NFL Experts Favor Defensive Tackles In Latest Mock Drafts

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It's been two weeks since we checked in on what the prognostications are surrounding Dallas' first round draft pick. The same cast of suspects continues to float in the ether around No. 18, where the Cowboys pick next Thursday.

Good luck finding anyone who can agree on the eventual selection, though.

I took the time to look over the same 12 mock drafts from two weeks ago, and though most of the names remain the same, the consensus opinion seems to be changing. 

Offensive line was consistently the top choice last time I perused the mocks. All those names – Chance

Warmack, Jonathan Cooper and D.J. Fluker – are still represented, but the prevailing wisdom now

seems to be that a top blocker might not be available. If that's the case, defensive tackle is getting a lot

of attention as Dallas' next-best option.

Here's who (or what need) the draft experts think the Cowboys should choose

* *

SI.com's Don Banks

Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina

Comment:"It's tempting to give the Cowboys the safety upgrade they have to have in Kenny Vaccaro or Jonathan Cyprien, both of whom have been rumored to be on their radar screen for months. But defensive tackle is another pressing need, and everybody knows how important that position is in Monte Kiffin's Tampa 2 formation. The way I see it, Dallas has a better chance to find a starter at safety in the second round than it does a defensive tackle."

Previous Pick: Banks had Dallas selecting Williams' UNC teammate Jonathan Cooper two weeks ago. Last week he proposed a draft day trade with San Francisco, with the Cowboys ultimately taking Menelik Watson No. 31

NFL.com's Matt Smith

Pick: Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas

Comment:"As long as the Cowboys don't get in their own way, Vaccaro is a perfect match. Texas to Texas. It's a need and he's the best player available."

Previous Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

* *

NationalFootballPost.com's Russ Lande


Pick: Jonathan Cooper, OG, North Carolina

Comment: "Dallas' offensive line has not played well in recent seasons and Cooper is a "plug and play" guard who will upgrade their line as a rookie. Strong and athletic, Cooper has the tools to be effective as an in-line blocker and out in space."

Previous Pick: Vaccaro

* *

FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager

Pick: Cooper

Comment:"Tony Romo got a big payday earlier this month. Now, the Cowboys need to invest in protecting him. He had a big statistical year in 2012 despite playing behind a terrible offensive line. Doug Freehasn't been the player the Cowboys thought he'd be and Tyron Smith seemed to be called for a false start on every other play from scrimmage this season. Injuries stung, but there needs to be more good, young linemen protecting Romo. Cooper could be a great addition to the line. The 6-foot-2, 310-pound road paver pumped out 35 repetitions of 225 pounds and impressed in interviews. Not the flashiest of picks, but I like it. I'm also not sure if he'll still be available all the way at 18.

Previous Pick: Cooper

* *

CBSSports.com's Rob Rang

*Pick: Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina                                                                                                                                       *

Comment:"After a long run with the 3-4 defense the Cowboys are making the switch to the 4-3 alignment with new coordinator Monte Kiffin. For Kiffin's famous Tampa-2 scheme to work the team will need to add a penetrating three-technique defensive tackle. Williams left scouts buzzing with his athleticism at the North Carolina Pro Day and would be a perfect schematic fit."

Previous Pick: Williams

* *

NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler

Pick: Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

Comment: "I'm sure Jerry Jones will want to make a splash with this pick, but the Cowboys desperately need to revamp the trenches on both sides of the ball. If one of the top two guards (Warmack, Cooper) or top three defensive tackles (Floyd, Lotulelei, Richardson) are still available, that will make the most sense."

Previous Pick: Vaccaro

* *

CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan

Pick: Richardson

Comment:"The Cowboys might have considered D.J. Fluker, but since he's gone in this mock, it's time to take a "3 tech" defensive tackle for Monte Kiffin's 4-3 defense."

Previous Pick: D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco

Pick: Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

Comment: "They have to get better inside. Warmack is a mauler. So he stays in this spot."

Previous Pick: Warmack

WalterFootball.com

Pick: Cooper

Comment: "The interior of Dallas' offensive line is an abomination. The front office actually found two downgrades at guard last offseason, while center Phil Costa is a sieve. The Cowboys have to find some help for Tony Romo.  The Cowboys absolutely love both Jonathan Cooper and Kenny Vaccaro. Jerry Jones has shown that he's not afraid to move up for a prospect he really likes when he obtained Morris Claiborne last year. He may move up for either Cooper or Vaccaro. 

Previous Pick: Fluker

SBNation.com's Dan Kadar

Pick: Fluker

Comment:"If the draft falls this way, the Cowboys would be in a difficult situation. All the best defensive tackles and Kenny Vaccaro are gone. It may come down to a trade, Fluker or a safety like Jonathan Cyprien. Despite signing Doug Free to a big deal, Fluker is a much better player. He's a power tackle with underrated pass blocking skills."

Previous Pick: Richardson

ESPN.com's Mel Kiper

Pick: Williams

Comment:"I don't think Warmack and Cooper necessarily will be there. I think Cooper could go in the top 10; Warmack could go in the top 11. They're all going very high … I bet Sylvester Williams from North Carolina, you need a defensive tackle to fit that Monte [embedded_ad]

Kiffin scheme."

Previous Pick: Warmack

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