Update: It's come to my attention that Blogging The Boys (via Theebs from CowboysZone) had the Cowboys' draft photo well before the Miami Herald (via the comments section). I took some vacation after the draft and did not read about the draft-board snafu until today. My apologies to the good folks at Blogging The Boys blog and it was not my intention to slight you in any way. Here's all the legwork they did.
Original post: One of the helpful things Cowboys owner Jerry Jones does other than making colorful statements about his buddy Bill Parcells into hidden cell phone cameras is sharing his NFL draft board with the American public every other year or so. This year, Armando Salguero from the Miami Herald secured an image from the Cowboys' draft room. Salguero's a fine reporter, but he admittedly had a pretty easy scoop on his hands this time around.
A reader in Iowa sent him an image of Jerry Jones standing in front of the sacred board that had mistakenly been published on the Cowboys' website for a few moments. The picture was from Saturday, April 24, which was the third day of the draft. So what did we learn?
The Cowboys had Dez Bryant listed at No. 11 on the board before trading up to select him at No. 24. I'm told by scouts that players are often given the same first-round grade, so the player listed at No. 10 on the Cowboys' board, guard Mike Iupati, could have actually been tied with Bryant. In fact, I believe that running back C.J. Spiller, Iupati and Bryant essentially had the same grades in the 9-11 spots.
The board also backs up Jones' claim that the Cowboys gave Penn State linebacker Sean Lee a first-round grade. He showed up at No. 14 in the image that was mistakenly supplied by the club's in-house TV department, which may or may not still exist. The Cowboys were able to land Lee at No. 55.
I know the Cowboys were in love with Texas safety Earl Thomas (No. 12 on their board), but the price to move up the board was too steep. If the Cowboys had remained at No. 27, I think Penn State defensive tackle Jared Odrick would've been the pick. He appears at No. 15 on the Cowboys' board.
The Cowboys were also interested in left tackle Bryan Bulaga of Iowa, but he went off the board one pick before they selected Bryant with the 24th overall pick. Next year, we're hoping the Cowboys will release a photo of their board a couple days in advance of the draft. It would really be helpful in the mock draft community.