Dallas Cowboys: 2013 nfl draft

Todd McShay's NFC East review

April, 30, 2013
Still sorting out what went down last week in the NFL draft, Todd McShay has selected Insider a "Best pick" and a "Questionable pick" for each team in the league. Here's what he came up with for the NFC East's teams:

Dallas Cowboys

Best: Gavin Escobar

Questionable: Travis Frederick

Todd says Escobar has the best hands of any tight end he evaluated for this draft. As for Frederick, as has been the case many places, Todd's issue is not with the player but rather how high he was picked. But I still don't know what any team saw Thursday night that would have made them comfortable with waiting a round or two for the offensive lineman they wanted.

New York Giants

Best: Justin Pugh

Questionable: Johnathan Hankins

Todd's opinion of the players is at the root of this evaluation. He likes Pugh a lot -- thinks he projects as a guard, but doesn't rule out tackle. He's less high on Hankins, saying he struggles with technique and offers little in the pass rush.

Philadelphia Eagles

Best: Lane Johnson

Questionable: Bennie Logan

Todd likes Johnson as a fit for the up-tempo offense Chip Kelly plans to run, because of his athleticism. He questions Logan as a guy who took plays off.

Washington Redskins

Best: Phillip Thomas

Questionable: David Amerson

Todd believes Thomas was undervalued and that Washington did well to find a potential 2013 starter in Round 4. He had a fourth-round grade on Amerson, and says the Redskins could have made a safer choice at 51. I agree, but safe doesn't appear to be what the Redskins were after. They were trying to hit home runs with their early picks, and they like Amerson's raw ability.

Eye of the beholder: The Cowboys' draft

April, 29, 2013
The way you feel about the Dallas Cowboys' 2013 draft seems to depend on the way you feel about how they handled the first round. Ashley Fox, feels they bungled it badly, and theorizes that they did so because Jerry Jones was distracted by his attendance at the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library earlier in the day.

[+] EnlargeTravis Frederick
Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY SportsCowboys first-round pick Travis Frederick projects as an immediate starter.
Now, I understand that Jerry excels at making himself an easy target. And I like Ashley's work. But on this point, I couldn't disagree with her more strongly. The way the Cowboys handled the first round has all the hallmarks of a coherent plan. A distracted decision-maker would have stayed put and taken the highest player on the board at No. 18, even if he didn't think that player was worth such a high pick. What the Cowboys did made sense on a number of levels.

First of all, they trade down with the 49ers, getting the 31st pick of the first round and the 12th pick of the third in exchange for that No. 18 pick. The biggest criticism we've heard is that they should have been able to get more from the 49ers, but different draft-value charts say different things on that and it takes two sides to make a deal. If they didn't have a player they liked at 18 and they saw a chance to get two that they did, then there's nothing wrong with taking that deal.

The player they ended up taking at 31, Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, projects as both an immediate and long-term starter for the Cowboys at either center or one of the guard spots. The second criticism is that they reached for him -- that they could have had him in the second or maybe even the third round. But (a) no one knows that for sure and (b) the 31st pick is practically the second round anyway. It's not as though they took Frederick 10th overall (or even 18th, for that matter). The Cowboys absolutely, 100 percent, more than any team needed anything in this entire draft, needed to come out of the first round with a new starter on the offensive line. They did. And they got an extra third-round pick out of the deal and used it on Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams, a new vertical threat for Tony Romo in the passing game.

Cowboys second-round draft pick Gavin Escobar joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his strengths as a tight end, the stress of the draft process and the thrill of working with Jason Witten and Tony Romo.

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Along the way, they added second-round tight end Gavin Escobar, who also offers the opportunity to expand their options in the passing game and represents the successor to Jason Witten down the road. With their original third-rounder, they added physical safety J.J. Wilcox, who could push for a starting spot this year. In the fourth they added a cornerback, B.W. Webb, deepening a position at which there's no such thing as too many bodies. In the fifth they took a running back, Joseph Randle, who didn't miss a game in college, to back up the injury-prone DeMarco Murray. And in the sixth they took project linebacker DeVonte Holloman.

They filled needs at good value in rounds two through six, and their second and third picks of the draft will help them add layers to their offense, offering Romo more options from play to play and game to game as his receiving threats become more numerous and varied. If it weren't for the weird way the first round went down, people would be hailing this as a fine draft for the Cowboys. And frankly, too many people are overreacting too strongly to the way the first round went down.

