BTB wins the draft! Scratch that, BTB's readers have won the draft.
It's become a tired, reflexive trait of draft sites to grade teams in the immediate aftermath of the picking. What's always devalued these grades, in my opinion, is the lack of context; the graders assess teams on how close or far individual teams picked according to the their boards.
What would bring real value to post-draft debates is knowledge of what real boards looked like. Dallas claimed it had Sean Lee in its top 16. Where did other teams rate him? This knowledge would let us review how teams really fared two years down the line. The Eagles drafted Brandon Graham in the top 15, and gave up two high picks to select him. Dallas gave him a high 2nd round grade. Who's right?
That's where you come in. The Blogging The Boys community showed the power of open source investigations by constructing the most impressive items of post draft journalism anywhere. Jbell523, Theebs, Requiem and others got the ball rolling, posting photos from the war room of the big board, and the rest of site's readers dove in. Within hours, a nearly complete draft board had been pieced together.
Readers outside the immediate community have noticed. In my feeds today, I saw mention of the draft board project in the Detroit News, on SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket's Bob Sturm's "Live From Lewisville" blog and on NFL Fanhouse's Cowboys page, which credited Sturm first. (Not to worry folks. Follow the links to Bob's page and he puts all the credit where it's due.)
We front pagers do our best, but you guys scooped us -- and everybody else, pro or amateur. Of course, everybody is standing on the shoulders of the folks who shot the original images of the team's board, but without such an active an interactive community of fans, this would not have been possible.
I give all of you some loud and well-deserved blog applause. Nothing could illustrate the draft principles I spent weeks trying to lay out than the board all of your brought forward. Sturm's piece confirms that your conclusions are on the money.
If other fans do the same, the NFL community could get even better access to their team's thoughts. (On the other hand, not every team is as open as Dallas. But that's okay, at least we got to know our team's preparations -- this year anyway.)
Well done gentlemen. You are why BTB is the best Cowboys site anywhere.