Figuring out who the Cowboys will draft in the first round has been a lot like solving a mystery. You gather all the clues, quotes and evidence that you can then start eliminating some of the possibilities in an effort to narrow the choices.
Based on recent discoveries, I will boldly make the following predictions regarding the Cowboys first pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
1. They will pick a defensive player.
2. They will pick one that played in the SEC.
3. They will probably pick a player that was coached by Nick Saban at Alabama.
Here is why I have come to this conclusion:
1. Since 2006, the Cowboys have not drafted a first round player that had not visited Valley Ranch. David Decastro and Dontari Poe have not yet visited the Ranch so I’m ruling them out. Besides Dallas brought in 2 guards during free agency and they perceive that the position is now all good. I’m not convinced of that but we are going on their perceptions.
Four guys did visit Valley Ranch recently and three of them were from Alabama. More on that later.
2. The one Pro Day Jason Garrett visited was the one at Alabama. Last year he visited Tyron Smith and that was their first pick. Nick Saban is a coach that the Cowboys have ties to and have a great deal of trust in his opinion.
OK let’s narrow it down to four possibilities of the guys that we know visited.
Alabama defensive players Dre Kirkpatrick, Mark Barron and Courtney Upshaw. Fletcher Cox from Mississippi State also visited.
DL Fletcher Cox: I would love to see the Cowboys draft who I think may be the next “Big Cat” to replace Leon Lett. Leon is now on the Cowboys coaching staff and I imagine he would like working with the very quick and athletic Cox who has a non stop motor. Problem is teams are becoming very bullish on Fletcher Cox so it just isn’t likely he will still be available when the Cowboys pick at 14.
Solution: The Panthers draft at number 9 and are wanting to pick up a 3rd round pick they gave to the Bears for Olsen last year. The Cowboys picked up an additional 4th round pick and could offer a 4th round pick to switch places with the Panthers at #9. That would get them a very good defensive lineman in Cox. Not a likely scenario but possible anyway.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick: Based on prospect rankings, Kirkpatrick just may be the one most likely to get picked before 14 of the three Bama guys. The Cowboys signed CB Brandon Carr so CB is not as huge of a need now. I think Kirkpatrick would be a good pick but I doubt Dallas will pick him and he may be gone anyway. Also Kirkpatrick comes with slight character issues and Jason has said he wants high character players.
We have it down to two! Upshaw and Barron. Both are expected to be available at 14.
Safety Barron: Word is the Cowboys really like this guy based on their conversations with Saban. Safety has been a need for Dallas in the past although they secured things by signing Pool from the Jets in free agency. However he was only signed for one year. So it is possible they will draft a safety with the first pick but I have a little bit of doubt about it. Character wise, Barron scores high!
OLB/DE Courtney Upshaw: One thing Dallas seems interested in is improving their pass rush and Upshaw may be the one who helps that the most out of the guys we have discussed. He did not have an outstanding pro day and his explosiveness is questionable. Ranked at 22, he would be considered a bit of a reach at 14.
At this point, I’m not certain which Dallas will take but hey I have a little more time to gather additional clues. If Fletcher Cox should fall to 14 then I think he is the Cowboys pick. If not, then I think it is one of the three Bama guys. I’ve narrowed it down to Barron or Upshaw for now