Here in Cowboys Nation, there's people that are called realists and the others are koolaid drinkers. Some are right and the others aren't and just because some call themselves realists, it doesn't make them right.
I don't look at a Draft and say: they should have done this or they should have acquired that. There's no purpose in that, what I do is try to use reason and understand why they made those picks. Ifs and buts are completely useless, if you disagree about the Front Office way of conducting business you're allowed to boycott the team and stop buying merchandise and game tickets.
There's just no purpose in trying to act tough, taxi driver like: "You talkin' to me?".
So, that's what this post is all about, I'll look at the Cowboys picks and I'll try to use the little reasoning that I have to explain the first few picks.
Tyron Smith, best Tackle prospect in 2011.
That's how it is. Look at his tools:
- Footwork? Check.
- Light feet? Check.
- Hands usage? Check.
- Technique? Check.
- Power? Check.
- Explosion? Check.
- Football smarts? Check.
- Capable of being mean? Check.
Is he consistent in doing all that? No, the guy needs development. But, every rookie needs development. Even a Joe Thomas, IMO the most NFL ready OLineman that I've seen in the past few years, needed development. The jump up in performance is too great and they need to improve in everything they do.
So, how much work does Smith needs? He was the 9th pick for a reason, he needs some work, but not as much and that's one of the reasons why he's expected to play in the right side for the time being. The other reasons are that he's football smart and that he knows his capabilities.
When his footwork has failed him, because of a slow reaction or because his light feet moved him one step ahead of where he should be, the guy doesn't tend to get beat, he reacts and uses his hands or his explosion to move back in front of the DLineman. It's the use of his different tools that makes him the best tackle prospect IMHO, the guy showed that he gets it and he's such a good athlete that he makes it look easy.
Tyron Smith is going to be good. How good? It depends on how consistent he can get.
No DLine? It has everything to do with Tyron.
This Draft wasn't a matter of taking a DLineman just for the sake of taking one, the Cowboys had 2 options in the 1st Round, RT or DLineman and they went with RT. As soon as they made that choice, they forgot about taking a DE unless someone fell to them. After 12 DLineman were selected in the top 50 picks (DLineman, not OLB prospects) there wasn't much of an option. Unless you're talking about an option that doesn't fit...
So, what's a fit? The Cowboys didn't want a NT, they have 2 (Ratliff and Brent). So, they were after a 3-4 DE that could play some interior DLineman in pass rush situations. So, what's the mold of such a guy? I've heard that's someone that's taller than 6'2.
I'll say bull. The Chargers run a 3-4, they went after Liuget and as far as I've heard, they plan on playing him at End. It's more than height, it's also arm length. DLineman are creatures of leverage, the lower their stance, the more force they can apply. Their opponents tend to be Tackles and Guards, and you want prospects with long arms for those positions, because you can use your arms to stand up the DLineman and force him out of his leverage position.
So, the Cowboys wanted a certain body type and long arms (above 33 inches). If you wanted Marvin Austin or Lawrence Guy raise your hand. Those guys aren't fits.
And the Cowboys like something else. Look at the Cowboys picks: academic honors, team captains, hard workers, high characters and clean individuals. If you wanted Kenrick Ellis and Christian Ballard, you can also raise your hand. Those weren't fits, either.
This is why I kept harping on the need to take a DLineman in the 1st and why I wasn't surprised that they didn't make a DLineman pick, I wasn't expecting one. It was a matter of DLineman in the 1st or not at all. RT was a bigger need in the eyes of the Front Office.
Injury prone guys? No, I'll call them unlucky.
Sean Lee isn't injury prone just like Terence Newman isn't, either. They aren't Chad Pennington, a guy that has gone through nearly as many shoulder surgeries as years of football in the NFL and College... That's what injury prone means, IMO, a guy that has chronic problems in a certain area of their bodies.
Sean Lee had problems with his knee in College. Quad and hamstring injuries with the Cowboys. Is the guy injury prone because he can't keep himself healthy?
