Nov 23, 2013; Syracuse, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) is blocked by Syracuse Orange guard Nick Robinson (68) during the second quarter at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys #16 NFL Draft Pick: Who Would I Take?

My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the Dallas Cowboys who hold the #16 pick in the first round.

The Pick:  Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt

Having a great 2013 seasons was likely enough to ensure Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald was get at least into the second round.  However, if he wanted to overcome criticisms by scouts that he was too short and not stout enough against the run, he would need to have a great pre-draft process.  Arguably no player has had a better such process than Donald.  He dominated the Senior Bowl and then turned in an excellent workout at the scouting combine.  Meshed with his superb game tape that shows a player who explodes off the snap and penetrates into the opposing backfield to blow up plays means Donald should be coveted on day one.

Why:  Jason Hatcher is a free agent and Dallas badly needs talented linemen

The Dallas Cowboys were atrocious all around on defense last season.  HOwever, the bulk of their suffering came up front from their inability to consistently rush the passer or stop the run.  Now their best player statistically from last year, Jason Hatcher is leaving for free agency and rumors continue to swirl that DeMarcus Ware could get cut.  Put simply the team is very thin up front and needs to reload with as much young talent as they can find.  The nature of their new defense demands a disruptor at the three-technique defensive tackle spot.  Donald is a natural fit.

Argument:  Timmy Jernigan rates higher on a lot of boards

What will really question the pick is whether Donald is actually the best defensive tackle available. Despite his outstanding NFL draft workouts many experts still believe he’s narrowly edged by Timmy Jernigan from FloridaState.  The Seminole standout was a dominant force in 2013 during their run to the national title.  He’s bigger than Donald, which is why he is so good at stopping the run and when his motor churns he can create havoc in the pocket as well.  Many will think he has more physical upside in the long-term.

Counter-argument:  Rod Marinelli did best work with Henry Melton types

While true to an extent, it must be remember who is running the Dallas Cowboys defense now.  Monte Kiffin has stepped back, putting defensive line coach Rod Marinelli in charge.  The old coach has had great success with a number of teams during his coaching career and it has always come when he had everything centered around a great interior pass rusher such as Warren Sapp in Tampa Bay and more recently Henry Melton in Chicago.  Donald represents that next dynamic force who will give blockers fits for 60 minutes a game.

That is why I would take Aaron Donald if I were in charge.  What are your thoughts?

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Tags: Aaron Donald Dallas Cowboys Henry Melton Jason Hatcher NFL Draft Rod Marinelli Timmy Jernigan

  • David Lucas

    This is a little outside the box but I would actually pursue Melton and another article I read talked about the Dolphins taking offers on Dion Jordan. I think take the chance offer up Cowboys 1st rounder. If I went into it a little more I’d say get Spencer back for a one year deal and target another rusher (like Trent Murphy, Kareem Martin perhaps) in the draft. Might not be the best group of d lineman in the league but its an improvement and it would be younger. It would take the focus off of the d line and it would make it more acceptable to pick up a good receiver that might fall in the second round or another o lineman to solidify the line for years to come.

    • Erik Lambert

      To be honest, David, I’d offer a second rounder for Dion Jordan. If the Dolphins expect a first rounder they’re delusional. Get him for a second, take Donald with the first and then re-sign Spencer for a year and there’s a dynamic new front for Rod Marinelli to utilize.

      • David Lucas

        Well yeah that would be prime but really i’m thinking the Dolphins won’t be willing to take a second for him but if they did I would be ecstatic. The reason I think that he would be worth taking the risk is because Donald is truly in the air now and the Bears could easily pick him up at 14. That would leave us with Jernigan or Ealy if he’s still on the board. You could say a safety there but I think line has more precedence and they need to give Wilcox another year to prove himself. I think if Dion Jordan was in this draft class he would easily be the second best D End. So that in its own right would put him top half of the 1st round. So it just makes sense. The cheaper the better of course but if you didn’t want to sweat out the Donald pick i’d say that a trade for Jordan would be solid and a no drama for the 1st round.

        • Erik Lambert

          Jernigan and Ealy are not bad picks. Donald merely has had a better pre-draft process and he’s a more natural fit at a key position in that Cowboys defense. Everything comes down to what the Bears do in free agency. If they land some defensive tackle help they could easily skip over Donald, leaving Dallas with Donald in their lap. Adding Jordan would merely be gravy.

  • Richard Lee Ochoa

    take Johnny Manziel Fr the the Dallas Cowboys