he says that tactic has produced four fumbles at Rutgers in the past five years.

A lot of former players have supported Schiano, who says he has no regret about the move. Among them is Herm Edwards. The former Jets and Chiefs head coach may be just as well known for the hero in the Miracle of the Meadowlands. Edwards returned a fumble from Giants QB Joe Pisarcik 26 yards for a touchdown. What you may not have known was that two plays earlier, the Giants attempted a kneel down and the Eagles fired off the ball. That prompted the Giants to decide to call a running play. Edwards agrees with Schiano, so long as the team is only trailing by one score. But since the Miracle in the Meadowlands, teams have developed the ‘victory formation,’ whereby a receiver or defensive back lines up 10 yards behind the QB in case there is a fumble.

TA: I think Tampa has been a Tampa-2 team since the leather-helmet era, but has there been a change in scheme with Bill Sheridan as coordinator from the Monte Kiffin/Morris led defenses?

RS: Yes. The Bucs, like other teams, still play two deep safeties, but nowhere near as much as they used to. Sheridan likes to apply pressure to the quarterback and mixes up coverage and blitzes. He will bring it in a variety of ways -- linebackers through the A-gap, a linebacker and defensive back stacked, corners off the edge and nickel backs in the slot. Almost always, however, there is a single high safety. From a pass defense standpoint, the Bucs have been riddled for 813 yards passing in the first two games. Sheridan blamed the high number of stunts and games he ordered on the defensive front last week against the Giants and said they will have to curtail those. The other change is that the Bucs linebackers come downhill. They're not running laterally. Rookie Lavonte David has been an impact player.

TA: The Bucs added Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks in free agency to help Josh Freeman (Dallas Clark, too, I guess). How much have they helped Freeman and how has he done the first two weeks?

RS: Jackson, Nicks and Clark have had an instant impact on Freeman’s production. Jackson has been targeted 24 times in two games and has nine catches for 175 yards (19.4 avg) and one touchdown. He’s also created better looks for WR Mike Williams, who has a TD reception in each of the Bucs two games. Nicks has helped in the run game and as a pass protector. Clark caught only one ball in the Bucs win over Carolina, but it was a 33-yarder. Last week, he had four receptions.

TA: The Cowboys really liked Mark Barron but moved up for Morris Claiborne instead. How's the rookie safety look?

RS: Barron has been a quick study and is the big hitter in the secondary the Bucs hoped he would be. His coverage skills are better than advertised and he likely won the game against Carolinawith a late breakup of a pass to Louis Murphy that would’ve gone for a touchdown. Barron is a serious football player who was raised in a pro-style defense under Nick Saban at Alabama. The bright lights of the NFL don’t faze him.

Cowboys' safeties off to good start

August, 15, 2012
OXNARD, Calif. -- The focus of the Dallas Cowboys' defensive upgrade in the offseason was at cornerback.

They spent megabucks on free agent Brandon Carr and megapicks to trade up six spots to take Morris Claiborne in the first round. The hope is that better coverage leads to more sacks, pressures and, ultimately, interceptions.

But what ailed the Cowboys in their December fade was not just seeing Terence Newman give up a big play or get used like a hurdle in the Summer Olympics. Safety play was more than just a bit player, and that came after the Cowboys sunk a new contract into Gerald Sensabaugh.

In the April draft, the Cowboys were extremely interested in Alabama's Mark Barron, but they didn't like the cost of having to move up to take a safety.

The Cowboys' plan to improve the position was to sign free agent Brodney Pool and draft Matt Johnson in the fourth round. Pool, who received only a $100,000 signing bonus, was cut the first week of camp, and Johnson has yet to practice because of a hamstring injury.

But after Monday's 3-0 preseason shutout of the Oakland Raiders, the Cowboys have to like what they see from their safeties.

Read the full story here.

Matt Johnson caps Cowboys' fourth round

April, 28, 2012
IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys continued their defensive trend in the 2012 NFL draft by selecting safety Matt Johnson with the 135th overall pick, the final selection of the fourth round.

Johnson was also a four-year starter at Eastern Washington with 17 career interceptions. Leading up to the draft the Cowboys were locked in on Alabama’s Mark Barron in the first round, but Johnson was always considered a mid-to-late-round possibility because he fills a need.

His senior season was cut short because of a biceps injury. He ended his career as the school’s second all-time leading interceptor. He had 52 tackles -- eight for a loss -- two picks, two forced fumbles and 1.5 sacks before the injury.

