NFL Draft 2013: Listening In To The Draft Show

Tom Pennington

DallasCowboys.com put up a new show on Friday dealing with all sorts of draft-related topics connected to the Cowboys. We listen in on the most interesting points.

The guys at DallasCowboys.com introduced a new show on Friday which they've called The Draft Show. The inaugural show had Ed Cahill and Bryan Broaddus talking lots of draft-related topics, and briefly featured Cowboys director of Player Personnel Tom Ciskowski at the end.

I took the time to sit down and listen to the pilot episode and found it highly enjoyable and informative. And while I would encourage you to listen to the show yourself, not everybody will have the time to sit down for an hour and listen to what Cahill, Broaddus and Ciskowski had to say.

So I am providing a little recap - not a transcript, but a brief summary of what I thought were the more interesting points of the discussion they had.

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Broaddus claims that the Cowboys usually have between 15-18 first round grades on their draft board. This is interesting because we've always assumed that the Cowboys usually have between 20-24 first-round grades on their board. We know that in 2010, the Cowboys had 23 players with a first round grade on their board (and perhaps 24 if we could ever figure out what the black magnets on the draft board photo mean).

But the point Broaddus makes is an interesting one. If the Cowboys indeed only have 15-18 players with a first round grade, the 18th overall pick places them right on the edge of having to pick a second-round graded guy. This in turn could result in the Cowboys possibly looking to trade down, an option we'll explore in detail over the coming weeks and months.

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The show was intermittently sprinkled with little nuggets of draft trivia, and what intrigued me specifically was where Broaddus and Cahill said previous draft picks had been slotted on the Cowboys' draft board. Some of this may already be public knowledge, but not all of it, at least not to me, so here are some of those grades, arranged in chronological order:

  • 2003: Had a first round grade on Jason Witten but took him in the third. Tony Romo’s tag was on the board with a fifth round grade.
  • 2005: Equal grades on Ware & Merriman, with both graded as top ten players. Jerry Jones made the call to select Ware over Merriman.
  • 2006: Miles Austin also had a draft grade (no round specified).
  • 2009: Cowboys had a first round grade on Max Unger, whom the Cowboys wanted with their second round pick. But Unger went 49th, with the Cowboys picking 51st. They had LeSean McCoy with a first round grade as well, who ended up going 53rd, but decided to trade down. Broaddus speculates that the coach may have had an influence ("you have a Barber, you have a Jones") on passing on McCoy and trading down.
  • 2010: Cowboys had Sean Lee on the board as the 16th best player
  • 2012: Claiborne was the second overall player on the Cowboys’ board behind Andrew Luck. Michael Brockers was in the top ten on their board. Had a fourth-round grade on Matt Johnson and Danny Coale.

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While discussing the 2009 draft, Broaddus warned about 'window-dressing' a draft board: "If you’re not willing to draft LeSean McCoy, don’t put his tag in the first round".

There was a Twitter question about why the Cowboys appeared to be so successful with their UDFAs, and Broaddus explained that Chris Hall, director of college scouting, doesn’t allow scouts to "come off grade". If they have a grade on a guy before the draft, they have to stick with it after the draft. Which means that after the draft, they try and sign every guy still left on the draft board. The team's number one priority after the draft ends is to sign guys left on their draft board, because "those are draftable guys you couldn’t get in the draft."

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Asked about the need for a ball-hawking safety, Broaddus made a point that safety remains a need for the Cowboys:

Watch the name Vaccaro, the kid from Texas. He’s going to be the best safety on the board when they pick. I’ve already been told he’s the best safety.

They were going to look at safety regardless of the scheme change. They might look at him at 18 if he has a better grade than one of the offensive or defensive linemen.

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Cahill then prompted Broaddus to offer up a directional mock draft, which was more about strategic intent than actual names. Here's the result:

1 – Defensive Line. Shariff Floyd is Broaddus’ favorite guy, Sheldon Richardson also very interesting.
2 – Guard. Likes Larry Warford from Kentucky. Alabama center Barrett Jones also an option.
3 – Possibly RB, maybe safety.
4 – Quarterback - Ryan Nassib, the kid from Syracuse everybody is talking about.
5 – ILB - Who’ll back up Sean Lee at Mike linebacker?
6 – Corner/TE

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Tom Ciscowski joined at the end and shared some thoughts on the strength of the 2013 draft class and how the Cowboys go about constructing their draft board:

Without having graded all the juniors at this time, I think offensive and defensive line could be the strength of this draft. Now that’s an early statement to make because I haven’t seen all of them, but it appears that there are some viable candidates there.

Our scouts, they read the newspapers, they watch TV, [and hear ] that the Cowboys have certain needs in these four areas or these three areas. I put a big emphasis on "I don’t want you to grade the player according to our needs. If you think the guy is a third round player, you leave him in the third round. Don’t put him up into the second round and pump air into him thinking that we need to get this guy." Then you’ll end up with your board stacked by your needs. You don’t want to do that.

I use the term "Pure board" that the prospects are up there not by need but by their ability to play college football and hopefully in the NFL.

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