30 NFL mock drafts have 11 different players projected as Cowboys’ top pick

We’re less than a month away from the NFL Draft and no one seems certain about what the Dallas Cowboys will do with their first round pick.

Before adding defensive tackle Henry Melton via free agency, most mock drafts had the Cowboys going with either Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald at No. 16. While both are still popular picks, it’s obvious that many experts have gone in another direction.

Of the 30 mocks gathered for this roundup, Jernigan was the leader with seven experts projecting him to go to the Cowboys. Donald was second with six picks, followed by Louisville safety Calvin Pryor with four and UCLA defensive end Anthony Barr with three.

NOTE: The entire comment from each expert is not included in many of these. Click on the link to read all of the analysis.

SI.com’s Don Banks:

Pick: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State.

Comment: "The Cowboys will be tempted to take a safety with cover men like Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor still on the board, and a pass rusher like UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr or Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy would look just fine with a star on their helmet. But with all that said, Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli usually starts building a defense with a tackle who can wreak some havoc."

DraftCountdown.com’s Scott Wright:

Pick: Jernigan.

Comment: "Florida St. DT Timmy Jernigan doesn’t have the prototypical size that you look for but he is very athletic with excellent quickness and surprising strength."

CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco:

Pick: Jernigan.

Comment: "He fits what they do as a defense. It just makes sense."

CBSSports.com’s Pat Kirwan:

Pick: Jernigan.

Comment: "I’m not sure Jernigan is Rod Marinelli’s kind of player. If the Cowboys do take him and they need a tackle or pass rusher, Jernigan will get in the best shape of his life."

ESPN.com’s Todd McShay:

Pick: Jernigan.

Comment: "Jernigan is a good fit for Marinelli’s scheme, and in particular he’s a good complement to free-agent addition Henry Melton, who is more of a 3-technique defensive tackle, as Jernigan can play either 3-technique or 1-technique."

ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper:

Pick: Jernigan.

Comment: "The D-line in Dallas needs a youth movement. If you just go on performance, Jernigan is a steal at this point in the draft and Dallas doesn’t need to overthink it."

Yahoo.com’s Eric Edholm:

Pick: Jernigan.

Comment: "I hate their options here but resist the temptation to force defense because Jernigan is not the 16th best player available (and because he’s something of a Henry Melton clone), even with the defensive front being such a wasteland."

College Football 24/7’s Bryan Fischer:

Pick: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh.

Comment: "Some knock his size, but Donald leaves college as the most dominant interior defender since Ndamukong Suh."

College Football 24/7’s Mike Huguenin:

Pick: Donald.

Comment: "Rod Marinelli tutored some big-time DTs when he was with the Bucs. Here’s his next big-time DT."


Pick: Donald.

Comment: "Works hard every play from snap to whistle. Always puts in a good day’s work. Good flexibility to dip and bend."

Walterfootball.com’s Charlie Campbell:

Pick: Donald.

Comment: "Scouts have told me that Donald is grading as a late first-rounder because he really only fits a few teams’ schemes, so don’t be surprised if Donald is this year’s Sharrif Floyd and falls lower than the hype is suggesting."

CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang:

Pick: Donald.

Comment: "The signing of defensive tackle Henry Melton helps fill the gaping hole in the middle of Dallas’ defensive line but the Cowboys may want insurance that his surgically-repaired knee will hold up."

NationalFootballPost.com’s Greg Gabriel and Eric Galko:

Pick: Donald.

Comment: "The Cowboys just signed Henry Melton, so how does Donald make sense? Melton can play DE also and Donald is the best player on the board."

NFL.com’s Matt Smith:

Pick: Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville.

Comment: "Time to address a porous secondary that helped clear the way for Josh McCown to cash in this offseason."

College Football 24/7’s Chase Goodbread:

Pick: Pryor.

Comment: "Pryor gives Dallas much-needed help at safety and will bring an enforcer’s attitude."

NFL.com’s Charles Davis:

Pick: Pryor.

Comment: "Cowboys seeking to upgrade safety position. Done."

OptimumScouting.com’s Eric Galko:

Pick: Pryor.

Comment: "He’s still versatile enough as a free or strong safety to have value, and should fit the Dallas Cover-2 defense well enough."

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah:

Pick: Anthony Barr, DE, UCLA.

Comment: "The Cowboys are desperate for edge rushers and Barr would be an excellent value at this spot."

BleacherReport.com’s Matt Miller:

Pick: Barr.

Comment: "He needs time, but the natural gifts are all there. He won’t fail for a lack of effort or ability. And in Rod Marinelli’s defense, an edge defender like Barr has tremendous value when rushing the quarterback."


Pick: Barr.

Comment: "Although Barr played OLB in college, he is at his best rushing the passer . . . and with his quickness, draws comparisons to a young DeMarcus Ware."

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks:

Pick: Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri.

Comment: "Although Ealy is a developmental prospect at this stage of his career, he possesses all of the athletic attributes needed to become a standout pass rusher as a pro."

SBNation.com’s Dan Kadar:

Pick: Ealy.

Comment: "Even if Anthony Spencer is brought back, a player like Ealy would go nicely on the defense with George Selvie."

NFLDraftScout.com’s Dane Brugler:

Pick: Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame.

Comment: "With Aaron Donald off the board, Martin might be Dallas’ plan B with his ability to play right tackle if the Cowboys decide to move Doug Free inside or Martin can play either of the two guard positions."

Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer:

Pick: Martin.

Comment: "The Cowboys could play Martin at either guard spot during his rookie season, then move him to right tackle to replace Doug Free, who is in the last year of his deal."

CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson:

Pick: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame.

Comment: "Nix might not be their top choice, but he’s a big body that can plug in the middle of Rob Marinelli’s line and hopefully make up for massive personnel departures on the line."

FOXSports.com’s Peter Schrager:

Pick: Nix.

Comment: "Not the sexiest pick, but an area of need in Dallas. The Cowboys went offense with their first three picks in 2013. They add some depth with a player who was once a top high-school recruit at his position in 2014."

WalterFootball.com’s Walter Cherepinsky:

Pick: Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan.

Comment: "Taylor Lewan has the talent to be the sixth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, but character issues could drop him some. Jones has proven recently that he’s willing to take chances on players with concerns, provided they’re not too egregious."

AthlonSports.com’s Braden Gall:

Pick: Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame.

Comment: "The Cowboys desperately need a physical edge presence and Tuitt is just enough of a "off-the-board" prospect that (Jerry) Jones would probably be fascinated by the selection."

ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio:

Pick: Dee Ford, DE, Auburn.

Comment: "With Anthony Spencer likely gone and DeMarcus Ware definitely gone, it’s time to stock up on pass rushers."

SI.com’s Doug Farrar:

Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama.

Comment: "He’s an aggressive tackler and a pass defender with a great deal of potential. Yes, the ‘Boys need a new pass-rush expert with the departure of DeMarcus Ware, but they can get that guy later if they’re smart."