Who Should Be on Dallas Cowboys' Short List in Round 1 of 2014 NFL Draft?

Chris ImperialeCorrespondent IApril 29, 2014

Who Should Be on Dallas Cowboys' Short List in Round 1 of 2014 NFL Draft?

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    Nam Huh

    With the 2014 NFL draft just about a week away, it’s time to take a serious look at the first round. The re-signing of Anthony Spencer gives owner Jerry Jones more flexibility with his pick, but the focus will still be on defense.

    Depth is still a large issue along the defensive front, so both tackles and ends will be highly sought after. Then again, the team could decide to bolster the secondary with a safety or grab another offensive lineman.

    It will be interesting to see who Dallas picks at No. 16 because there’s a lot of uncertainty of who will be available. That being said, I’m confident in Jones making a pick worth talking about.

    Let’s take a closer look at the Dallas Cowboys’ short list for Round 1.

DT Aaron Donald

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    It seems Aaron Donald’s draft stock is continually rising in the weeks leading up to the draft. Even though he may be off the board before Dallas has a chance, no one ever truly knows how the first round will go.

    Donald would be one of the safest choices for Dallas. He had an impressive college career and would probably beat out Nick Hayden for a starting position.

    The tackle would add some youth and energy to a unit full of veterans. Dallas might have to move up a few picks to acquire him, but Donald will be solid player at the next level.

DT Timmy Jernigan

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    If defensive tackle is the position of choice and Donald is long gone, Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan is next in line. Rated second by CBS Sports at his position, Jernigan is another prospect to keep an eye on.

    Although he didn’t have huge sack numbers, the former Seminole is excellent against the run. Last season, the Cowboys linebackers and safeties were forced to make the majority of tackles. Having someone to really clog the middle would benefit someone like Sean Lee greatly.

    Jernigan is a likely pick for Dallas in the middle of Round 1. He would upgrade the middle of the defense and potentially create a Pro Bowl pairing with newly signed Henry Melton.

DE Kony Ealy

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    Getting Spencer back was a big move for Jones, although it doesn't necessarily mean the Cowboys are satisfied at the position. If the right guy is available when Dallas picks in the first round, it will most likely choose him.

    One of these players is Missouri’s Kony Ealy. The defensive end was a star in college and hopes to continue his success in the NFL.

    He’s not discussed as much as one Jadeveon Clowney, but Ealy thinks his talent is on the same level. Last week, Ealy told USA Today's Tom Pelissero, “I feel like I’m the best guy in this draft, period.”

DE Anthony Barr

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    The other end to watch is UCLA’s Anthony Barr. Like Jernigan and Ealy, he’s not the most discussed at his position, but he is someone to be excited about.

    Despite playing a lot of outside linebacker, Barr has the speed and size to create an impact as a 4-3 end. He’s proven to be a quality edge-rusher, and the Cowboys need one with the departure of DeMarcus Ware.

    Barr would compete from Day 1 and have the chance to earn a starting role. Spencer and George Selvie are good options, however, they've both shown to be susceptible to injury.

S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

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    A different route the front office can take would be to draft a safety. The only two they would consider in the opening round would be Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Both are extremely talented, but I think Clinton-Dix has the higher ceiling.

    Clinton-Dix played for three years at Alabama under the tutelage of Kirby Smart and Nick Saban. He’s extremely athletic and an asset against both the pass and run.

    Dallas has some options at free safety, but no one has a firm hold the job. Clinton-Dix would take that responsibility if Jones could grab him at No. 16.

QB Johnny Manziel

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    As mentioned, the addition of Spencer allows the Cowboys to have more options when they draft next Thursday night. Although defensive line is absolutely the focus, the team now has the chance to select the best available player.

    One of these people could very well be quarterback Johnny Manziel.

    It’s true the Cowboys have a legitimate starter in veteran Tony Romo, but he’s 34 years old and not getting any younger. Manziel is a great choice for the Cowboys because his skills are evident, and most importantly, he has time to develop them.

    Dallas (barring another injury) shouldn’t need to consider another starter for a few seasons. That would create plenty of time for Manziel to be groomed into the next Cowboy great.