The Cowboys signed Gerald Sensabaugh to an extension last season and signed veteran Brodney Pool to a one-year deal in free agency. They also have special teams standout Danny McCray, Barry Church -- who is coming off shoulder surgery -- and Mana Silva on the roster.

It’s the first time since 1982 that the Cowboys’ first four picks were on the defensive side. Cornerback Rod Hill, linebacker Jeff Rohrer, linebacker Jim Eliopulos and cornerback Brian Carpenter were selected in Rounds 1-4 that year.

The Cowboys got this pick for losing defensive end Stephen Bowen to Washington in free agency.
Pros: Morris Claiborne, the 2011 Jim Thorpe Award winner, is a ballhawk who is the best cornerback in the draft. He has excellent quickness and possesses long arms (77-inch wing span). He’s a technician with phenomenal athletic ability and outstanding instincts. He’s comfortable playing press and off coverage. He has excellent ball skills after originally being recruited to LSU as a wide receiver. He’s also extremely dangerous once he picks off a pass. In two seasons as an LSU starter, Claiborne had 11 interceptions that he returned for 274 yards. He has the ability to play outside or in the slot. He can also return kicks, averaging 25.3 yards per return for the Tigers.

Dallas Cowboys draft pick Morris Claiborne says he was surprised to be picked by the Cowboys. Claiborne talks about his offensive skills on defense.

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Cons: The biggest con is that the Cowboys gave up two premium picks (14th and 45th overall) to move up to get Claiborne. As far as on the field, the one knock on Claiborne is that he isn’t physical enough. He doesn’t always use his long arms to his advantage in press coverage and misses more tackles than he should. He doesn't have blazing speed by NFL cornerback standards, but a 4.50 40-yard dash certainly isn't slow.

Cowboys fit: The Cowboys have turned one of their biggest weaknesses into a position of strength this offseason with the additions of Claiborne and free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr, who signed a five-year, $50.1 million contract. Mike Jenkins can forget about the lucrative long-term contract extension that he wanted from the Cowboys. Assuming Jenkins is still on the team, he’ll have to fight off the sixth overall pick to keep his starting job. At the minimum, Claiborne should be an outstanding slot corner as a rookie. Claiborne and Carr could be one of the NFL’s top cornerback combos for years to come.

Could have had: Alabama S Mark Barron, Mississippi State DL Fletcher Cox, Stanford OG David DeCastro, LSU DL Michael Brockers

Cowboys select Morris Claiborne

April, 26, 2012

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys moved up in the NFL draft and selected the best cornerback available in Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick Thursday night.

The Cowboys traded the 14th pick and the 45th overall (second round) picks to the St. Louis Rams for the sixth pick.

It was the 59th draft day trade since 1989, the first year that Jerry Jones became owner/general manager of the Cowboys.

Claiborne, 5-11, 188 pounds, was a two-year starter out of LSU who many scouts describe as a smooth athlete with good footwork and balance.

In Claiborne's final season at LSU, he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation's best defensive back. Claiborne finished the season with six interceptions and six pass breakups. He also returned one pick for a touchdown. He also returned kickoffs, averaging 25.1 yards per return. He decided to skip his senior season and leave LSU for the draft.

Adding Claiborne brings some depth to a secondary that was beaten up in 2011.

In free agency, the Cowboys signed Brandon Carr to a five-year contract to go along with Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. Jenkins is in the final year of his contract and seeking a long-term deal. But with Claiborne on the roster, it will be interesting to see how Jenkins reacts to the move.

Last season, Jenkins finished with a just one interception but was tied with Terence Newman with 10 pass breakups. Jenkins played through knee and shoulder injuries.

The Cowboys were projected to get Alabama safety Mark Barron, but they bypassed him to get the cornerback. Barron went to Tampa Bay with the seventh overall pick.

Cowboys need to keep it boring tonight

April, 26, 2012

I was thinking this morning about the Dallas Cowboys' draft and I remembered the scene in "The Wire" in which Proposition Joe tells Stringer Bell that boredom is what kills more cops than bullets and liquor. "You keep it boring, String," he says.