Chuck Cooperstein, Matt Mosley and Glenn "Stretch" Smith discuss the Cowboys' draft picks and who was influencing Jerry Jones' decisions.

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This was a lousy draft class, people. A bad year. Very little, if any, top-level talent, and if you're picking 18th that puts you in a tough spot. Considering that, and the fact that they needed to get an offensive lineman in the first round, I think the Cowboys acquitted themselves rather coolly. I certainly don't think the way they operated their first round indicates distraction or the lack of a plan. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Fans might be happier today had they gone offensive line again in the second or third round, or if they'd found a defensive tackle early. They could have stayed put at 18 and taken Sharrif Floyd, and perhaps that would have been hailed as a coup, since Floyd had been projected to go much earlier. But this is the part I never get. All we hear going into the draft is how useless all of these projections are, and then while the draft is going on everybody wants to use them to critique the picks. There was some good reason Floyd fell all the way to 23, and Dallas was hardly the only team to pass on him.

If Frederick never starts a game, or turns out to be a bust, then obviously it'll be easy to look back and say the Cowboys bungled this. But in a bad draft year, why not take the players you like instead of the ones the mock-drafters told you to like? I think the Cowboys got five players who could contribute right away, and Frederick could start on their line for the next eight years. I honestly don't see what's to rip.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s draft grades: NFC East

April, 29, 2013
Mel Kiper Jr.'s draft grades Insider are in. Let's take a look at his assessments of the NFC East's teams.

Philadelphia Eagles: B+

Mel gives the Eagles a B for needs and an A for value, especially liking top pick Lane Johnson and second-rounder Zach Ertz.

New York Giants: C+

They get a C for needs and a B for value, with Mel downgrading them for failing to address cornerback or linebacker.

Dallas Cowboys: C+

He gave them a B for needs and a C-minus for value. He's consistent with the popular opinion that they could have had first-rounder Travis Frederick much later, but he likes the middle- and late-round picks, especially running back Joseph Randle and safety J.J. Wilcox.

Washington Redskins: C+

They got a B-minus for needs and a C for value, and Mel says he bumped them up a bit because last year's Robert Griffin III trade included this year's first-round pick.

My take: I might have graded the Cowboys and Redskins a bit better -- Dallas because I'm not as down on the Frederick pick as a lot of people are. But I agree on the Eagles and Giants. We'll discuss these in much greater depth in the coming days.

Countdown Live: 2013 NFL draft, Rds. 4-7

April, 27, 2013
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts for Rounds 4-7 of the 2013 NFL draft.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET. See you there.

Countdown Live: 2013 NFL draft, Rds. 2-3

April, 26, 2013
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts for Rounds 2 and 3 of the 2013 NFL draft.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 6 p.m. ET. See you there.

Taylor: Cowboys are tough to trust

April, 26, 2013
The Dallas Cowboys had one of the more confusing first rounds of the draft Thursday. They got the offensive line help they needed in Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, but they went about it rather clumsily, trading down from No. 18 to No. 31 and taking a guy they might have been able to get tonight if they'd waited. This leaves their pick open to many possible interpretations. A lot of people hated it. I, personally, was not among them. The one thing on which I think everyone can agree is that the Cowboys' first round was a head-scratcher, and that it required a little bit of time to process and settle on a conclusion.

[+] EnlargeJones
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsJerry Jones and the Cowboys haven't earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to draft day moves.
Which is why I like the point Jean-Jacques Taylor makes in his column for ESPNDallas.com. Jacques acknowledges that the Cowboys addressed their most glaring need, and that trading out of pick 18 was a fine idea if they didn't have anyone there they liked. But ultimately he concludes that "this team's track record of poor drafting and questionable decision-making doesn't instill much confidence that they got it right Thursday."
Understand, the problem isn't necessarily with Frederick, because the Cowboys definitely need help on the offensive line.

The problem is it feels like the Cowboys wasted an opportunity to get a much more talented player with the 18th pick -- and they still could've had Frederick, the top-rated center and 70th-rated prospect according to ESPN's player rankings. Or somebody just as good, such as California's Brian Schwenke (ranked 72nd) or Alabama's Barrett Jones (ranked 97th) in the second round.

