My opinion of the "bigger picture"In 2009 the Cowboys had their worst draft ever. At least that is what I hear. Yes, they did in a way, but for those who say that, I have this to say: 2009 had less than 20 players with first round grades and not one blue chip draftee according to most scouts and "experts". Many teams had their worst draft ever. Dallas just didn't invest as much in that draft. The talent was not there to be drafted.
Another area of concern and misleading comments I hear are how bad the O-line was last year. Yes, for the first half of the year it was, but when Garrett took over and the run to pass became balanced, the team's line play got a lot better. I expect the line play to get better under Garrett.
There are fundamental changes under way in Dallas, and they are not new. Dallas started drafting more athletic linemen back when they drafted Rogers, Marten, and Free. Last year's draft with Brewster and Young only carried that more athletic linemen theme into this year's draft with Smith, Arkin, and Nagy. Smith is the most athletic lineman in this draft by far and the most athletic lineman to come out in some time. Arkin is small school but his measurable are impressive, and Garrett had this to say about Nagy: "He's a very athletic guy too, ran about as well as any of the interior linemen in the draft, so we liked him a lot." Kosier fits this mold, but Davis and Gurode do not.
If you take a closer look at the linemen we are in much better shape than we have been in some time, Costa is a potential starter now, Brewster will have a year of strength conditioning which he did not have last year, and he will move inside to guard where he is a much better fit. Davis better be motivated because his position is in flux. He must worry about Arkin, and if Costa does outplay Gurode, I believe Gurode slides over to take Davis' spot. Indeed, Garrett says there will be open competition which will mean better veterans or new starters. I like it already. It's too early to say our line is fixed, but I have no doubt it will be better now and in the future.
A lot of times what we as fans perceive as a position of weakness turns out to be a position of strength. Remember Pettitti and Tucker our starting tackles? Flozell and Gurode stepped up to Pro Bowl levels and we picked up Davis, Kosier, and Colombo and poof, for two years we had the best line in the league. A lot of times the coaches blow smoke up our $$$, but they have been accurate on O-linemen so far (not drafting, but in house evaluation), so I trust them when they say they are impressed with Brewster and Costa. If this is true, we are looking at a good line for the next decade. More mobile, more athletic, more versatile, which think fits the two running backs we now have.
Continuing with the perceived weakness theory, Safety is a perceived weakness. I for one have high hopes for AOA. He has size, speed, and can catch a football. I think AOA and Huff, among others, fix a problem we have had for some time. I'm really excited to see what Rob Ryan does with this position. There was nothing in this draft that was going to unseat AOA or Ball. If I were Ryan, I would have no problem starting AOA and picking up any of the many free agents who could help us. I agree with those who think Ball's play affected the corners' play.
Last year in training camp news came out that Igor had a hurt back, he missed several days of practice. I also read he was expected to play with this pain all year. Spears' injury seemed to undo this team's defense. I honestly thought Bowen would play better but he didn't. If there was one fault of Wade it was his willingness to play hurt players and his unwillingness to start rookies no matter what. Dez and Lee were sure fire upgrades to what was on the field last year. I think the coaching staff is high on Brent. There is no shame in Spears, Olshansky (healthy), Brent, and Bowen. I know some of those guys might be free agents but I think that depends on Lissemore if they sign them or not. I heard Wade say Lissemore had a non stop motor and they liked that about him. Lissemore is a strong man too, a lot like Olshansky.
I think what this draft did was add speed, faster O-linemen, faster linebacker, faster corner, faster running back, all the way down to the seventh round picks. This draft class is insanely athletic.
A lot of people point out how bad the defense was, it really wasn't as bad before Spears went down. I think the defense will be exceptional if Jenkins can play up to his potential. I think Alan Ball caused him a lot of head problems. I expect Jenkins to get his swagger back playing for Ryan and if he does, the defense will be back on track again.