The 2011 draft is old news. By now most of us loyal Cowboys fans have completed the usual post-draft reaction phases:
Anger (for 3 hours after pick #71: “Another running back?!?!”)
Bargaining (throughout Day 3: “At least they got Tyron in round 1” and “that fifth-round CB sure has potential…”)
And Acceptance (the last two weeks: “DeMarco looks even better than Felix, Carter was a surefire top-20 pick before the injury, Tyron is a 3-contract player, and that seventh-round fullback is going to be a real difference maker. My, Jerry, this Kool-Aid is delicious!”
Relax. We’ve all been there. Draft grades, scouting reports, highlight videos and expert opinions aside, all we can do now is hope that the majority of these eight players will be entertaining us for years to come.
But in the meantime, I’d like to reflect on what we can learn about Jerry and this new “Cowboy Way” from the draft. As you may recall, I’ve braved the depths of Cowboys draft history to extract seven rules that have defined Jerry Jones on draft day (http://www.bloggingtheboys.com/2011/4/19/2120252/jerrys-draft-rules-ii-the-mock-draft). Let’s see if/how those rules applied to this draft, grading the strength of the rule (rather than the strength of the draft) and its likely future impact.
Rule #1: The First Pick is for Making Money.
At first glance, Jerry seems to have thrown this rule out the window, passing on several more marketable players at impact positions (Fairley, Watt, Amukamara, QBs, etc.) to draft a RT. However, Jerry was quickly heard defending his choice of Tyron Smith by pointing out that Cowboys fans are smart enough to know that the OL wins games just as much as splashy players. So even though Tyron jerseys won’t be breaking sales records, the pleasing of fans (and sponsors) was clearly on Jerry’s mind—here’s hoping that Jerry finally realizes that winning is the biggest fan favorite of all. Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: B-. Future Rule Strength: 7 out of 10
Rule #2: Offensive Line is a Secondary Draft Priority.
As we all know, for the first time in forever Jerry drafted an OT in round 1. But don’t be so quick to dispose of this rule: there were/are several holes along the Dallas OL, and Jerry passed over some quality C/Gs in rounds 2 and 3 to take a futures ILB and a specialty RB (more on Murray in a minute). I’d say the dire situation at RT forced Jerry to change form this once, but attempting to fix the interior OL with fourth and seventh-round picks shows that the rule hasn’t changed. Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: C-. Future Rule Strength: 9 out of 10
Rule #3: Round 3 is for Proving You’re Smarter Than Everyone Else.
Like you, I’ve read a hundred post-draft articles speculating how DeMarco Murray will contribute big things as a 3rd-down, single-back, split-out, Reggie-Bush-type, feature back because of his speed/hands/blocking/awareness/versatility, etc. Sure. Reality is that drafting another RB as high as round three was not an obvious move for anyone outside the organization. All the variety in the justifications post-draft just prove the point that this was a puzzling pick, where once again Jerry treats round three as a luxury “I bet this will really work out well” pick. Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: A+. Future Rule Strength: 10 out of 10
Rule #4: Like you, Jerry has his “pet cats,” but he gets to actually draft them.
Was anyone actually surprised when Tyron Smith’s name was announced? Jerry’s love was evident and his smoke screens laughable. The only thing it cost in the end was the option of trading down a few spots, though. After round 1, Jerry did surprise a bit by not chasing anyone up the draft board and by passing on Brandon Harris whom he reportedly loved early on. In all, it’s a weak rule and difficult to prove because we all know that every single player the Cowboys draft is a guy they considered taking a round earlier and are just tickled pink to have him now. Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: B-. Future Rule Strength: 6 out of 10
Rule #5: Trading is Better Than Staying Put.
Oops. Maybe Jerry really wasn’t in charge this year. Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: F. Future Rule Strength: 7 out of 10
Rule #6: Rules Are For GMs With Lesser Instincts.
Hmmm, a first round OT and no significant draft-day trades. This draft wasn’t nearly the wild ride we were expecting. I don’t know about you, but I walked away from draft day wondering if Jerry really has turned over a new leaf—which is the whole point of this rule. Jerry won’t give a renowned winner like Bill Parcells the keys to the franchise, but for some reason he trusts an unproven career backup to make these draft decisions? Even at his most reasonable, Jerry is still unpredictable. Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: B. Future Rule Strength: 8 out of 10
Rule #7: Everybody Loves A Theme Party.
This is already the “Right Kind of Guy” draft, with team captains ruling the draft board all around. The positional sub-theme of retooling the OL with three picks will stand out in later reviews of this draft. Either way, I like it a whole lot better than the “Special Teams Draft!” Rule Grade for 2011 Draft: C+. Future Rule Strength: 6 out of 10
Overall, I give myself a B- on this project. I think that the Rules were solid, but my mock draft put far too much strength on Jerry’s love of trading and after round 1 I definitely failed in my stated goal of knowing what Jerry would do before he did it. I suppose that these Rules function much better as a post-draft explanation of why Jerry did what he did than as a predictor of what he was going to do. But hey, it was certainly more fun than reading lockout courtroom briefings!
Bonus: a new Rule for next year.
Rule #8: A New Toy for that New Coach. This year, Garrett got the unprecedented welcome gift of a 1st round OL (but then, which of the past Cowboys coaches would have asked for such a thing?) New DC Rob Ryan wasn’t left out of the festivities, receiving the rush ILB Carter that his scheme relies on. In 2007 Wade Phillips got Anthony Spencer, in 2003 Bill Parcells got Terence Newman, and in 2000, Dave Campo got three shiny new CBs. Perhaps this rule is just coincidental, as there are only two sides of the ball to choose from anyway and I didn’t go to the lengths of researching new coordinators or position coaches. But this year it seemed quite influential and bears keeping an eye on in the future.