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Mock Roundup 6.0: Zack Martin Looks Like New Favorite

Posted Apr 17, 2014


IRVING, Texas – If it’s too obvious, it’s too unlikely to happen – that seems to be the prevailing logic on the Cowboys’ No. 16 pick, at least.

If you’ve been following along with these mock draft roundups this spring, you’re aware in the shift in logic that seems to have taken hold among analysts during the buildup to this draft. As recently as three or four weeks ago, the expectation for the Cowboys to draft a defensive lineman was universal – Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan and Kony Ealy were widespread selections.

To be fair, those three are all once again represented in the following list of 10 mock drafts. But it’s not the sure bet it used to be.  Jernigan is still seen as a desirable option at defensive tackle – but only as a backup option to Donald, who is now widely expected to disappear before the Cowboys pick.

In fact, one of the only mocks that still lists Donald as the Cowboys’ pick, Chris Burke’s recent mock for Sports Illustrated, does so with the caveat that Dallas sends three picks to Detroit for the Lions’ 10th overall pick. Whether or not you agree with that move is one thing, but the point remains: the Cowboys may have to get proactive to get Donald.

If that doesn’t happen, say hello to your new “it” guy: Notre Dame’s Zack Martin. The tackle/guard prospect has been discussed often as a possibility in the first round. But with the increasing hype surrounding Donald and other defenders, it seems like Martin has made the transition from outside possibility to a potential favorite for the pick.

See all 10 experts’ opinions below.

ESPN.com’s Mel Kiper

Date of Mock: April 17

Pick: Notre Dame OT Zack Martin

Comment: Dallas fans might find this quizzical given the need along the defensive line, but consider what's available: Donald is out of the picture, I think Dallas should see this slot as too rich for a player like Anthony Barr, who is a questionable system fit anyway, and the top safety is also off the board. Martin makes sense as a player who can shore up the right tackle position, which is a problem area. I also think this is a place where the Cowboys could look to move if they don't see the value here at those bigger need positions. It's what they did last year.

SI.com’s Chris Burke

Date of Mock: April 17

Pick: TRADE: Dallas Cowboys (via Detroit): Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

*Cowboys send picks 16, 47, 158 to Detroit for picks 10 and 111

Comment: Another top-10 move, this time so the Cowboys can cut in front of a few teams with D-line needs. Donald may fit a similar mold to recent Dallas addition Henry Melton, a slightly undersized three-tech. Part of the appeal of Donald, though, is that he can and has played just about everywhere on the line. He could rotate in for Melton at the three-tech or slide over to a one-tech spot and do just fine. This is a case of taking the top player available, then worrying about exactly how to employ him later.

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco

Date of Mock: April 17

Pick: Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan

Comment: He would be a perfect fit in their defense. And they have a big hole inside on that line.

WalterFootball.com's Walter Cherepinsky

Date of Mock: April 16

Pick: Michigan OT Taylor Lewan

Comment: This pick may not make much sense on the surface, but hear me out. Doug Free is coming off a solid season, but he has just one year left on his contract. He was also tried at the guard position before the 2013 campaign began, so perhaps Jerry Jones will want him to shore up a huge hole at one of those slots. Free would be able to move there with this selection. 

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. 

DraftTek.com Consensus

Date of Mock: April 16

Pick: Jernigan

Comment: Yes, Dallas signed Henry Melton, a "quick-twitch" 3-technique DT for Marinelli's defense; however, Timmy Jernigan has the size to play the 1-technique as well as the pass rush skills to slide over to the 3. He earned 1st Team All-ACC honors from league coaches and 2nd Team All-American in 2013, starting all 14 games and recording 63 tackles, 11 of those for losses, and 4.5 sacks while constantly facing double-team blocking. Jernigan was a leader in the Seminole locker room, which meets HC Jason Garrett's definition of "RKG" (Right Kinda Guy), and threw in 9 tackles during the BCS National Championship Game for good measure!

NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks

Date of Mock: April 15

Pick: Louisville S Calvin Pryor

Comment: Pass rusher is a top priority, but Pryor is rated higher than any available DE at this point.

CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler

Date of Mock: April 14

Pick: Martin

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. 

CBSSports.com's Rob Rang

Date of Mock: April 14

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. Donald is a terrific fit in defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme and comes with the full trophy closet that Jerry Jones appreciates, as well.

SBNation's Matthew Fairburn

Date of Mock: April 14

Pick: Missouri DE Kony Ealy

Comment: Kony Ealy's impressive showing at his pro day should put to rest any concerns about his athleticism. He improved his 40-yard dash considerably and looked comfortable moving around in linebacker drills. That versatility will get him drafted in the top 20 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft. The Cowboys appear to be a good fit after parting ways with DeMarcus Ware this offseason. Ealy won't be able to fill those shoes right away, but an underrated aspect of Ealy as a prospect is how much room he still has to grow as a pass rusher. Ealy could be the first step toward building a defense that Jerry Jones doesn't have to be ashamed of.

CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwain

Date of Mock: April 11

Pick: Jernigan

Comment: The Cowboys are desperate for quality players on the defensive line and many believe Jernigan is the next best after Donald. Cowboys DC Rod Marinelli may fool all of us with a different person in this spot, but for now, all I can tell Jernigan is you better be in great shape for your new coach.

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