The crux of this is the trust factor. I build a fine case that what the Cowboys did makes sense. Watch:

  • They didn't have a player they liked at 18, so they got out of the pick and picked up an extra third-rounder.
  • Sure, you can argue that they should have been able to get more in return for the No. 18 pick, but you can't get what's not offered, and if you don't want to pick at 18 then any extra pick is worth the move.
    Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the first round of the NFL draft.

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  • The difference between what it might cost to sign the 18th pick and the 31st pick could be about $300,000, and if you don't think that matters to the Cowboys this offseason then you haven't been following very closely.
  • It's possible Frederick would have been there when they picked at No. 47, but it's also possible he wouldn't have been. Eight offensive linemen went in the top 20 picks this year. Six in the top 11. If the Cowboys turn out to have overvalued an offensive lineman in 2013, they won't be the only ones.
  • The offensive line was their most significant need by about 1,000 miles -- the single most crippling deficiency the team has year in and year out. If they take two more offensive linemen tonight, they won't be wrong. Reaching for an offensive lineman in this draft was not a bad idea for this particular team.

But all of that reasoning and logic would, as Jacques insinuates, be a lot easier to swallow if it were coming from, say, the Baltimore Ravens, or some other team with an established reputation of nailing the draft year in and year out. The Cowboys' recent drafts have produced some good players who appear to be part of a solid future core, but in general Jerry Jones has a well-earned reputation of drafting poorly. And that's a big reason why what happened Thursday night doesn't sit right with a lot of people. The Cowboys may have had their reasons for doing what they did, but history makes it hard to trust that their reasons were the right ones.

Second-round mock draft: NFC East

April, 26, 2013
The second and third rounds of the NFL draft are set for tonight back at Radio City Music Hall, and the second will begin at 5:30 p.m. CT. After a first round that saw nine offensive linemen, one quarterback and no running backs taken Thursday, it's possible tonight will have more star power than the first night did. Scouts, Inc. has done a second-round mock draft Insider, and this is what they've come up with for the NFC East's teams.

3 (35). Philadelphia Eagles: John Cyprien, S, Florida International

In this scenario, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith is off the board, taken by Jacksonville with the night's first pick, and the Eagles end up with the best remaining safety to fill a position of perennial need. Other possibilities I could imagine for the Eagles here include a defensive lineman with a 3-4 background, Stanford tight end Zach Ertz or Smith if he's available. I doubt they'll trade up for Smith (because they could have done so last night), and if he's gone I'm guessing they wait a few rounds for someone like Arizona quarterback Matt Scott.

15 (47). Dallas Cowboys: Kawann Short, DT, Purdue

After getting the interior offensive line help they so badly needed in the first round, this mock has the Cowboys turning to the interior of the defensive line, where Jay Ratliff always seems banged-up and Jason Hatcher is entering the final year of his contract. Short is a big talent whose question marks are about motivation and inconsistent college production. He could be a developmental guy for them -- help some in a rotation in the first year but more as a down-the-road replacement for one of the starters. I'd also have no issue with the Cowboys addressing safety here with someone like Cyprien or D.J. Swearinger. Could see them looking at a running back like Eddie Lacy or Montee Ball. And no, I absolutely do not think it would be a mistake for them to take another offensive lineman such as Menelik Watson or Larry Warford here.

17 (49). New York Giants: Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU

Linebacker is a need for the Giants. But as we've discussed, it's not one on which they tend to spend valuable resources. This is still a relatively high pick, and while Minter makes sense, I could easily see them spending this on a safety like the ones we've mentioned, a cornerback like Johnthan Banks or Jamar Taylor, a defensive end like Tank Carradine or even one of those running backs. They do like to have depth there.

19 (51). Washington Redskins: Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State

Finally, the Redskins make their first pick of this year's draft, and it's at a position where they need immediate help and long-term depth. This draft is deep in defensive backs, and the Redskins should be able to take advantage of that with a good cornerback or safety at this spot. Tyrann Mathieu is still on the board in this mock, but I'd be surprised if Washington went that way, especially with so many less questionable options available. Cyprien, Swearinger or Shamarko Thomas make sense if they want to go safety. Banks, Taylor, Blidi Wreh-Wilson or Banks' teammate, Darius Slay, are among the good options at corner. If they don't take a defensive back here, maybe it's because a tackle like Watson or Terron Armstead fell to them. And you can't rule out wide receiver as a possibility here either.

