APC Mock Draft 2014: Dallas Cowboys select Defensive Tackle Timmy Jernigan

Streeter Lecka

With the 16th overall pick in our Acme Packing Company mock draft, the Dallas Cowboys address their defensive unit with their first draft pick.

On the clock with the 16th pick in our NFL Mock Draft, the Dallas Cowboys will need to address needs on defense to improve on their recent mediocre performances.

Background

The Dallas Cowboys finished the 2013 season the same way they finished the previous two seasons: 8-8. Dallas’ postseason hopes came down to the final week of the regular season for the third straight year. This year they needed a victory against the Philadelphia Eagles and failed miserably in that game. As Stephen A. Smith would say, the Cowboys are consistently a representation of the mediocrity in the NFL.

After defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was canned before the season, the Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin to take over instead. Things got dramatically worse for the unit, and led to Dallas ranking 28th against the pass and 22nd against the run. Their defense last season was impressively bad, and at times looked like the worst defense in the history of the NFL.

Offensively, Tony Romo performed well, passing for 3,828 yards and throwing 31 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Romo still made the infamous plays he has been known to make -- including a horrible interception in Dallas’ shootout against the Denver Broncos in week five that sealed the loss. In Washington on December 22, Romo suffered a back injury that forced him to miss the season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles. Besides Romo, Dez Bryant had his best season as a pro, hauling in a career-high 93 passes and 13 touchdowns. Bryant also gained over 1,200 yards, topping 1,000 yards for second time in his career. Even with his on-field antics at times, Bryant has established himself as top-five receiver in the league. On the ground, running back DeMarco Murray ran for his first 1,000-yard season and scored nine touchdowns.

Going back to the defense, Dallas released veteran pass rusher Demarcus Ware (who ended up in Denver) and DT Anthony Spencer signed with the rival Redskins. In case you haven’t noticed, the defense is the main priority for the Cowboys to address in the draft this year. Even after signing Henry Melton from Chicago, they still need work along the defensive line. They need another pass rusher to replace Ware and also need a safety.

With the 16th overall pick, the Dallas Cowboys select:

Player: Timmy Jernigan
Position: Defensive Tackle
School: Florida State
Year: Junior

The Cowboys desperately need help up front on the defensive line. With Aaron Donald already off the board after being drafted by the Tennessee Titans, that gives Dallas the next best available defensive tackle. As the last few months have progressed, Jernigan has slowly passed up Minnesota Ra’Shede Hageman as the next-best tackle in my mind. Jernigan took over as a dominating force in the middle of one of the nation's top defenses at Florida State, and he earned first-team All-ACC accolades from the league's coaches.

He possesses a high motor, can fill gaps, and disrupts plays behind the line of scrimmage. His anchoring skills are good despite being undersized for the position, and he’s very hard to move from his spot. Another positive about him is that he’s not fooled very often by ball carriers. This pick makes a lot of sense for Dallas.

The only other player I seriously considered for this pick was Dee Ford from Auburn. That’s about it honestly. Even though they do need a safety, Clinton-Dix is already off the board (and will probably be off in the real draft), and I think Calvin Pryor would be a big reach this early. Ford will be a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but is also a reach, as he is expected to go in the 20s. However, after a stellar performance at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., and a strong workout at the NFL Combine, I wouldn't be shocked if he were drafted in the teens. If somehow Jerry Jones decides to address the offensive side of the ball, it has to be the offensive line. Notre Dame lineman Zach Martin received honorable mention here

Regardless of who they pick, defense should be the priority at this spot in the draft for Dallas, and Jernigan would make a solid tandem with Melton in the interior of the Cowboys' defensive line.

Round One Summary

Pick Team Player Position School
1 Houston Texans Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
2 St. Louis Rams Jadeveon Clowney DE South Carolina
3 Jacksonville Jaguars Khalil Mack OLB Buffalo
4 Cleveland Browns Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M
5 Oakland Raiders Sammy Watkins WR Clemson
6 Atlanta Falcons Greg Robinson OT Auburn
7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mike Evans WR Texas A&M
8 Minnesota Vikings Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville
9 Buffalo Bills Jake Matthews OT Texas A&M
10 Detroit Lions Justin Gilbert CB Oklahoma State
11 Tennessee Titans Aaron Donald DT Pittsburgh
12 New York Giants Eric Ebron TE North Carolina
13 St. Louis Rams Ha Ha Clinton-Dix S Alabama
14 Chicago Bears Darqueze Dennard CB Michigan State
15 Pittsburgh Steelers Anthony Barr OLB UCLA
16 Dallas Cowboys Timmy Jernigan DT Florida State

Tomorrow the Ravens and Jets will be on the clock, represented by Tex and Brendan respectively.

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