Mock Draft Roundup: Defensive End, Running Back Are Early Favorites For 27th Pick

IRVING, Texas – As usual, it typically feels like the six-month NFL draft cycle will never end – and then one day you look up and it's on the horizon.

True, the much-anticipated 2015 NFL Draft is still six weeks away, but it's felt like an eternity since draft preparations begin in earnest back in January. The Cowboys have been to the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine, and the details about their pre-draft visits with certain prospects are starting to emerge.

With that in mind, it seems like a fitting time to survey the landscape and see what to expect when the Cowboys come up on the clock. By nature, mock drafts are volatile and don't typically hold up well on draft day. But they've proven quite useful at determining a pool of possibilities for the Cowboys at No. 27.

Based on this first-look, it's clear the addition of Greg Hardy hasn't swayed anyone's opinion – Dallas still needs to address its pass rush.

Here's a rundown of some of the most up-to-date mocks.

Date of Mock:March 17
Pick:UCLE DE Owamagne Odighizuwa
Comment: "They need help with the pass rush and this kid has a lot of speed that could have him moving up this board."

Date of Mock:March 16
Pick:Mississippi State DE Preston Smith
Comment: "Running back is often a position associated with the Cowboys at No. 27, and it should be with DeMarco Murray gone. But if the Cowboys choose to target the position later in the draft, pass rusher rises to the top of the team's need list. Smith gets compared to Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks because he's capable rushing the passer despite being a power end and can work inside in certain situations."

Date of Mock:March 19
Pick:Smith
Comment: "An ideal fit at left defensive end, Smith and Demarcus Lawrence would provide the Cowboys with a formidable duo long-term on the edges."

Date of Mock:March 18
Pick:Wisconsin RB Melvin Gordon
Comment: "The Cowboys land DeMarco Murray's replacement right here."

Date of Mock:March 18
Pick:Gordon
Comment: "The Cowboys need more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball if they truly want to compete for a championship. However, U-T Sports Editor Todd Adams sums up Jerry Jones perfectly: "He loves his skill players." I worry about Gordon's usage at Wisconsin. His total touches were approaching 700, and you'd like to draft a running back below 500. It's really hard to argue with 2,587 yards and 29 touchdowns though. Top needs: CB, DL, RB"

Date of Mock:March 16
Pick:Odighizuwa
Comment: "Given the loss of DeMarco Murray to the hated Eagles, it would be easy for Jerry Jones and Co. to roll the dice on Georgia's Todd Gurley with this pick. Another priority would be to build the defensive line. Odighizuwa's power and motor make him an ideal complement to last year's second round pick Demarcus Lawrence."

Date of Mock:March 18
Pick:Kentucky DE Alvin "Bud" Dupree
Comment: "This is lower than where I think Dupree should go, but quality players slip in the draft every year. There is a line of thought that the Cowboys will use this pick to draft a running back, and maybe they will. But they can also add a really solid defensive end in Dupree here while still having the opportunity to land a quality running back in round two."

Date of Mock:March 18
Pick:Virginia DE/OLB Eli Harold
Comment: "The Cowboys couldn't get any pressure on Colt McCoy in an embarrassing Monday night defeat. Mark Sanchez had a clean pocket on Thanksgiving. Aaron Rodgers had all the time he needed in the divisional round of the playoffs. That has to change. Several upgrades can be obtained on the defensive line."

Date of Mock:March 17
Pick:Odighizuwa
Comment:N/A

Date of Mock:March 20
Pick:Gordon
Comment:N/A

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