FanPost

How Dallas Got Its Groove Back

April 23, 2012

With Draft Day approaching I want to look back at last year's draft, and review the start of "The Jason Garrett Era". There have been many mocks to date for this year's draft, so I just want to look back at what many here at BTB consider one of the best drafts ever....

April 28th, 2011...was a day for the ages. It became part of Cowboy lore, similar to when Dallas drafted Dez Bryant at 24, and the "Dirty Dozen". On this date the Cowboys returned to their Dynasty ways and built the team that that we see today. A proud champion that destroyed all comers.  Let's look back at this date and follow it through to the start of this historical season.

The previous year seems like a bad dream now. Our beloved Cowboys went from Super Bowl favorites to owners of the #9 pick in the 2011 draft. But like a few have said about that year, "To get the pot of Gold, it has to rain to make a Rainbow". Man, it rained that year...not only did the Cowboys start 1-7, but Romo got hurt, Dez Bryant suffered multiple injuries, and the defense ... well, there is no need to reopen newly closed wounds.

However, we saw the rainbow that year. Jason Garrett was made the head coach, and piloted the 'boys to a 5-3 record to close out the season. Rob Ryan was brought in as the defensive coordinator, and while most thought that it was a good hire, nobody expected what we got. We caught glimmers of the gold when Jerry proclaimed, "There won't be a player on the team that Jason Garrett doesn't want". Again we got much more than expected. 

Draft day...the air was filled with excitement. Everyone was wondering who would go #1. Would it be Nick Fairly, the beastly DT? Or maybe one of the QB's that had blown up the Combine? Maybe AJ Green, considered the next Larry Fitzgerald? The League watched as Goodell spoke. "With the first pick in the 2011 NFL draft, the Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, QB, Auburn."

Denver quickly sent in its card, Marcell Dareus. Now, as we all know, for some reason everybody ahead of us went defense crazy. In fact, not a single offensive player other than Cam Newton was taken before Dallas picked. It was astounding. So there was Dallas, with AJ Green AND Julio Jones, both considered top 5 picks sitting there at Number 9. Now we don't know if it was Jason or Jerry who made the call, but as Goodell came to the podium, Cowboys fans collectively held their breath. 

"The Dallas Cowboy have traded the Number 9 pick to the St Louis Rams. With the number nine pick..." the words were drowned out as a million Cowboys fans breathed a sigh of relief.  While some had thought for a moment how insane it would have been to have Green, Dez and Austin on the field with Romo, they were quickly banished. Now, in moving down Dallas gained the 14th pick plus the 78th,112th and the 216th but had to give up the 175th.

So Dallas now had the 14th, 41st, 71st, 78th, 110th,112th,142nd, 216th, 220th, 252nd* But Dallas wasn't through dealing yet.

With the 14th pick Dallas selected Tyron Smith, OT, USC. This was the pick that everyone saw coming. Jerry had proclaimed that he wanted "immediate impact" from the first round Pick. Tyron, though considered an elite player, was seen by many to be 2 years from starting at LT, and didn't Dallas have a really good LT in Doug Free? However, Smith was expected to start at RT, at least that was the plan. Yet the pick was made and Cowboy fans rejoiced. Finally a first round O-Line! No more "development players"  Dallas wanted to take him at #9 but when St. Louis called, they hoped that he would still be there at 14.  But still Dallas wasn't done.

At the 25th spot Dallas traded up with Seattle. To get there Dallas was "forced" to give up the #40 and #71.There they select Adrian Clayborn DE Iowa, something that truly nobody saw coming. Clayborn wan't invited to Dallas' interviews, and there had been no word from Dallas to say that there was any interest in Clayborn. So why did Dallas draft him? One reason: versatility. Clayborn is the ultimate "Tweener". Big enough (6-3, 280) to hold up as a 3-4 DE, yet possesses enough burst (vertical jump of 35.5") and agility (SS time of 4.13 and 3-cone of 7.08) to play OLB. It was thought that he would pair with either Olshansky or Spears next to Ratliff, maybe not this year but next year. We all know what happened instead.

Once the #78th pick rolled around, Dallas looked back to the offensive line. There they selected John Moffitt, OG, Wisconsin. They really liked Moffitt and would have loved to pair him with Carimi but he didn't fall far enough, going to KC at #21. However, Moffitt brings a similar skill set as Carimi in that he is a great guard, that may be able to work the RT spot for a limited time. Though most felt that Moffitt would need a year or two before starting.

At the 110 and 112 spots Dallas was looking to go defense again. There they take Lawrence Guy, DT, Arizona State and Duenta Williams, FS, North Carolina. Guy projected to a NT/DE who would help spell Ratliff, plus could line up at DE, while Williams slid to the 4th due to his leg injury. Both were expected to contribute fairly soon, but would need at least a year to become starters.

At 142 Dallas drafted Henry Hynoski, FB, Pittsburgh. Considered by fans to be the next "Moose" Johnston, he was projected to start immediately, playing the "H-back" in Garrett's offense.

With Dallas's 7th rounders, Dallas took 3 players at 216, 220, and 252 respectfully, that might have been priority UDFA's in any other year. At 216 they took Marc Schiechl, at 220, they took his teammate Blaine Sumner, and at 252, they took Jeremy Kelley. As was said all three would have been UDFAs had the lockout been resolved by the time of the draft, but Dallas was really high on all three. And for Good reason....

Author's Note: In case you were wondering this was a work of fiction. While the names are the same, the events are made up. Any similarity to actual events is purely coincidental, and will result in me buying a lottery ticket. Yes, I used a lot of parts from my previous "Groove Post", the reason being I really liked those parts and didn't want to re write them, I had enough to type out with the rework of the draft, so sue me! By the way here are the top 8 picks that allowed this to happen, if you are curious:

1 Carolina: Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn

2 Denver: Marcell Dareus, DT43, Alabama

3 Buffalo: Von Miller, OLB34, Texas A&M

4 Cincinnati: Nick Fairley, DT43, Auburn

5 Arizona: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

6 Cleveland: Robert Quinn, DE43, North Carolina

7 San Francisco: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

8 Tennessee: Da'Quan Bowers, DE43, Clemson

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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