First of all, I have a question. Can I change my user name? I am just so stoked about what has taken place over the past few days. I have actually been wanting to pen this post ever since "Pick 6" in the NFL Draft on Thursday night. I decided to wait until the draft had concluded as I wanted to talk about all of the picks that we had made. I didn't really know a whole lot about the players that we selected at Round 3 and beyond, with the exception of James Hanna. Actually, i don't remember really any of the players that the Cowboys drafted even being on anyone's mocks except for maybe James Hanna. The Cowboys surprised quite a few people with this draft but Michael Lombardi has given the Cowboys an A for this draft, an NFC East best. I might not have known much about the guys drafted, but I am happy with the picks.
Nothing though beats the Morris Claiborne pick. I was very much on record banging the table for Mark Barron, although I did like other players more than him but didn't think they would be there. Morris Claiborne was my favorite guy in this entire draft and had been so ever since I watched my first LSU game this year, which I did just for watching/scouting Morris Claiborne (always known to his teammates as "Mo"). I never expected it would be possible, but I was elated when I heard that first rumor that Dallas was looking to trade up for Mo Claiborne should he fall enough. Well, lightning struck, and we got him. Personally I couldn't be happier as he is the player I have wanted since the beginning of this year. Although there was much "Mo" to this draft besides Mo Claiborne. Follow me after the jump for my take on the Cowboys' draft and the what the future holds.
Pick 6 - Morris Claiborne - CB - LSU
I am a person who sits on draft day watching NFL Network live coverage of the draft and then the Cowboys War Room Cam from DC.com open on my computer. I saw the #5 pick come up and I looked at my computer and everyone was standing up. Stephen Jones is on the phone, he handed off to Jerry, then to Garrett. That only meant one thing. I knew it was for Morris Claiborne, it couldn't be for anyone else. I started screaming and clapping for what I knew was inevitable, however I waited for confirmation on NFL Network. I couldn't beieve it, we got Mo! I couldn't contain my excitement. I started somewhat chanting a certain phrase from an old Busta Rhymes song back in the day. Instead of you reading it, I'll just turn it over to Busta to say it better than I can:
Gimme some Mo'! Gimme some Mo'! That was what I started yelling. I even played the song to go with my victory dance. You might even say that the Cowboys just went into "Flipmode" in the draft. I can't wait to see Mo Claiborne play so he can "switch it on 'em" and go into "flipmode" himself (see song intro). By the way, I use those as references for interceptions in case you didn't figure it out. Maybe with Claiborne now in our secondary we can even nickname our secondary after Busta Rhymes' crew, "Flipmode Squad".
Morris Claiborne is definitely the RKG you look for, and if you have seen my RKG Board that I posted a couple days before the draft you will know that I already had him as one of the top RKGs in the draft. Although I admit my list was inconclusive somewhat, but when you add another element to it, then Morris Claiborne moves up to #3 on my RKG board. Since he was drafted by us and is a lifelong Cowboy fan, along with the rest of his family, that automatically boosts his RKG status. Only Andrew Luck and Trent Richardson I rate as higher RKGs in this entire draft. That would boost him now to tied at #3 in "Potential Rating" with Matt Kalil (Kalil falls and Claiborne rises to 58). I predict that Morris Claiborne will be one of the best players in this entire draft when he reaches his ceiling. You ad the unknown factor though of the coaching he will receive and he begins to have limitless potential.
What he brings to the team is another great cover corner that will allow Rob Ryan to dial up much more complex defensive fronts that are much harder to read and bring pressure from all directions. We really didn't get to see that last year because of the weakness in our secondary. Now with Carr and Claiborne in addition to Jenkins and Scandrick (hopefully becoming the flipmode squad as a whole) We have, on paper, a more than reliable secondary that should be able to play on islands, allowing our front seven to go hunting. One of the things also up for debate is who is going to play on which side. My take? Why not teach both players to play both. Have them both just shadow a receiver for the entire day no matter which side of the field they are on. That way they might be able to focus on game film of just one player and how to cover them and uncover their tendencies. Let Carr line up on the guy that will need a more physical presence to defend because of his bigger size and physicality and/or let Claiborne take the guy who more blanketing coverage will be needed or just the other guy. Maybe that would help them to know exactly who they will cover and be able to prepare more. Just some food for thought to chew on.
