What will the Dallas Cowboys do in the 2014 NFL draft? Keep track of all the predictions made in our mock drafts leading up to Round 1 on May 8.
Round 1, pick 16: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, FS, Alabama
We said: And speaking of coverage disasters … the Cowboys have tried and failed to address the gaping holes in their pass defense left by their safeties. Like most Nick Saban-trained defenders, Clinton-Dix will get too aggressive at times and bite on play fakes, and his backpedal is nothing to write home about. But those issues can be cleared up in time, and the Cowboys desperately need an enforcer in their secondary who can contend with an NFC East that has become more and more about the aerial game in recent years.
Round 1, pick 16: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
We said: Sure, Clowney’s 4.53 40 time was incredible. But Donald’s 4.65, at 280-plus pounds, might have been even better. The Cowboys do not have any cash lying around with which to re-sign Jason Hatcher. Nabbing Donald would make Hatcher’s impending departure sting a lot less. The Pitt product is capable of disrupting offenses on a consistent basis.
Round 2, pick 47: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
We said: Another D-line pick for the Cowboys, who here add a strong edge rusher to pair with the inside force of Aaron Donald.
Round 1, pick 16: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
We said: The only thing that makes sense for Dallas in the first round is defense, with the Cowboys in prime position to address either their long-standing need at safety, or to buttress the middle of their defensive line. Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald might be just the disruptive playmaker Rod Marinelli is looking for, but it's hard to overstate how much shoddy coverage in the secondary has cost Dallas in recent seasons. Besides acquiring one of the great names in NFL history, the Cowboys would be getting a safety prospect who can help shut down the deep third of the field, while also showing the ability to come up and contribute on run defense. The best NFL teams all seem to have quality safeties who can handle a multitude of tasks in today's game, and Dallas desperately needs to join those ranks.
Round 1, pick 17: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
We said: Because this is a mock draft, we can make a sensible pick in the Cowboys’ war room. Dallas’ safety play has been a problem for years, and if Jerry Jones ever wants to get back to the postseason, he either has to wait for Roger Goodell to increase the number of postseason teams, or take a hammer and nails to his deep secondary. Clinton-Dix is less a pure tackler and more a coverage specialist, but coverage is what this team needs. He reads quarterbacks very well, breaks on the ball with speed and fluidity and can take care of center field.
Round 1, pick 17: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
We said: With or without Monte Kiffin running the defense, the Cowboys would be wise to add someone like Nix. The massive 340-pound tackle simply plugs up the middle, be it from the 1-tech or directly over the center. Impending free agent Jason Hatcher may be on his way out, so finding Nix here could be even more of a boon.
Round 1, pick 23: Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State
We said: For the Cowboys, who have not gotten what they hoped they would from Bruce Carter this season, this pick might feel like a steal. Shazier is undersized compared to the prototypical 4-3 OLB, but he gets to the football over and over again.
Round 1, pick 25: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State
We said: Defensive tackle run! It’s been a tough start to the 2013 season for Sutton, who added more than 10 pounds in the offseason. He still has the talent to be a first-round pick, though, and the Cowboys could use some more interior bodies for their new 4-3. Current starter Jason Hatcher’s contract is up at the end of 2013.
Round 1, pick 17: Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
We said: Kouandjio could climb much higher than this. He was the starting left tackle last season for Alabama’s dominant line, and he could move into the top five with another standout season.