Here at BTB, we have offered you, our loyal reader, a cornucopia of posts detailing the offseason exploits of our beloved 'Boys. From coaching hires to free agency to the draft, we have been there to give you or opinion on what has transpired. And, for the most part, our front page writers have been big fans of the Cowboys offseason. Even Ol' Rabble, who typically eschews the Kool-Aid, has penned numerous posts declaring Dallas' offseason work a rousing success.
Back in February, in a look at the Cowboys' offseason plan, I noted Jason Garrett's optimal talent acquisition strategy, which was to use free agency to cover all the team's "must haves" so that they are freed from having to target (and reach for) a player at a specific position in the draft. In a perfect world, Garrett noted, thewould "draft without needs." Indeed, this is what the top organizations have been doing for some time now, since they began to figure out the salary cap universe's financial nuances. However, that was easier said than done: before free agency began, the Cowboys had a staggering amount of roster holes to fill; if they were to fulfill Garrett's "BPA" draft plan, as many as twelve new players would have to be brought in - after Dallas took a substantial cap hit from the Commish.
How did the Cowboys extricate themselves from this offseason morass? A trip down memory lane after the jump...
However, they did a superb job identifying needs and filling holes. Let's offer a quick review. On offense they filled holes at backup QB (Kyle Orton); Fullback (Lawrence Vickers); Offensive Guard (Nate Livings and Mackenzie Bernadeau). third receiver (Kevin Ogletree) and backup tight end (remains a question). On defense, things were much more grim, but they filled gaping holes at OLB (Anthony Spencer); inside linebacker (Dan Connor); cornerback (Brandon Carr) and safety (Brodney Pool). Filling these holes allowed the team to go into the draft without any "must haves."
As we know, they then engineered a trade up for the best player in the draft, cornerback Mo Claiborne, and spent the rest of their picks on good height- weight/ speed athletes with excellent intangibles, or "make-up." The majority of these guys play positions where a clear need exists - even if the need is for more depth at the position (Kyle Wilbur and Danny Coale weren't drafted to start, at least not in 2012). Given where they started, the Cowboys did a remarkable job this offseason filling holes, making the team younger, improving the coaching staff, and upgrading the work ethic and character throughout the roster. And the BTB writers were duly impressed...
It now appears that the national guys have taken notice as well. On Wednesday, The Sporting News doled out offseason grades for all sixteen NFC teams, and the Cowboys received high marks. The writer, Vinnie Iyer, handed out one "A" (to Tampa Bay); the Cowboys received on of the two A minuses (along with the Bears). The primary reasons for Iyer's lofty mark? The additions of Carr and Claiborne at corner, and (I think, unsung) signing of Dan Connor "as a thumper inside to support fellow Penn Stater Sean Lee."
I agree with the grade and the reasons for it, although I would add Orton and Vickers to the equation. Both guys could start for at least half of the teams in the NFL; to get both on the relative cheap is a real coup.
What do you think, BTBers? Is Iyer's grade on the mark? Too high? Too low? Go to the comments section with your best justifyin', praisin', or rippin' language.