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Mock Roundup 2.0: Donald The Post- Combine Favorite

Posted Feb 27, 2014


IRVING, Texas – The NFL Scouting Combine is over, which means there is a whole new batch of information to base draft grades on.

If you follow the NFL news cycle, you know what that means – updated mock drafts. There are still several dozen pro days to watch, but the two main national events – the Senior Bowl and the Combine – have passed. That means the focus is starting to close, for both the teams doing the scouting and the media following the process.

If that’s true, then the all-encompassing expectation from the Cowboys at No. 16 overall is that they’ll select a player to improve their woeful defense – big surprise, right? Of 13 major publications to put out mock drafts either during or after the Combine, all 13 selected defensive players for Dallas.

There’s still some difference of opinion about who the choice will be, but some trends are starting to develop. Of the 13 mockers, nine chose defensive tackles for the Cowboys, two selected a safety and there were solo selections of both a linebacker and a defensive end.

Following his strong Combine performance, Aaron Donald continues to solidify his hold as the guy most people like as the Cowboys’ selection. Six of the 13 mock drafts went with the Pittsburgh All-American. With such an impressive showing at the Combine and Senior Bowl, though, some are beginning to doubt if he’s still available at the midway point of the first round.

Here are the full results, complete with the reasoning for the picks.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller

Date of Mock: Feb. 27

Pick: Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald

Comment:  The best way to rebuild is through the draft, and given the team's cap situation, that's really their ony option. Pitt's Aaron Donald is the type of athletic, dynamic pass-rusher the team needs in the middle of its 4-3 scheme.

USA Today’s Nate Davis

Date of Mock: Feb. 27

Pick: Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan

Comment: Pro Bowl DT Jason Hatcher is scheduled to be a free agent, and Dallas desperately (and unsuccessfully) searched for players to put next to him last year before ultimately finishing last in total defense.

USA Today’s Brent Sobleski

Date of Mock: Feb. 26

Pick: Donald

Comment: N/A 

FoxSports.com’s Joel Klatt

Date of Mock: Feb. 26

Pick: Alabama LB C.J. Mosley

Comment: They need help in the secondary, but they would be overdrafting if they took a CB or FS here. The best defensive player available is Mosley, and it is a great value.

WalterFootball.com’s Walter Cherepinsky

Date of Mock: Feb. 26

Pick: Jernigan

Comment: Aaron Donald may have leapt in front of Timmy Jernigan as the top defensive tackle available, but Jernigan is still worth a top-16 selection. The Cowboys desperately need a defensive tackle, so they'll definitely consider Jernigan. Then again, Jerry Jones is calling the shots, so the Cowboys will probably take some fourth-round prospect. 

CBSSports.com’s Rob Rang

Date of Mock: Feb. 26

Pick: Donald

Comment: Tony Romo's fourth-quarter struggles pale in comparison to the full game bludgeoning experienced weekly by the Cowboys' defense. Expect there to be significant turnover in personnel over the offseason, an overhaul that could bring five or six new starters to the 4-3 alignment. More decorated than a wedding cake, Donald offers the buzz Jerry Jones always appreciates as well as the burst to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks from the middle.

CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler

Date of Mock: Feb. 26

Pick: Donald

Comment: The Cowboys almost have to go defensive line with this pick and Donald will be an attractive prospect to play the three-technique spot for Dallas' four-man front with his explosive, relentless play style.

SI.com’s Chris Burke

Date of Mock: Feb. 26

Pick: Donald

Comment: Sure, Jadeveon 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.

SBNation’s Dan Kadar

Date of Mock: Feb. 24

Pick: Minnesota DT Ra’Shede Hageman

Comment: If both safeties are off the board, the Cowboys should target the best defensive tackle in the draft. Whether that's Hageman or Aaron Donald, that's up for debate. Hageman is more versatile and just plain has more potential.

Bleacher Report’s Jesse Reed

Date of Mock: Feb. 24, 2014

Pick: Louisvile S Calvin Pryor

Comment: There's no doubt the Cowboys need safety help after the team's abysmal defense finished the 2013 season with the third-worst mark against the pass. Calvin Pryor out of Louisville can play the deep pass as well as anyone in this year's class, and he's a formidable tackler near the line of scrimmage on running plays.  

DraftTek.com

Date of Mock: Feb. 24

Pick: Missouri DE Kony Ealy

Comment: Once again, Ealy is the selection. My goodness, someone would think DeMarcus Ware had elbow surgery (he did)! Dallas employed 20 different players on the defensive line during the 2013 season, and not all of them could play! Playing defense is reactionary and therefore takes more energy than playing offense, and the best teams can rotate defensive linemen to keep them fresh.

CBSSports.com’s Pat Kirwain 

Date of Mock: Feb. 21

Pick: Donald

Comment: I hope for Cowboys fans that Donald is still on the board when the team picks. Donald is just what Rod Marinelli has been looking for in a DT.

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks

Date of Mock: Feb. 21

Pick: Pryor

Comment: Finding a playmaking safety in the deep middle is a top priority for the Cowboys. Pryor is a hard hitter with underrated playmaking ability.

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