- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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There was concern, I won't lie, as I sat there with the No. 18 pick for the Dallas Cowboys in the ESPN.com blogger mock draft. Dallas absolutely needs to come out of the first round with a new starting offensive lineman, and they were going off the board quickly. The top three tackles went in the top five picks, and when guard Chance Warmack went to Arizona at No. 7, I got worried.
Eyeing North Carolina's Jonathan Cooper, who was still on the board at No. 10, I reached out to Paul Kuharsky to ask if the Titans wanted to trade down. He said they did. I offered Dallas' first-round pick and third-round pick (Picks 18 and 80) for the No. 10. Paul countered by offering Picks 10 and 142 (fifth round) for Picks 18 and 47 (second round). I said I couldn't do that, after ripping the Cowboys for giving up their second-round pick last year to move up for Morris Claiborne. Don't want to be hypocritical, right?
So Paul and I talked about some possibilities involving 2014 compensation, but we couldn't agree on it, and he ended up taking Sharrif Floyd for the Titans at No. 10. My next move was to reach out to Bill Williamson, who was picking for the Chargers at No. 11. I made the same offer to him -- the 18 and the 80 -- but he said he was going to stay put and make a pick. He picked Cooper, which obviously disappointed me-as-Cowboys.
Now I had my eye on D.J. Fluker, the Alabama tackle who would allow the Cowboys to bid goodbye to Doug Free and help solidify the run game. I think he's the absolute perfect guy for the Cowboys at 18 if the guards are gone by then, and the only team I was still afraid might snatch him away was Carolina at 14. Fluker didn't feel worthy of trading up for, so I decided I'd stay put and hope he fell to 18, and if he didn't, I'd look into trading down and going after someone like Syracuse's Justin Pugh.
But Pat Yasinskas took Sheldon Richardson for Carolina at 14. And (because I know you guys want to know) Mike Sando took safety Kenny Vaccaro for the Rams at 16. And lo and behold, there was Fluker still sitting there at 18 for the Cowboys. I ran to the podium.
Will the Cowboys do the same if the same situation plays out Thursday night? It doesn't sound like them. But I think they'd be wise to take Fluker. And I don't even think they'd be nuts to take an offensive lineman in the second round as well. The need -- short term and long term -- is that significant.