In this fanpost I will take a look back at how the 2008 draft played out for the Cowboys', and come to any conclusions I can.
The Cowboys original draft picks were the 22nd in each round. Pre-draft trades included (note: round mentioned is highest round of any draft picks involved):
- First Round- No. 22: Browns to Cowboys. Cleveland traded its first-round selection in 2008 and a second-round selection in 2007 (No. 36, later traded to Philadelphia, who selected Kevin Kolb) for Dallas' first-round selection in 2007 (No. 22, used to select Brady Quinn). Analysis: how unlucky were we that Derek Anderson decided not to suck for a year and the pick we received was only the 22nd, not a top-10 or something better we might've expected. Either way this trade was a romp (in our favour). They essentialy GAVE us a second round pick, idiots LOL.
- Fourth Round- Dolphins to Cowboys.The Miami Dolphins traded their fourth-round selection in 2008 to the Dallas Cowboys for players Akin Ayodele and Anthony Fasano. Analysis: The first trade with Miami was horrible on our part, Fasano has been a solid starting TE for three years for the Dolphins, and Ayodele was decent for a year, then he was below average, then he was cut. That production clearly trumps a fourth round pick = FAIL.
- Fourth Round- Cowboys to Titans. The Dallas Cowboys traded their fourth-round selection to the Tennessee Titans for suspended defensive back Pacman Jones. Analysis: The trade with the Titans was actually a VERY good one. It gave up a mid-round pick for a player with extreme upside and NO risk. This is because the deal had all sorts of clauses in it meaning if he screwed up off the field we would be largely compensated by the Titans. We got half a season of average production out of him, then he got suspended and all sorts of crap, meaning the Titans essentially ended up giving us more than we gave them, and after the season we cut him.
- Sixth Round- Cowboys to Dolphins. Dallas and Miami exchanged their sixth-round selections in a trade with Jason Ferguson going to the Dolphins as part of the deal. Analysis: Concerning the trade with the Dolphins, although the value wasn't high, he only gave them around 450 snaps in 2008, and 200 or so in 2009, counting 4mil towards the salary cap each year. Not only was he definitely over-priced for one of the years, arguably both, he would have been a back-up on our team (Ratliff), so this was more of a give-away really.
Draft day trades were:
- First Round- No. 25: Seahawks to Cowboys. Seattle traded its first-round selection to Dallas for Dallas' remaining first-round selection (No. 28) and its fifth- and seventh-round selections (No. 163 and 235). Analysis: meh, neither here nor there.
- Third Round- No. 92: Cowboys to Lions. Dallas traded its third-round selection to Detroit for Detroit's fourth-round selection in 2008 (No. 111) and fourth-round selection in 2009. Analysis: I don't know how this works out according to that points system but it seems decent enough to me, especially considering Detroit were likely to be giving us a high fourth in 09'.
- Fourth Round- Cowboys to Raiders. Dallas traded their fourth-round selection (#100 overall) to Oakland for their fourth-round selection (#104 overall) and seventh-round selection (#213 overall). Analysis: meh.
- Fourth Round- Cowboys to Browns. Dallas traded their fourth-round selection (#104 overall) to Cleveland for their fourth-round selection (#122 overall), and fifth-round selection (#155 overall). Analysis: meh.
- Fourth Round- Cowboys to Browns. Dallas traded their fourth-round selection (#111 overall) to Cleveland for their 2009 NFL Draft third-round selection. Analysis: WIN, this is SO short-sighted of Cleveland.
Fifth Round- Jaguars to Cowboys.Jacksonville traded its fifth-round selection (#143 overall) to Dallas for it's fifth-round selection (#155 overall) and seventh-round selection (#213 overall). Analysis: meh.
THE ACTUAL PICKS!!!
- Felix Jones,Running back, Arkansas, 6-0, 200 pounds, 1st round, 22nd overall.Analysis: as RB's come, this was not a great value pick, I'm no scout but even I can tell you a guy coming out of college with seasons of 99, 154, and 134 carries is no sure thing to become a feature back, and when you take a RB in the first round, that is what you expect, either that or an EXTREMELY dynamic back that can give you 10-15 touches a game. Felix was that back for his first two years (although was only on the field for 60 snaps his rookie year), but was only average in his third year, averaging 4.3 YPC, and only grading out as +0.7 rushing grade on 189 carries according to PFF. This could be due to his bulking up in order to be less injury-prone, in which case you have to give some of the blame for his less than satisfactory season in 10' to the coaching staff (or conditioning staff or whatever). Even if he had been this good, the value of taking a RB in the first round is questionable. Looking at scouting reports, durability was the obvious concern coming out of college, and this has proved to be his major falw in the pros. Overall, this wasn't a very good pick, but with still two years on his contract, it can increase it's value somewhat with two years of good production.
