Mock Roundup 8.0: The Return Of The Safety At No. 16

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IRVING, Texas – It seems as though we've come full circle with the draft finally on the horizon.

When the draft cycle started back in January, it seemed safety was the popular pick for the Cowboys at No. 16. That was actually before we knew if they'd pick at No. 16 or No. 17 – back before Aaron Donald inserted himself into the conversation.

In the months since, pass rushers like Donald, Anthony Barr and Kony Ealy have cropped up. Offensive linemen and defensive end, even the occasional linebacker, have taken precedence over safety.

Now, with less than a week until the draft starts, we're back to safeties. It seems like most analysts consider it a contingency plan, if the likes of Barr and Donald are off the board, but there's no denying the return in popularity of the possible safety pick.

If that's the case, who do you value more between the top duo of Calvin Pryor and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix? Or, if you feel like waiting a bit, does Jimmie Ward enter the conversation?

Mercifully, we're less than one week away from the answer.

See all 10 experts' opinions below.

Date of Mock:April 29

Pick:Louisville S Calvin Pryor


Comment:Defensive end, defensive tackle and safety are all need positions for the Cowboys, and in this scenario, they get a potential starter opposite leading tacklerBarry Church in the secondary. Pryor is an intimidating presence in the middle of the field who does his best work in the box but is capable of holding up in deep-half zone and deep-third coverage. He sets the tone with his relentless playing style and willingness to deliver the knockout hit.

Date of Mock:April 29

Pick:Pryor

Comment:Depending on how you feel about the prospects of J.J. Wilcox, you could argue the Cowboys need not just one safety, but two. I know defensive line is a pretty big need here for Dallas, but it's a big leap to target either defensive tackle or an edge-rusher here. I actually think the Cowboys could consider moving down if they run into a scenario like this, but I'm not projecting trades, and Pryor, a likely immediate starter at a position of need, makes plenty of sense here.

Date of Mock:May 1, 2014

Pick: UCLA LB/DE Anthony Barr

Comment:Barr would be a nice fill-in for DeMarcus Ware off the edge.

WalterFootball.com's Walter Cherepinsky


Date of Mock:May 2

Pick:Pittsburgh DT Aaron Donald Comment:Dallas fans can finally stop complaining about Taylor Lewan. Jerry Jones would love to get his hands on the Michigan tackle, but he's not available in this version of my mock draft. Aaron Donald is, however, and he would provide a huge boost to an awful defensive line. Donald appears to be a great fit for Monte Kiffin's scheme. 

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco

Date of Mock:April 28

Pick:Alabama S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix

Comment:He has range and the ability to upgrade the back end would be key in drafting him.

DraftTek.com Consensus

Date of Mock: April 30

Pick:Missouri DE Kony Ealy

Comment:Dallas re-signed Anthony Spencer to a cap-friendly, one-year contract; however, he will not be ready for OTA's, not for the start of Training Camp, but hopefully for part of the pre-season games. Potential low-risk/high-return signing, but still does not address the loss of DeMarcus Ware. Kony Ealy has stated that he is the best DE in this year's draft class -- bold words, don't know that I believe them, but the fact of the matter is the DE class has a more severe drop-off in talent than the DT class. Along with the aforementioned Mr. Spencer, a Cowboy roster analysis produces the following roll call: Tyrone Crawford (returning from injury), Jeremy Mincey (signed as a FA during the off-season from Jacksonville), and George Selvie (who rolled off his sofa during the 2013 season to join the Cowboys). Outside pressure is paramount for success in the 4-3 and it cannot consistently be a product of blitzing linebackers -- this is a need selection and hopefully the quality matches the need!

CBSSports.com's Dane Brugler

Date of Mock:April 28

Pick:Barr

Comment:The Cowboys have done their due diligence on Barr in the scenario that he falls to them. With Barr still around, I don't think Dallas will pass.

CBSSports.com's Rob Rang

Date of Mock:April 28

Pick:Jernigan

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. Jernigan, athletic, powerful and just scratching the surface of his potential would give Dallas the interior duo needed for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli's scheme to be successful. [embedded_ad]

Date of Mock:April 28

Pick:Ealy

Comment:Ealy can be used a variety of ways on defense. He can line up as a traditional four-end, move inside on nickel plays and even move out to linebacker on occasion. He would help the Cowboys replace the pass-rush presence lost in the DeMarcus Ware release.

Date of Mock: April 30

Pick:Jernigan

Comment:The Cowboys defense is horrific, so any defensive player is an upgrade here. The defensive line was especially porous, however, and Jernigan — despite what some think — can play the 3-technique in Dallas' system.

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