The most exciting part of the offseason has come and gone. All we have left is to wait for a bunch of rich folk to duke it out in the courts. When will there be minicamps for the rookies? How about OTAs? Training camp seems a long way away.
Fortunately for us, we get to spew our caustic spite at something other than the players or owners for being too greedy. At least for a short while. Why? Because the draft came and went and no matter what happens in the draft, people are going to feel like the Cowboys could have done a better job.
In the first round, the Dallas Cowboys did something just about everyone saw coming but few believed would happen... They took an offensive tackle. Yes, a lineman. Jerry Jones, we're proud of you. I know it must have been hard to ignore some of the tempting players available. Jimmy "Red Flag" Smith and Nick "One Year" Fairley certainly would have filled big needs for us.
Both are incredibly talented players and will make their teams better. But you did what had to be done - what could have been avoided had you not been after the "big splash" in all those years prior. You picked an offensive lineman over troubled-but-talented players. Maybe all it took was having your best friend in the world, Wade "Buffet Cart" Phillips fail in monumental fashion for you to realize that you've been doing things that hurt your team, even though you had the right intentions.
You know what? I love Tyron Smith. He's big, he's a hard worker, and he's immensely talented. During his press conference, you got to know more about the often-stoic giant. He worked very hard growing up and going through school to make money. If you're interested in hearing about it from his (and Jerry's) lips, here is a link: "His first introduction as a Dallas Cowboy." The guy is determined, in his own calm way, to be great. Not just great, but one of the greatest ever. I think we all want him to be as good as he thinks he can be.
After that, the controversy truly began. Who is this Bruce Carter kid? What gives you the audacity to think that a guy who can't tackle and played outside linebacker can just move inside and be a great player for us? I mean, sure, he's an athletic freak. Sure, he fills a hole that will open up within the next year or two. Sure, he is a first round talent. But we don't need linebackers! We have linebackers! Lots of them! Only a couple of them can cover, but that's not important! What about the safeties? We could have taken Deandre McDaniel there! Or Deunta Williams! Wait, when were they drafted, again?
I was confused by this pick, initially. It didn't make much sense to me, but then I remembered what I had read about him (link following) here. Now, granted, there he is viewed as a late-second prospect. But as we have seen throughout this draft, draftniks were very, very far off on some of their projections on players. Maybe, just maybe this is where Bruce Carter should have gone. I imagine that Jason did his homework on the prospects that they were strongly considering. Clearly something about this Carter kid stood out to him, much like something about Sean Lee stood out to the Cowboys staff the year before. His speed? His versatility? His intangibles? He's another of those hard workers. A theme amongst the players drafted, you'll see, is that they all work hard. This pick just happens to have tremendous upside to go along with that work ethic. If anyone can bring him out of his shell - turn him into an attacker instead of a reactor - it will be Rob Ryan and veterans Bradie James and Keith Brooking. How do I know this? (link following) Well, call it a hunch.
Alright, fine. I can live with the second round pick. Clearly it was a BPA-meets-need sort of pick. He was this year's Sean Lee. But the third round? Oh, gosh. I nearly threw my television out of the window. A running back? How the heck are you supposed to justify taking a running back? Surely there was a better value at that pick! A need we could have filled! What about interior linemen? Demarco Murray. That name makes me sick. Running backs don't need to be taken early - you can get some bodies to carry the football for you later on.
Wait, wait. You're telling me this kid has receiver-type skills to go with his ability to run the ball effectively? Wait, wait, wait. How many touchdowns did he score? Are you kidding me? This kid must suck if he only had 71 receptions in 2010 (157 total) and a total of 63 touchdowns in his career. Who does he think he is, catching less than a hundred balls last year? We don't need a running back who is an amazing receiving threat with stop & start speed to burn coming out of our backfield. That's why we have Felix Jones, right? I mean, sure, he gets banged up a lot and seemed to lack explosiveness last year... But... What about our defensive and offensive lines? In we fix those, it doesn't matter who we have at running back for us. I mean, do we really need (link following) THIS guy playing for us? By the way, skip to the 1:20 mark there if you don't want to watch the entire video but enjoy awesomeness. It's kind of scary how much he makes me think "Reggie Bush." The kid can fly, literally.
Alright, guy. I guess that I can live with the picks so far. I just noticed that there were still some awesome players available for us in the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Surely we'll get what we need here... Who the hell is David Arkin!?!?!?!?!
Oh, I see now. One of these small-school prospects. Guys we can root for, guys who have upside. A pretty athletic guy for someone over 300 lbs. Smart, you say? He dominated the competition at a lower level and has great lateral agility? Boy, he sure sounds like a guy who we should have taken earlier now that I think about it. Missouri State in the FCS does not impress me, but his physical tools do. That and he will improve with his technique. After the initial shock of the pick, I've decided that I'm actually alright with this kid. It's always a plus when he works hard and finishes plays. He'll be a good guard for us if he pans out, I think.
Fine, fine. We didn't do it as early as I like, but you know what? We got an interior offensive lineman with some upside and potential to be a starter on day three. I can live with that. Besides, there are still plenty of good defensive linemen left! Wait, wait. Cornerback? Who? Josh Thomas? Buffalo? They have college football in Buffalo? Oh no. It's another Jamar Wall, isn't it!?
He didn't seem to produce a whole lot in a weak conference... What? He has good speed and plays aggressively? Tenacious, even? That does sound like the profile one Rob Ryan gave for cornerbacks, guys who are willing to stick their nose in and tackle. And what's that? There's a chance he could be a nickel cornerback for us, giving Alan Ball and Bryan McCann some serious competition? Man, I like Bryan, but Alan Ball has been in the dog house since the start of last season. I can see the reasoning for this pick. If he pans out, we have improved our depth and found a potential second coming of Orlando Scandrick. Well, since you're so sure... at least he addresses a need for us, to some extent. The need to kick Alan Ball off of the team.
