Dallas Cowboys: Mel Kiper
If you're an ESPN Insider, you can click here for Kiper's comments.
To paraphrase, Kiper liked what Travis Frederick did, even if he felt the Cowboys could have gotten him in the second round. Technically, that was just two picks later since they moved down to No. 31. And in the Cowboys' draft grades, Frederick was a second round pick because they had only 18 players with first-round grades. He was also a big fan of the Terrance Williams' pick in the third round.
He still has faith that second rounder Gavin Escobar will be a starter. As I wrote over the weekend, it will be the No. 1 job of new tight ends coach Mike Pope to make sure Escobar develops. Will he ever be a true on-the-line tight end? I'm not sure of that.
Kiper said J.J. Wilcox was not ready to start but has value. To me, it's a little disconcerting that the coaches would not insert Wilcox into the starting lineup late in the season for Jeff Heath, an undrafted free agent. Joseph Randle has the "upside of a No. 1 back," according to Kiper, which might be strong. I like Randle, but there's a lot to improve upon. Kiper didn't seem too impressed with DeVonte Holloman, but I would say he had his best game in the finale versus the Philadelphia Eagles.
If it were me, I would've kept the Cowboys at a C+ but there is one thing we do agree upon and Kiper hits it with his final sentence: "It's just still hard for me to believe a defensive lineman wasn't a part of the haul, given the age of that group."
The Cowboys have had serious drafting issues over the years, but 2008 represents two misses in the first 25 picks.
The Cowboys could have had Chris Johnson, Ray Rice or Matt Forte with the 22nd overall pick but took Jones in part because he came from a two-back system in Arkansas and showed he could do more with less. Johnson has had a 2,000-yard season and has had more than 1,000 yards in every season. Rice and Forte have four 1,000-yard seasons apiece.
Jones topped out at 800 in 2010 and the Cowboys chose not to re-sign him after the 2012 season.
The Cowboys moved up to get Jenkins with the 25th pick in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks.
Jenkins is remembered more for tackles he chose not to make rather than gutting out a 2011 season in which he played with a badly damaged shoulder. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 2009 after he had five interceptions.
The Cowboys signed Orlando Scandrick to an extension in 2011 and moved up to take Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick in 2012 as Jenkins rehabbed from the shoulder surgery mostly away from Valley Ranch. The Cowboys made no effort to re-sign Jenkins, and he ended up with a one-year deal from the Oakland Raiders in 2013.
Teams can’t miss on first-round picks. They have to get two contracts out of them, but the last first-round pick they have extended with a multiyear deal before the rookie deal expired was DeMarcus Ware (2005). Anthony Spencer, their first-rounder in 2007, was given the franchise tag in back-to-back years but is a free agent this March. Dez Bryant (2010) figures to break that trend soon.
Kiper had the Cowboys choosing wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who went No. 205 overall to the Indianapolis Colts, and defensive tackle Kendall Langford.
The Garcon pick is interesting because it likely would have meant the Cowboys would not have dealt for Roy Williams in the middle of the 2008 season and thus saved themselves from a disastrous deal. Langford has been solid for the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams.
Fear not, however, because the Cowboys do have Kiper’s No. 24 pick on their roster. He had Brandon Carr, who was a fifth-round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs, going to the Tennessee Titans. Of course, Kiper also mentioned Carr’s play the past two seasons has been “middle of the road.” Among the players Kiper also considered for the first round was wide receiver Danny Amendola, who was an undrafted free agent by the Cowboys that year.
So there’s that.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma.
In this mock, the top two tackles (Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher) go to Kansas City and Jacksonville with the first two picks and the Raiders take defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd at No. 4. So Todd gives the Eagles Johnson, who seems to be a fast riser and has been identified by draft analysts as a good fit with Chip Kelly's offense due to his athleticism. (Never gets old, right?) And while I have no issue with the Eagles going offensive tackle at No. 4, this feels high for Johnson with defensive guys like Dion Jordan and Star Lotulelei still on the board. If Fisher or Joeckel is there, I think they'll bite. But if those guys are gone, I'm thinking defense for the Eagles at No. 4.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri.
Look. Basically, I've decided I'm not going to believe in this historic first-round run on offensive linemen until I see it. Todd has six offensive linemen being taken in the top 15, which has not happened since 1966. And while I acknowledge that this is a somewhat unique draft devoid of Andrew Luck/Robert Griffin III/Trent Richardson-type skill position talent at the top, I still feel like somebody's going to draft a quarterback or two earlier than we think they should. Three days before the 2011 NFL draft, you couldn't find a mock that had Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder all going in the top 12, and yet there they all went.
