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Let’s play the IF…..THEN Draft Game, Cowboys Edition! (Cowboys Draft Blog Entry #3)

April 22, 2012

IF Fletcher Cox, DT out of Mississippi St., makes it to the Cowboys at #14…..THEN this draft becomes very easy for the Cowboys. It sounds like the Cowboys have a number of prospects they are intrigued with at #14 but Cox is the one that really excites them. They don’t think he’ll get pastCarolina at #9 but if he somehow slips to them at #14 they’ll pull the trigger really quickly.

IF a cornerback is taken with their 1st or 2nd round pick…..THEN don’t expect Mike Jenkins to be given an extension this offseason. The Cowboys have given extensions to quite a few players the past two offseasons yet Jenkins is notoriously absent from that list. I think the Cowboys still aren’t sure about him as he’s been injury prone lately, hasn’t made as many big plays as they expected from him when they took in the 1st round, and are unsure about him as a cornerstone type player. Add in the fact that they gave another CB $50 million dollars and it’s very possible that they let Jenkins hit free agency next spring. If they take a CB early in this draft it won’t be to solidify their #4 CB spot but to be ready to replace Jenkins in 2013.

IF a pass rusher is taken with their 1st or 2nd round pick…..THEN don’t expect Anthony Spencer to be given an extension this offseason. It’s the same scenario with Spencer as it is with Jenkins in that the Cowboys know the player will command big money if they hit free agency yet they’re unsure whether he’s worth it and are contemplating moving on without them. The Cowboys aren’t the type of team to go into a draft with numerous holes if they can avoid it so I doubt they’ll let Spencer go without his replacement already in house. If a pass rusher is taken then Spencer will play out his franchise tag contract and then be a free agent next season and if a pass rusher isn’t taken then I expect a contract extension to be worked out sometime this summer.

IF a running back is taken with their 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round picks…..THEN it means Felix Jones will not be resigned once his rookie contract finishes up. Each of the past 6 years the Cowboys have had not one but two running backs on their roster who were taken in the first four rounds (Julius Jones, Marion Barber, Felix Jones, DeMarco Murray). A pattern is emerging where each player plays out their rookie contract and then is allowed to leave in free agency with the only time the team didn’t follow this pattern (Marion Barber signed a 7 year $45 million extension) proving disastrous. No one is talking about RB as a need in this draft but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they took a RB in the 3rd or 4th round and then let Felix Jones walk next spring. He’s been inconsistently brilliant but overall his career has to be categorized as a disappointment since he’s a former 1st rounder who has yet to have a 1,000 yard season.

IF Dontari Poe or Courtney Upshaw are drafted at #14 by the Cowboys….THEN I will be extremely disappointed as I think those are two of the most overhyped players in this draft and it scares me to death that the Cowboys are linked to both of them.

IF Michael Brockers or Mark Barron are drafted at #14 by the Cowboys…..THEN I will consider them solid selections as Barron is a steady, dependable player at a position of need for the team and Brockers is a bit riskier, and lower on my board, but has a chance to be an All Pro DT and be that massive 3-4 NT the Cowboys haven’t had since Jason Ferguson was traded in 2008. Either pick would make a lot of sense but couldn’t be classified by me as a “home run pick.”

IF Fletcher Cox, Melvin Ingram, or Stephon Gilmore is drafted at #14 by the Cowboys….THEN I will consider it an outstanding pick. Cox is #5 on my board, ahead of guys like Morris Claiborne and Justin Blackmon, as I think he is going to be an absolute stud in the pros. Ingram is a player that is a bit of a risk as he’s short and not a very orthodox rusher but I think that his versatility and uniqueness in a Rob Ryan style defense could be special and is worth the risk. Gilmore is a guy I’ve been interested in the past few months as he was higher rated than Claiborne or Kirkpatrick after the 2010 season and unfortunately picked a bad time to have a down year. His physical attributes blow away the other two players and I think it will come down to Gilmore and Claiborne as to who is the best CB out of this draft class. I’ve never been a fan of Mike Jenkins and would gladly draft his replacement in Gilmore who is taller, stronger, faster, and tougher than Jenkins. Those are the three guys I would love to see taken at #14.

IF the Cowboys trade down out of #14…..THEN I think it’s also a good strategy as I have similar grades on Ingram and Mercilus, Gilmore and Kirkpatrick, and think this draft will yield similar results from players taken from the 10th pick all the way to the early 30’s. Last year I had 27 players with a 1st round grade, which is about normal as usually there are 23-30 players, yet this year I have 37 players with a 1st round grade due to this being one of the deeper drafts I’ve ever graded. I suspect that some team will draft a CB or pass rusher in the late 1st/early 2nd that will be a Pro Bowler while a player taken in the teens will be a bust. It happens every year and if the Cowboys dropped down 5-15 picks, added a 3rd rounder, and were still able to take C Peter Konz, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, DT Michael Brockers, or a pass rusher like Shea McClellin then I think it would be a good move as well.

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