NFL Draft: Dallas Cowboys day one wrap-up

 

Whew, what a day. Has a NFL draft ever gone by so quickly? I really like the new streamlined format; it makes the action happen much faster and keeps you glued to the TV.

Anyway, let’s talk about the Cowboys draft. I feel pretty good about it but do have a few issues.

Pick #22 – Felix Jones: Anybody who has been reading this blog knows that I’m a fan of Felix Jones and thought that would be the guy Dallas chose with their first pick. What I didn’t expect was having to make a choice between Rashard Mendenhall and Jones. In all honesty, I would have taken Mendenhall at that point, he’s the more complete, workhorse back. Having said that, I understand the Cowboys thinking and I’m not overly disappointed we passed on Mendenhall. Rashard is a very similar back to MB3 in style and size although he doesn’t quite have the violent streak of the Barbarian, but then again, who does? Mendenhall is the type of back who would need a lot of carries in a game to be truly effective and probably wouldn’t get that this year behind MB3. If you’re thinking long-term, then Mendenhall is the guy only if you believe that the Cowboys won’t sign MB3 after this year. Obviously Jerry, who knows more about the situation than any of us, believes that he will get him signed. On that basis I can understand why they chose Jones instead. Felix is the perfect complement to MB3 in this offense, he’ll add the speed element, the outside running attack, and you can throw in some screens and possibly split him out in the slot on occasion. He’s the homerun threat from the backfield that the team lacks. And please, don’t tell me Mendenhall is as fast as Jones. It’s absurd. I don’t care what they ran at the combine - a one-day event where anybody can have a bad 40 time and they aren’t even in pads. Anybody who has watched the game film on Jones can see his game-speed is a world apart from your average back. So that argument is crazy. He’s also a terror as a kick returner. The other thing I like about Jones is that he can be productive with limited touches and has no problem working behind a starting back. In the long run, Mendenhall may be the better back in terms of an every down starter but Jerry believes that the every down starter in Dallas for years to come will be MB3. So based on that thinking, I can see why they took Jones. I’m not willing to say Jones is the better all-around back but his big play explosiveness and ability to work with limited touches probably fits the Cowboys offense better.

Also, I initially thought that Dallas could pass on Jones and still get him at #28. In reality, that might not have happened because the Titans took Chris Johnson, another speed back, two picks later. It’s entirely possible they would have grabbed Jones instead if he was still on the board.

Pick #25 – Mike Jenkins: This was a great pick for the Cowboys. They needed another corner and they got one that I’ve seen ranked as the best or second best corner in the draft on some scouting reports. The fact he fell as far as he did was a surprise. He has great upside potential and can be a playmaker on the ball. Once again, Jerry made a smart move by trading up to get him because I’m pretty sure he would not have gotten past San Diego. I liked Antoine Cason but he was not as high on my board as Jenkins. I truly didn’t think we’d have a shot at him and if we did it was most certainly going to be at #22. Getting him when we did was great value and I judge him as ready to play from day one. With Jenkins and Pacman Jones coming on board our secondary just got so much better it’s unbelievable. And Jenkins and the Joneses (Pacman and Felix) can all help our special teams. A great pick.

Pick #61 – Martellus Bennett: Like a lot of you, I’m not a big fan of this pick. I will be the first to admit I know very little about the guy. I’ve never seen him play and didn’t research TE’s at all because I didn’t see the Anthony Fasano trade coming. So it’s hard for me to speak to his actual on the field skills. I just didn’t think that TE was that big of a need even with Fasano gone. We got by just fine last year with Fasano who I thought was average at best and that Tony Curtis could pretty much fill his role. I would have liked to seen the Cowboys go for another position like WR or safety here, or even a lineman that they had high on their board. I understand that Bennett is a phenomenal athlete and could become a playmaker, but our second TE just doesn’t get that many opportunities with Witten in front of him and the other playmakers we have on offense. It may not have been a reach in terms of where Bennett ranked in value but it didn’t seem like much of a need for us. My one hope is that the Cowboys scouts have seen something in the kid that tells them he could develop into a playmaker that will force his way onto the field in some role. But I’m not a fan of this pick.

Overall, I like most of what we did today. Going into the draft I wanted a RB and a CB in the first round and I got it. I also think the two players we got at those positions are great additions and will yield positive results. Passing on Mendenhall was a call I might not have made but I understand it. The pick of Bennett is something I’m going to have to be sold on because at this point I don’t quite get it. Still, Jerry had a plan and executed it well. A great start to the 2008 draft.

On another subject, what a great day by you guys on the blog. We had eight open threads with over 2,200 comments. That’s a beautiful thing. I think the new platform functioned very well. I know some of you complained about lagging threads but it might have been your computer because for a lot of us it ran very smoothly. But the real point is that the community was humming today and we cranked out a lot of comments and information while thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Kudos, guys. And thanks to Brandon for helping me out all day. Don’t forget, as if you really would, we’ll be doing all over again on Sunday.

 

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