Von Miller, DE/OLB, Texas A&M: Miller could fit in perfect with the Cowboys' current scheme. A versatile player who could help out in Rob Ryan's version of the 3-4, he's moving up draft boards quickly.
Want a little insight into who the Cowboys will take with the ninth pick in this year's NFL Draft? Don't ask NFL mock draft analysts -- unless you like being throughly confused. The names and positions are all over the map, with some analysts divided on the Cowboys' biggest need.
The one thing most of them can agree on is this: the Cowboys need to go out and improve the defense. Whether it's a new defensive end or a shutdown corner, Jerry needs to make some improvements to the league's 23rd ranked defense.
Here's a rundown from some of the nation's top draft analysts on who the Cowboys should take in the first round:
SI.com's Don Banks:
Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama: "Cornerback makes the top of the need list in Dallas, but the two top 10 prospects are already gone. Dareus would offer great value at No. 9, and he's a proven talent who thrived in Nick Saban's 3-4 defense at Alabama. He'd likely play at end in the NFL, and his knack for penetrating and making things happen in the backfield would no doubt help the Cowboys' pass defense by increasing the pass pressure up front."
CBSSports.com's Rob Rang:
Tyron Smith, OT, Southern California: "In terms of the best available talent, this is a reach, if not a gamble on greatness. But the Cowboys failed to address the left tackle position sufficiently last year and Tony Romo paid the price for it. Smith's upside is obvious on tape and that fact could help him soar up charts if he performs well at the Combine. He's a more physical and aggressive blocker than Solder or Castonzo, which makes him a better fit for Dallas."
CBSSports.com's Chad Reuter:
Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College: "Improving the offensive line is of great importance if head coach Jason Garrett wants to keep QB Tony Romo healthy."
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: "After walking around Dallas on Saturday, I can tell you one thing -- those folks love their Cowboys. Whether it was at Nick and Sam's Grill (a great brunch spot if you want some amazing breakfast tacos) or any of the spots downtown, the talk last week was a) the weather, and b) the 'Boys. All the fans I chatted with are focused on improving two things -- the offensive line and the defensive backfield. To be certain, a host of second- and third-tier quarterbacks like David Garrard, Rex Grossman andShaun Hill lit up the Cowboys in 2010. Cornerback and safety are the most pressing needs on the roster, and I think Dallas goes with a defensive back over an offensive tackle with this pick. Though he didn't rack up the interceptions in 2010, Amukamara lived up to the hype: He was an All-American, Big 12 defensive player of the year and Jim Thorpe Award finalist. He'd be a welcomed addition to Rob Ryan's unit."
National Football Post:
Tyron Smith, OT, USC: "A tall, athletic-looking offensive tackle prospect with a long frame, long arms and a lot of growth potential in his lower half. Is only twenty years old and still has a lot of maturing to do with his frame and should be easily able to add additional bulk/weight without much of a problem. Plays right tackle at USC and will likely need to learn to make the move to left tackle at the next level, stunting his growth a bit in playing quickly during his rookie year. However, he's a gifted athlete off the edge with natural bend in his lower half, is able to sit into his stance, play with leverage into contact and extend his long arms well at the point of attack."
Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU: "Not sure how this happened, but arguably the best player in the draft is still on the board at No. 9. And for a team like Dallas that was one of the worst in the league against the pass, Peterson would be a godsend."
Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State: "Jerry Jones like flashy items, just like Al Davis. The question is which flashy DE Jones will grab. Kerrigan? Quinn? I'm going with Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State, who will put on a show at the Combine. [Ed. Heyward still not confirmed for the Combine due to Tommy John surgery.]"
Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina: "There are several directions Dallas could go with this pick, but if a potentially elite pass rusher like Quinn is available, he'd make a great investment. Quinn's upside is significantly higher than that of current starter Anthony Spencer."
Cameron Jordan, DE/DT, Cal: "This may be very high for Cameron Jordan but he had a very good week of Senior Bowl Practice. Jordan my top rated 2011 NFL Mock Draft 3-4 Defensive end in this 2011 NFL Mock Draft and could also play DT if he bulked up a little bit. I think that when he plays full out he is very difficult to block and that is why I have him going so high in this NFL Mock Draft."
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: "Anyone who watched the Cowboys play this past season is fully aware of the issues they had in coverage. Terence Newman , who was once one of the best cornerbacks in the business, is going to be 33-years-old and is starting to slow down while the play of former first round pick Mike Jenkins has absolutely fallen off a cliff. Needless to say, if either Patrick Peterson of L.S.U. or Prince Amukamara of Nebraska is available it probably wouldn't take Jerry Jones long to pull the trigger. Amukamara possesses the size, speed, fluid hips and physical nature that you look for in a top-flight, shutdown cover guy. In fact, there really isn't much separating Amukamara from Peterson and it's basically a 1A and 1B type of situation.
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: "Jerry Jones recently said that he doesn't see the cornerback position as a problem area for his team. Either he's lying to mislead others, or he's unbelievably delusional. I have to believe it's the former. There's some speculation that Terence Newman could be released this offseason. Newman, 33 in September, struggled last season and will be due $8 million in 2011. Corner help is desperately needed. While Patrick Peterson is the best cornerback prospect to come along in a very long time, Prince Amukamara isn't too far behind him."
Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska: "The Cowboys corners were picked on and apart this past season. That won't happen with the athletic Amukamara, a converted running back, on board. Not as much at least."