Now, I know things didn't turn out so great for Stringer and Prop Joe, but I think this is good advice tonight for the Cowboys. The aspect of Dallas' offseason so far that has earned them so much praise is that it hasn't been flashy. Yeah, they spent big on cornerback Brandon Carr, but that was a matter of filling their biggest need with a free agent, and paying what top free agents cost. They didn't jump into the Mario Williams sweepstakes, or overspend on the top offensive linemen. They picked and chose players they liked at the positions they needed, bringing in lesser-known linemen to compete with the youngsters they already have. They have stayed patient, rather than jump out and make the big, headline-grabbing moves for which they used to be known.

This should continue tonight and this weekend. The Cowboys have eight picks, and they need them. What their roster lacked most detrimentally last season was depth, particularly on defense. This isn't the year to make a dramatic first-round trade-up. Somebody asked me this morning on Twitter if they should go up and get Morris Claiborne. They should not. I don't even think they should move up into the top 10 if that's what it'll take to get Mark Barron or Fletcher Cox, two guys who should be at the top of their wish list. I believe they will find a good defensive player at No. 14 who can help them, and I think their best bet is to sit right there, keep all of the later-round picks to help address that depth problem, and take whoever's the highest-ranked defensive player still on their board.

In the blogger mock draft Monday, this is what I did for Dallas, and the guy I took was Michael Brockers. Cowboys fans yelled at me. Said I copped out. That I should have made a bold move up like I did with the Eagles. But the fact is, the Eagles have 10 picks, including two second-rounders, and a deeper NFL roster than the Cowboys have. They're in position to move up to get Cox if they so choose. The Cowboys would be making a mistake.

This Cowboys draft must, as the last two offseasons have, reflect Jason Garrett more than it reflects Jerry Jones. Everybody knows Jones has the final say in the draft room. Everybody knows Jones likes the splashy move. But this isn't the year to trade up for Dez Bryant. Jones has said all of the right things about wanting Garrett to be in a position to succeed, and he appears to be making good on those words. He will need to resist temptation tonight and continue along that same path. The Cowboys need as much help and as many players as possible. No. 14 isn't a bad place to be sitting in this first round. They'll get somebody there who can make an impact, right away and in the long term. There's no need to make a rash move up and sacrifice later picks. Keep it boring, Jerry. Keep it dead boring.

W2W4: Cowboys' first round pick

April, 26, 2012

IRVING, Texas – Finally the NFL draft is here and the Cowboys are scheduled to make the 14th pick overall in the first round.

Why 'scheduled to?' Because you can never rule out a trade from owner and general manager Jerry Jones, especially after he did not make one last year.

On Wednesday, Jones said the Cowboys have played through scenarios in which they would move up for a player or two. And he said the team has fielded and made calls about moving around in the first round.

The needs are clear: everywhere on defense and offensive line. Jones said the Cowboys are not held hostage by any position, which means they have set their board in a pure fashion based on a player’s ability and not on the team’s needs.

The key targets: Alabama safety Mark Barron, LSU defensive end Michael Brockers, Stanford guard David DeCastro, Alabama linebacker Donta Hightower, Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, Mississippi State defensive end Fletcher Cox.


What does your gut tell you the Cowboys will do in the first round of the draft?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,891)

Which teams are likely to affect the Cowboys’ first-round pick: Buffalo (No. 10), Kansas City (No. 11), San Diego (No. 18).

Recent draft bluster has the Bills interested in Barron at No. 10 and possibly the Chiefs a pick later. The Chargers have needs at wide receiver, offensive line and safety, which could make them a trade-up possibility.

If key targets are gone: Look for the Cowboys to trade down. However, there has to be a team willing to trade up. Kirkpatrick could be a fall-back option at No. 14 if the team is unable to move down. Jones has a history of wanting to accumulate more picks but in the past he has gotten too cute and left the Cowboys with poor drafts (see 2009).

What about the other rounds? Rounds 2 and 3 will be held Friday, and Rounds 4-7 will be held Saturday. The Cowboys have picks Nos. 45, 81, 113, 135, 152, 186 and 222 entering the draft.

Look for the Cowboys to lean toward defense even if they use their first pick on a defender. They need defensive end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback help. Offensively, they are in need of help at wide receiver and tight end in addition to the offensive line.

The NFL draft is tonight, of course it is, and we have the final mock drafts from Todd McShay and Mel Kiper. No surprises here, both of our draft experts have the Cowboys taking Alabama safety Mark Barron.

Here's McShay's final first-round mock draft:

You have to be an ESPN Insider to get this, but we'll give you all the picks by McShay.

