The Super Bowl is still more than a week away and the coaches from the other 30 teams are just barely getting involved in talent evaluation, so mock draft speculation is way premature. Especially since free agency hasn’t opened yet and what happens there will greatly impact the draft. Still, it’s a lot of fun.
While I’ll be tracking overall 2008 NFL mock drafts on a serious basis in a couple of months, I think it’ll be more enjoyable at this juncture to focus my energy on guesses about what the Dallas Cowboys might do.
The consensus, which I share, is that the team’s main needs are to get younger at wide receiver (both Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn are in their 30s and the latter may be done), better at cornerback (you need three studs in the modern NFL and the Cowboys have only one-and-a-half in Terance Newman and Anthony Henry), and deeper at running back (Julius Jones will almost certainly go in free agency and Marion Barber can’t shoulder the burden on his own). And another offensive lineman or two certainly couldn’t hurt.
By all accounts, this draft is rich in talent at running back and offensive line and decent at wide receiver and corner, so the ‘Boys should do well if the Old Jerry Jones continues to stay away and we don’t reach for Quincy Carter-type players. The Cowboys currently own the 22nd (via last year’s trade with Cleveland) and 28th picks (their own) but Jones is known for wheeling and dealing, so they could pick anywhere.
Most of the mocks I’ve seen have Dallas taking either a WR or CB with the first pick and a RB with the second. While I’d argue RB is a 2nd or 3rd round need — since we’re talking MBIII’s backup here unless he gets away in free agency — the draft is apparently so rich in RB talent that “best available athlete” trumps need.
- 22. Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma: A great athlete and a scouting department that focuses especial attention on the Big 12 makes this a natural fit.
28. Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas: Jerry Jones won’t be able to resist a fellow Razorback here.
Rick Herrin (FWST) thinks Michigan WR Mario Manningham, Oklahoma CB Reggie Smith, and Arkansas RB Felix Jones are some very likely candidates.
Gregory Cox (FootballExpert.com):
22) Dallas (via Cleveland) â€“ WR Limas Sweed (Texas)
The Cowboys probably thought this pick would be much higher when they traded for it last year. Even though their offense was explosive, someone to hurt opponents taking away Terrell Owens is a priority. Glenn is just about done and Crayton is merely average. Several times this year Owens was limited to under 50 yards receiving. They were 4-2 in those games, 9-0 otherwise and two of those wins were by 1 point. Sweed has the tangibles you look for and might even develop into a T.O. clone.
28) Dallas â€“ RB Rashard Mendenhall (Illinois)
Dreams of Darren McFadden danced in the head of Jerry Jones when he traded with Cleveland last year, but since that pick wound up being so much lower than expected this is what he is left with unless he packages two selections for a trade up. Mendenhall isnâ€™t a bad consolation prize if as expected the team parts ways with Julius Jones. I think Felix Jones (Arkansas) played his way out of the first round in the Cotton Bowl, but Steve Slaton (West Virginia) is another player to consider. Mendenhall gets the nod for having his sixth game over 170 total yards (214) against USC while his team getting thumped 49-17. Heâ€™ll replace Julius Jones.
Chris Steuber (Scout.com)
22. WR Mario Manningham, Michigan
Even though the Cowboys are picking up Terrell Owens’ roster bonus next season, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t think about the future. T.O. and Terry Glenn are in their thirties, so adding a young playmaker like Mario Manningham will give Dallas a young receiver to build around.
28. OT Sam Baker, USC
The Cowboys addressed the receiver position with their first selection, so now it’s time to give Tony Romo some more protection up front. Surprised that Sam Baker is still available, the Cowboys draft the USC All-American.
22. Dallas Cowboys: DeSean Jackson, WR/PR, California
This pick is from Cleveland. I had a corner going here earlier, but with all of the top-tier guys off the board, DeSean Jackson becomes the most obvious option. With Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn nearing retirement, and Patrick Crayton doing everything in his power to knock his own team out of the playoffs, Dallas needs help at wide out.
28. Dallas Cowboys: Aqib Talib, CB, Kansas
Terence Newman and Anthony Henry aren’t exactly young. Newman will be 30 in September 2008, while Henry doesn’t have many productive seasons remaining in the NFL. Jacques Reeves sucks.
Reeves is fine, really, for a number 3 guy but he’s certainly not someone you’d want to be grooming for the number 1 slot. If Talib is still available at 22, let alone at 28, Dallas takes him. Most projections have him long gone by then, though.
Al Fronczak (EastCoastSports)
22. Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland) CB Tracy Porter (Indiana)…OT will be a need if they aren’t able to re-sign OT Flozell Adams and their WR’s are getting up there in age…but CB is also a need and Porter’s stock is rising.
28. Dallas Cowboys – HB Felix Jones (Arkansas)…The Cowboys could move down and out of this pick, but if they stay put they will choose between a HB, a WR or an OT…Jones would be a good compliment to Marion Barber.
Jones is a name we’re seeing a lot.
