DALLAS-- There's no doubt that draft day is one of the most important days of the year for NFL franchises.

With 53 players on every roster, it's crucial to choose players who can contribute in some way, whether as a starter or a useful situational player, or a special teams player. The best franchises draft well, and when the inevitable injuries hit their top players, these teams have the depth in place to continue competing.

That said, all the media hype, talk and mock drafts, and everything that goes into the build-up to the draft, is a waste of time. We won't know anything until teams actually start making their picks, and we won't know how good those picks are until next fall at the earliest, and more likely three or four years in the future.

One of the most ridiculous things we'll see after the final round on Saturday are 'draft grades' -- how each team did in the draft. Those grades are based on what the players are projected to be; what they actually become could be entirely different, and usually is.

It's like eating potato chips, nothing but empty calories. But we all like potato chips, so we eat them, just like we eat up all the pre-draft coverage.

With this in mind, I looked at more than a dozen mock drafts to see what kind of consensus is out there, and how wildly some of these guys disagree with each other.

Here's some good news for Cowboy fans: nearly all the mock drafts have them taking a defensive player, and they were historically bad on defense in 2013. The names I saw the most often: Aaron Donald (defensive lineman, Pitt; in a few mocks the Cowboys trade up to get him), Anthony Barr (outside linebacker UCLA), Timmy Jernigan (defensive tackle, Florida State), Calvin Pryor (safety, Louisville). Assuming those players are good, any one of them would make an immediate impact on the Cowboys defense.

A couple other notes after scouring the mock drafts: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is the consensus number 1 pick (with the exception of a couple of outliers who think Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles will go first). Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is a top 10 pick in most mocks, but a couple guys (including former general manager Charley Casserly) think Manziel won't even be drafted in the first round.

And here's something for Cowboys fans to think about for the next few hours: Todd McShay and Mike Mayock -- two of the top NFL draft prognosticators -- have Manziel going to the Cowboys at 16.

I'll write more about that possibility later in the day; look for it around 4 p.m.

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