I can't change it, though. I enjoy the draft more than the Super Bowl. Maybe that will change this year when the ‘Boys leave fire and death in their wake on the way to Lombardi (1). Then again, maybe, just maybe, as I'm screaming my head off as the clock ticks down to zero in Indianapolis, I'll quietly think (through the drunken haze) to myself, "I wonder if Manti Te'o will be available at number 32."
"Top of da Draft to ya." (Top 5 Overall Pick)
Maybe some of you out there are like me. Maybe some of you out there share my rabid obsession with the draft. Maybe some of you out there read old Ourlad's newsletters on the toilet (2). Maybe, like me, some of you are so damn tired of the lockout, there's no medicine that works as well as discussing the draft. Even if it is a year away.
Following the jump is my list of first round draft prospects I'd like to see Dallas target (depending on pick position, obviously).
Let me just say this: if Dallas is drafting in the top five picks next year, damn it. In this scenario, Jerry has no choice but to blow up the roster. Unless Romo misses the entire year, another bombed season will lead to a mass exodus in Big D.
If Romo is healthy and Dallas ends up in position to draft Andrew Luck, you pull the trigger. I'm a big Romo believer (I constantly argue with my brother about Romo - he says Romo is all stats and not a "big game QB"; I say so was Peyton Manning for his first 9 seasons). A plus: Andrew Luck is nowhere near handsome enough to date a celebrity. Which is good for the Redskins, who will end up drafting him (3).
I know we just drafted a USC tackle in the top 10. I know we're probably about to give Doug Free the operating budget of a small country. However, you draft the best player available in the top five (4). If Luck is gone and Kalil is available, you take Kalil and don't have to worry about either tackle position for the next decade. Free could be kicked inside (5) or traded - if the ‘Boys are drafting in the top 5, I'd imagine Free didn't blow people away, anyway.
This is the first situation where a top flight player fits with a current area of need on Dallas' roster. Between Terence Newman's age/omnipresent health issues and ¡Olé! Jenkins regression, cornerback is an area of concern on our roster. Kirkpatrick is a supremely athletic 6'3" corner who has had NFL-type coaching with Nick Saban at Alabama. An all-world recruit, Kirkpatrick played very well last year as a true sophomore. If he showed continued progress, he'll be a top 5 pick next year.
Upper Middle (6-15 Overall pick)
This is the are of the draft that you land in if you win somewhere around five, six, or seven games, like last year. With expectations always red hot in Big D, seven wins just won't cut it (6)- especially coming off a disastrous season like 2010. All of Dallas, and Jer-uh most of all, physically need next year to bring great success or, at the very least, great hope for the immediate future. Seven wins won't provide either, and it would lead to some pretty big changes around the Palace in Dallas (7).
DE/OLB, North Carolina
Under this scenario, Dallas chooses to upgrade the spot across from DeMarcus, ending Spencer's disappointing run with the team. This is a move that would be met with a lot of resistance from fans due to Dallas' bevy of young LB's on the roster. However, the ‘Boys have to find someone to take pressure off of Ware. Paige-Moss is a freakish athlete who may provide just that, and you can never have enough guys that get after the quarterback.
First of all, I hate the idea of drafting a running back in the first round. I just think you can get great value at the position in the middle rounds. However, if you have the ability to add a centerpiece for your offense, you have to consider it. In Coty Saxman's awesome article The Choice at Running Back: Why Tashard Choice is Not a Lock for 2011, he points out the priorities Garrett has for his running backs: he places a lot of emphasis on his backs being able to catch the ball and pass block. And run, occasionally, too, I guess - if you count draws as runs. Richardson is certainly adept as a receiver (23 receptions, 4 TD's in 2010), and his running ability shouldn't be questioned. Richardson hasn't been asked to block very much as a backup to Mark Ingram, but at 5'11" and at least 220, Richardson has the build and lower body strength to be a force when staying in to pass block. A pick like this would be lead to more questions about the future of the RB position in Dallas, but a rotating stable of Richardson, Felix, and DeMarco Murray would bring a ton of diverse, explosive playmaking ability to the backfield.
CB, Virginia Tech
As of right now, Hosley is somewhat of a sleeper in next year's draft. However, if he continues to produce like he did last year at VT (when he led the nation in INT's), he'll continue to skyrocket up mock draft boards everywhere. As we talked about earlier, Dallas will be in the market for CB depth and playmaking ability - Hosley would provide both.
Lower Middle (16-21 Overall Pick)
This area is where the 8-8's and first round exit's live. Not the land of fantasy and gumdrops, but keep in mind we picked Tyron Smith at number nine overall, so picking at twenty-one or so would represent a fairly big jump in W column. Probably not looking at drastic turnover in Dallas if we're picking in this range.
LB, Notre Dame
This is another pick that seems puzzling at this point in time, but a year from now Dallas will probably wave goodbye to Keith Brooking. There are several young candidates to move up and fill his spot, but if for some reason Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, and company fail to impress next season, Te'o may represent a versatile and immediately productive addition to Big D's D. Even if Sean Lee does claim Brooking's spot outright, Brady James' is no spring chicken. Plus, a Te'o Cowboys jersey immediately becomes the coolest looking jersey in the league. You would buy one.
Another potential addition to the secondary, Lester addresses the position that worries the biggest number of fans: the safety spot. If Dallas fails to address one or both safety spots via a productive veteran free agent or an undrafted free agent, they'll have to look for one early on in the draft next year. Lester is one of the better safety prospects next year, and like Kirkpatrick, has been coached by former sucky NFL head coach Nick Saban (8).
CB, South Carolina
Gilmore has started every game at cornerback for the Gamecocks since he stepped on campus as a true freshman. Not a small feat in the SEC. Possessing good size and athleticism, Gilmore is also known for his unmatched work ethic and competitiveness. Kind of sounds like a RKG at a position of need.
Bottoms Up! (22-32 Overall Pick)
This is the area in which you'd like to draft every year. At the very worst your team makes it to the playoffs, and the majority of these teams enjoyed a good playoff run.
C, Ohio State
Brewster was forced into the starting linuep as a true freshman because of injuries on the Buckeye's line, and he hasn't looked back. A good athlete with extreme power, Brewster routinely overpowers defenders at the point of attack. His technique is still improving, but he appears to be a safe bet at a position of need.
DeCastro fits the profile for what Garrett wants from his guards - athletic, agile, and a powerful run-blocker. It can't hurt that he's smart enough to have Stanford's athletic biography list his major as Management, Science, and Engineering. DeCastro has started twenty-six games over the last two seasons and is considered a team leader.
McDonald's father, Tim, played thirteen years in the NFL, so TJ has great pedigree. McDonald has good size (6'2", 205) and athleticism for the position, and he's been productive at USC. With another solid year of production, McDonald will be one of the top safety prospects in 2012.
(1) There's that awesome word juice again.
(2) I consider it a disease. STOP JUDGING ME.
(3) Because they suck, you see.
(4) Unless you're Matt Millen.
(5) As Coty Saxman and I am Ironman!!! have already expertly pointed out (both linked articles are must-reads, if you haven't already), Air Garrett prefers agile guards; Free could pull off the switch.
(6) Just ask Wade.
(7) Not to be confused with the Phallus of Dallas, Braniff Tower. Students also affectionately refer to it as "The Penis of Las Colinas".
(8) Somehow I meant for that to be a good thing.