It's no surprise that eyes are turning to the draft after the Cowboys' underwhelming free agency period. That fourth-overall pick is exciting and, ideally, will bring in a future star at whatever position they draft.
Not to be lost in that top-five fanfare is that Dallas also has a very early second-round pick, the 34th overall. There is a high probability that some of the talent you're seeing in the late and even middle of first-round mock drafts will fall to the Cowboys' second pick, making it worthy of extensive consideration.
Starting today I'm going to profile various prospects who could reasonably be there for Dallas in the second round. We're going to kick it off with a rising star that played in the most recent National Championship game.
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Right now Dodd is being projected all over the place. I've seen him going as high as the 10-15 range in the first round and also falling to the middle of the second round. One major site's mock had him going at the 33rd pick to the Titans, one spot ahead of the Cowboys' second pick.
Dodd has been called both “NFL ready” and “raw” by scouts. He has great size at 6'5″ and is listed at 277 pounds. He's a little older for a rookie, turning 24 in July, but that could be part of why he already has a mature and pro-ready body.
What I really like about him is that his best play has been his most recent; 3.5 sacks in his last three regular season games, one more in the playoff semifinal, and then three against Alabama in the championship. He's been showing up when the lights were brightest.
Comparison to Top Prospect
Let's see how Dodd's season and his workouts have compared to the consensus top prospect at defensive end; Joey Bosa from Ohio State. These are a mix of combine and pro day results.
Also, keep in mind that Dodd played one extra game due to being in the playoffs.
|Bosa (6'5″, 269 lbs)||Dodd (6'5″, 277 lbs)|
|Vertical||31 1/2||30 1/2|
Despite being nearly identical in size Bosa clearly outperformed Dodd in the workouts. However, there's no question which of the two was more productive in their on-field stats.
You can make the case that Dodd had more opportunities for stats as he was playing opposite from Shaq Lawson, whereas teams would be running away from and focusing on stopping Bosa. Let's look a little more at that argument.
The Shaq Effect
The most-repeated concern with Dodd is that he was benefiting from the presence of a premiere pass-rusher in Lawson. That's a fair point, but really more of a first-round issue. You'd be more worried if you were taking someone to be the star of your defensive line.
Look at it this way; Dodd is built to be strongside defensive end. On almost any time he will likely play that left side of the defense and go up against opponents' right tackles, the same as in college. On the other side would be the team's premiere pass rusher. He should enjoy the same relationship he had with Lawson with a future teammate who plays that weakside role.
Also, 12.5 sacks is still a huge number in college. It tied him fifth in the nation and just a half-sack behind Lawson. You don't get that kind of production just being at the right place at the right time. It speaks to his own ability.
Let's say Dallas takes Bosa or some other defensive end in the first round. I don't think that would necessarily preclude them from taking another one in the second.
As I've written about recently, Dallas is scarily thin at defensive end right now. DeMarcus Lawrence is your only sure thing, followed by unproven players in Ryan Russell and newly-signed Benson Mayowa. Randy Gregory will be suspended for four weeks and hasn't really proven himself on the field, either.
Rod Marinelli loves having a rotation and you obviously need several players for that. If he's on the board at #34 then Dodd could very well be the best player available at any position. Throw in our team needs, even with a DE being selected the night before, and you can see why they'd make the move.
What's more, if Dallas doesn't take a DE on Thursday then I could see them trading up into the last first round to get Dodd or someone of comparable talent. They have an extra fourth-round compensatory pick that would make excellent fodder for a trade-up scenario.