OverviewThis group, if the stand-up pass rushers are included, goes from average to very good. It is led by Oregon’s Dion Jordan and LSU’s Barkevious Mingo. At middle linebacker, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o gets the headlines but LSU’s Kevin Minter could be the first drafted at the position. Te’o and Minter both could be first-rounders.Cowboys’ needsThe Cowboys have high hopes for Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, believing they can live up to the high standards the organization has had for the position. But there is a caveat: If they stay healthy. … Lee and Carter were draft-day steals because they were coming off injuries, and both ended last season on injured reserve. Lee is the middle linebacker in the Cowboys’ 4-3, and Carter is the weakside linebacker. Kyle Wilber will get the first shot at the strongside job, but the Cowboys are expected to draft another candidate.Top three ILB Kevin Minter, LSU, 6-0, 246, 4.70: He had 130 tackles, 15 for loss, and four sacks last year as a junior. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame, 6-1, 241, 4.78: He is the most intriguing prospect in this draft for obvious reasons. Kiko Alonso, Oregon, 6-4, 238, 4.75: Off-field issues and injuries could drop him to the third round, but he was productive last year with 81 tackles, 14 for loss, four interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.Top three OLB Dion Jordan, Oregon, 6-6, 248, 4.54: In four seasons, he had 121 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Barkevious Mingo, LSU, 6-4, 241, 4.53: He had 119 tackles, 29 for loss, and 15 sacks in 40 career games. Jarvis Jones, Georgia, 6-3, 245, 4.90: He started all 26 games in two seasons at Georgia, with 28 sacks, 155 tackles, 44 tackles for loss, nine forced fumbles and an interception.Sleeper Keith Pough, OLB, Howard, 6-2, 239, 4.87: He had 349 career tackles, including an FCS-record 71 for loss.Top Texas ties Zaviar Gooden, OLB, Missouri, 6-2, 234, 4.46: The Pflugerville product should go in the third round after making 256 tackles, including 20.5 for loss, in his four seasons. Sean Porter, OLB, Texas A&M, 6-1, 229, 4.69: He had 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in the joker position as a junior before a new scheme in 2012 had him play a traditional OLB role. Jonathan Stewart, ILB, Texas A&M, 6-4, 242, 4.65: He is projected as a sixth-rounder after making 81 tackles, 2.5 sacks, four pass breakups and seven quarterback hits in 2012. Ja’Gared Davis, OLB, SMU, 6-0, 238, 4.80: He could be a seventh-rounder after 77 tackles, including 11 for loss, three forced fumbles and two INTs last season. Source: Heights, weights and 40 times were compiled from NFL Draft Scout.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @NFLCharean