Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mock drafts predict Cowboys will take tackle or safety

11:01 AM CST on Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Compiled from Staff Reports

The NFL draft is April 22-24, but it's never too early to start thinking what the Cowboys might be looking for in the first round. Dallas owns the No. 27 pick.

Dallas Morning News writer Todd Archer says the Cowboys' three needs are offensive line, safety, wide receiver.

Hopefully, Jerry Jones and Co. have learned not to draft receivers in the first round (cough: Detroit Lions).

Drafting offensive line help might make the most sense. Left tackle Flozell Adams will be entering his 13th season if he comes back. Left guard Kyle Kosier will be in the final year of his contract. The backups are unrestricted or restricted free agents. Finding a tackle for the future is never a bad bet.

But many drafts also like Earl Thomas at a free safety spot. Some highlights of recent mock drafts' picks for the Cowboys first-rounder:

Draftcountdown.com– FS Earl Thomas (Texas): At first glance the Cowboys don't appear to have many major, glaring holes on their depth chart. This is especially true after the emergence of Miles Austin at wide receiver. However, the safety position has been a problem in Dallas for years now and it sounds like they intend to make bringing in an upgrade a priority this off-season. Not only did the Cowboys rank 20th in the league in pass defense but they were also 26th in interceptions so a playmaker like Earl Thomas of Texas would be a welcomed addition. The Longhorns usually do a good job of keeping their underclassmen in school but Thomas was coming off such an impressive redshirt sophomore campaign that he just couldn't resist the lure of the pros. Thomas doesn't have great size but he is very athletic and rangy with a nose for the ball and a real playmaking streak. After the appalling performance of their offensive line in a playoff loss to Minnesota, the Cowboys could definitely be in the market for a blocker such as Idaho's Mike Iupati here as well. A five-technique defensive end like Jared Odrick of Penn State could also be an option, especially since Marcus Spears is going to be a free agent next year. As a darkhorse don't completely rule out a wide receiver either. Roy Williams' struggles have been well documented so no one knows what his future holds and there should be some great pass catchers on the board to choose from late in round one.

SI.com(Don Banks) – G-OT Mike Iupati (Idaho): The Cowboys offensive line needs help in light of its playoff-game meltdown at Minnesota, and Iupati is a prospect who really helped himself with his showing in this week's Senior Bowl practices. He has good feet and plays with a mean streak. Another intriguing possibility that can't be overlooked for Dallas is if USC safety Taylor Mays tumbles to No. 27. But the offensive line should take priority.

Profootballweekly.com – FS Earl Thomas (Texas): The inability to cover the deep middle exposed the Cowboys' defense against the Vikings in the playoffs, and Thomas' range and playmaking ability on the back half could complete the defense.

FoxSports.com(Peter Schrager) – OT Bruce Campbell (Maryland): Though not confirmed by the AP, I'm fairly sure Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo's jockstraps are still lying around the Metrodome 50-yard line. Neither player is getting any younger and the Dallas offensive line needs some reinforcements. Doug Free's shown glimpses, but there's got to be more. Some of the things I've read have Campbell as high as a Top 10 pick. I was never that impressed with him at Maryland, but think the Cowboys would be pleased to see him sitting there at 27. And I'm putting this out there now – can we call him Bruce "Evil Dead" Campbell? Or Bruce "Old Spice commercials" Campbell? One of the best actors of the past 20 years deserves to be mentioned somehow after each and every pancake block by this kid.

CBSSports (Ron Rang) – G-OT Mike Iupati (Idaho):The Cowboys haven't spent a first-round pick on the offensive line since 1989, but may elect to do so with valued backups Montrae Holland and Cory Procter potentially entering free agency. Iupati struggled with his footwork during the Senior Bowl, itself, but his combination of size, strength and foot quickness made him one of the best players on the field during the week of practices. Iupati could step right in for Dallas at guard. Some believe he'll eventually slide out to left tackle.

CBSSports (Chad Reuter) – OLB Sean Weatherspoon (Missouri): Veteran Keith Brooking brought some intensity to the Cowboys defense, and Weatherspoon is a similar player with better athleticism. The former Tiger's performance in the Senior Bowl may have earned him a spot in the first round.

Scouts Inc. (Todd McShay) – S Nate Allen (South Florida): Allen is far from a first-round lock, but the Cowboys need to improve their athleticism at safety, and Allen has the right combination of speed and fluidity in coverage to help fix the problem.

nfldraftblitz.com – FS Earl Thomas (Texas): The 'Boys often expect their safeties to run with receivers in tight man-to-man coverage and this could be the best safety in this class at achieving that. Another possibility here is Bruce Campbell, but we'll stick with the best player on our board.

KFFL.com – G-OT Mike Iupati (Idaho): Upgrades Kyle Kosier's spot. Can play OT if needed – a mauler that fits in with the rest of DAL's lumbering OL.