The countdown is over. The boards are set, the self-aggrandizing movies are made and the world can finally stop making mock drafts for the year.
After this one, that is.
Predicting who the Dallas Cowboys will draft is only slightly more scientific than, say, trying to guess lottery numbers or how many times Jason Garrett will say “football” during his next press conference. Everyone is just wrong. Here’s my final stab at it, sans the trades and with a built-in apology for my incorrectness.
Round One, pick 16: OLB/DE Anthony Barr, UCLA
After the offseason additions of Jeremy Mincey, Terrell McClain, Anthony Spencer and Henry Melton, this Dallas Cowboys D-line is one premier pass rusher away from being a defensive strength. With or without a hand on the ground, Barr will provide that for the Cowboys.
Barr recorded 10 sacks and three forced fumbles last season for the Bruins after starting his college career as a fullback. He’s only been rushing the passer for a few seasons now, and he has a lot to learn, but his upside is tremendous.
He’ll need to add some strength and improve his run defense at the pro level, but No. 16 guys are rarely finished products. The only caveat here is that Barr is a bit of a wild card as far as where he’ll actually go. Both Mel Kiper and Todd McShay have him taken at 25 in their latest mocks, while most other writers I see have him gone before the ‘Boys even pick. If he’s there, I don’t see how Dallas can pass him up.
Round Two, pick 47: S Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
I’ve had Ward to the Cowboys since I made my first three-round mock months ago. He makes a ton of sense for a team with three mediocre guys battling it out for the free safety spot. At worst, he adds another body to the competition — at best, he starts right away.
I think Ward has that kind of potential. He’s a little small, but he’s technically solid and not afraid to hit bigger guys. In college he was sometimes asked to play the nickelback and showed good man-to-man coverage skills. He could give Rod Marinelli’s defense a new, much-needed wrinkle and play all over the field.
Ward’s solid Senior Bowl proved that he could play with the best, and he’ll have to. Jumping from the MAC to the NFL is a big change, but don’t bet against this guy.
Round Three, pick 78: G Dakota Dozier, Furman
Yes, this lineman has a really cool name, but there are other great reasons the Cowboys could take him here. Dozier was a tackle at Furman who will play guard in the NFL due to his size, but once he gets comfortable he could be a real difference-maker and see playing time right away.
Dallas is pretty thin on its O-line, but the starters have helped make the position one of strength. Travis Frederick and Tyron Smith will anchor the unit for years to come, but the same can’t necessarily be said for guys like Doug Free and Ronald Leary.
Dallas will be looking to shore up its line as early as Round One, but picking Dozier here wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.
Round Four, pick 119: WR Josh Huff, Oregon
Finally. The Cowboys have one of the league’s best starting tandems at receiver, but what they don’t have is any depth. No, LaRon Byrd doesn’t really change that, but Huff might.
Huff isn’t huge but he can block, has good hands and is deceptively quick. Any student of Oregon’s offense can be an asset to a pass-happy team like Dallas, and Huff is talented enough to compete for a starting slot position — which is all a team can really ask for in the fourth round.
Huff was the only wide receiver Dallas brought in for an official visit. In a draft loaded with depth at the position, Dallas would be remiss not to take at least one.
Round Five, pick 158: DE Michael Sam, Missouri
Yes, this is a trendy pick. No, I’m not sorry. Michael Sam makes a ton of sense for the Cowboys, both on and off the field.
This team needs defensive line depth. They used over 20 different linemen last season because of injuries and ineffectiveness, and would love to play this year out with guys already on the roster. Wishful thinking, probably, but it’s an admirable goal.
Sam is a work in progress, sure, but the Cowboys can do and have done a lot worse. He’s not just an on-field asset, however — Jerry Jones knows the value of good PR. Drafting Michael Sam = good PR.
Round Seven, pick 229: RB Rajion Neal, Tennessee
I don’t care what the Cowboys plan to do with DeMarco Murray once the season is over. Their star running back is hurt half the time, anyway, so drafting a player like Neal to get some preseason and late-game snaps hurts no one. If they hit on an undervalued running back, everyone (except Murray) wins.
pick 231: WR Mike Davis, Texas
Davis really does have NFL potential, so if he falls this far the Cowboys will seriously consider taking him. He’s bigger than most of the receivers on the roster already and could learn a lot from league veterans like Dez Bryant. It’s always cool to see a local kid make good, and this former Skyline standout would probably love nothing more than to wear the star.
pick 238: CB Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma
I’ve had the benefit of seeing Colvin up close. Believe me, he can play. Colvin tore his ACL at Senior Bowl practice and has been rehabbing hard since then, but his draft stock has taken a serious tumble. He was a solid mid-round prospect before the injury and could turn out to be the steal of the draft if Dallas can get him this low.
pick 248: TE Marcel Jensen, Fresno State
Welcome to The Land of Compensatory Picks, where literally anything can happen. Draft a tight end to back up three NFL-caliber tight ends? Sure, why not! Good luck making the roster, but welcome to the team.
pick 251: OLB Brandon Watts, Georgia Tech
These Dallas linebackers are hardly the long-term answer Dallas was hoping for. Watts probably isn’t, either, but the team should draft a linebacker at some point to see what he’s got.
pick 254: DT Ryan Carrethers, Arkansas State
Finally we come to Dallas’s version of Mr. Irrelevant, ending right where we began: on the defensive line. This is far from what the Cowboys were hoping to add in terms of depth at the defensive tackle position, but a guy like Carrethers will be given a fair shake to see if there’s anything he can offer the team.
And that’s it. Now all that’s left to do is actually pick. Check out our Dallas Cowboys page after the draft for some real-life, honest-to-goodness actual analysis of who the Cowboys really picked. What a refreshing change that will be.