Mock Roundup 4.0: Melton Signing Opens The Board

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IRVING, Texas – The last time we checked in on the world of mock drafts, there was a pretty overwhelming opinion the Cowboys needed and would draft a defensive tackle with their first pick.

After a flurry of free agent activity, that mindset doesn't seem as prevalent as we approach the one-month mark until the 2014 NFL Draft. Almost everyone can agree: signing Henry Melton to play three-technique does not alleviate the Cowboys' needs on the defensive line.

At the same time, Melton's presence on the line gives Dallas a little bit of flexibility with its No. 16 overall pick. Many prognosticators think defensive end is now the Cowboys' biggest priority, with DeMarcus Ware leaving a huge whole on the line. Defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan are still represented on the list, but several other pass rushing options have appeared.


The newfound flexibility has also opened some to the thinking that an offensive player could be in the mix at No. 16, despite the Cowboys' defensive struggles in 2013. Two of the 11 mock drafts listed below suggest an offensive tackle as the possible choice.

The board is wide open, which is a far cry from two weeks ago. Back then, either Donald or Jernigan accounted for eight of 10 mock draft selections – they were each chosen by four different analysts. This time around, the duo of defensive tackles only accounts for four total selections.

Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy leads the way with three experts pegging him as the Cowboys' next first round pick.

Check below to see the full breakdown.

Date of Mock:March 28

Pick:UCLA LB Anthony Barr

Comment:A player with the ability and production to replace the departed DeMarcus Ware in time. They could consider a defensive tackle in this spot.

Date of Mock:March 28

Pick:UCLA LB Anthony Barr

Comment:N/A

Date of Mock:March 27

Pick:Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan

Comment:DeMarcus Ware is gone, but even if he stayed the defensive line would have to be a draft priority. The D-line in Dallas needs a youth movement. If you just go on performance, Jernigan is a steal at this point in the draft and Dallas doesn't need to overthink it. But while Jernigan has good tape to fall back on, he could still be better and become a force for whoever drafts him. He's a good athlete given his size and will continue to improve his technique playing on the inside.

Date of Mock:March 27

Pick:Pitt DT Aaron Donald

Comment: Don't worry about his lack of height. Just marvel at his production.

Date of Mock:March 26

Pick:Notre Dame OT Zack Martin

Comment:This would make their offensive line the strong point of the team after having so many problems.

Date of Mock:March 26

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. 

Date of Mock:March 25

Pick:Donald

Comment:Signing Henry Melton gives the Cowboys a little more flexibility with this pick, but if Donald is still on the board, he would be a welcome addition to the Cowboys lackluster front four.

Date of Mock: March 25

Pick:Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan

Comment:The signing of defensive tackle Henry Melton helps fill the gaping hole in the middle of Dallas' defensive line but doesn't necessarily eliminate it. Jernigan's burst and strength make him capable of handling either of the two defensive tackle roles in Rod Marinelli's scheme.

NFL.com's Bucky Brooks [embedded_ad]

Date of Mock:March 25

Pick:Missouri DE Kony Ealy

Comment:The departure of DeMarcus Ware forces Jerry Jones to look for a viable replacement in the draft. Although Ealy is a developmental prospect at this stage of his career, he possesses all of the athletic attributes needed to become a standout pass rusher as a pro.

Date of Mock:March 24

Pick:Ealy

Comment:Kony Ealy improved on almost all of his combine numbers at his pro day last week. His value is in his versatility. Ealy showed the ability to move in space during linebacker drills at the combine, but he can also play with his hand in the dirt on the edge and the interior. After letting DeMarcus Ware go, the Cowboys need a pass rusher.* *

Date of Mock:

Pick:Ealy

Comment:There is always a chance that the Cowboys add an interior player like Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald with this pick. However, getting someone to replace defensive end Demarcus Ware is too important to pass on.

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