You hear it every year, "this year's draft must be a success or else". This time that phrase actually merits a lot of thought and truth. The Cowboys cannot get cute here and play around with their draft picks. This is the type of draft that you enter as a team close to contending, and then you leave it as a contender.
Okay, maybe I sound a little crazy here. I will give the readers of this article that, but this draft is vital to the teams' success in the near future. Jerry Jones is finally spending money again in free agency, but he signed players that filled needs. There was a plan put in place months ago that is starting to take form right in front of our eyes. Last year was the first time in years that I felt comfortable entering the NFL Draft with Jerry at the helm.
Jason Garrett is a fairly young head coach right? I think most of us would agree on that, but what Garrett does have is vital NFL experience. He is a very alert individual who has an Ivy League degree from Princeton University. Not only does he have a brain that should be in the CIA or NASA, he learned from one of the best coaches to ever grace a football field, and that man was Jimmy Johnson.
Garrett has a unique background that isn't usually seen in the NFL. What should make us feel comfortable about him running the draft is that the man has a sound plan put into place. He knows exactly what type of football players he wants for his system. The culture he is building in Dallas is the exact element we were missing since Bill Parcells left and Wade Phillips took over.
It's also reassuring that Jerry Jones believes in Garrett and is willing to let him run the show. Nobody is getting onto this team unless the head coach has the final say, but isn't that how it is supposed to be? Garrett is bringing change to the Cowboys franchise, but a change for the better immediately and long term.
Take the jump for more propaganda....
The 2009 NFL Draft
This is a topic that I have avoided since joining the front page recently, but I feel it is time to let the cat out of the bag once again. Yes, Jason Garrett was here for this draft, but he wasn't the primary decision maker then. The men who ran the show were none other then Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips. Wade would see a prospect on tape and then he would fall in love with him. By ignoring the scouts who actually watch these players for a living, he was immediately setting himself up for failure.
Related: Dallas Cowboys Scouting Staff Review
That is how you got to see Jason and Brandon Williams become Cowboys. Jerry loved the athletic kicker and got one with USC's David Buehler. The entire draft was a failure and I can't even begin to contemplate what they were doing in the war room that year. It is truly mind boggling to see a team with 12 draft picks only end up with two players who amount to anything. Victor Butler and John Phillips are the only success stories from that year's class.
These are the type of drafts that will set your franchise back for years. It will be three years later this upcoming draft, and we are slowly starting to recover from that disaster. Drafts like 2009 wrecked any chance for the Cowboys to build up depth on their team. Depth is probably the number one issue here, but even if we came away with a Mike Wallace type of player that have would put us in better shape.
The problem is, we didn't land one football player who can be a game changer on the field. If we added a starting safety or starting guard, center or tackle, this team would be so much better off. Unfortunately we can't go back and change the past. We shouldn't forget the past, but we should learn from our mistakes.
The 2010 NFL Draft
This was Wade's last draft in the war room as a Dallas Cowboy. It's obvious to me that Jerry was responsible for getting Dez Bryant. That was a great move by him and I still believe we landed a player with the potential to be one of the best wide receivers in football.
Sean Lee was not a pick that was embraced by many Cowboys fans at the time. The pick did make sense because Lee was a first-round talent who had some injury history. Maybe we can thank Wade for him, but I am willing to give the Cowboys scouts the credit here. During the 2010 season, Wade didn't even say Lee was going to be on the field. He held him back and when he was in the game he looked like our best linebacker. Give the credit to the people who spend their lives on the roads scouting these prospects. The scouts did an excellent job in finding one of the best inside linebackers in football.
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah was a united effort by Jerry and Wade to outsmart the rest of the league. They wanted to turn a small school prospect into a free safety. It was a total disaster and they never really gave this kid enough time to make it happen in Dallas. I was a huge fan of Akwasi and to this day, the way the situation went down still rubs me the wrong way.
Sean Lissemore is most likely a find by the scouting department or Wade seeing a prospect on tape he liked. This was a great draft pick for the Cowboys because Lissemore has the talent to become a great rotational player on the defensive line.
The 2010 draft wasn't a home run because we bombed some of our later picks. This draft really could have been a lot better if we didn't attempt to get cute in some rounds.
The 2011 NFL Draft
If I had to pick a moment in history where the culture started to officially change, it may have been last year's draft. For the first time in 22 years, Jerry Jones spent a first-round pick on a offensive tackle. Tyron Smith was a great draft pick because he had the skill-set to become a future franchise left tackle. He was also just 20 years old when he was drafted, so he had a lot of upside.
The 2nd round selection was a bit troubling, but Bruce Carter was indeed a first-round talent at one point in time. Honestly I have no idea who to give credit here for the pick, but the value was just too good to pass up on. The Cowboys scouts have been correct about inside linebackers Sean Lee and NaVorro Bowman, so hopefully they will be right about Carter.
Maybe the most surprising pick for the Cowboys was the third-round selection of Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray. The fans were not too thrilled about taking a running back that high in the draft, but boy did this pick pan out right away. This is a combination of Jerry and Jason putting their heads together, scary I know. Jerry has a great relationship with Oklahoma legend Barry Switzer and he had been hyping up Murray to Jerry for years. Garrett needed a running back who could block and catch, but he got something much more than that.
Tom Ciskowski, Director of College and Pro Scouting has also spent a lot of time scouting Oklahoma. He has done a great job finding quality talent for the Cowboys. The fear of losing him this summer was alarming, but I am very thankful to have Tom C. back in the war room.
The 2012 NFL Draft
This year the Cowboys have to continue their drafting success. The BTB community is a very bright group and they know that you need to build your team through the draft. Free agency is nice because it fills holes, but you can never just rely on it to build your team.
The front office has done a good job of addressing needs before we enter the draft. Operating this way will take a lot of pressure off of them in the war room. Instead of reaching for a player at a position of need, they will have the luxury of taking the best available player the first couple of rounds. Obviously there is no exact science to this draft stuff, so there is still the possibility that the team could take players that fit needs. The most important thing to remember is that they have some of the pressure lifted off their shoulders. Just like in a fantasy football draft, you want to enter the draft cool and calm.
The Cowboys need guys who can play now, not later. The core group of this team is fading. Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff and DeMarcus Ware are the core players of this football team. If the Cowboys continue to draft well and surround their core players with young and talented one's, our chances to be a contender will be a lot higher.
We cannot afford to make costly mistakes in the draft this year. Draft talented players with the right kind of character that can play sooner than later. If we draft like that, I guarantee you this football team will increase their win total by 2-3 wins. If we don't have a good draft and draft a lot of projects, this team's window will begin to close. That is not the type of draft we want to see.