Hard to imagine now, but in 2005, 21 NFL teams did not want Aaron Rodgers (Minnesota had two chances to draft him. For that matter, so did Dallas).
The biggest concern among the Dallas Cowboys faithful is whether one of the players the team most wants is going to be available at the fourteenth pick. Names like David DeCastro, Mark Barron, Fletcher Cox, Dontari Poe, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Courtney Upshaw have become our own Usual Suspects. In addition to arguing which of those players is actually worthy of the Cowboys' assigned spot, there is a lot of anguish that all of them could be off the board by the time Dallas goes on the clock, leaving the team with having to pick a player that really isn't worth the position we are in, or trying to find a trade partner to move back to find a better fit of talent and draft choice.
But what if something else happens. What if the Cowboys go on the clock, and there is an Aaron Rodgers sitting there?
Just to refresh your memories about what I mean, in the 2005 NFL Draft Aaron Rodgers, current Green Bay quarterback and Super Bowl XLV MVP, was widely projected to be a top draft pick. Not quite as overwhelming a choice as Andrew Luck is today, but close. He was sitting there in the Draft Day green room, looking all spiffy in his suit, waiting for his name to be called. But instead of him, the first player chosen was another quarterback, Alex Smith.
And there Rodgers sat for most of the first round. The camera kept going back to him, and as I remember, he seemed to have an expression that was part smoldering anger, and part panic, as name after name was called without his being heard. While one or two legitimate superstars preceded him (including one guy named DeMarcus Ware), there were some other names that are not so distinguished. Adam Jones, AKA Pacman, was drafted before Rodgers. Cedric Benson was drafted before him. Minnesota picked both Troy Williamson and Erasmus James before him (and if you are going "Who?", that is my point). Alex Barron - yes, that Alex Barron - was drafted before him. The Cowboys had two chances as well, and it is interesting to wonder what would have happened if they had taken him instead of Marcus Spears. That year, there was just not much of a market for quarterbacks, it seems, but you wonder how many of the teams that passed up on him still regret it.
Finally, at 24, the Green Bay Packers called his name, and got one of the bigger draft bargains so far this century, complete with a built-in chip on his shoulder.
So what do the Cowboys do if their turn comes up, and they are looking at a 2012 version of Aaron Rodgers?
Well, let's talk about that after the jump.
While it may seem wildly unlikely for this to happen again, obviously it is not impossible. Most of the teams that passed on Rodgers felt they had better options at quarterback, but many of them have to be considered completely wrong, and there also seemed to be an odd kind of negative momentum, sort of "If no one else has taken him, there must be something wrong." So there is always some chance that something similar could happen to send one of this year's "blue chip" prospects tumbling. It could be some last minute issue like an arrest that looks worse than it really is, or just a case of team after team not wanting to address a certain position, as happened to Rodgers after Alex Smith went first. If it turns out to be as off target as what afflicted Aaron in 2005, somebody could make out big time.
The conventional wisdom is that there are just a handful of those sure-fire, top ten prospects (less than ten this year). Going back to my post on Averaging the Big Boards, I saw just the top seven names that I think qualify. Quentin Coples is getting criticized by Mike Mayock, Melvin Ingram has a few too many question marks in my mind, and David DeCastro is already on our list. So that leaves seven names that could become a falling star for the Cowboys to reach out and grab.
Do you think they should? Some would automatically go for any of these players, but others might want to think a moment. So let's look at each one and what it would mean for Dallas to draft them.
Andrew Luck QB. A chance to nail the franchise quarterback for a long time. This would be a true long-range move. While many would complain about him sitting behind Tony Romo, this could take care of quarterback until 2025 or so. And there is also the possibility of getting some serious picks in the 2013 draft from some team who realized how badly they screwed up in not taking him.
Robert Griffin III QB. Everything I just said about Luck. And while we are talking about him, remember who owns that second pick right now. If anyone could screw this up, it just might be the Washington Redskins.
Matt Kalil T. Imagine, Kalil at RT with Tyron Smith at LT, both on those nice, affordable rookie contracts. Doug Free becomes a backup at tackle or moves inside to guard. This could be an offensive line anyone could run behind, and Tony Romo may have another ten years in his career.
Morris Claiborne CB. Come on. Dallas would use up about 1.27 seconds on the clock before they got that card to the podium.
Trent Richardson RB. Now we are talking about someone that may take a moment or two of thought. Running back is the position most likely to slide, so this is actually something that is conceivable. Could the Cowboys pass on him to address one of the positions of need? Or does the idea of rotating Richardson, DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones behind Lawrence Vickers make your mouth water just a little? On the flip side, the team might want to work the phones real hard for a trade back. One possibly tough decision.
Justin Blackmon WR. The hardest call to make, for me, anyway. I will say this: If at this point, Jason Garrett felt like he has improved the pass protection through free agency, and/or he feels certain he can upgrade with an OL pick somewhere later in the draft, Dallas could have the best wide receiver corps in the league for Tony to throw to with that extra time he would have.
Luke Kuechly LB. This one is not hard for me. I don't think having two absolute stud ILBs in Kuechly and Sean Lee, with Dan Connor and Bruce Carter backing them up, would be anything but awesome. The middle of the Dallas defense would be mayhem and carnage for years to come.
That's my take. Sure, it is a bit of a dream, somewhere between pipe and wet. It probably won't happen.