Why didn't we draft an o-lineman (part II)

I want to do two more things: clarify to whom my first post was directed (because there was some uncertainty about that) and try a different tack in order to address those I did not address in my first post, but who are upset that we didn't draft Decastro or buy Nicks or Grubbs. I will do the latter in part III.

My initial post was intended as a strong refutation of one particular type of person -- the hater. They comprise more of the Cowboys fanbase than you would think. This not so small group of people has one apparent desire: to make sure everyone knows that the cowboys in general and Jerry Jones in particular suck. They often invoke the name of Jimmy Johnson, and speak of how everything since has been one continuous chorus of the same Jerry Jones mistakes.

Mind you, this is not directed at everyone who wants Jerry the GM fired. Bob Sturm is my favorite local writer and he has been plenty critical of Jerry. This is definitely not directed at those who are worried about the o-line. *I* am worried about the o-line.

The person I'm talking about has been very quiet through the extremely successful free agency period and what looks to be the best draft since '05 for sure, if not the best (unassisted by Herschel Walker) in team history. They don't mention the effect Carr is having on our secondary or the potential guys like Crawford and Wliber are showing in camp. Nope... they sit quietly and wait for the top 5 interior o-linemen to be down with injuries and a 2nd year project player is pressed into being a starting center and having trouble with the transition.

Suddenly they are football experts and they have found their bullhorn. They let you know that they have been sounding the alarm for the last 15 years about how the team needs a better line and Jerry never spends high round picks on the o-line and that's the reason that Jimmy won championships-- because he did. And that's why this team will never go anywhere with Jerry as the GM because he's made the same mistakes every year since Jimmy left.

I'm going to simply post a few facts and let it go at that. When Jimmy took over the team, the Cowboys were widely regarded as having the worst line in the NFL. 3 of those 5 guys were the starting linemen for the super bowl teams... the only ones drafted by Jimmy were Stepnoski and Williams. Nate Newton was a UDFA (when the draft was 12 rounds) who was cut from the Redskins and playing in the USFL when Dallas picked him up. John Gesek was a 10th round draft pick. Mark Tuinei was a UDFA *defensive* tackle, also when the draft was 12 rounds long. He converted to offense when the team ran short in the offensive line. Nate Newton was 9 years into his career when he made his first pro-bowl. Tuinei was 11 yrs in. To say that they took time to develop into "the greatest offensive line in NFL history" is an understatement. To say that anyone had them pegged as great players any time before 1993 is a flat lie.

In 5 years, Jimmy spent two 3rd round or better picks on the o-line (I'm not counting Wisniewski, who was immediately traded). In the last ten years, Jerry Jones led teams have spent seven 3rd round or better picks on o-line. Now, if you want to say that Jimmy was better at picking o-line, that's legit: both of his picks were pro-bowl players, while only two of Jerry's pick were "hits". But it hasn't been for lack of effort. O -line has absolutely been made a priority, it just remains to be successfully addressed.

But that brings me to the last fact I want to mention. Nate Newton and Mark Tuinei, in particular, were anchors for that line. No one thought they were anything, their first few years in. They and Gesek were the Kowalskis and Nagys of the late 80s. Given time to develop to their potential, they became perrenial pro-bowlers.

And that's why Dallas wanted to give yuglies time and space to develop. Pedigree is not everything. Effort and effectiveness are. They showed that they *could* be the guys, and the front office wanted to find out.

Now I won't argue that a stop-gap Center to tide them over for a couple of years was a bad investment. If that's your beef, I have no beef with you, though I will attempt to explain why the focus was elsewhere in my next. But to say the position has been ignored is flat wrong. And if you are talking about the issues *now* you are not talking about the result of decades of neglect. You are talking about the results of changing a competition from "may the best man (between Costa, Nagy, and Kowalski) win" to "last man (Costa) standing". If you don't believe Nagy and Kowalski were sufficient competition, that's valid. If you don't believe they were competition at all, that's willful ignorance.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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