Some of the teams drafting in the first half of the first round are doing so every year, and you don't become one of those teams by making good decisions on draft day. The Cowboys need an offensive lineman badly in the first round, and while I respect the heck out of Todd's work and Mel Kiper's work, I'm leaning on history for my belief that one of the top six offensive linemen will be there for Dallas to take at 18. If not, absolutely a three-technique defensive lineman is a great pick here as long as they're going to grab a guard in Round 2. I just don't think it comes to that.
19. New York Giants: D.J. Hayden, CB, Houston.
Well, here's a new name for the Giants. I like what Todd's doing here, applying a big pile of history that tells us the Giants don't like to take linebackers and offensive linemen in the first round and identifying a position they do, historically, consider worthy of a first-round pick. In this mock, Hayden is the third defensive back off the board, following Alabama corner Dee Milliner (to Tennessee at 10) and Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro (to St. Louis at 16). I don't know how the Giants have him rated vis-a-vis guys like Desmond Trufant and Xavier Rhodes, but in no way should anyone be surprised if they take a cornerback here.
What would be the ideal first-round scenario for the Cowboys in next week's NFL draft?
|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.
To see the ideal first-round scenario for the other NFC East teams, click here.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama. Can't fault the Eagles if they take a cornerback here. Can't fault anyone for taking an Alabama kid. I think they should go with Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel if he's there, but Mel has him going No. 1 to Andy Reid and the Chiefs, so he's not.
18. Dallas Cowboys: Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina: The Cowboys need to address one of their lines in the first round, and the top guards this year are exceptionally highly rated. So while a tackle might be preferable, there would be nothing wrong with strengthening an area of significant weakness. Of course, you know the Cowboys will trade up for some big-game guy and reduce their inventory of picks again, but assuming common sense prevails this time, a lineman at 18 works fine.
19. New York Giants: Sam Montgomery, DE, LSU: I think the Giants need to think offensive line here, too, but they don't, and when you're projecting the draft it's never a bad idea to project a pass rusher to the Giants in the first round. That's where they think the first-round value is, and they have some track record to back it up.
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.
Todd McShay's Mock Draft has the Cowboys taking troubled cornerback Janoris Jenkins from North Alabama. He was kicked off the team at Florida for various offenses.
Jenkins performed well during Senior Bowl practices but his off-the-field issues make him a risk.
Here's what McShay had to say about Jenkins: "Corner is a top need area, and Jenkins proved at the Senior Bowl that he's still an elite cover corner after spending a year at the Division II level. Dallas will need to get comfortable with his character issues, though, including legal issues that led to his dismissal from the Florida program."
It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys go that route. Jerry Jones isn't fond of players with drug issues and Jason Garrett doesn't want players with off-the-field problems in his locker room. While he wasn't against the Cowboys drafting Dez Bryant, he wasn't the head coach, Wade Phillips was, so he didn't have the final say.
Now Garrett does.
Jenkins has said he's willing to tell all about his troubles at Florida.
Mel Kiper's first Mock Draft had the Cowboys taking Stanford guard David DeCastro, but McShay has DeCastro going to Arizona at No. 13.
Here's McShay's first round. You have to be an ESPN Insider to view it.
Kiper also ranks former Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller second behind Cam Newton. Former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton checks in at No. 5.
The Cowboys got significant playing time from young players in 2011. We rank the top rookies of 2011.
5. Bill Nagy. He earned a starting job coming out of training camp as the left guard before suffering a fractured right ankle at New England on Oct. 16. Nagy, however, might have to fight for a starting spot with the Cowboys trying to improve the interior of the offensive line next season.
4. Alex Albright. The outside linebacker was one of four undrafted rookies to make the squad. He played mainly special teams but saw some defensive snaps late in the season. He will get a chance to play more in 2012 with the possible departure of outside linebacker Anthony Spencer to free agency. He can also play a little inside, so that gives him flexibility.
3. Dan Bailey. The kicker made 26 consecutive field goals, tied for second-best mark in franchise history. Bailey also won some big games and most importantly beat out David Buehler for the field goal job. Bailey converted 86.5 percent of his field goals and tied for fifth in the league with 135 points made in 2011.
2. DeMarco Murray. He burst onto the scene with that franchise-record 252-yard rushing effort against St. Louis. Murray led rookie running backs with 897 yards and the closest anyone came to him was Washington's Roy Helu and his 640. Murray enters training camp as the starting running back.
1. Tyron Smith. The ninth pick of the draft was a solid performer at right tackle and most likely will move to the premier position of the line, left tackle, in 2011. Smith's ability to adjust during the course of the season was one of his biggest assets, and he can only get better.