Even more fitting is the nickname that Mo has already earned among us, which conveniently intercedes his playmaking ability along with his draft slot, "Pick 6". Its just funny how these things turn out huh? Its a great time to be a Cowboys fan. I can't wait for the season to begin. I already have planned to travel out to California to view some of the Cowboys training camp in Oxnard this year and maybe even catch their game against the San Diego Superchargers. Just one more thought that I had before I move onto the next pick. I'll let Christopher Walken say it for me, although I will substitute one word to voice how I felt going into this draft:
I got a fever! And the only prescription is Mo Claiborne! I gotta have Mo Claiborne baby! Well, we got Mo Claiborne, and my fever is lifted. Every time he gets a pick I'm probably going to be screaming "Gimme some mo'! In other words, that means "Just keep doing what you do man". To finish off this segment about Morris Claiborne, Deion Sanders really likes this kid, and really wants to get on the field and work out with him. He said the following when asked if it was worth it to trade up for him:
Trading up to get the best guy at the position, when everybody is clammoring, and murmuring, that this is what you need, then you go and get it, then people are complaining about that. Jerry can't make you guys happy so he might as well be happy himself.
I'm so stoked right now. Welcome to the Cowboys Mo Claiborne!
Pick 81 - Tyrone Crawford - DE - Boise State
First of all, the best part of this pick came from the lips of Chad Hennings as he announced the pick: "With the 81st pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, AMERICAS TEAM, THE DALLAS COWBOYS, select Tyrone Crawford, Defensive End, Boise State. Of course there were a lot of boos after he said America's Team, but way to stick it to 'em Hennings. Everyone wants to get up there and say "The National Champion New York Giants" or something along those lines. This was a slap back in the face off everyone because we can say "America's Team" every year. You can't say "National Champion" every year. So boo all you want, but you know you can't change this. Just can't wait until we can once again combine both of those again, America's Team, THE National Champions. How good that will sound when that happens again. This was one of my favorite moments of the draft.
Like I stated previously, I didn't know much about Tyrone Crawford in this years draft. I am only one man and I can only keep track of so much. So thank goodness for having a great scouting department that is able to cover so much ground and find these guys. Had I known about him before the draft, I would have been banging the table for the Cowboys to grab this guy as a 5-tech.
I am on record for a while stating what you want to see in your 5-techs in a 3-4 defense. They may be more accurately compared to a DT in a 4-3 defense, but the position still says DEFENSIVE END. So what you would love to be able to pick up is a guy who could be productive as a Defensive End but could also play inside at Defensive Tackle as well. J.J. Watt did that in college, and so does this guy. Tyrone Crawford moved all over the defensive line and had the ability to play, and be productive from, any position on the defensive line. This is what you call a prototypical 5-tech. If you ever want a safe pick, you draft the prototype. He has great size with the ability to pack even more on his frame to become even more explosive.
I remember watching this pick being made and Mike Mayock immediately said "Boy, what a good pick!" Apparently he loves this kid. He even said he fell in love with him at the East-West Shrine Game. We have been trying to find the J.J. Watt (best 5-tech) of this years draft. This may very well end up being that guy, and many of us may have overlooked him. Thank goodness the Cowboys didn't. He is stout against the run, can push the pocket, and he can play inside and outside (in other words, he can deal with the double teams 5-techs normally get). He has loads of potential. He will not produce like J.J. Watt in his rookie year, but he could become a special player for us at the DE position in our 3-4.
