No Way To Know - Yet

even at that, those last two to four would seem to be pretty much conjecture, you know, eye-of-the-pick-beholder. There is no telling when you get down that far in the first round what some team might do, like Jacksonville last year taking Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones at 21 for receiver purposes or Washington deciding at 25 quarterback Jason Campbell was their guy. 

That is why you have to be light on your feet come Saturday, married to nothing but willing to love the one you're with, er, available. 

OK, so say we are at least in the ballpark with these 15 or 16 guys, give or take two or three. That would leave, by most estimations, and in no particular order, this list of players likely available for the Cowboys to choose from two picks later: 

  •   Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, projected to be an outside linebacker. 
  • North Carolina State defensive end Manny Lawson, projected to be an outside linebacker. 
  • Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes. 
  • Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson. 
  • Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter. 
  • Southern Cal running back LenDale White. 
  • Ohio State center Nick Mangold. 
  • Ohio State safety Donte Whitner. 
  • Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie. 
  • Clemson cornerback Tye Hill.   

That's 10 guys to choose from. Bet you feel like a kid in a candy store. And if you're like most tots, you'd like one of each. But here is the problem. You get only one. 

Now let me help. Let me give you a few clues. When asked if the Cowboys were more inclined to use the first pick on a defensive player rather than an offensive player, just as they have in six of the last eight drafts - see RB Julius Jones in 2004 and QB Quincy Carter in 2001 as the exceptions - Jerry Jones said, "Given that pick, unless two or three of the top offensive players drop down, that's a pretty good bet." 

Clue No. 2: When asked how the signing of Terrell Owens will affect this draft, Jones said, "We don't have to in any way get some juice in our offense," meaning they have such players at key positions as Drew Bledsoe, Owens, Terry Glenn, Julius Jones and Jason Witten. Anything else would be first-round excess. 

So let's throw out Holmes, Jackson and White. 

That leaves seven defensive players left. Jones previously has said that if one of the top two corners fell, that would cause the Cowboys to scratch their heads. But in this projection, they haven't, Williams and Joseph already gone. So let's assume Jones is not throwing down a smokescreen, and eliminate Cromartie and Hill. 

With me so far? 

OK, continuing. Safety has seemed to be on everyone's mind, but unless the best one falls, Huff - and he's even a tad small for NFL purposes - let's assume the Cowboys don't go there in the first round since they just signed Marcus Coleman and matched Keith Davis' offer sheet. Mark off Whitner, and while you're at it if you are looking for the most bang for your buck in the first round, no way you take a center. Mangold, you're gone. 

Well, what have we left? 

Wimbley, Lawson and Carpenter, come on down. 

The Cowboys might wet their pants if those three were left after 16 picks came off the board, because if they are going to play this 3-4 defense, and they want an upgrade at left outside linebacker over Al Singleton, going on 31, and over . . . uh, over . . . (By the way, who else is playing over there?) they need a run-stopping, pass-rushing, tight end-covering dude over there - and in that order. 

Wimbley and Lawson played defensive end in college. But both are projected to be outside linebackers, preferably in a 3-4 in the NFL. But both seem to be those hybrid rush-linebacker types, and the Cowboys just got one of those. DeMarcus Ware. Not sure you can get by with two of those guys, one on each side, in the NFL. Ware had enough problems playing the run while making the conversion from a down defensive end in college to a standup, 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Imagine playing with two of them out there. 

As I've been saying, this 3-4 needs a beast on the left side to complement what Ware does on the right side. Just think of, if all are healthy, having

MICK SHOTS

 

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