Early Dallas Cowboys Draft Predictions: Part 2
By Kenny Decker
The second half of the NFL Draft often can be difficult to predict. Draft-day trades can mix things up. Players expected to go later may be off the board. Draft strategies could have been altered based off one pick.
However, the fifth through seventh rounds of the draft are still extremely important. For example, the Cowboys drafted Joseph Randle last year in the fifth round. Randle contributed this past season and is expected to do so even more next season.
In 2005, Dallas drafted Jay Ratliff in the seventh round. Ratliff played in 104 games in nine years in Dallas and recorded 27 sacks. More famously, Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round and is a sure-fire first ballot Hall-of-Famer. So, the late rounds are obviously important, but also difficult. There’s no Brady in every draft, but finding those players in the late rounds that can contribute could be the difference between a winning team and a losing team. If things go to plan for Dallas in the early round, they could use their last four picks to draft a defensive end, a wide receiver, a quarterback, a cornerback or another offensive lineman.
In the fifth round, Dallas could find a defensive end to add depth to their defensive line. There are a decent number of talented ends in this draft, but availability in the fifth round could be questionable. Given the style of NFL play where teams are starting to run more high-paced offenses, depth at defensive line is vital. The ability to substitute during long drives and still be able to develop a strong pass rush is what every defensive coordinator is looking for. Therefore, in the fifth round, the draft’s depth at end could have thinned out.
Keep an eye on Aaron Lynch, a redshirt sophomore from South Florida. Lynch tallied five sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss this past season at USF, and his physical play mixed with some speed could add some much needed depth at defensive end for Dallas. Another option for Dallas could be Taylor Hart from the University of Oregon.
Tony Romo, for the most part (knock on wood), has been healthy since taking over at quarterback for Dallas. However, he is getting older and coming off back surgery. Drafting a quarterback to (hopefully only) sit behind Romo for a few years wouldn’t be a bad idea. There are a lot of quarterbacks in this draft and only a handful of teams looking to build around one from the draft. So Dallas could see some prospects still available in the later rounds.
There is no telling when Taj Boyd will be drafted. His projections have been all over the place, and like every draft, teams see players differently. It is doubtful that Boyd stays on the board until the sixth round. If he does, Dallas should jump on him. However, if Boyd is gone, Dallas could look at Keith Wenning from Ball State. Wenning was sixth in the NCAA in passing yards this past season. He wasn’t facing SEC-caliber defenses from week to week but he has potential to learn the NFL defense under Romo and Jason Garrett. Wenning could be a strong backup for Dallas if they decide to use the draft to find one.
Dallas has two picks in the seventh round in the NFL Draft in May. Of course, that could change between now and the start of the final round because of trades, but as of now, Dallas has two seventh round picks. Possible looks here for Dallas could be wide receiver, cornerback or an offensive lineman. Selections for Dallas will depend largely on availability, but there are some prospects at each position that could be on the board still. At wide receiver, Eric Ward from Texas Tech could be a good fit in Dallas. A small prospect, Ward could fit in nicely as a slot outlet for Romo. Other options for slot receivers could be Jeremy Gallon from Michigan and Dri Archer from Kent State. At cornerback, Osahon Irabor from Arizona State could help the Cowboys add depth at corner. Also, Jabari Price from North Carolina and Demetri Goodson from Baylor could still be on the board. On the offensive line, Dallas would need to look at the availability of both guard and tackle. Two possibilities at tackle are Donald Hawkins from Texas and Parker Graham from Oklahoma State.
The later rounds are often highly dependent on availability but these are predictions for Dallas’ final four picks in the 2014 NFL Draft (other options are in parentheses):
Round 5: Aaron Lynch, Defensive End, University of South Florida (Taylor Hart, Defensive End, University of Oregon)
Round 6: Taj Boyd, Quarterback, Clemson University (Keith Wenning, Quarterback, Ball State)
Round 7,(Pick 1): Eric Ward, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech (Jeremy Gallon, Wide Receiver, University of Michigan)
Round 7 (Pick 2): Osahon Irabor, Cornerback, Arizona State (Donald Hawkins, Offensive Tackle, University of Texas)