It is the final "big board" I have built based completely from the
Dallas Cowboys perspective in this draft and based on my personal observation of these players as well as communications with those in the organization on a limited basis that might have affected my efforts to remain unaffected.
The idea is to narrow it down to the Cowboys selections in the Top 3 rounds and therefore I have evaluated about 100 players in the only way I know how - watch them. Watch them a lot, as much as 200-300 snaps per player and try to note what I liked and didn't like into a massive blue notebook. Some were actual coach cut-ups, some were tv copies, and some were live watching last fall. But, I tried to build a personal database that did NOT include reading other mocks or reports because once you do that you are tainted and are drawing from the consensus which defeats the purpose of trying to do one that is free of rumors and others' opinions.
Of course, that is going to leave me out in left field on some of these names, so please note a few things:
1) - I have no interest in giving you a full mock draft for Thursday-Saturday. Trying to guess what Jacksonville and Atlanta are up to is a hobby for someone with no hobbies. I wish them the best.
2) - I have no insight into medicals or personal issues/personality quirks. I have watched these guys play football. If something is public record, then I try to take note (
Dominique Easley) but following the rumor train is absurd this time of year.
3) - I have looked at as much as I can on each of these candidates. I wish I could spend more than an hour per player, but the fact is I cannot. That means I hope I picked the right 3-5 games to make sure I get an accurate image of the player.
4) - I am trying to target players that fit the Cowboys. This is not to be confused with trying to figure out
who the Cowboys like at each of these spots. The idea is the run an experiment to find the best DE, not the one who impressed the Cowboys the most in a visit. In 2018, when a list like this is read, I would rather a player has 50 NFL sacks in his first contract then identify who the Cowboys are really taking on draft day 2014. Therefore, I admit they like Zack Martin more than Xavier Su'a-Filo from what I hear, but I don't. So, I try to build my list on their situation and my eyes. In other words, I am simply trying to tell you what I would do if I were them - which is way different from what others are doing with their lists. Please make note of that, as I am not trying to be them - and they surely are not trying to do this.
The reason I am doing my list this way is because I don't think in past years I did enough of this. I liked
JJ Watt in 2011, but I knew they were taking
Tyron Smith all along and therefore did not consider the field. I think this way is more useful for my process and I hope you enjoy this rationale.
I admit that the thousands of mocks and big boards don't need another entry, and I certainly don't claim to be any smarter than the next guy. But, I do grind hard from January to May, and this is what I have to show for it. This, and my big notebook, that is.
So, as you look below, I have tried to rank the field based on if I am the Cowboys and am on the clock, I will just work down my board. I think the rankings reflect who I would take with the names. There are other names that I did not spend an hour on - maybe the most prominent is someone like
Cody Latimer - but I don't think it serves anyone for me to rank players I have not done a diligent job on.
Just remember, this isn't me saying Player #22 is going to get picked higher than Player #24. It is that I would do it that way if I were king, which if I really were, I surely would have made time to watch more than the 100 I did.
Here is the Top 75 I came up with - With the Cowboys picking #16, #47, and #78, I am confident they can come away with 3 of these. The idea is to cross off the names taken and grab the next available on the list. Although, I am sure, they won't prefer David Fales over Trai Turner. I do.
I noted where the Cowboys picks are in Rounds 1 and 2. This DOES NOT mean that the player listed to them is my prediction. It simply means that they will get the highest player left up from their pick and Ealy is the worst scenario for that actual spot, in my opinion. Actually, they should get someone in the Top 13 or 14 at #16 and someone in the Top 40 at #47, and someone in the Top 65 at #78 if history is our guide. And, of course, QBs throw everything off.
Clearly, there will be disagreements, as I have disagreed with myself a number of times and gone back and watched more to try to sort things out. But, I think it is time to lock these in as best as I can and stand back to see how it looks.