Michael Brockers, LSU, DT, first round.
Janoris Jenkins, Alabama, CB, second round.
Joe Adams, Arkansas, WR, third round
Akiem Hicks, Regina (Canada), DT, fourth round
James Hanna, Oklahoma, TE, fourth round
Senio Kelemete, Washington, fifth round
Chris Rainey, Florida, RB, sixth round
Tim Fugger, Vanderbilt, OLB, seventh round

Kiper doesn't do the complete draft, but here's his final mock. He has the Cowboys taking North Carolina DE Quinton Coples at No. 14.

It wouldn't be a draft without the Big Board. Here's Kiper's.

Jason Garrett’s attendance at Alabama’s pro day instantly increased speculation that the Cowboys would pick safety Mark Barron, outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw or cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick in the first round.

All indications are that the Cowboys would be extremely pleased if Barron is still on the board when they get on the clock with the 14th overall pick.

If Barron and other targets are gone, Jerry Jones could attempt to trade down, gaining extra picks to move toward the bottom of the first round. In that scenario, there is a strong possibility that the Cowboys could target the fourth potential first-round pick from the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked, national-title defense: linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

Hightower primarily played inside linebacker at Alabama, but he has the size (6-foot-2 , 265 pounds) and speed (4.65 40) to be a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.

“No doubt,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN Dallas 103.3’s Ian Fitzsimmons in an interview that aired on “Galloway and Company” this week. “He can play outside. He’s been a designated pass rusher for us on third down for us. He’s also been a stand-up buck fourth rusher, drop. In X-package, when they put all the linebackers in there, he can play any one of those positions.

“He’s a very smart guy. He’s a signal caller that has really good leadership qualities and understands football really well and has a lot of diversity in terms of how you can use him. When you have guys that size, that speed and that athletic that can do that many things, those guys don’t come around that often.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban spoke to Ian Fitzsimmons of Galloway & Company today about numerous issues, including the first time he interviewed Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to become his quarterbacks coach with the Miami Dolphins.

Alabama coach Nick Saban talks about the draft prospects coming out of his program, how they could potentially help the Cowboys, his discussions with Jason Garrett and more.

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Saban also talked about safety Mark Barron and the possibility of getting drafted by the Cowboys with the 14th overall pick in Thursday's NFL draft.

"Mark is a really good person, mature, respected by his teammates," Saban said.

There is some concern that Barron can only cover tight ends and not wide receivers. In the NFC East where three and four receiver sets are common place among the divisional rivals when they face each other.

Saban sees no problem with this noting, "not going to be a size mismatch."

Saban also likes the face Barron can play both safety spots and even specials teams. "He's got the right stuff to play a long time," Saban said.

Here's the complete interview.

ESPN blogger mock: Dallas picks Brockers

April, 23, 2012
Things didn't work out exactly the way I planned for the Dallas Cowboys in the ESPN blogger mock draft Monday. Yes, the Eagles traded up to No. 7 to take Fletcher Cox, a player the Cowboys like a lot. But for the Cowboys I decided not to get into such excitement. First of all, they don't have the cushion the Eagles have with two second-round picks. And second of all, they need to add depth all along the roster, so I decided that if they traded they'd come away with more picks rather than fewer.

As the draft wound on into the middle of the first round, I was thinking my top Cowboys target, Alabama safety Mark Barron, would be there at No. 14. So when James Walker of the AFC East blog called on behalf of the Patriots and offered a first-round pick (No. 27 overall) and a second-round pick (No. 48), I said no. James pointed out that each side of the deal added up to exactly 1,100 points on the NFL draft trade value chart, and for a second I thought we should make the deal just based on that coincidence alone. But I held off, thinking Barron would fall to 14.

Little did I know, James was also talking to Mike Sando about the Seahawks' No. 12 overall pick. James offered Mike both of the Patriots' first-round picks (No. 27 and No. 31) for the No. 12 pick and a fourth-rounder (N0. 106). Guess I should have asked James for more, because that's a steal for Sando, who happily gave up the No. 12 and began making plans for what to do with his two first-rounders. James moved up to 12 and took Barron for the Patriots, and I started fielding offers for the No. 14 pick.