Cowboys cap weird night with lineman pick

April, 26, 2013

NEW YORK -- Well, I'm not going to rip the pick. I made a promise, and I'm keeping it. I wrote for weeks and weeks that the Dallas Cowboys needed to come out of the first round of this year's NFL draft with an offensive lineman, and they did. So I'm not getting on their case for it.

But man, did the Cowboys play the first round strangely.

Nate Newton joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the first round of the NFL draft.

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First of all, they traded their pick, No. 18 overall, to the 49ers for the 31st pick and the 74th pick (which is the 12th pick of the third round). Then, with the 31st pick, they selected Wisconsin center Travis Frederick, who was … not a guy anybody was talking about.

Who is Frederick? Well, Scouts Inc. ranked him the top center in this year's draft (which is good) and the 70th player overall (not so good, if he went 31st). Among offensive linemen, he ranked 12th in this draft, according to Scouts Inc., and he was the ninth one off the board. Those still on the board who got higher Scouts Inc. grades included tackles Menelik Watson and Terron Armstead and guard Larry Warford.

Couple that information with the fact that the traditional NFL trade-value chart says the Cowboys should have been able to get more than just an extra third-rounder for that No. 18 pick, and it's easy to say they overpaid for Frederick. You might even be able to argue that they could have had him in the second round if they'd waited.

But I don't know. Maybe it's the music here at Radio City Music Hall or the fact that the weather's getting nicer outside or that I finally feel like I'm getting back in shape after a couple of years of overeating and under-exercising. I'm looking at this pick, and I'm thinking these very positive things about it:

  • They needed interior offensive line help more than any team in the NFL needed anything in this entire draft, and this guy is an interior offensive lineman. He can challenge Phil Costa for the center's job or either starting guard for his.
  • He's a giant -- 6-foot-3⅝, 312 pounds -- and known as a physical presence in the run game. Run blocking might be a higher priority for the Cowboys in their ongoing hunt for line help than pass protection is, since left tackle is the one spot at which they're set and Tony Romo is pretty good at protecting himself and making plays on the run.
  • Just because Scouts Inc. ranked Warford 53rd and this guy 70th doesn't make the pick ridiculous. You pay your scouts to find guys who fit what you want to do, and then you trust them. All week, everybody told me the Cowboys needed to trust their board, and it appears what happened here was that they didn't have anyone they liked at 18 so they snagged an extra pick and moved down to take a guy they did like. If you think all that's left to you is second-rounders, then why not just start the second round two picks early and add a third-rounder that might help you maneuver into that second round Friday night?

As I always say, I can't predict the way these guys will play, and neither can the Cowboys or anyone else. And if you want to argue that they didn't get great value for their first-round pick, I really don't have a response. But this was a weird year for the first round. The top six offensive linemen went in the top 11 picks -- something that hadn't happened in the history of the NFL draft. Clearly, this was a year in which offensive linemen were being overvalued, so this pick kind of lines up with that.

Had they stayed put at 18 and picked Justin Pugh or Kyle Long, who went at 19 and 20, respectively, to the Giants and Bears, that might have felt like a reach, too. There was not a lot to like about this year's first round. And while they might have been clumsy about it, the Cowboys came out of it with something they apparently do like and definitely need. Can't rip it.

NFC East gets wise, looks to the line

April, 26, 2013
Justin Pugh, Lane Johnson & Travis FrederickAP Photo, Getty ImagesThe NFC East added offensive linemen Justin Pugh, Lane Johnson and Travis Frederick.

NEW YORK -- Three NFC East teams picked in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, and the combined weight of the three players they picked is 922 pounds. Finally, they're paying attention to what's important.

Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys each picked an offensive lineman in this year's first round. And while that had something to do with the oddity of a first round that included one quarterback, no running backs and nine offensive lineman, it also says a lot about how badly this division as a whole needs to address this long-neglected need.

Tackle Lane Johnson, tackle/guard Justin Pugh and center/guard Travis Frederick, the 2013 first-round picks of the Eagles, Giants and Cowboys, are no cosmic coincidence. They are medicine, ordered with a purpose by teams that have figured out where they're lacking and that they all need to muscle up in the short-term and long-term.