What he brings to the team is simple, he is a "Pressure 5". That term refers to 3-4 Defensive End (5-tech) that can push the pocket and rush the passer. We really don't have one of those right now so he brings a whole new element to our defense. This will allow players like DeMarcus Ware to get maybe receive more 1-on-1s and, in turn, will improve our pass rush, in turn improving our already improved secondary and our entire defense. Exciting to say the least.
Pick 113: Kyle Wilber - LB - Wake Forest
Yet another player that I didn't know a whole lot about. Although he is said to have plenty of upside. I looked up his stats and they weren't necessarily stellar from a pass rushing standpoint, however he is viewed to have tremendous upside as a 3-4 OLB playing opposite of Ware. Apparently Wake Forest had switched to a 3-4 defense so he is already used to playing the position. Therefor, there won't be a transition process as much for him, and they can teach him to improve his pass rushing skills as he devolops. Let me just include the analysis of him by Bryan Broaddus for a better idea:
Why He's Special: Does a really nice job of finding the football...can really close down from the backside when he sees the play...does a nice job of tackling in the open field...plays with nice initial quickness...does a nice job of stretching the play out not to allow the ball around the corner...will retrace his steps back when he rushes up the field to get in on play... has some natural pass rush ability with the length, bend and first-step quickness to win off the edge...suddenness...
What Needs Work: Will need some better strength overall...there are some times where he does get knocked around...got walled some inside from play...needs to get off blocks a tad quicker...play under better control...
How He Fits In: Was a defensive end that became and outside linebacker when Wake Forest switched to the 3-4. Long defender that runs the ball...plays with initial quickness and can give you some pass rush in different packages...will need to get strong to play at the point of attack but really like the way he finds the ball and works to get to it...
What he adds to the team is some depth at the OLB position and will allow us to have some other guys to get in ther to rush the passer. However, his biggest contribution will come on special teams. His strength and toughness should be a great asset there as he continues to develop as a defensive player.
Pick 135: Matt Johnson - S - East Washington
A good sized safety for us. Apparently he has a natural knack to play with his eyes reading quaterbacks and good ball skills to explain his 17 career interceptions at EWU. I will turn it over to Bryan Broaddus for his analysis of the pick from the mothership:
Why He's Special: Good reactions....fight off the block...physical tackler...flies to the ball...steps up to make the tackle...down hill player...drives well on the ball in coverage...takes good angles to the ball...can beat the block to the point of attack...wrap up tackler...aware to read routes up the field...can carry slot up the field...not just a strong safety type...has some flexibility to his game....works to try and create turnovers.
What Needs Work: Has no problems in the running game and covers well enough but the coaches will work on his footwork and technique to make him more of a complete safety.
How He Fits In: This is a physical player that leaves it all on the field...always around the football...love the way that he tries to create turnovers...plays with awareness and does have some cover ability....has a nose for ball.
The safety position has been a problem for a long time, and it would be nice if this guy panned out and became an answer for us at the position, especially as a mid-round pick. Those are lofty, expectations though, so if he can become a solid contributer on special teams for now as he develops then it would be a good pick. he will have to beat out special teams aces/safeties Danny McCray and Barry Church first.
Pick 152: Danny Coale - WR - VTech
I will just turn it over to Brayn Broadus for this guy as he'll say everything much better than I can:
Why He's Special: Will line up outside as well as playing in the slot...not afraid to run his routes inside...presents a nice target for his quarterback to see...will fight through the press...will run the slant and fight for the ball...works to get open and often is but misses opportunities because of inaccurate quarterback....can locate the ball in the air and is able to adjust...will catch the ball on the move...can adjust in traffic...finds spots in the zone...have seen him body catch ball but also snatch it as well...has to be a bad ball catcher because of this quarterback...plays on special teams as the center on kick off return.
What Needs Work: Didn't feel like he played to his timed speed...didn't see him break many tackles after the catch...will need better strength in this area...appeared to be a get in the way blocker...needs to do a better job of trying to finish his block...
