In this week’s installment of the Dallas Cowboys mock draft roundup, five safeties, four defensive tackles and one defensive end were mentioned in the 10 updated first-round projections.
One player that seems to be gaining momentum is Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. At 6-0, 285 pounds, he’s considered undersized for the position at the NFL level. But an outstanding Senior Bowl performance is certainly helping his draft stock.
Three of the mocks projected Donald to be the Cowboys’ first-round pick.
The All-American and ACC Defensive Player of the Year absolutely cleaned house in the awards department during his senior season, winning Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski and Outland honors.
In 13 games, Donald finished with 59 tackles, 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks. To compare, during Ndamukong Suh’s senior year, he finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting after recording 85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 12 sacks.
Comment: The Cowboys could use a free safety with range, good instincts and experience who can come in and play right away. Clinton-Dix provides the added bonus of being able to help out closer to the line of scrimmage.
Comment: The Cowboys’ biggest need area is their pass rush (they ranked last in the NFL in sacks per pass attempt), but it might be reaching at this point to draft a D-lineman like Missouri’s Kony Ealy or Pitt’s Aaron Donald. But safety is also a clear position of weakness particularly in coverage and the best one in this class is Clinton-Dix.
Comment: Dallas’ safety play has been a problem for years, and if Jerry Jones ever wants to get back to the postseason, he’s either got to wait for Roger Goodell to increase the number of postseason teams, or take a hammer and nails to his deep secondary.
Comment: Pryor’s fierce hitting style and aggressive coverage tendencies are perfect for the Dallas defense. And while defensive line help is needed, the depth there is much greater in this draft class as compared to the free safety group.
Comment: I’ve made Donald the choice here for Dallas over Louis Nix because he’s a much better fit for the defense. The Cowboys will be sticking with the same Tampa-2 again, which means they’ll want someone like Donald over Nix.