Many would argue that the Cowboys need to draft a wide receiver in the 2nd or 3rd round, some would say the 1st. Do the Cowboys really need to draft a receiver? The knee-jerk reaction would have the Cowboys drafting a receiver early; after all the Giants hit on a receiver last year with Hakeem Nicks (47 receptions, 790 yards, 6 TD) and a couple of drafts ago with Steve Smith. The Eagles hit on a receiver in the 1st round with Jeremy Maclin (56, 77, 4) and DeSean Jackson the year before. The Redskins hit with Devin Thomas… no never mind.
The Cowboys are set at receiver. They have a number one in Austin, a number two in Crayton and Williams combined, and a superior TE in Jason Witten. The slot receiver is in-house already. That would be Kevin Ogletree, and a surprise factor this coming season will be Manuel Johnson. Ogletree is far ahead of Johnson, but don’t count Johnson out. The argument is that the Cowboys need a speedy slot or second receiver that will compliment Austin and that can perform punt return duties. Both Ogletree and Johnson fit that bill just give them plenty of opportunities in training camp and the pre-season. Do the Cowboys really need a rookie to fit that bill? Would any rookie challenge Ogletree or Johnson? According to footballsfuture.com, Dez Bryant, Golden Tate, Damian Williams, Brandon LaFell, and Arrelious Benn are the top five receivers. Although these players could be a number two or eventually and number 1, none fit the bill as a punt returner. What about Mardy Gilyard or Dexter McCluster? Would they beat out Kevin Ogletree? Just give Ogletree and Johnson a shot.
This is what Mel Kiper wrote about Johnson, “Before his injury, Johnson was having an outstanding year. He can accelerate past the cornerback on go routes or take short gainers to pay dirt. He not real big, so Johnson’s probably looking at being a slot guy in the NFL. He has decent toughness and with his speed, he could be a factor in the right system.” That sounds like a speedy slot and return guy to me.
Ogletree definitely flashed some talent more so than Johnson. According to Kiper “Ogletree is a good player who did a nice job coming back from a knee injury. He jumped out on occasion in 2008, but I’m surprised he’s coming out early. He didn’t consistently show that he was ready to be the main receiving option, even at the college level…He certainly flashed some ability in some games but other times looked like a marginal prospect. You’ll roll the dice later in the draft with a guy like Ogletree.” The key is that Ogletree ran a 4.36 at last year’s combine and he showed that he can play and contribute for the Cowboys as third option and returner.
If the Cowboys draft a receiver, it should be in the 6th or 7th round, or maybe not at all. Maybe they should wait for rookie free agents. It’s worked in the past. They Cowboys should invest in OL and FS in this year’s draft. Take the best offensive lineman available in the first three rounds. At least one of them is bound to hit. If the Cowboys solidify the OL, it will give our receivers time to get open, it will give the running backs opportunities to explode through a hole, and it will make the offense unstoppable. The Cowboys just have that much talent at the skill positions. It’s a shame the line can’t hold its weight. For the draft, hold the receivers and pass some guards and tackles.
Mel Kiper Jr’s 2009 Draft Report