McShay's Cowboys draft 'scenarios'

April, 11, 2012
4/11/12
6:14
PM ET
Todd McShay's latest mock draft is what he calls "scenario-based Insider," which is his effort to present a number of different possibilities for each team in the first round, rather than a best guess of one particular player. It's a good way to go, especially the further down the round you go. The Washington Redskins, for example, have only two scenarios, and everyone knows what they are.

But I thought I'd take a look at the Dallas Cowboys' portion of Todd's scenario-based first round. The main reason I picked the Cowboys is that we haven't had a Cowboys post yet today, and I don't want my Cowboys fans to think I've forgotten about them. Perhaps we'll look at the Eagles' and Giants' scenarios Thursday. But we've had lots of Giants today and some Eagles as well, and this thing is Insider anyway, so let's keep it focused on Big D for now, mmmkay?

Todd's first scenario for the Cowboys at No. 14 is Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe, and we've already discussed why a big nose tackle makes sense for the Cowboys even if they aren't ready to move Jay Ratliff to defensive end full-time. Rob Ryan likes to vary his fronts, and Poe's versatility would help. Mississippi State's Fletcher Cox would help in the same ways, but Todd has him gone at No. 9 to Carolina.

Scenario No. 2 is Alabama safety Mark Barron, because "The Cowboys have been searching for some time for a versatile, do-it-all safety who can be a quarterback in the secondary." We've raised Barron here as well, and it would be a sensible pick. As I've said many times, I think the right thing for the Cowboys to do in the first round (and possibly in each of the first three or four rounds) is to take the best defensive player still on their board.

Scenario No. 3 is Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd, who seems like a fast mover these days. Todd actually has him going one pick earlier, as Arizona'a top scenario. But if he's there at 14, he'd be the kind of pick that would remind you of Cowboys drafts past. That might make Tony Romo happy, but it's not necessarily what they should do, given their needs on defense.

Scenario No. 4 is LSU defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who "is a better overall player than Poe but who might not be the best fit in the middle in a 3-4." Again, though, versatility on the line and help for the pass rush, even if he has to play 3-4 defensive end in Dallas.

And finally, scenario No. 5 has the Cowboys taking South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore. As is the case with safety, the Cowboys could stand to add depth at corner, and I don't think they could go wrong taking their highest-rated defensive back at this point.

Notice that not one of these scenarios includes an offensive lineman. I think Todd's on the money here. The work the Cowboys did in last year's draft and this year's free agency is going to have to suffice on the offensive line. I think they could get better at center, but an interior lineman likely doesn't represent good value in the middle of the first round.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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