Cowboys will select 18th in NFL draft

LANDOVER, Md. -- The Cowboys finished 8-8 and will get the 18th pick of the NFL draft next April.

The Cowboys' strength of schedule percentage was higher than Pittsburgh's (.523 to .465) and that's why they get the No. 18th pick, according to ESPN's Stats and Information. The Steelers also finished 8-8.

In the last two NFL drafts, the Cowboys drafted in the top 10. In 2012, the Cowboys selected cornerback Morris Claiborne, moving up from No. 14 to No. 6. The previous year, selecting at No. 9, Dallas grabbed tackle Tyron Smith.

Claiborne and Smith appear to be long-term starters.

Dallas needs to find some more talented young players.

Here's an early look at five players who could be around at No. 18, unless the Cowboys move up based on need.

  • Star Lotulelei, a 6-foot-4, 325 defensive tackle from Utah. ESPN's Mel Kiper has Lotulelei No. 3 on his Big Board. If the Cowboys let Jay Ratliff go and Lotulelei is available, it could be a match.

  • Barkevious Mingo, a 6-foot-5, 242 pound defensive end from LSU. Kiper says of Mingo: "Mingo is just so gifted athletically that he survives without taking on blocks."

  • Chance Warmack, a 6-foot-3, 320 pound guard from Alabama. Jason Garrett loves what Nick Saban has to say and he visited Alabama's Pro Day last year. He didn't draft anyone from Saban's team, but he might have to this year.

  • Sheldon Richardson, a 6-foot-4, 295 pound defensive tackle from Missouri. The 21-year old had four sacks this season.

  • Jonathan Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 302 pound guard from North Carolina. The Cowboys hit with fellow alum in Bruce Carter. If the team moves Mackenzy Bernadeau to center, maybe Cooper takes the right guard spot.