I am of the belief -- and have written at length on this blog -- that one of the main reasons the NFC East is in a down cycle is division-wide offensive line decay. And yes, the division is down. Over the past three seasons, the division's combined record is 97-101 (yes, counting postseason and the Super Bowl). No NFC East team has won 11 games since 2009, which was also the last year in which it fielded more than one playoff team. Two years ago, the Giants won the division with a 9-7 record. This past year, the Washington Redskins won it at 10-6. Bleh.

The NFC East has superstar talent at quarterback and running back and wide receiver and pass-rusher. But with the exception of a magical six-game run the Giants made at the end of the 2011 season, excellence has eluded its once-feared teams. And the consistent issue that seems to be holding them back is the offensive line. To wit:

The Giants have basically been getting by with an aging, patchwork group. Former second-round pick Will Beatty emerged as a star last year when finally healthy, but veterans Chris Snee and David Diehl are fading and Kevin Boothe and David Baas aren't special. Until Thursday night, the Giants hadn't taken a first-round lineman since Luke Petitgout in 1999. You can try and hit on free agents and second- and third-rounders for a while, but eventually you need to add some top-end talent to the mix. Enter Pugh, a college tackle who may project as a pro guard and offers versatility in the short-term and a possible long-term answer at any one of several positions.

The Eagles had a fine line in 2011, but four of their five starters missed significant time due to injury in 2012, and they finished 4-12 and changed head coaches. Enter Johnson, this year's No. 4 overall pick, who likely starts at right tackle right away, moving Todd Herremans inside to guard and serving as an eventual replacement for left tackle Jason Peters.

The Cowboys' neglect of the offensive line had reached epidemic proportions before they took tackle Tyron Smith in the first round in 2011, and if you watched them last year you came away thinking they needed to upgrade every one of the starting line positions but his. Enter Frederick, who was a surprise first-rounder, but not as much of a reach as he initially looked. With four tackles and the top two guards gone in the top 11 picks, the Cowboys decided to trade down from 18 and get the guy they wanted at the tail end of the first round. Quibble if you want with the return they got on their trade. And sure, maybe Frederick would have been there when they picked again Friday night at 47. But (a) maybe not, since offensive lineman are going faster than ever and (b) so what? The Cowboys' short-term and long-term needs at offensive line were significant enough that they needed to come away from this year's first round with an upgrade. Frederick is almost certain to be an upgrade over one or more of Phil Costa, Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, and the Cowboys were absolutely right to make this need a priority on this night.

The Redskins' line played fine in 2012 and has a superstar in left tackle Trent Williams. But a lot of its success has to do with the help it gets from its mobile quarterback. The Redskins remain unsettled at right tackle. They didn't have a first-round pick this year as a result of last year's deal for Robert Griffin III, but don't be surprised if they too look to address the line once they start picking Friday and Saturday.

This seems obvious, of course. It's a long-held NFL adage that the best way to build teams is through the lines. Consistent, reliable offensive line play helps you control games and maximize your skill-position talent. Deficient line play helps you squander your skill-position talent, or worse, make it more susceptible to injury. But while it may seem obvious from the outside, the NFC East's teams have let the line play lapse. Thursday was a clear sign that they have realized this and plan to address it moving forward. I don't think these three will be the last offensive linemen taken by NFC East teams in this year's draft, but each is vital to the division's effort to regain its status as one of the toughest in the NFL. Because thanks to the decay of its offensive lines over the past few years, the fact is that it has not been.

Countdown Live: 2013 NFL draft, Round 1

April, 25, 2013
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts for the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.

We'll be analyzing every pick from 1 to 32. We'll get started an hour early at 7 p.m. ET, so submit your questions and comments and we'll see you there.

First-round preview: Dallas Cowboys

April, 25, 2013
Where they're picking: No. 18

Conventional wisdom tells us the top six offensive linemen will be gone by 18, depriving the Cowboys of the chance to address their most significant short-term and long-term need. The mock drafts in which this happens have the Cowboys taking a defensive tackle such as Sheldon Richardson or Sylvester Williams at No. 18, and some are still connecting the Cowboys with Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro, since safety is a need as well. Everybody seems to agree that the Cowboys' dream scenario is that they get one of the draft's top two guards, either Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper, but no one seems to think either will fall to 18.

Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Kansas City to discuss Jerry Jones' attendance at the Bush Library on NFL draft day, what he expects the Chiefs to do with the No. 1 pick and tell a funny tale about Bill Clinton and Jerry Jones.

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History tells us that the conventional wisdom is wrong. The last time six offensive linemen went in the top 17 picks was 1966, when the league only had 15 teams in it. Guards don't tend to go early, since most teams don't assign top-half-of-first-round value to that position. History tells us the Cowboys will be able to get offensive line help if they want it in the first round. But history also tells us that the Cowboys tend to pick out a guy they really like in the first round (Dez Bryant, Tyron Smith and Morris Claiborne are the recent examples) and do what they can to get him.

They probably won't end up with Vaccaro. First of all, it's possible he goes earlier than 18 (say, to St. Louis at 16). Second of all, their needs on the lines and the comparative value at those positions likely will push them to take a linemen of one sort or the other in a draft whose second round is packed with starting-caliber safeties. Sure, it's possible Vaccaro is this year's Jerry Jones crush and there's nothing anyone else in the braintrust can do to talk him out of it. But I'd be surprised if they end up with the Texas safety.

They could shock us by taking a tight end. The Blogfather, Matt Mosley, says he's been hearing the Cowboys love Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, and if that's the case they could be making plans to move up to get him. While that would seem silly with Jason Witten still in place and at the top of his game, it's not completely crazy to find another weapon for Tony Romo in the passing game. If Eifert is the Cowboys' best player available, they could go for it. It would be foolish, and would leave them too short in too many other areas, but I'm not sure that would stop them.

My prediction: I'm leaning on history here and saying the mocks are all wrong and the Cowboys are going to be able to get one of those guards. Since we're making a pick, I'll say it's Chance Warmack who falls either all the way to 18 or at least into the 14-15 range that would allow them to make a sensible, cost-effective trade-up to get him. Not like last year's trade for Claiborne, which cost them their second-round pick, but maybe for a later-round pick or even a 2014 one.

Live: ESPN.com #bloggermock draft

April, 23, 2013
Join our ESPN.com NFL experts as they play general manager for their divisions and execute a 2013 first-round mock draft.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET. You can also participate via Twitter using the hashtag #bloggermock. See you there.

A new first-round OL name for Cowboys

April, 22, 2013
I spoke with Steve Muench of Scouts Inc., about the NFC East teams and the upcoming NFL draft in this Blogger Blitz video. We talked about all four teams -- even the Redskins, who aren't picking until late in the second round. Steve likes tackle Lane Johnson for the Eagles at No. 4 (assuming Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel are gone in the first three picks), figures on a cornerback for the Giants at No. 19 and expects that the Redskins will have good options at safety at No. 51.

But it's what Steve said about the Dallas Cowboys that really caught my attention. Steve agrees with the mock drafts that have the top six offensive linemen gone by the time Dallas picks, even though six offensive linemen haven't been picked in the first 17 picks since 1966, but there's a seventh offensive linemen Steve thinks would fit well and be a great pick for the Cowboys at No. 18 -- Syracuse's Justin Pugh, who played tackle in college but whose arms measured more like a guard's at the combine. Steve thinks Pugh could step in and play right away at right guard, and surely the Cowboys could use him there.

Galloway & Company discuss Jerry Jones' comments from the Cowboys' pre-draft news conference.

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Jerry Jones said Monday he expects offensive linemen to go early in this draft. Everybody does, because there are no quarterbacks or running backs anyone loves for early in the first round. Jones also said he'd be interested in trading down, which might not be a bad idea for the Cowboys if the top six offensive linemen are gone by 18 and they think they can get Pugh later in the round. But these pre-draft news conferences really don't mean much, because teams aren't really going to reveal anything about their plans in public.

If you've been reading regularly, you guys know I think the Cowboys absolutely need to come out of Thursday night's first round with a new starter at one of the offensive line positions. I think it's such a crying short-term and long-term need that they'd be nuts not to make it happen. We're having our ESPN.com blogger mock draft Tuesday, complete with trades, and I'll be making the Cowboys' pick and get a chance to put my money where my mouth is. I'm interested to see whether one of the top six linemen is there at 18 or if I'll have to try and maneuver down to get in position for Pugh. Even if they can get a starting offensive lineman in the second round as well, I think the Cowboys have to find one in the first.

