I know I am beginning to overdose you with the Aldon Smith stuff but I have to write one more piece on him. I was looking over our leaked draft board from last year and noticed we had Jason Pierre-Paul ranked as the 16th best prospect. Pierre-Paul was selected with the 15th overall pick by our rival the New York Giants. Pierre-Paul was rated higher than Maurkice Pouncey, Derrick Morgan, Tyson Alualu and Brandon Graham just to name a few.
I find this interesting for a few reasons. For starters I believe Aldon Smith is this years Pierre-Paul. Aldon Smith is very similar to Pierre-Paul in just about every aspect. Both are tall and muscular built defensive ends that have a great burst off the line. Both prospects are 6'4 and are around the 260-270 pound mark. Jason Pierre-Paul was very raw coming out of South Florida last year but he possessed possibly the best skills as a pass rusher in the draft. Flash forward to this year Aldon Smith is young and raw, but could possibly have the skills to be the most athletic pass rusher in this years draft. Aldon could have stayed in school another two years, or even a year to develop his skills. He decided to enter the NFL draft and really when you watch the tape this kid has all the skills to be a great pass rusher.
The Tale of the Tape
40 yard dash: 4.74 225 bench press: 20 reps broad jump: 9'10" vertical: 34 short shuttle: 4.50
40 yard dash: 4.71 225 lb bench press: 21 reps broad jump: 9'07" vertical: 30 1/2 short shuttle: 4.67
The Giants are a team that constantly fortifies their defensive line through the NFL draft. Living in New York I get a lot of Giants coverage and I follow their team, always keep your enemies closer my friends. Last year most of their fan base wanted to draft a inside linebacker to be the core of their defense. Al Davis rained on that parade and selected Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain with the 8th overall pick. Giants fans were instantly crushed when that happened. I actually believed that in the second round they would pull the trigger and trade up to get Sean Lee who was a fan favorite by many of my Giants friends. But I wasn't exactly sure what the other Jerry, Jerry Reese would do with that 15th overall pick. I was thinking they would go after Maurkice Pouncey, I just thought it made sense for them because Pouncey is also a great guard. Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty also seemed like a good fit for the Giants.
Jerry Reese drafted another defensive end with their draft pick. Jason Pierre-Paul is a perfect example of staying true to your draft board and not reaching for a need. So your probably wondering how all this Giants talk relates to our Cowboys right? Well it does relate in a way. I see Aldon Smith as the next Jason Pierre-Paul, a extremely athletic pass rusher that is still a little raw. The Aldon Smith rumors have been heating up over the past couple of days and its rumored the Cowboys see some DeMarcus Ware in Aldon Smith. Let me say can you actually imagine this kid paired with Ware? That's what the Cowboys are thinking right about now deep inside the heavily fortified walls of their draft room.
Anthony Spencer had a great 2009 season, he was basically All Pro. In 2010 he disappeared like a few other Cowboys did last season. But the price was steep, without a consistent pass rush coming from both sides the secondary was torched. Ware continued to be the best pass rusher in the NFL leading the league in sacks. Ware in my eyes is the best pass rusher in the NFL, nobody is on his level. Ware isn't just a flash in the pan, he has been consistent throughout his career generating a pass rush. The problem we have is Anthony Spencer. Yes Spencer should most likely get another chance, or should he? He has had plenty of time to show his value on the field and shouldn't need motivation to come in any form right now. His play is lacking and its clearly hurting our chances of being a great defense and winning games. This is where Aldon Smith fits in.
As you all know I have been a supporter of taking Tyron Smith and plugging up the offensive line. I believe that it has really come down to a few player for the Cowboys at 9. I think they really like Tyron Smith, Aldon Smith and Mike Pouncey. Its clear to me that they will not select Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and will look at a cornerback later in the draft. So it looks like the Cowboys are actually serious about replacing Spencer and again I cannot blame them for wanting more production from that position. Rob Ryan came in here blazing and showing his full fledged support for Anthony Spencer. I am starting to believe that was all a show. I do believe that Ryan does have actual support for Stephen Bowen though. Ryan will demand a consistent and beastly pass rush. His defense is a aggressive pass rushing defense that requires your outside linebackers to provide pressure.
