As Jerry Jones spelled out this week at the NFL Owners Meetings in South Florida, the Cowboys are most likely to pick a defensive player with selection No. 14 overall.
That being said, it stands to reason that the team will be rooting for as many offensive players as possible to come off the board before they go on the clock. It's highly unlikely the Cowboys would pick a quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end or offensive tackle in the first round. The only offensive positions that would give them pause are guard and center, and No. 14 is viewed as too early for any available center.
David DeCastro of Stanford and Cordy Glenn of Georgia are potential first-round targets, but otherwise, it would benefit the Cowboys if as many offensive players were taken as possible.
Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are shoo-ins to be the first two players off the board. USC Left tackle Matt Kalil is regarded as a top-five talent, and wide receiver Justin Blackmon is unlikely to slip past the St. Louis Rams at pick No. 6.
But the more offensive players who slip, the more teams ahead of the Cowboys gobbling up the best defensive talent.
With each of these five players who are picked in the top 13, the Cowboys have a better chance at drafting a premier defender.
RB Trent Richardson, Alabama -Many mock drafts have him penciled in as the fourth overall pick, going to Cleveland. But top-10 running backs have lost their luster, somewhat. Still, in four of the last five years the top running back has come off the board before pick No. 14. Mark Ingram, Richardson's Heisman Trophy-winning teammate and the first running back drafted in 2011, lasted until the 28th spot.
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame -After Blackmon, this big target is the next receiver likely to be picked. Behind St. Louis, the Jaguars, Dolphins, Chiefs, Bills and Seahawks could all justify taking a wide receiver, but have their share of other needs as well.
QB Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M -After they missed out on both Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, the Dolphins emerged as a front-runner for this raw signal-caller. If he gets past Cleveland, Miami may have to take him. If they don't, however, he could potentially slide into the 20s.
LB Luke Kuechly, Boston College -The lone defensive exception to the Cowboys' hope for as many offensive players as possible to be selected in the first 13 picks. Kuechly is an inside linebacker, which the Cowboys don't need. They've drafted the position in the second round each of the past two years, and signed veteran Dan Connor in free agency.
T Reilly Reiff, Iowa -Last year was the first time since 2006 that two tackles weren't selected ahead of pick No. 14.* *