With the 9th pick in the 2011 BGN Mock Draft JimmyK selects...
Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
First, let's start with the Cowboys' many holes:
- CB - Mike Jenkins was one of the worst corners in the NFL last season. This could be a make or break year for him, but for now, he's not going anywhere. Terence Newman, meanwhile, turns 33 in September, and is set to make $8 million this season. The Cowboys would love to find someone that could start at CB opposite Jenkins so they can dump Newman's contract.
- S - The Alan Ball project at FS is mercifully over for Cowboys fans, and it's unlikely that SS Gerald Sensabaugh will be returning in 2011. That leaves them with precisely zero starting-quality NFL starters at safety.
- DE - The disappointing Marcus Spears is on his way out of Dallas, and if the season began today, their starting DE's would be Igor Olshansky (watch Jason Peters repeatedly manhandle Olshansky here), and the serviceable Stephen Bowen. That's not good enough.
- ILB - Keith Brooking was bad in 2010 and will turn 36 this season. Bradie James is just OK. Sean Lee was drafted in the second round last year and the hope is that he can fill in as a starter in 2011. They can use another player here for depth and to groom for 2012 and beyond.
Other lesser needs - RB, FB
This pick here is fairly simple - How Da'Quan Bowers slipped to 9 is beyond my comprehension, and although it doesn't fit any of the Cowboys' 3 glaring needs, it does fit a significant one, and Bowers is by far and away the best player remaining on the board (apologies to Robert Quinn). If Prince Amukamara were still on the board, I might give him some consideration, but even then I'm taking Bowers. There are no offensive linemen or safeties in this draft that are worth considering with a talent like Bowers still available.
Ideally for Bowers, he'll end up in a 4-3 system where he can pin his ears back, attack the QB, and rack up sacks. Unfortunately for Bowers in this mock draft exercise, he lands in a 3-4 system, in which he may have some more 5-technique responsibility than he had hoped for. Still, it's not about where the player wants to go or what team may be the best fit for him in the NFL Draft. It's about who the best player is for the team that is picking, and for the Cowboys in this case, this pick is a coup.
Bowers is staunch enough to hold up against the run, and unlike the man he'll be replacing (Spears), Bowers will stay in the game on obvious passing situations, when the Cowboys often run four-man fronts, which will play into Bowers' strengths nicely. Opposing teams should find it extremely difficult trying to block DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Da'Quan Bowers, and to a lesser degree, Anthony Spencer. You can't double everyone.
Bowers is listed at 6'4, 280, which some consider to be too small to play DE in a 3-4 scheme. I'm not so sure I agree. Darnell Dockett is listed at 6'4, 290. Justin Smith is listed at 6'4, 285. Shaun Ellis lists at 6'5, 290. Those are 3 of the best 3-4 ends in the game, all with similar body types. If I'm a GM, I'm not going to get bogged down with over-thinking this decision. Bowers is an elite talent, and I sprint to the podium to hand in the card.