That year the Cowboys drafted linebacker Bobby Carpenter from Ohio State. Carpenter's claim to fame might have been that NFC wild-card playoff loss at Seattle where he played out of his mind.
|Ben and Skin ask if you would you give up Demarco Murray or Sean Lee to get that extra little bump to move up in the draft? Which one would you part with?
Kiper now says the Cowboys should have taken South Carolina cornerback Johnathan Joseph with the 18th pick. Kiper also says Houston should have bypassed Mario Williams with the top pick and selected Haloti Ngata, the defensive tackle from Oregon.
Here's a link to Kiper's selections (you need to be an ESPN Insider to view it).
We look at the Cowboys' draft picks that year:
Bobby Carpenter, first round, LB: The Cowboys could never find a role for Carpenter, whether it was at inside linebacker or outside linebacker. He just wasn't physical enough and always seemed overmatched. The best thing about Carpenter is he became one of Tony Romo's closest friends. After the Cowboys moved on from Carpenter, with a trade to St. Louis for tackle Alex Barron, he switched teams again. Carpenter played for Detroit in 2011 and picked off a Romo pass in the second half as part of the Lions' dramatic rally to overcome a 24-3 deficit.
Anthony Fasano, second round, TE: A physical tight end that just never took his game to the next level. He wasn't going to compete on Jason Witten's level, but he wasn't athletic enough, like Martellus Bennett was, to warrant more playing time. Cowboys eventually traded him to the Miami Dolphins. Fasano has been pretty good in Miami, catching 18 touchdowns in four seasons while Bennett has just four in four seasons.
Jason Hatcher, third round, DE: It took some time but Hatcher finally emerged as the pass-rushing end the Cowboys thought they had when they selected him from Grambling. Hatcher eventually took a starting role at end this season from Marcus Spears, a former first-round pick. Hatcher finished the season with a career-high 4.5 sacks. He will probably start at end in 2012. Hatcher is the only player from this draft class still on the team.
Skyler Green, fourth round, WR: Bill Parcells had plans for this man. The problem was that the plans were a mess. A returner, a wide receiver and a running back eventually, Green couldn't find any playing time. The Cowboys should have passed on him unless they had a defined role for him, and they didn't.
Patrick Watkins, fifth round, S: He started nine games his rookie season, picking off three passes and knocking down seven more. But Watkins wasn't physical enough for the defensive coaches and while a free safety had trouble making plays on the ball. He didn't play in the NFL last season after spending 2010 in San Diego. He was long and lean, very athletic, but just couldn't find consistency.
Montavious Stanley, sixth round, DT: He's bounced around among five NFL teams, including two stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Stanley just wasn't a fit with the Cowboys. He had the size to play inside (6-2, 302 pounds), but like most late round picks, he didn't play with the needed consistency.
Pat McQuistan, seventh round, T: He might have been a nice find to possibly replace either Flozell Adams or Marc Colombo at one of the tackle spots, but he never developed into what the Cowboys hoped. He played mainly on special teams before going to Miami in 2010. He did start eight games for the Dolphins and in 2011 he played 10 games for the New Orleans Saints.
E.J. Whitley, seventh round, G: The Texas Tech alum was the 224th player selected that year. He didn't do enough to warrant a roster spot.
If this pans out it will mark the second consecutive draft the Cowboys take an offensive lineman. Last year, tackle Tyron Smith was taken at No. 9.
In his position rankings, Kiper has DeCastro (6-foot-5, 310 pounds) as the best guard in the draft, followed by Georgia's Cordy Glenn (6-foot-5, 320 pounds).
Here's what Scouts Inc. had to say about DeCastro's toughness: "Takes pride in craft and works to finish assignment. Flashes a mean streak but would like to see it with more consistency. Will chase play downfield and looks to clean up piles. Plays with the grinders mentality necessary for an interior offensive lineman."
The depth at guard is young with Bill Nagy, Kevin Kowalski, David Arkin and Daniel Loper. There are veterans as well at this spot, starting with left guard Kyle Kosier, followed by right guards Montrae Holland and Derrick Dockery.
Kosier's health and age seem to be a factor with the Cowboys. However, Kosier did a nice job in helping Smith with communication in 2011. Holland and Dockery are solid veterans who battled injuries at times and with them being free agents, it's uncertain if they'll return.
|Deion Sanders doesn't hold back when calling out the 2011 Dallas Cowboys and their shortcomings.