The sixth round rolls by and we take a wide-out. I guess I kind of expected that, considering the cap liability that Roy Williams is and how Kevin Ogletree doesn't work hard enough. It's nice that we were able to find such a value, I think. Dwayne Harris was projected to go in the middle rounds and dropped to us in the sixth. Definitely a case of "BPA" at this point, because we're most definitely stacked at wide-out. It never hurts to get a guy who runs good routes to be in the slot for you. Plus it allows Miles Austin to stay out wide with Dez Bryant, where they both belong. I guess there's always a chance we find the next Jay Ratliff in the seventh, right? I see that Henry Hynoski has stuck around so far. Surely if we have a shot at him we'll...
Shaun Chapas? Did the TV just say he was a running back? What? No! Not again! Why!? Why, Jason!? Why do you do this to us!?!?!?!?! Wait, huh? He's a fullback? Oh, that makes more sense. I was worried there for a moment. But I think if we just ask Tony Romo, fullback is a hole we could fill in this draft. I mean, we didn't grab the highly-ranked Hynoski, but at least we got someone. I heard that he was being compared to someone famous amongst us Cowboys fans. Could this be Jason's attempt at bringing in his own version of "Moose?" Apparently this Chapas guy does a good job of blocking his man inside and out and has solid receiving skills. I know we've been looking for a pass catching fullback for the longest time. Ol' Cricket just couldn't get the job done there. I feel like I'm starting to see a theme here with these picks...
With the least important pick of the Cowboys draft, we're taking a Wisconsin lineman. Bill Nagy? I've never heard of him before. Oh, that explains it. He got injured and then he couldn't beat out another Wisconsin lineman to regain his starting job. Well, I guess a seventh round flyer on a guy with potential and versatility isn't such a bad thing, right? It could have been another Sam Young. I heard this kid has some very solid physical attributes. Maybe, just maybe he can develop into one of those lunch-pail types who works his butt off on every snap and can play any of the three interior positions as a utility backup.
So, the draft is over. Looks like we got some interesting players. Mel Kiper and various other internet/television scouting services tell me that we reached for many of these guys or could have found better value later. It's odd, because most of these draft services had players who are now undrafted going high. Clearly something is off here. We didn't address the defense nearly enough. We have huge, gaping, crater-like holes at safety and all along our defensive line!
But what's this? You're telling me that we have a guy on the roster right now who has been working hard to become a safety for us? He has pretty good ball skills, too? A supremely gifted athlete? Man, I wonder who it is! Wait, could you repeat that? Akwasi Owusu-Ansah... Interesting. I seem to recall everyone else being so excited that we got him last year, one of those high-potential small school guys that turned into a pet cat for many a BtBer. What happened to him? Oh, right. Wade Phillips never started rookies. Not even the first rounders. Maybe that will change with Jason Garret, but at least Owusu-Ansah has some seasoning now so there's no excuse not to play him.
Oh, whoa! You're telling me we have two guys from last year's draft we really like for our rotation? Josh Brent, you say? Didn't some services have as a potential second rounder heading into last season before he chose to enter the supplemental draft? And that Sean Lissemore? I hear he is very tenacious and hard working. I'm sure we have plans to get him some more playing time.
I guess that leaves us to free-agency, whenever that starts. We should resign at least one of our defensive ends, I would think. Then we can hunt down a safety to pair with Owusu-Ansah in the event that Gerald Sensabaugh doesn't want to come back for a reasonable price. Michael Huff? Who knows. What I can say is that we acquired some players who all fit a theme in this past draft.
Every player we drafted is a hard worker on and off the field. None of them have character concerns (Carter famously did not get suspended unlike many of his teammates). All of them are happy to be able to play the game of football, all of them have athletic ability to be successful, and all of them could some day start for us or at least provide solid depth. If we pull three starters from this (Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, and Shaun Chapas) to go along with situational guys (Demarco Murray, Joshua Thomas, Dwayne Harris) and potential depth/future starters (David Arkin, Bill Nagy) then I say that we made a pretty good haul. What's even better, what makes me so intrigued about this draft, is that they all fit a certain mold of player - all of them are Jason Garret guys.
You know what I noticed? We did pass on highly talented players with red flags. In fact, we may not even have had them on our board with the way we completely disregarded them. This tells me that we most likely won't be taking a flyer out on Janoris Jenkins if he goes to the supplemental draft. It tells me that Martellus Bennett is on a very, very short leash. Marion Barber and Tashard Choice are likely on their way out the door for one reason or another (being disrespectful, work ethic, maybe?)
I also saw how all of the players selected have athletic ability - they aren't guys who have completely maxed out their potential. On offense, it's clear what is happening. JG wants to run more of his playbook and is using his power as head coach to get the right guys for the job. Excellent receivers in the backfield who could potentially motion outside, lineman who can block on the second level and in space, who can at least slow down the pass rush so that Tony Romo has time to find someone to get the ball to. If these guys pan out, we may see the most prolific scoring offense in Dallas Cowboys history emerge. I don't know about you guys, but I trust that Jason could pull it off with the right players.
In closing, this post was more in reaction to the reaction of many here about the draft. It may not have had all of our pet cats, but it signified something. This draft belonged to the coaches and the scouts. They got their guys, guys who fit Jason's criteria and who fit the range of where they were picked according to the Cowboys' scouts - not our favorite mock drafters or online scouts. If you ask me, this is exactly how the draft should have gone. We have eight new Cowboys to root for - so enough with the pessimism. Let's find something to be excited about in this draft, because clearly this draft had the not just this year but the next ten in mind. Players who can go from day one and players who could start for us in a few years.