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Mock Roundup 5.0: Backup Plans If Donald Is Gone


IRVING, Texas-- It's funny how the narrative continues to change while seemingly staying the same.

It's been two weeks since the last time we looked at what the mock draft experts thought the Cowboys would do in the 2014 NFL Draft. The logic looks the same, as do most of the names listed below.

In keeping with the theme of the offseason, you're not going to forget about Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald just because the Cowboys signed Henry Melton in free agency. For the fifth time in as many editions of this list, the All-American is prominently featured as the Cowboys' go-to option at No. 16 overall.

But if Donald is as popular as the analysis seems to indicate, isn't it possible he'll be gone by the midpoint of the first round? The Giants, Steelers and especially the Bears all look like teams who could be tempted to draft the star defensive tackle ahead of Dallas.

Fortunately, this draft is populated with players who could serve the Cowboys' many needs. If Donald is unavailable, experts have a variety of opinions on players – both offensive and defensive – who may still be there.

See below for the full list of mock draft selections.

Date of Mock:April 10

Pick:Notre Dame OT Zack 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.

Date of Mock:April 10

Pick:Florida State DT Timmy Jernigan

Comment:He fits what they do as a defense. It just makes sense.

Date of Mock:April 10


Comment:The Cowboys will be tempted to take a safety with cover men like Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor still on the board, and a pass rusher like UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr or Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy would look just fine with a star on their helmet. But with all that said, Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli usually starts building a defense with a tackle who can wreak some havoc. With Donald gone, that points to the disruptive Jernigan for me, with some thinking Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III is in the mix as well.

Date of Mock:April 8 

Pick:Pittsburgh DT Aaron 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.


Date of Mock:April 9

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:April 8

Pick:Louisville S Calvin Pryor

Comment:Pryor gives Dallas much-needed help at safety and will bring an enforcer's attitude.

Date of Mock:April 7

Pick:Missouri DE Kony Ealy

Comment:After DeMarcus Ware signed with the Denver Broncos, it opened somewhat of a need at pass rusher for the Cowboys. Even if Anthony Spencer is brought back, a player like Ealy would go nicely on the defense with George Selvie.

Date of Mock: April 7

Pick:UCLA LB Anthony Barr


Date of Mock:April 4


Comment:I'm not sure Jernigan is Rod Marinelli's kind of player. If the Cowboys do take him and they need a tackle or pass rusher, Jernigan will get in the best shape of his life.

Date of Mock:April 1


Comment:Some knock his size, but Donald leaves college as the most dominant interior defender since Ndamukong Suh.

Date of Mock:March 28

Pick:Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III

Comment:The Cowboys need ends more than they need interior linemen, thanks to their recent addition of Henry Melton. The problem with that statement is that the value simply is not here for an edge rusher. Dee Ford? Kony Ealy? Demarcus Lawrence? All would be stretches at No. 16.

The flip side for Dallas is that there will be plenty of DEs in the middle rounds. And any pass-rusher would be lucky to step into a situation where Melton's locking down the three-tech and Nix is handling business up the gut.

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