FanPost

Off-season Talk: New Faces

So now the combine is over and we have a pretty good idea of where everyone stacks up after watching game tape and seeing what they are physically capable of as an athlete at said NFL Combine. Now the only thing left are the pro days, but except for the players like Mark Barron, Markelle Martin, Trent Richardson and others with injuries or whatever case that didn't allow them to participate in the NFL Combine, there really isn't any more to learn about these prospects.

The only thing left that will have a large impact on this off-season and the draft is less than two weeks away when the league year and the free agency period begin. We all know about the prospects that will be free agents when this period begins. This picture will become even more clear in a few days when the deadline for the franchise tag passes next week. Teams must place the franchise tag on a player at least one week before the start of the league year. Once this date passes we will know much more about who will be available on March 13 when the new league year begins.

The other part that is not predictable in any way shape or form, only leading way to speculation or to rumors, is the players that will become cap casualties. Players we have heard of so far that may be cap casualties are the Raiders' SOLB Kamerion Wimbley, Steelers' WR Hines Ward and our very own CB Terence Newman. There are others besides them and we may hear of more over the next few days, in addition to some other surprises that no one may have reported yet or know of.

This post will touch on all of these areas, so follow me after the jump and I will discuss free agency, the draft and even my thoughts on how the draft needs to change and/or evolve...

-Free Agency-

So we have all heard about the free agents that will be available in the upcoming free agency period. We have also begun to hear about some of the players that will be released before the new league year begins that we may have a shot at picking up. I am going to give a little different take on this than others. I do not have access to PFF the way others do so I am going to use the resources that I have to be able to grade these players. One thing I do to get a good idea of a players abilities is take a look at the most recent Madden ratings. Ridiculous I know, as some of the ratings can be biased or not as good as others may believe them to be (How is it Ware is always rated a 98 at game release when he obviously belongs amongst the players with the 99 rating?). So here I will list players in free agency at need positions, plus the players we need to resign with their madden ratings, just to give a good base of comparison between players, especially at the same position.

Note:
* = higher rating during season
** = rumored to be released soon

Position

Name

Age

Rating

G

Ben Grubbs

28

95

C

Nick Hardwick

31

87*

C

Chris Myers

31

91*

C

Samson Satele

27

79*

C

Scott Wells

31

86*

DE

Jason Jones

26

84

DE

Kendall Langford

26

88

NT

Paul Soliai

28

86

OLB

Andre Carter

33

87*

OLB

Anthony Spencer

28

86*

OLB

Kamerion Wimbley**

28

90*

CB

Brandon Carr

26

84*

CB

Cortland Finnegan

28

90

CB

Tracy Porter

26

86*

CB

Terrell Thomas

27

85

S

Thomas DeCoud

27

83*

S

Michael Griffin

27

91

S

Laron Landry

27

90

WR

Lee Evans**

31

81*

WR

Laurent Robinson

27

83*

WR

Hines Ward**

36

86

I won't take time to touch on each one of these players but I will make a few notes. Anthony Spencer started the season rated @ 82 and Kamerion Wimbley started @ 87 and later was rated at a 90 toward the end of the season. Brandon Carr started @ 81 and Tracy Porter had actually dropped to an 82 toward the end of the season. I think that Ben Grubbs would be a very nice consolation prize for probably not being able to land Carl Nicks (whom I omitted from this for that exact reason). I also apologize for omitting Tony Fiametta from the table as he didn't appear on the free agent list I was looking at. I do believe he is a restricted free agent though, so it should be pretty easy to retain him.

The players I would put the highest priority on (apart from our own free agents) would be Brandon Carr and Kamerion Wimbley (should he end up being released as rumored). Cortland Finnegan is really good but I would prefer a younger player, however I do have reservations about how good Brandon Carr really is. There are other corners out there and we still have the draft too. The free agent crop for #3 receivers doesn't seem too good so let's hope we can retain Robinson without breaking the bank. The reason I talk about Kamerion Wimbley is because I believe that he is coming off of a contract similar to what I think Anthony Spencer will want for a contract and for cheaper than it would be to franchise him. Kamerion Wilmbley is clearly better than Spencer in my eyes, however not by a whole lot. Anthony Spencer will also cost more because we are retaining him vs. a player who by simple definition will have been fired from his last job because he wasn't worth the pay and wouldn't take a pay cut. That alone I believe is evidence enough that he will be cheaper than Spencer. I think if you do this then you will eliminate any needs going into the draft, except for upgrades at positions.