If you have trained at a high level, you know how strong and fragile your body can really be, so maybe, there's more to this that meets the eye. Maybe Milke Woicik has something to say about this...
Bruce Carter? A project or an actual need?
As I said before, I haven't watched full NC games and paid attention to him on an every down basis so I can't say much about him other than what many sources have claimed, so I won't go into that. What I can tell you is that Butch Davis runs a wait-and-react D, so if you're seeing highlights of Carter and you are seeing someone that waits and waits and then moves, often late, to a play, then there's more to it than just a player that seems to be hesitant.
Remember Bradie James and Bill Parcells. Parcells ran the same Defense and James called himself a dancing elephant that couldn't make plays because he had to wait.
Rob Ryan runs a different kind of animal, he runs a choreographed kind of Defense in which the LBs have to play according to several keys, they are nearly always on the move looking to make plays. In the few instances in which you see a LB that isn't moving it's because he's shadowing a player on Offense, waiting for him to make their move, when Cleveland played the Patriots they respected Woodhead with a LB in close to every snap.
Another thing that I can tell you is this: if the Cowboys hadn't made this pick, then the Cowboys would have been hard pressed to make a pick in a deep and talented class in 2012, probably a 1st Round pick.
Why? Because the need would have been desperate. What happened last year? With an injured Lee, a player like Brooking was forced to play 100% of the snaps in several games. A pretty sight that was not. That both starting LBs (James and Brooking) were forced to miss several weeks of practice, only taking part in rehearsals with no contact, due to knee injuries was an even worse sight.
I think that Carter is going to play in 2011. If they're lucky he's going to play in a limited number of snaps, if they aren't lucky he's going to start and often. That he appears to be a good prospect could mean that a case of bad luck may turn into good level of play right away.
Area blocking? Athletic big uglies are good at that.
Look at that play, it's a Tank set (1WR, 2TEs and 2Backs) focused on the right side, Leonard Davis explodes to the 2nd level and takes the MLB, Colombo moves behind him and takes the DT, Bennett and Witten initially double team the LEnd with Witten moving on towards the SLB. The combination of the FB and Kosier makes it an Area Blocking play, those guys have to read the position of the defenders and make their blocks, the RB has to wait for their blocks and decide the area that he's supposed to follow.
Barry Sanders would approve of such execution. Marshall Faulk would do it, too. Sanders had an OLine unit that could Area block really well, they were bad Drive blockers and Sanders suffered because he couldn't score if he didn't in big plays. Faulk could score at will, not because he was the better back, but because his OLine with the Rams could do both, Area and Drive blocking.
I think that Garrett is looking for that kind of balance, we know that Free is capable of both styles, I think that Tyron Smith will be capable of both, we know that Kosier is an accomplished Area blocker, Davis can do both if his switch is ON and Gurode is purely a Drive blocker. That both 3rd day OLine picks are athletes that may be capable of both styles isn't surprising.
But you also need a back that can run in both styles.
DeMarco Murray. Taking away the job from Smash and Tash.
Again, I've to say that I'm sorry that I can't add much more than what's said by the many draft sources, I haven't looked at him and can't add something original about him. What I can say is this:
- Marion Barber was a painful Area blocking back, not because he delivered pain, but because he wasn't fast or quick enough. He was a source of positive yardage in those plays because of his vision and ability to take and absorb the 1st contact.
- Tashard Choice has ability, but he's a master of none of the areas that make a good RB. He can catch, he's quick, fast, tough and he can block. But he isn't a consistent pass catcher, route runner and blocker. And he isn't quick, fast and tough enough.
That opened the door for Murray, the team is showing their plan, they have no confidence in Choice and Barber is as good as gone. As fans we knew that RB was a need, but we didn't know what's going on in Garrett's mind. To me, the OLine picks and this pick, tell me a lot about the future of the Cowboys.
If that future is going to be good, I don't know, I just think that I understand the reasoning.
The Draft gets a B, in 3 years we will know if it becomes an A or D.