- Mike Jenkins, Cornerback, South Florida, 5-10, 197 pounds, 1st round, 25th overall.Analysis: his rookie year was a wash, second year excellent, and third HORRIBLE. For where he was picked, depending on how he performs in the last two years of his contract, this could end up being a good pick, as it stands, I'd say it's about average, maybe slightly worse. Scouting reports cite main flaws as poor technique and character concerns. Going by last year it seems as if his technique caused him some problems, and from there it snowballed, he may be somewhat of a "frontrunner". Just a theory.
- Martellus Bennett, Tight end, Texas A&M, 6-6, 260 pounds, 2nd round, 61st overall.Analysis: disappointing rookie year, followed up by a good year blocking, but extremely poor in the passing game. His third showed progression in the passing game, with even better blocking. Bennett only signed a four year contract, and, although BPA is often a good approach, this is one example of it failing somewhat. With one year left on his contract, it is extremely doubtful we are going to end up with a good value out of this pick. With roughly 500 snaps apiece these last two seasons, although his play has been good (IMO), he has been stuck behind an all-pro TE in Jason Witten. With as much the Cowboys have used a 2nd TE, his value hasn't been TERRIBLE, but I don't think it's been good enough either. I think we should strongly consider the possibility of trading either before the season or during the season to try and recoup some of that second round value. As for what scouting reports said of him coming out of college, he has pretty much been as advertised, a good blocker, with all the tools athletically to be a good pass-catcher, but poor route running, average speed and inconsistent focus which he has improved over his time with the Cowboys.
- Tashard Choice, Running Back, Georgia Tech, 5-10, 215 pounds, 4th Round ,122 overall.Analysis: Choice has been what you would expect out of a 4th round back - solid. He has been right around 250 snaps each season he's been in Dallas, with his performance being solid each year. This pick really could have been an excellent value with him (IMO) being the second best RB on the team each year he's been on the roster, and it's only due to JJ's stupidity at signing MB III to such a ridiculous contract/insistence on trying to get "value" out of that contract by playing him even though he's DONE, that it hasn't been. He could've been splitting carries with Felix for three years, and will probably only end up doing it next year. This extremely poor player management IMO. I'm still going to say this was a good pick though, it should've been of great value to the Cowboys. Scouting reports pretty much hit the nail on the head with Choice, what else it there to say?
Orlando Scandrick, Cornerback, Boise State, 5-11, 198 pounds, 5th Round ,143 overall.Analysis: Scandrick started most of his rookie year in the nickel, and all of his 2nd and 3rd years. In his rookie year he was solid, recording a coverage grade of +1.4. Although in the last two years he has been below average. You could forgive the Cowboys for thinking he would be a viable slot CB in his second year after how he performed in his rookie year, but to go into the 2010 season with him as our slot corner, and no alternative was just plain stupid IMO. Coming out of college he was regarded as more of an athlete than a football player, and this is blatantly apparent to even me watching games. I can't count the number of times he's been thrown at, in pretty good position aswell, and just does nothing as the WR catches the ball and he then tackles him. he displays extremely poor awareness, ball skills and instincts. In saying this he did look far better in Pasqualoni's (no idea how to spell that) more zone based schemes, showing much better awareness when he's allowed to keep his eyes on the QB, and may be a good fit for a team like Indy or something. Overall, I think he may be passable in Ryan's system as a nickel guy, but was not a fit at all in Wade's man-based scheme, and was something of a round peg in a square hole, so I don't think we should give up on the guy. As for value, this was a good pick, alot of 5th round picks do NOTHING, but it was a complete non-fit scheme-wise.
Erik Walden, Linebacker, Middle Tennessee State, 6-2, 243 pounds, 6th Round, 167 Overall.Analysis: the one scouting report I could find on the guy said he had good physical tools, but was extremely raw (the guy had great stats, so I'm assuming Middle Tennessee State isn't exactly a powerhouse LOL). After we released him he's bounced around the league, most noticeably playing for the Packers, in their super bowl run, displaying good coverage ability, but not much ability rushing the passer or in run defence. I also read somewhere the Pack liked him because Kampman couldn't play coverage, so they had to blitz him more, meaning they had to drop Clay Matthews into coverage more, so they went after guys that could cover like him and Zombo, so they could rush Clay more, completely irrelevant but interesting nonetheless. Anyway it seems kind of stupid that we cut the guy over players like Carlos Rogers (played poorly on special teams in 08', then cut) and Bobby Carpenter, especially considering he was good on special teams that year, and at least has a chance to be good (unlike these two). I think this was a decent pick.
We managed our resources in this draft pretty decently via trade, and for the most part picked up solid players. This ultimately means it was a solid draft, although held back from being a great one due to us not really "nailing" any of the top picks, and the fact that it's only been three years since the draft, and some of these players still have two years left on their contracts to prove their worth. But I decided to analyse this draft anyway due to the fact that profootballfocus.com's grades only go as far back as 2008 and I consider them to be a relatively accurate way of judging player performance, you may disagree, it is what it is. At this point I give this draft a tentative B, with full awareness that it's value is highly likely to change over the next two years according to the contributions of everyone except Walden, which says something about the consistency of the draft, that everyone is still on the roster except one guy, and he probably should've been on the roster at least another year IMO.