2012 Draft - Putting Things In Perspective
I must admit, as a frequent reader of the BTB blog, I’ve been surprised at the negativity coming from so many people regarding the selections made in this weekend’s draft. Thank goodness we have professional scouts who actually know what they’re doing making draft decisions and not a bunch of armchair draftniks who think that if a player doesn’t have weekly highlights on SportsCenter, he can’t possibly be draft worthy. The NFL network team just graded our draft as a solid A (best in the NFC East). Mike Mayock, Mike Lombardi, Tom McShay and Mel Kiper have all been very positive about several of our selections. Our own resident talent experts (including Birddog) have also been very positive about the selections made.
Let’s all take a deep breath, look at each player who was drafted and think about the big picture for just a minute.
Here’s my own summary of the top 6 players drafted and what each brings to the table.
· Pick #1 – Morris Claiborne CB – We filled a need here with what many scouts and draft experts consider to be the BEST overall defensive player in this draft class. We had to give up a second round pick which may have cost us a nice interior O-lineman, but it was worth it. How long has it been since we could say that cornerback was not major issue with this team?
· Pick #3 – Tyrone Crawford OLB/DE – We added a nice pass rusher here who is clearly a RKG (team captain, leader of the Boise State defense, non-stop motor) and should get playing time in nickel situations pretty much immediately. If he can put on another 10 to 15 pounds of mass, which shouldn’t be difficult with our strength and conditioning staff (Mike Woicik), he should be able to play for us on the D-Line. According to PFF, he has a production ratio of 1.62, which the highest performance number of ANY defensive lineman in this year’s draft class.
· Pick #4A – Kyle Wilber – OLB – Another "high motor" RKG who was evaluated prior to the draft as a 2nd or 3rd round talent. In 2011, he was the second leading tackler for Wake Forest with 70 tackles and 48 solo stops. This may not have been a sexy pick, but the Cowboys did not reach on this one.
o PFW Draft Profile – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBaoiyy1_Ek
o Bleacher Report Profile – http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1158254-kyle-wilber-comparing-nfl-draft-pick-to-travis-laboy
o Highlights Against Baylor – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPSg2zODVcQ
· Pick #4B – Matt Johnson SS – A team captain and RKG who was evaluated by PFW as a 4th or 5th round talent. Our own in-house scout, Birddog, had this guy evaluated as one of the best safeties in the 2012 draft class. Johnson’s 45-game career, which included All-America honors, and multiple individual stats that rank in the top five in EWU program history could have been better if he hadn’t injured his biceps tendon in his senior season.
o NFL Draft Scout Profile - http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=88600&draftyear=2012&genpos=SS
· Pick #5 – Danny Coale WR – Finished his career at VA Tech second in both receptions and yards. Had a great performance in the Sugar Bowl with 8 receptions for 117 yards against Michigan. Won the ACC James Tatum Award which is given to the top student-athlete in the conference. Overall, he has all of the RKG attributes and physical elements which are necessary for a solid #2 or #3 receiver. It appears as though he slid to the fifth round for two primary reasons – (1) he has been somewhat injury prone and (2) he lacks girth and muscle tone needed to play against physical receivers. With a full offseason of world class strength and conditioning, this guy could be a solid slot receiver for the next decade. Before the draft, McShay had him tagged as his favorite dark horse receiver in this years class (see the video clip below)
o ESPN Draft Lab WR/TE – Kiper and McShay -http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:7577686
o Danny Coale Highlights - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-FhXQDefOE
· Pick #6 – James Hanna – This local kid who grew up in Flower Mound as a huge Cowboy Fan and played 4 years at OU has lots of potential to be a good pass catching tight end, but he will clearly require some development before he can play as a starter. In 2011, he was all-Big 12 second team as voted by AP and coaches. At the combine, he led all players at his position in three evaluation categories – 40 yard dash (4.49), 3-cone drill (6.67) and 20-yard shuttle (4.11). He tied Michael Egnew with a 36-inch vertical jump. It can’t hurt that his jersey number at OU was #82 and we can all hope that he becomes half the player that Witten has been for us.
o Bleacher Report Analysis - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1155069-james-hanna-to-cowboys-video-highlights-scouting-report-and-analysis
It appears as though JG is rebuilding this team with young, smart, fast, hard-working, high energy, versatile, "team captain" type players and cutting loose those guys who either don’t have the right attitude (i.e. Martellus Bennett and Roy Williams), versatility (i.e. David Buehler and Martellus Bennett (YES, catching the ball IS a required skill for a TE)), work ethic (i.e. Andre Gurode, Flozell Adams) or formerly good players who are now on the downslide of their careers (i.e. Terence Newman, Marc Colombo and Marion Barber). All of the guys we’ve added since last year love the game of football and leave everything on the field which is one MAJOR intangible you can’t teach.
These draft picks have the JG stamp all over them and I can’t help but think we’re slowly rebuilding this team in the model of the Belichick Patriots or the great Tom Landry teams with a locker room full of players who have the critical intangibles which don’t show up on a stat sheet. Just think about that for a minute. When was the last time this team actually had a real IDENTITY? When was the last time we had real leaders in the locker room? You could make the argument that we haven’t really had an identity since Parcells left and before that you would have to go all the way back to the Jimmy Johnson days. In contrast, our two biggest rivals in the division both have a very clear identity.
My biggest fear is that some of our most impactful star players (Ware, Romo, Witten and Ratliff) have a limited "window" which will be closing in the next 2 or 3 years. If we’re lucky, we may have a chance to compete for a championship before this window closes, but even if we don’t, I have high hopes that Garrett and staff are making the necessary changes to put this team back on the right track, establish a true identity and restore glory to this great franchise.