As we dig deeper into the draft, a pattern has begun to emerge. The Dallas Cowboys are selecting guys who have the highest possibility of fitting a future need rather than playing catch up. This strategic view of the draft should pay off in the long run. Most late round players do not have much of a contribution their first season anyhow, so the front office it looking toward having players in house to fulfill future needs. In this way they will have a great deal of control over the development of the guys who will be assuming key slots in the next 2-3 seasons. Lets look at how Joseph Randle and DeVonte Holloman might fit into the team's future agenda.
With the fifth round pick the Cowboys chose Randle with an eye to him replacing Phillip Tanner as the backup to current feature back DeMarco Murray. Unfortunately from Randle's point of view, Tanner seems like he is going to have quite a bit to say about the rookie's short term role in Dallas. Tanner's efforts, along with the injury situation that kept Joseph out of OTA's and minicamp, will most likely relegate him to being the 3rd power back. Randle will make contributions to the Dallas special teams however; possibly to include some duties as a kick returner. With Murray experiencing injuries the last two seasons, he will likely get a few chances to contribute on offense as well.
Strategic: The fact that Randle now appears like he will get less opportunity than was anticipated on draft day should not be taken as a negative. In fact, given the short shelf life of running backs in the league these days, it could well play out to be beneficial to his career. With questions about Murray's long term durability, Joseph Randle will still figure into the Cowboys long term plans. With Phillip Tanner around to absorb this seasons wear and tear, what should be taken as essentially a "redshirt" season should yield a dividend on the back end of Randle's career. Certainly, a season to acclimate himself into the Dallas offense cannot hurt. As DeMarco Murray winds down as the feature back in Dallas, Joseph Randle will be waiting in the wings to take his place.
Like the guys the team selected before him, DeVonte Is going to have to make his initial mark as a teams player. Although he will see some action as a linebacker this season, his role for 2013 will be as a developmental project for Coach Matt Eberflus. He is a player who can lay some serious wood, and that may go a long way toward making the current special teams ace, Denny McCray, more expendable.
Holloman is a guy who needs to add some strength to really fit into the role as the Cowboys SAM linebacker. Fortunately for him, he has the benefit of strength coach Mike Woicik to guide him. For now Justin Durant appears to be firmly entrenched as the starting SAM, so Holloman will have a couple years to prove his net worth. If DeVonte can bulk up and take advantage of his time to develop, Dallas will find itself with the option of moving on from Durant once his two year deal is completed.
Even though there are "experts" who claim that Dallas drafted this year with no strategy in mind, a short analysis shows this theory to be incorrect. Each player selected clearly was chosen with an eye to what he could provide for the future of the franchise. Some of the picks were also taken for their ability to impact the team immediately. While it is likely that not all of the players drafted will be around long enough to meet the opportunity they were chosen for; but some will. For those players there awaits a date with destiny, and for the team there is the opportunity to resolve the long standing issue of being held hostage to high priced free agents and under achieving aging veterans. The 2013 draft was a businesslike approach toward building a sustainable period of high performance. Hopefully, it is a harbinger of things to come.
What is your take on the roles Randle and Holloman will play for the Cowboys?