Fans have mixed opinions about corner Mike Jenkins. Personally, I like him. That's all I'll say on that matter because in the end, all that matters is if the Cowboys like him or not. Based on Orlando Scandrick's 5 year $27 million deal, the lack of interest in extending Jenkins, and quotes from Jerry Jones concerning the draft, I get this feeling that the Boys would be content with drafting a corner that they really like and letting Jenkins walk when his contract expires at the end of the next season.
That being said, there have been whispers that the Boys could consider trying to trade up into the top five to obtain the undisputed best cornerback in Morris Claiborne. Early in the process, before Brandon Carr was signed, Alabama corner Dre' Kirkpatrick dominated the mock drafts. Now, the Combine is complete, a large part of the pro-days have been completed, and Jerry Jones held a 40 minute question and answer to give a bit more insight as to what his plans are for the upcoming draft.
Through the aforementioned processes, there's a big time corner from South Carolina who is looking like more and more of a possibility if the Boys decide to sit at 14.
The rumors that the Boys could look into trading up to the 4 spot to nab Claiborne are just rumors at this point, but it causes eyes to be opened to the thought that the Boys are not satisfied with their current cornerback situation. It's safe to assume that they are fine with Brandon Carr but they really seem like they want to upgrade the other side.
Looking around a league, all great corner duos consist of a really solid man-to-man guy and a real play-maker on the other side. You have the solid Darrelle Revis and the play-making Antonio Cromartie. There's the man-to-man specialist Nnamdi Asomugha and the ball-hawking Asante Samuel. There's the savvy Ronde Barber and the interception-proned Aqib Talib. The list goes on. In Kansas City, Brandon Flowers was the playmaker to Carr's steady play. Right now, there isn't a single play-making corner on the Dallas Cowboys roster. Carr had 4 picks a season ago but no other corner on the current roster had more than 1.
I want to get back to Jenkins. As an organization, in any sport, you have to be careful to not poor too much money into one position. That's the reason that the Colts couldn't keep Peyton Manning around to mentor Andrew Luck. In the same fashion, you can't sign Jenkins to a lucrative deal when Brandon Carr is playing on a 5 year $50 million deal and Scandrick is playing on 5 years $27 million. It's not good business. In Jerry's recent sit-down, he mentioned that concept when explaining why he let Laurent Robinson get away.
[We] look at our schemes, and have priority positions relative to just cap management and we would like not to look up and to have too much of our available dollar resources in the wrong areas of the team that fit this scheme. And so we really have done well, to everybody's credit, have done well there and we won't get out of that. The same thing holds true, really, relative to our scheme and relative to the draft. - Jerry Jones on crowding the cap at one position
Fiscally, drafting a stud corner this year makes fantastic sense. You can't give Jenkins the big money because, for some reason, Scandrick is making starting corner money, but thanks to the new rookie wage scale, you wouldn't have to pay a rookie veteran money. Typically, first round picks are signed to five year deals, so as the first-round corner's contract is expiring, so would Scandrick's and Carr's. Then, you could decide as an organization which two players to resign, using the cap room from the third (theoretically Scandrick). Even though a pass rusher would solve a more pressing, immediate need, Jerry wasn't shy in his sit-down about whether or not he would draft a corner in the first.
That's a premium position... [there could be] a really good deal at corner for where you are in the draft. A special pressure player. So there are positions where you want to take advantage of the quality of the player falling to you. Is that the right way to say it? But your opportunity to put a player like that on the team. - Jerry Jones on taking a corner high
I interpret that quote as Jerry saying that he would really like to draft a corner if the right one fell to him. For the longest time, that player was thought to be Alabama corner Dre' Kirkpatrick but Stephon Gilmore from South Carolina is really gaining ground on him and has actually leapfrogged him on some important boards.
Stephon Gilmore, CB, South Carolina
Height: 6-0. Weight: 190.
40 Time: 4.40. 10-Yd Split: 1.50.
Vertical: 36. Broad: 10-3.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Alabama
Height: 6-2. Weight: 186.
40 Time: 4.51. 10-Yd Split: 1.53.
Vertical: 35. Broad: 10-0.
Arm: 30 5/8.
I don't watch NFL Network much, but Mike Mayock of "Path to the Draft" is as close as gets to being a draft guru. He does his homework. He watches all of the film and attends the pro-days. After the combine Mayock moved Gilmore ahead of Kirkpatrick on his big board. Even after the Alabama and South Carolina pro-days he stuck to his guns saying:
I still think he's a top 15 pick in this draft. Why? 6 foot corners with long arms that run 4.4 with good ball skills are rare. He might not get out of the top 10, but I think he's the second corner off the board. - Mike Mayock
He's quick twitched, really good ball skills, 40 consecutive starts in the SEC. I love the kid as a football player. - Mayock on a separate occasion
In the same segment of Path to the Draft Brian Baldinger chimed in calling him a faster Al Harris and saying that he had "elite ball skills". He also said that right now he would take Gilmore over Kirkpatrick. I'm going to stretch whose word I trust a bit but Micheal Lombardi had a take on him also:
Gilmore is a pure cover guy. I think, you know, he can play press, he can play off, he did both those things at South Carolina. I think [Gilmore] is going to be a starter this fall in the NFL. - Micheal Lombardi on Gilmore
The only knock people seem to have on Gilmore is that he plays to high and relies too much on his athleticism. Both are very coach-able points. As far as physical limitations, he doesn't have very many. Kirkpatrick on the other hand isn't very fast and he doesn't have as fluid hips. Gilmore's ceiling is higher and when you have Jenkins for another year, you don't need a technically sound guy right away. Archie just put out a profile on him on the home page.
The best thing about the active free agency period is that you can draft the players with the highest upside and let them develop behind the current starters. I wouldn't be absolutely shocked if the cowboys took him at 14 if they feel that he's a better prospect than Kirkpatrick.
This is a video I threw together for Gilmore:
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