Summary: I said then that I liked the conviction Dallas had to get younger on the offensive line, stay at No. 9 and take Tyron Smith, even though that was no home run in terms of value. Still, that pick turned into a win for the Cowboys. Smith, who started all season as a 20-year-old, played on the right side, but all indications are he could develop into a blindside tackle if they find it necessary to move him there. The grade rises if he can. Right now, a right tackle isn't your goal with a lineman taken at No. 9 overall. Bruce Carter’s NFL script is still unwritten, but DeMarco Murray obviously was a great value in the third before he went down for the year. Murray's injury, incidentally, is why it's hard to ever say a great running back out of the third round is a "steal" -- RBs land in the third because you expect them to get hurt. It's just reality. There isn't much else here so far. Dwayne Harris flashed in the preseason but wasn't a factor. Aside from Smith, the best rookie was kicker Dan Bailey, but alas, he wasn't drafted and thus can't be factored in here.
My take: I would’ve kept it at a B-minus maybe even given it a B because you knew going into the season that Carter was facing a redshirt season because of the knee injury. Murray changed the Cowboys season and he didn’t suffer the type of injury that labels guys as “injury prone.” This was a fractured ankle. He’s largely right about the rest of the draft class, but Bill Nagy was a starter before he got hurt. Now, did he earn the starting spot or was it a case of him being the best of a “meh” lot?
I think too much is put into the left and right tackle breakdown. Look at the six games the Cowboys play against NFC East foes: the left and right tackle have to block some hellacious pass rushers. Washington has Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. The Giants have Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. The Eagles have Trent Cole and Jason Babin. You better have top-flight tackles on both sides to exist.
By some accounts, Smith was among the best tackles in the game as a rookie. That seems like pretty good value at the No. 9 pick.
Here are the mock drafts:
Bryan Broadus, ESPN Dallas picks Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College
Mel Kiper, ESPN, chooses Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal.
UPDATE: Mel has hedged his pick, saying he thinks the Cowboys will now take USC OT Tyron Smith.
Todd McShay, ESPN, selects J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
Don Banks, SI, likes Tyron Smith, T, USC
Mike Maylock, NFL.com, also likes Tyron Smith, T, USC
(One note, Pat Kirwan, Steve Wyche and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com all picked Smith as well in their final mock drafts)
Rob Rang, NFLDraft Scout, projects Anthony Castonzo, T, Boston College
(Chad Reuter of NFLDraft Scout is picking Smith)
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News picks Smith and Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram selects Castonzo. One note, you must be an ESPN Insider to read Kiper and McShay's mock drafts. Please check it out, it's worth the time and effort.
Mel Kiper Jr. targets the Dallas Cowboys as one of the teams that potentially could move up or down on draft day. Watch above.
And who might the Cowboys select if they stay put at No. 9? Former NFL scout Bryan Broaddus has submitted his first Mock Draft as we have less than two weeks until the real thing.
Florida center Mike Pouncey, who visited Valley Ranch on Wednesday, said on Twitter he expects to be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
"Headed back to Pittsburgh ... would be shocked if i wasn't in a dallas uniform nxt year! The draft is april 28th so we will see ... To all the steelers fans i would love to be playing for the steelers and if i had a choice i would but it isnt my choice ...
The Cowboys have been projected in several mock drafts to take either USC tackle Tyron Smith or Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara. Two recent mock drafts -- by Todd McShay and Mel Kiper -- have the Cowboys drafting Smith.
Headed back to pittsburgh.... would be shocked if i wasnt in a dallas uniform nxt year! The draft is april 28th so we will see.... To all the steelers fans i would love to be playing for the steelers and if i had a choice i would but it isnt my choice....
McShay has Pouncey being selected by the Miami Dolphins at No. 15, while Kiper has him going to the New York Giants at No. 19.
It's interesting if the Cowboys do pick a center/guard over a tackle. Despite going to the Pro Bowl last season, center Andre Gurode has knee issues that concern the organization. Left guard Kyle Kosier is a free agent who will turn 33 in November. And while Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett would like to bring Kosier back, his age could be a concern. If you can get younger at this position, a team should do it.
The Cowboys' other guard, Leonard Davis, didn't have his best season in 2010, but it would seem he would return in 2011.
If you're a team, like the Dallas Cowboys, that needs to address the offensive line but is among the first 10 picks, for the first time, you may have matching value for that spot.
That player? USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith.
The other player that has impressed Kiper -- and NFL scouts -- immensely is DeSoto High School product Von Miller, the linebacker who dazzled at Texas A&M. How much has Miller impressed? Kiper has him at No. 2, and possibly challenging LSU's Patrick Peterson as the best available talent in the NFL draft.
For more on Kiper's Big Board (it's Insider content), click here.