Dallas Draft Predictions

Will the Cowboys go offense or defense in the first round? Is all of the Felix Jones discussion a smoke screen? Are there any other trades in the work? The Ranch report provides the answers to those and other draft-related questions.

Let's start with Felix Jones.

Jones has been coveted by the Cowboys' organization from early in the scouting process. He represents the perfect complement to current Pro Bowler Marion Barber and can also return kicks next season for the team that drafts him.

As things stand as of Saturday morning, The Ranch Report believes the chances of Jones becoming a Dallas Cowboy are very high.

Jones figures to go off the board near the end of the first round, exactly where the Cowboys own two picks at No. 22 and No. 28.

The likely key for Jones being available for Dallas rests with the Houston Texans at No. 18. It is believed the Texans do have interest in Jones and would consider drafting him with that pick.

Should Jones go off the board unexpectedly, the Cowboys also have strong interest in running backs East Carolina's Chris Johnson and Oregon's Jonathan Stewart.

Stewart will likely be drafted in the first round while Johnson should go in the second.

As a side note, the Cowboys view Jones and Johnson as complimentary backs while Stewart is more of a featured back.

Dallas also likes Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, who is expected to be gone before the No. 20 selection. If he's still available, he would rated ahead of Felix Jones and could be the pick.

Adding intrigue to all of this is the fact Dallas has two picks close together near the end of the first round. There's a thought Jones could be available at No. 28, which would free up Dallas to go for a wide receiver or cornerback with the No. 22 pick.

Whatever happens Saturday, TheRanchReport.com has maintained the Cowboys are looking to upgrade their offense with their first day selection as priority No. 1.

Obviously a lot depends on who is off the board when Dallas goes on the clock at No. 22. If an elite level cornerback is available, that player will obviously warrant consideration. If Michigan State wide receiver Devin Thomas is still there, although that possibility is highly unlikely, he would likely be the selection.

Texas WR Limas Sweed has also caught the eye of the organization with one of its two first round selections, even though injuries are a concern.

If any trade is executed, we believe it would be Dallas trading from No. 28 back into the second round for additional picks. If Jones were to go off the board early, this would provide the perfect scenario to select Chris Johnson, who many in the organization believe is just a step behind Jones.

So that finally brings us to our projections. As things stand now, TheRanchReport.com projects the following players to Dallas in rounds one through three:

No. 22: RB Felix Jones (Arkansas)
Exciting zone runner with the speed to get the corner and outrun the pursuit angle. Is sudden with vision & ability to plant and go. Shows multiple cutting skills, good hands and was dangerous in space. Has bouncy legs and the ability break secured tackles. Not a lot of thread off the tires having been a back up throughout his entire career. Whether he can carry the full load & become feature back in the NFL is still an unknown.

No. 28: WR James Hardy (Indiana)
Think of this early entrant into draft as solid No. 2 receiver for the Cowboys with Terrell Owens in the mix. Hardy holds IU records for receptions (191) yards (2,740) and TD (36). He played two years of basketball before focusing totally on football. Rare size, firm hands and physical dexterity. Has good speed but doesn't have quick speed. Primarily a red zone threat at this stage but would be the perfect complement to Terrell Owens .

No. 61: CB Terrence Wheatley (Colorado)
Wheatley has very impressive cover skills (man to man and in zone) and has been coveted by the Cowboys for quite some time. Very impressive athlete. (feet, hips, balance and quickness) Showed easy acceleration in his film at Colorado. Can mirror and cover the double move. Also always gives an effort, but sometimes struggled to get off blocks and get to the ball carrier. Little guy who looked like the proto type nickel back. Has late second to solid third round draft consideration.

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