Eight in the Box: Ideal first rounds

April, 19, 2013
NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

What would be the ideal first-round scenario for the Cowboys in next week's NFL draft?

Dallas Cowboys

Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.

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Because of the perceived lack of top-level skill-position talent in this year's draft, a lot of the mock drafts and projections have the top offensive linemen going off the board early. Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock Insider, for example, has six offensive linemen going in the top 12 picks, which means well before the Cowboys pick at 18 and probably too early for them to make a sensible trade-up to grab someone like Alabama guard Chance Warmack or North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper. This would be unfortunate and far from ideal for the Cowboys, but history offers hope. The last time six of the first 17 picks in the draft were offensive linemen was 1966, when there were only 15 teams in the league. Only three times since then -- 1977, 1985 and 2008 -- have as many as five offensive linemen been picked in the top 17. The Cowboys probably can't expect any of the top three tackles to fall to them, but their ideal first-round situation would be for Warmack, Cooper or even Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker to fall to 18 and allow them to shore up their most significant area of short-term and long-term need. If only one of those guys is still available by 14, the Cowboys should look into trading up to get him.

To see the ideal first-round scenario for the other NFC East teams, click here.

Kiper's 'Grade A' draft: NFC East

April, 18, 2013
Our man Mel Kiper, Jr. has posted his annual "Grade A" draft preview, which he says is not a mock draft but rather a simulation of the way the first three rounds of the draft would go if he were making the picks for each team based on his evaluation of their needs and his own rankings of the players. It's quite an undertaking, and it's available here Insider if you're an Insider subscriber. There are trades involved, including one in which the Lions trade with the Chiefs to move up and make cornerback Dee Milliner the first pick in the draft. I mean, honestly, not shilling for the company here, but it's the kind of thing I would think would make a draft-obsessed non-Insider reach for his or her credit card.

Anyway, here's what Mel's got for the NFC East teams:

Philadelphia Eagles

Round 1 (pick 4): Dion Jordan, LB, Oregon

Round 1 (pick 25, from Minnesota, in exchange for 2nd-round picks in 2013 and 2014): Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Round 3 (pick 67): Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State

My take: Pass-rusher Jordan makes a ton of sense for his college coach at No. 4, but the big move here is the trade-back into the first round for Smith. Lots of people like the idea of Smith with Chip Kelly, and if Kelly likes it too and can get Smith without the No. 4 pick in the draft, you'd have to call that a coup -- especially for a team that wouldn't need to start Smith right away. Obviously, the idea of the top quarterback in the draft lasting until pick 25 in this day and age is impossibly farfetched. But again, this isn't about what's likely to happen. It's about what would happen if Mel were in charge of every team's draft.

Dallas Cowboys

Round 1 (pick 18): Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

Round 2 (pick 47): Larry Warford, G, Kentucky

Round 3 (pick 80): Joe Kruger, DE, Utah

My take: I think a lot of people would be surprised to see the Cowboys use two of their first three picks on defensive linemen. But given that they're transitioning to a 4-3 and have depth and age issues on the line, it's not a bad way to go. In Mel's scenario, the draft's top six offensive linemen all go in the top 12 (something that has never happened in draft history, but again, this isn't meant as a prediction), and the Cowboys are forced to wait until Round 2 to address their most desperate need. Picking Williams with safety Kenny Vaccaro still on the board might frustrate Cowboys fans who like Vaccaro and yearn for a big-play safety, but it also might be the smarter long-term value play.

New York Giants

Round 1 (pick 19): Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

Round 2 (pick 49): Corey Lemonier, DE, Auburn

Round 3 (pick 81): Jordan Reed, TE, Florida

My take: Mel admits he knows the Giants never take linebackers in the first round, but this is his draft, not theirs. Ogletree would be a great fit, there is no doubt, and they'd get their pass-rusher in the second round. What's missing here is a cornerback, and I'd be very surprised if the Giants went through the first three rounds without addressing that position.

Washington Redskins

Round 2 (pick 51): D.J. Swearinger, S, South Carolina

Round 3 (pick 85): Robert Alford, CB, Southeast Louisiana

My take: Safety/cornerback is the most likely and sensible way to go for the Redskins with their first two picks this year, and Swearinger is a guy who could start for them right away. Alford is a guy Mel likes as a high-ceiling developmental player, and the Redskins don't have as immediate a need at that position as they do at safety.

So what do you guys think?