Ricky Dimon (FF Toolbox)
22. Antoine Cason, CB, Arizona
The Jacksonville defense was solid in the regular season, but only ordinary in defending the pass. Cason enjoyed a strong senior campaign at Arizona and he is the most experienced cornerback on the board. The Jaguars are close to becoming an elite team, so you can bet they want instant impact. [No, this doesn't make any sense. But he's got him listed under Dallas -- and he's a name I've heard here from other sources.]
28. Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma
Kelly has elite size (6-4, 215 pounds) and he enjoyed another strong season for the Big 12 Champion Oklahoma Sooners. Terry Glenn and Terrell Owens are only getting older for the Cowboys.
I’d love me a tall WR here.
22. CB, Reggie Smith, Oklahoma From Cleveland: Smith is a great fit here because at 6′ 1″ 202 pounds he has the size and talent to play corner or safety. I like him as a replacement for the struggling Roy Williams.
28. WR, DeSean Jackson, California An explosive returner/receiver. He is raw as a receiver, but is a game breaker as a returner. Didn’t dominate last year and at 5′ 11″ 168 pounds has a small frame.
Well, Roy Williams isn’t going anywhere with his contract. And a small WR that didn’t even dominate in the PAC-10? No thanks.
22 Dal (Clev) Malcolm Kelly WR Oklahoma Jr.
28 Dal Aqib Talib CB Kansas Jr.
A sweet outcome if it happens, addressing both the team’s main needs and still getting great players. I don’t see Talib falling to Dallas, though, let alone at the 28th spot.
Scott Wright (NFL Draft Countdown):
22. LEODIS MCKELVIN, CB, Troy
After having so much luck with DeMarcus Ware why not go back to the same Troy program for some help at cornerback? Anyone who watched the Cowboys this year saw Jacques Reeves get picked on early and often so at the very least Dallas needs an upgrade in the nickel and if Anthony Henry ever makes his long-anticipated move to safety corner just becomes that much more of a glaring need. You might not know a lot about Leodis McKelvin just yet but you will soon because not only does he have prototypical size (5-11, 190) and speed (4.45) but he’s also an excellent return man.
28. FELIX JONES, RB, Arkansas
With their second #1 pick the Cowboys could feel like they are playing with house money to a degree and while everyone assumes that Arkansas alumnus Jerry Jones wants Darren McFadden he might have to settle for another Hog running back. Julius Jones is an unrestricted free agent who is not expected back and Felix Jones would be a perfect replacement, providing some lightning to Marion Barber’s thunder. Felix was also an All-American kick returner in college so that would be an added bonus. Wideout could be another possibility here since Terry Glenn has been wearing down.
Dallas Cowboys (from Cleveland) – Malcolm Kelly, WR, Oklahoma Â°
Terrell Owens is 34, and he is entering the final year of his contract with the Cowboys. Compound that with the fact that Terry Glenn turns 34 in July, and it would seem that WR should be a top priority for Dallas.
Going first round for a wideout has not been Dallas’ style in recent years, but with a talented player like Kelly available, the team may opt to go that route this year. At 6’4″ 220, Kelly has prototype size, and while his 4.55 speed isn’t world beater, he has the ability to gain separation just by leaping. With a year to work slowly into the system, Kelly could be primed to take over a starting slot in 2009.
28. Dallas Cowboys – Felix Jones, RB, Arkansas Â°
Jones has been overlooked by many due to the presence of Darren McFadden, but he will earn plenty of attention during the weeks leading up to the draft. He would be a particularly nice fit for the Cowboys, who are likely going to lose Julius Jones to free agency but have Marion Barber, III as a restricted free agent they can very likely keep.
While Barber is a bruiser, Jones would be a great contrast, given that he’s 6’0″, 200 pounds, and he runs a sub-4.4 40. Felix Jones has feature back ability, and he would be a great pickup by the Cowboys.
#22 Aqib Talib (CB, Kansas)
This picks goes to the Cowboys from the Browns. Jaquez Reeves struggled all year, so there is a need for some depth at CB. Aqib Talib had his national coming-out party in the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech, and has begun to sky-rocket up draft boards. Talib is one of the top cover-men in the nation and has NFL skills, as he accounted for 4 interceptions during the season, returning one for a touchdown. Talib also played some snaps at WR, and scored four touchdowns on only eight catches. A playmaker, Talib could develop into a starting CB at the next level, and will immensely help his stock if he runs well at his pro day.
#28 Jonathan Stewart (HB, Oregon)
With Julius Jones and Marion Barber both becoming free agents, it’s likely that the Cowboys will lose at least one of their horses in a successful two-back system. Barber is the one they’ll likely try harder to keep, and if they lose Jones, look for them to add a solid second back to split carries with MB3, as he’s been fabulous in a two-back system. Jonathan Stewart of Oregon is a probable first round pick, as heâ€™s been a huge factor in the Pac-10 for the Ducks. Great size, speed, and kick-return ability helped Stewart become a recognized star, as he racked up 1469 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground this season.
More to follow, along with updates, in this space over the next few weeks.
See Hail Redskins for a roundup of other mock drafts, with a special emphasis on the Cowboys’ longtime arch rival.
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