The Cowboys could go the Giants direction of draft theory here. There are other needs but this goes to show you how important a premier pass rusher is. The Giants took a big chance on Pierre-Paul and he had five sacks. Pierre-Paul is still developing and the Giants have a handful of defensive lineman so it was hard for Pierre-Paul to actually start there year one. I am a believer that if we draft Aldon Smith there will be a open competition for Anthony Spencer, whoever is the best in training camp will win that job. I wouldn't say Spencer even has the upper hand anymore because Smith has the speed and athleticism to be a great pass rusher. Rob Ryan owes zero liability to Anthony Spencer, Ryan didn't draft him or have anything to do with Spencer coming to this franchise. Basically Rob Ryan doesn't owe Spencer anything. If Rob Ryan says he wants Aldon Smith and the Cowboys have a high grade on him than they should draft the kid.
Pierre-Paul was rated 16th overall on the Cowboys board last year. Aldon Smith might actually be a better fit as a outside linebacker in our 3-4 than Pierre-Paul would have been. Now it wouldn't shock me to see Aldon Smith with a top ten grade on the Cowboys draft board. I would love to get a peak at the Cowboys draft board right about now, I bet that would lead to some seriously interesting talk on here. When I look over the tape of the two, I see similar players. Both have a long muscular build and have a great burst off the line. They use their strong and powerful arms to get by big offensive lineman. Then they will use their quickness and speed to fly by tackles on the outside. Smith might actually be more versatile already because of the way he was used at Missouri. They liked to move him all over the line and lined him up at defensive tackle sometimes.
Now the transition from a defensive end with your hand in the dirt to a standup outside linebacker sometimes can be a difficult transition for players. I think Aldon Smith can make this transition because of his athletic ability alone. This kid is too muscular and long not to be a good linebacker. His speed is incredible on the football field. He looks like a kid that will put in the work to make a smooth transition. It would be asking a lot of Aldon to be our starting outside linebacker in 2011 but I don't think it's a unrealistic possibility. Pierre-Paul had success in a limited role as a situational pass rusher, I believe that Aldon Smith can have great success as a rookie. I think 10 sacks wouldn't be out of the question from him if he grasps this system early on.
Like Pierre-Paul Aldon Smith is a great athlete. Aldon hasn't dropped into coverage very often but he did do it at Missouri and had a few interceptions. When you have that type of speed and athleticism you can make that transition. He just looks so smooth at times, like its not hard for him. Lets face it, Spencer isn't exactly the best linebacker in coverage either. Smith has the potential to become a very good player in the NFL. I don't see the coverage aspect being a problem for him because he looked fine in pass coverage in college.
Now I understand the concept of drafting a outside linebacker isn't a highly loved idea, and its not my idea either. I would go with the offensive tackle at 9 but if the Cowboys have a high grade on this kid they should take him. The Giants did the same thing last year, they had really good defensive ends already. Their grade on Jason Pierre-Paul was just too high to pass on him. The Giants stayed true to their draft board and took the best available player. This is why I wouldn't be mad at this pick, I would actually be quite excited to finally see this defense with two great pass rushers. I mean honestly guys I know this isn't the guy you want but you can actually think about Aldon Smith on this defense. This kid is like a raptor, fast and fierce. With the ability to rush the passer again this defense would be so much better. I absolutely love the pass rush and it lacked last year. Aldon Smith just might be the answer to our problems on defense, well besides good safety play.
So this wouldn't be my pick if I was general manger of the Cowboys, but like I said I think we should all take Aldon Smith seriously. If my head coach, defensive coordinator and head of scouting told me in the war room that Aldon Smith is the best player left on the board and would be a great pass rusher, I think I would draft him. With a story about Tyron Smith and his knee, you have to start looking at other options. Some say this is a boring pick, but I think its actually a exciting pick. Aldon Smith man I don't know I just think he might be the beast we need at outside linebacker. We really have not drafted too many outside linebackers either, Spencer in the first round back in 2007 obviously. Wade did draft Victor Butler and Brandon Williams but outside of that we have basically ignored the outside linebacker position. This might not be what everyone wanted but I cant blame the Cowboys here. I think Aldon Smith would be a great fit. They just better make sure they get a goddamn right tackle in the second or third round though, I am serious.