I love the process. I love the new focus on the draft. Since 2010, we've begun to rebuild the foundation of the Cowboys with players like Sean Lee, Dez Bryant, Bruce Carter, Tyron Smith, DeMarco Murray and Morris Claiborne.
The problem is that the Cowboys didn't have the process or very good drafts from 2006 to 2009. Those drafts should form the heart and sole of the roster. But here is all we have to show for those four drafts:
2008 - Orlando Scandrick
2009 - Zip City
Spencer is one of the best players on the team. Austin would be, if here were healthy. Hatcher had a sort of coming out party last year, finally. Scandrick is just a guy. Free is an overpaid disaster who either will be a June 1 cut or will be fighting for a roster spot on a much lower salary. Four years, one very good player and two pretty good players and one just a guy. That just won't cut it.
That problem has been compounded by Dallas squandering salary cap space on unproductive players or players who are no longer on the roster. Right now, it's easy to add up over $20MM in unproductive salary cap space, money that could have been used to plug a couple of holes.
Meanwhile, the core of the winning teams under Parcels and Philips are all getting long-in-tooth by football standards:
Tony Romo will be 33 tomorrow.
Jay Ratliff will be 32 when the season starts.
Jason Witten will be 31 in a couple of weeks.
Demarcus Ware will be 31 when the season starts
QB is the hardest position to fill, obviously. Finding a player of Ware's caliber? Forget it. Witten will also be hard to replace (although we all have high hopes for James Hannah).
Obviously, be resigning Romo, the Cowboys mean to win now, while they have a window. That window is at best three years long. Four years from now, you really can't count on any of those players being on the roster, much less playing at a Pro Bowl level. When the 2016 seasons starts, four years from now, Ware and Witten will be 34. Ratliff 35, and Romo 36. Could all those guys still be playing? Unlikely. Will they all be Pro Bowl worthy by then? Doubtful.
Forget the process. Forget BPA. To win next year, the Cowboys need first and foremost to build the offensive line. If they can't run the football and can't throw vertically, the playoffs are a pipe dream. I can't imagine the line being fixed without at least two good new players. My choices would be the free agent Eric Winston and either Chance Warmack or Jonathon Cooper. I'm not buying both of those guys going in the top ten. There is just no historic evidence to support guards going that high in the draft. Still, I doubt either of them will be around till 18. That might mean having to trade up a few spots.
The problem is that the Cowboys also need a quality safety and a nose tackle. It's been a long time since Ratliff was dominant and there is no guarantee he'll even be healthy. And the Cowboys haven't had a dominant safety for about the last decade. I don't think you can get both of those players as starters in rounds two and three. One of them, maybe. But both? Unlikely. Historically, starters come from the first and second rounds.
Of course, the Cowboys also need a blocking tight end, a running back who can replace Murray if/when he's injured, a fullback and possibly a third receiver, especially if Miles or Dez are out for long with injuries.
So what to do? I'd look to trade the Cowboys 2014 first, second, and third round draft choices for picks this year. I would hope to use those future draft choices to move up to get Warmack or Cooper and to secure a late second round pick and hope that I could get a defensive tackle and a safety upgrade in the second round. Better yet, if either Cooper or Warmack slides to 18, then pick up two seconds this year. The 49ers might be game for that move.
Tell me what you think? Should the Cowboys shoot the moon?