The 3rd and the 4th rounds of the NFL draft are the two rounds where you can go in and pick up a quality athlete that has the potential to be a starter in the NFL. These are the guys that were likely all-conference performers in college, guys that have talent but need a little extra work to take their game to the next level.
However it must be noted that there are usually question marks surrounding most of these players. In these rounds, teams look to find an athlete that has the physcial tools to compete at the NFL level, while also considering overall team needs.
The later rounds in this year's draft are going to be especially interesting for the Dallas Cowboys, because Jerry Jones isn't going to be able to pay these guys as much as some of the other teams can. QB Chad Hutchinson's signing counts against this year's rookie cap. That means the Cowboys get no additional money in their rookie pool to give to their other picks. This could present some problems down the line, pending specifically on who the Cowboys draft this year.
Let's review our list of priorities for the Cowboys one more time before we dive into our selections:
1) Find a true shutdown cornerback, not a safety, but a cornerback.
2) Pick up a wide receiver that creates matchup problems.
3) Draft a tight end that has all the physical tools to play in the NFL.
4) Improve their overall depth on the defensive line.
5) Try and find a diamond in the rough on the offensive line.
With rounds 1 and 2 being devoted to a cornerback and a wide receiver, we believe that the Cowboys will go after a pass-catching tight end that fits Bruce Coslet's West Coast offense, and a defensive tackle with their 3rd and 4th round selections, in that order.
Round #3: (#72)
TE Jerramy Stevens (6'6, 260, 4.68)
If you are a Cowboys fan, you just hope that Stevens is still available in the third round. The kid has more natural ability at the tight end position than any other player in the draft- but character issues have caused his stock to drop tremendously.
He has excellent size at 6'6, 260 lbs, great quickness and body control and is a huge threat after he catches the football. And while he may not be the most physcial tight end, he is solid blocker and he often uses his size to his advantage. Stevens can catch almost any pass thrown his way, and that could be his most important attribute based on the Cowboys' need for a pass catching tight end.
The down side to Stevens has been well documented. His off the field problems caused him to be suspended at the University of Washington on several occasions- but in the third round when you need a tight end that has the total package- you draft a guy like Jerramy Stevens.
A little guidance from the Cowboys' organization and a little growing up on the part of Stevens will help "show him the way" in the NFL.
Round #4: (#102)
DT Alan Harper (6'2, 285, 5.0)
Let's face it, the Cowboys need help at defensive tackle, and while signing La'Roi Glover was a huge coup by Jerry Jones, he isn't done dealing just yet.
Alan Harper is a guy that all Cowboy fans need to be high on. He hasn't produced the best results in the combines, but it doesn't matter because he produces results where it counts- on the field.
Harper is a disruptive force on the defensive line. He can change direction and chase down quicker backs on the tail end of a play. He is aggressive in his style of play, and many experts liken him to John Randle of the Seattle Seahawks.
The bottomline on this kid is that he produces big plays on the field. Last season for Fresno State he recorded 12 sacks and 21 tackles for loss while being double teamed on nearly every play. He was also voted as the WAC Defensive Player of the Year and was a three-time first-team All-WAC recipient.
This kid has all the potential in the world, he just needs a team to give him the chance. With Dallas needing help on the defensive line, it's a perfect fit for the Boys in the 4th round. Remember the name Alan Harper.
The Update's Mock Draft (Rounds 3 & 4)
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