-Rookies & The Draft-

Here I will use the Hot 100 Draft Board of Gil Brandt. Why? Probably because out of all of the scouts out there, I think that his board most closely will represent the actual value of each player when all is said and done. Another reason is that he was the Cowboys Vice President of Player Personnel until 1989 (basically all pre-Jerry), so I guess in a way, we keep this conversation within the Cowboys. Our friend OCC did a post a while back about doing mock drafts using CBSSports big board that they have for the NFL Draft. I will use somewhat of the same rules. I will only bend the rules slightly by classifying players in classes such as top 15 (more specifically players 11-15) which will apply to us with pick #14. This is to compensate for changes that may occur between now and the draft in the rankings of prospects. And so you know my ranges I am working with, I classify anyone at #11 and later in the first round as in our range, #40+ for round 2 and #65+ for round 3. So here are the players that I would say are targets for us in the draft for just the first 3 rounds without the use of fancy tables and such preceded by Gil's ranking and their position on our team if drafted.

13. NT - Dontari Poe
14. OG - David DeCastro
15. CB - Janoris Jenkins
26. SS - Mark Barron

41. OLB - Vinny Curry
42. CB - Jayron Hosley
43. TE - Orson Charles
46. TE - Coby Fleener
47. OC - Peter Konz
51. OLB - Bruce Irvin
52. OG - Kevin Zeitler
56. QB - Brandon Weeden
57. DE - Jared Crick
59. CB - Stephon Gilmore

69. SS - Markelle Martin
70. OG - Brandon Washington
77. CB - Trumaine Johnson
78. FS - Harrison Smith
80. WR/PR - Joe Adams
81. OC - Ben Jones
84. CB - Josh Robinson
86. QB - Kirk Cousins
88. NT - Alameda Ta'amu

Maybe we should do a little contest here to see what you all think about all of this in a similar fashion as the previous one put together by OCC. A couple changes being that there are NO TRADE UPS or TRADE DOWNS and use Gil Brandt's top 100 to choose the first three rounds. I think I will need to save this for another post in the future though.

As far as my thoughts on the draft, if the board came off just like this one and we weren't able to land DeCastro in the first round then I would say in the second round it would be a wise choice to grab either Konz or Zeitler with the second pick after grabbing either Poe or Jenkins in the first round. If we are able to land DeCastro in the first round, then I think that Hosley or Irvin would be the best picks in the second round. In either of those scenarios I don't think it affects the third round too mcuh. And I think that any of the players listed for the third round would be acceptable, but I think Harrison Smith, Joe Adams, Kirk Cousins or Alameda Ta'amu would be the best options.

-The Evolution of the Draft-

I am sure you all know of the evolution of the draft over the years. I was watching the top 10 undrafted players of all time on NFL Network and it mentioned a couple decades ago how a guy whas undrafted through 30 rounds. Yes you read that right, 30 ROUNDS!!!! Only half of those drafted players would even make the team out of camp, if they were lucky. Now we have dropped all the way down to 7 rounds, and it seems to work pretty well. However, I think it is time to reduce the number of rounds again. My reasoning for this is because most of the players on the back end of the draft hardly ever make the team. In fact, more of the undrafted players end up making the team I think.

It seems that every year, teams waste 6th and 7th round picks on players that don't even make it out of camp. Do you hit on some of them? Well, yes, of course but you also hit on some undrafted guys too. My proposition is that we shortedn the draft to 5 rounds from the 7 we have now. 5 is a nice sounding number and I think there are plenty of 5th rounders that still make teams. Plus people actually pay attention to the draft I think through round 5. I don't think rounds 6 and 7 get much viewing from the masses. Take the draft down to 5 rounds, and keep the primetime schedule for the first round. Then the next day to rounds 2 & 3, then the last day is just rounds 4 & 5 to finish things off. Then you have a free for all for all of your other players. Either that or just let rounds 2 - 5 be done on day two. This I think will be better for everyone.

Of course there is another, much more bold and/or ludicrous option. There was talk about eliminating the draft altogether last off-season. I think this kind of destroys the whole purpose of having a cap in a way because certain teams have more history and larger fan bases that others would not likely be able to compete with. Don't fool yourself into thinking that THAT many players would just come to the cowboys because they have dreamed of wearing the star since infancy, even though I made that part of the option in the poll. One way to do this though while keeping it controlled and giving the team with the worst record the largest rookie cap space. In other words, it is a free for all, but you only have so much money you can spend on rookies. And taking it a step further, you limit how many players you can pay at a specific price, like only one player being able to recieve a $20 Million+ contract. Of course it would be a process to figure out how that would be done if it came to pass, but those are my thoughts. But don't let me say everything, let your thoughts be known on this and the rest of the presented information in the post in the comment section. After all, this is about the only way we can enjoy the off-season until free agency and/or the draft arrive(s).

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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