How He Fits In: Like how he was able to play inside and out...works hard to get away from defenders and when covered, catch the ball in traffic...will be asked to play on special teams at all levels if active each week...only viewed him as the center on the kick off return...will need to do more...His quarterback killed him on better production.
Pick 186: James Hanna - TE - Oklahoma
Now I have heard some mixed opinions about James Hanna, however I have heard that he is a decent blocker. THIS is where you should draft a blocking tight end into the NFL. He is much more of a downfield threat than an in-line blocking threat in the running game. However, he does provide better blocking skills as a tight end than most of the other tight ends in this draft class. He also has amazing speed for a tight end clocking a sub 4.5 forty. Here is what Bryan Broadus had to say about him:
Why He's Special: Shows initial quickness off the snap...very athletic...can adjust on the move when trying to secure his block...plays in line and as the "H" on the move...will stay after his man in pass protection...mainly works the middle of the field but you will also see him on vertical routes when flexed...actually like him better when he can run routes across the middle or up the field...Seems to catch the ball better in that situation than when he runs a "spot" route inside...will try and push off to gain separation when working in the middle of the field....good on the down block when he is asked to seal the edge...
What Needs Work: Is going to have to get much stronger...tries to fit on his blocks but doesn't always have the upper body strength to control his man...needs to do a better job of bringing his feet when he blocks to get push...can be frustrating to watch trying to catch the ball...will need to get much more consistent catching the ball and in traffic...made catches I didn't think he would make and drop easy ones...
How He Fits In: Will not hammer you at the point of attack but gives effort to try and sustain his blocks...until he gains strength will probably be more effective on the backside...like him much better when he can do things on the move...going to need to work on catching the ball more consistently but not to say he can't do it because I have seen him make tough catches...too good of an athlete not to take a shot in this draft...
Pick 222: Caleb McSurdy - ILB - Montana
This pick I found kind of confusing. I think they must have seen this guy as a solid special teams contributer if they drafted him here. I think that grabbing another QB for camp competition for Stephen McGee would have been a better pick or maybe a dark horse 5-tech that might have still been on the board on the time. Although this should give us solid depth at the ILB position and also provide some good camp competition for Orie Lemon.
Why He's Special: Very quick to read and react...physical take on at the point of attack...knows how to use his hands to control and play off blocks...nice slide and shuffle down the line of scrimmage...stays active until he finds the ball...then fills the hole...will bounce off blocks...plays on his feet...don't see him get cut or get tangled up in the trash...always moving...can get outside when the ball spills...is a wrap up tackler...looks comfortable in zone drops...able to get in position to play the ball down the field for an interception...able to leap at highest point to snag the ball...Against Idaho State had to adjust out of the middle of the field to try and help in coverage on a receiver that went vertical up the field, was just a step away from making an impressive play on the ball...used as a blitzer...had a sack against Tennessee when the scheme called for him to run a stunt...made a tight path to the quarterback...
What Needs Work: Can be too aggressive on his reads...had a couple of plays where he was too aggressive and over ran the play...will need to play under better control but should not be a problem.
How He Fits In: Not a hard player to find on film at all...has a nose for the ball....and is always around it...very aware to what the offense is trying to do to him...like the way he plays with his hands...really impressed with his ability to drop and cover...will not be a liability at all in this area...type of guy that can stay on the field...no doubt that he can help on all of the cover special teams, runs that well....
I love the fact that Michael Lombardi has already given our Draft an "A" grade which stands as an NFC East best according to him. I would have to agree. I really like the first 3 picks and the rest of them caused me to do a double take but after looking at the players, they all look like late round steals. Not by a whole lot but I don't think any of them should have been on the board when we selected. Truly a BPA draft. Now comes the longest part of my year, waiting for training camp to begin and then the season. At least we still have some UDFA signings to go. We still have 23 spots open for the now 90 man roster by my count. We will see what the future holds, but I don't see how I could be more confident about what our team has done this off-season than I am right now. Now I'm just waiting for mo'!