No one was interested, though, so when 14 rolled around, I took the player I believed would be the highest on the Cowboys' board at that point -- LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers. What I like about Brockers for the Cowboys is that he's a more polished, NFL-ready prospect than is Dontari Poe (who would fall all the way to the Steelers at No. 24!) and that he's versatile enough to play any spot on the Cowboys' defensive line. He can play inside as a defensive tackle alongside Jay Ratliff when they line up in 4-3 sets. He can play end in a 3-4 (and allow them to move on from Kenyon Coleman or Marcus Spears if they so choose). He can spell Ratliff at the nose when and if they decide to move Ratliff outside. I just felt as though he'd appeal to Rob Ryan as a guy who could do a lot for him -- and do it right away -- in a defense that relies on constantly changing looks and fronts.

I thought about Poe, and Quenton Coples, and Stephon Gilmore, and Dre Kirkpatrick, and Courtney Upshaw. But in the end, I believe that, of the post-Barron choices, Brockers was the one that fit the Cowboys the best.

(NOTE: Stanford guard David DeCastro was also gone, at 11 to the Chiefs, but as you know I believe the Cowboys should be focused on defense in this round. And probably all of them.)

So what do you think, Cowboys fans? Did I get it right? Did I pick the wrong guy? Was I wrong to turn down the Patriots' offer? I eagerly await your feedback.
SI's Peter King looks at the NFL Draft in his weekly Monday Morning Quarterback and mentions how LSU defensive tackle/end Michael Brockers has visited numerous teams.

Brockers visited the Cowboys earlier this month. He's projected as a player who might get drafted in the teens. With the Cowboys drafting at No. 14, there's a chance they could take him. The Cowboys also got a visit from Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox, but it's believed he won't get out of the Top 10.

Most mock drafts have Dallas taking either Stanford guard David DeCastro or safety Mark Barron from Alabama. But what about Brockers?

And while the Cowboys could use some improvement along the offensive line by selecting DeCastro and moving him in at right guard or finding a playmaking safety in Barron, there's nothing wrong with improving the pass rush.

Brockers can be inserted at defensive end and on passing situations can move inside and be a good pairing with Jay Ratliff.

Drafting Brockers would mean either Marcus Spears or Kenyon Coleman would be sent packing.

Brockers, 21, could join a younger group in Sean Lissemore (24), Clifton Geathers (24) and Josh Brent (24). That would be four defensive linemen under 25 to match up with Ratliff, who turns 31 in August, and Jason Hatcher, who reaches 30 in July.

Youth is always important and the Cowboys picking Brockers might be the best thing for them.

Here's what Scouts Inc. had to say about Brockers' quickness: "Very good first-step quickness for size. Consistently gains initial penetration and is very disruptive. Can improve his hand usage but has the quick, violent hands to do so."

Mel Kiper's 'Grade A' moves for NFC East

April, 19, 2012
Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft goes three rounds deep, and for this particular exercise Mel is not predicting which teams will take which players. He's gone through and made the picks based on what he would do if he were running each particular team. He calls it his "Grade A" draft, which means the draft each team would have to have to earn a grade of "A." It's insider, so I'll give you the names but you'll have to pay to read the explanations. The comments here are mine.

Washington Redskins

Round 1: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Round 3: Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State

As we have said here many times, if the Redskins start thinking offensive line once they've officially selected their franchise quarterback, they have the right idea.

Dallas Cowboys

Round 1: Mark Barron, S, Alabama

Round 2: Andre Branch, OLB, Clemson

Round 3: Justin Bethel, CB, Presbyterian

Defense, defense, defense. That's what the Cowboys need -- quality and depth at every possible defensive position. This would give them a safety, a pass-rusher and a cornerback. Cowboys fans would be overjoyed.

Philadelphia Eagles

Round 1: Fletcher Cox, DT, Mississippi State

Round 2 (46): Zach Brown, LB, North Carolina

Round 2 (51): Dwayne Allen, TE, Clemson

Round 3: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State

Chatter lately is that they might have to move up for Cox, but Mel says he doesn't have him rated high enough that he believes they will. He'd be their perfect pick, and Cousins in the third would be a nifty developmental QB prospect behind Michael Vick. A linebacker and a tight end in between -- Grade A indeed.

New York Giants

Round 1: Coby Fleener, TE, Stanford

Round 2: David Wilson, RB, Virginia Tech

Round 3: Donald Stephenson, OT, Oklahoma

Remember, this isn't what Mel thinks will happen, but what he'd do if he were in charge of the Giants. These are all need picks, and the Giants don't generally draft for need. These could also coincidentally be the best value picks at these spots, and if they are the Giants' draft would look great. But we'll see. I find it hard to believe they don't take a defensive player at all in the first three rounds.