There has been a consistent theme here at BTB about the top priorities the Dallas Cowboys should have for the 2013 draft. Offensive line, preferably interior, defensive line, leaning towards a tackle based on the talent available in the draft, and safety. Those are the big three in the eyes of many, probably most, here. We know the team has to address these areas. If they don't, there may just be a revolt.
Well, you might want to start pricing those torches and pitchforks. You may see something entirely different when the real picks start going up to the podium on April 25th. I am starting to get a sense of that, which I looked at a little in my last post. OCC has considered both a pass rusher and a wide receiver as options in the draft, possibly in early rounds. As a matter of fact, our resident cyber guru has expressed another deeply reasoned and erudite draft thought which he has graciously allowed me to share with you.
Imagine if you will a Dallas draft that starts out like this:
Round 1 - Cordarrelle Patterson WR Tennessee or Keenan Allen WR California. Both fit the preferred Garrett mold for outside receivers, standing 6'2" and in the vicinity of 210 lbs. Both project in the mid to late first round. They would be "score from anywhere on the field" types. Dallas has one now in Dez Bryant, with Miles Austin used more in the slot. This would give the Cowboys a more potent three or four wide receiver set, and a better option if Dez is out for a game or two.
Round 2 - Sam Montgomery DE LSU, William Gholston DE Michigan State, or Michael Buchanan DE Illinois. The team would be looking for the future replacement for DeMarcus Ware or Anthony Spencer, and with one of these second round candidates would get someone who should see the field in relief duty their rookie season. It would be planning for the future, making sure Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli have the tools they need to make the 4-3 work down the road.
Round 3 - Montee Ball RB Wisconsin, Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina, or Joseph Randle RB Oklahoma State. Feature back types much like DeMarco Murray in size who look to be mid third round types. With the need to have a viable running game, the Cowboys would have some insurance in case the durability issue continues to crop up with Murray.
Horrified? Disgusted? This list is not at all out of the question if you look at what Jason Garrett and, to an extent, Jerry Jones have been saying. These kinds of selections do fit some of the things they have discussed lately.
And there are other factors, too. First, there is the issue of who will be available. So many of the names everyone has fallen in love with here make just as much sense for some of the seventeen teams who precede Dallas in the draft. I have seen scenarios where all the OL and DT prospects worthy of the 18 pick, plus S Kenny Vaccaro, are all gone by the time Dallas goes on the clock. If things should align so that the top ranked players at those highly desired positions are already taken, then the Cowboys need to make sure the player picked is worth the 18th pick. And I am not optimistic about someone being willing to partner up so the Cowboys can trade back. All the discussion this year is about the depth of this draft. I just am not seeing what would tempt another team to want to give up attractive picks to get Dallas' first round slot.
The same argument can hold for the other rounds, although the variables increase, of course. Still, the only real board that matters is the one the Cowboys' staff puts together, and if you get to a pick and have a running back or pass rusher clearly the best player left, then why not take someone you do have a place for?
Free agency is going to play some role here as well. The Tony Romo deal should be done soon, and then it will be interesting to see who the Cowboys sign. If they find a decent safety and guard at a bargain price, the need to use those high picks to target those positions is greatly decreased. Jason Garrett talks about wanting to go with best player as much as possible. Combine that with the possibility that the coaching staff sees more in the current roster than a lot of fans do, and almost any position could be the direction the Cowboys go. And don't forget Jerry Jones' influence. He may want to push for something like a wide receiver or running back so he can be sure that Romo doesn't have to work on his bus driving skills.
I'm not making a prediction about this kind of drafting, just laying out the possibility. I just think it is more likely for the team to go other directions in the early rounds than many believe. And if the Cowboys do put up something along the lines of my speculative lineup, I fully expect it to get pretty ugly in these parts.
It may get ugly sooner, because I am going to propose that a draft like I have outlined is not a bad thing. It is dependent on the team making the right judgments leading up to it, but if they go that way, I am inclined to see how things are when they come out of training camp before I start casting aspersions. I know it is a bit heretical, but I am not sure the Cowboys are the washed up cellar-dwellers they have been called by one or two writers. I think it is possible that the offensive line was gelling in the second half of the season, that the defensive line is in pretty good shape already, that safety will be all right with Barry Church, Matt Johnson, and an affordable free agent, and that injuries should not be as much of a problem this year as things regress to the mean. You might think that is too many things to come together. I will counter with the fact that none of them are huge things, and there are some indicators out there that they could happen.
Like I said, no prediction. But possible? Yes.