With the news yesterday that Dallas interviewed Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garopollo, and David Fales at the combine. One would have to imagine that what was once a puff of smoke surrounding Kyle Orton's contract negotiations is now a raging prairie fire. That or worse Tony Romo's recovery from back surgery is not going as planned.
I would like to think the Cowboys have finally realized just how serious the situation is after they watched their franchise quarterback grimace in pain when he injured his back during the Redskins game late in the season. This injury put Kyle Orton at the helm for a winner take all matchup with the Eagles. Kyle stepped in and played a good game throwing 30 of 46 for 358 yards and 2 touchdowns but he also threw 2 key interceptions. One of which was on what would have been the game winning drive when he threw a pass short over the middle for Miles Austin with 1:49 on the clock. Miles Austin was open with his man beat over the middle and Kyle threw it behind him straight to Brandon Boykin. This ended not only the game but the Cowboys season which had high hopes for a NFC East Division title and a shot at hosting a playoff game for the first time since January 9th, 2010 in the 2009 season playoffs. The TV cameras for NBC immediately caught Jerry's reaction as he was visibly angry after Kyle's game ending interception.
Now with Kyle Orton contemplating retirement and Tony Romo's longevity in question one wonders if Jerry is looking for an insurance policy to his franchise quarterback. In all honesty I don't blame him if he is because a lot of star quarterbacks are born out clutch situations where they have stepped in for the franchise quarterback and guided their team to victory. I think some guy by the name of Tim Tebow stepped in for our current backup quarterback Kyle Orton when he was struggling mid-way through the season with the Broncos and guided his team to not only the playoffs but a playoff win. I hear Tim Tebow is still looking for a team to play for in the NFL ... sigh, yes I just went there. All kidding aside it illustrates the point that who ever steps in must be able to lead the team in times of trouble. A fact that I'm sure is not lost on Jason Garrett or Jerry Jones considering Jason Garrett's history. Where does all of this leave us with free agency and the draft rapidly approaching?
Well free agency looks a little grim, to name a few names on the free agent market Michael Vick, Josh McCown, Matt Cassel, Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Colt McCoy, Matt Flynn, and Rex Grossman. Some of which will command too big of a price tag and most others simply too inconsistent to trust with a clutch moment like what happen last year. There is also Brady Quinn's name to add to that list but considering the Cowboys passed on him back in the first round of the 2007 draft by trading the pick away to the Browns I don't think he or they would want to revisit that old wound. To be fair Tim Tebow is out there as well but frankly no one wants the media circus that follows him around their team except maybe the Browns or the Jaguars since both of their teams are starved for T.V. airtime but even those teams are poised to pick a quarterback early in the 2014 NFL Draft.
That leaves us with the 2014 NFL Draft, and with this year's class having a record number of underclassmen in it there is a good possibility one of these quarterbacks are going to fall to the Cowboys during a pick that will be too hard for the Cowboys to pass up on. I realize this is a hard pill to swallow for a lot of BTB readers and Cowboys fans outside of here because last year's defense was horrific. This year's draft was supposed to be about fixing one of the the worst defenses in franchise history right?
Well realistically the Cowboys are not going to draft 3 defensive tackles and 2 defensive ends with the first 5 picks in the draft. For historical references the Cowboys have only drafted 1 defensive tackle in the past 5 years and that was in the 7th round of the 2010 draft. Most of the Cowboys defensive tackles as of recent were defensive ends in college or most of their collegiate career. Case in point Jason Hatcher who was a defensive end all through college and part of his pro career until we converted him to a defensive tackle. How many 6'6" 300lbs 3 technique defensive tackles do you see running around in a 4-3 Tampa 2 defense? He certainly wasn't drafted to play in this scheme at that position. With that in mind you realize that in a pinch the Cowboys will make do with what they are given. Will they go out and draft a 3 technique defensive tackle? Yep, you can take that to the bank even if it isn't Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan, or Dominique Easley. Will they still be able to "fix" last year's defense? To be honest that remains to be seen but to expect that throwing an entire year's top half of a draft at it is a solution is ridiculous.
That leaves us with the issue at hand "Mocking A Backup Quarterback" and what does it look like. Let's acquire some targets then begin mocking.
1) Blake Bortles - UCF (Realistically out of reach by 16 but who knows) 1st round grade
2) Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville (Same as Above) 1st round grade
3) Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M (Not likely at 16 but considering character issues a potential candidate) 1st round grade
4) Derek Carr - Fresno State (Could be there at 16 but more than likely no) 1st to 2nd round grade
5) Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois (Should be there at 47 but 78 could be a stretch) 2nd to 3rd round grade
6) A.J. McCarron - Alabama (Should be there at 78 and 115 is a possibility) 3rd to 4th round grade
7) Zach Mettenberger - LSU (ACL injury and character issues) Red Flag
8) Aaron Murray - Georgia (ACL injury, high value, but should be there at 115, possibly 146)
9) David Fales - San Jose State (Should be there at 115 and 146)
10) Brett Smith - Wyoming (Should be there at 115 and 146) snubbed by NFL Combine
Right off the bat the obvious thing is barring some 1st round draft meltdown we shouldn't even get a whiff of Blake Bortels or Teddy Bridgewater. The same should be true for Johnny Manziel but with his immaturity being a concern some teams might pass while in the end he will be gone. I think our most realistic candidates are Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2nd or 3rd, David Fales in the 4th or 5th, or Brett Smith in the 4th or 5th. I left out Zach Mettenberger and Aaron Murray because of injury issues and Derek Carr & A.J. McCarron because frankly they weren't there at the right picks to make either of them worth it.
I think the Cowboys have already done this work for us if you look at who they have met with so far. All but Brett Smith of those 4 have met with the Cowboys at some point. The only reason they haven't met with Brett Smith yet is because he got snubbed by the NFL combine. They said it was because he is an underclassman and they didn't have enough spots for seniors supposedly #LameExcuse. This should be a big indicator that the Cowboys have been doing their research already and are possibly targeting a QB at some point in this draft. The Johnny Manziel meeting made headlines but really it was a contingency plan just in case he does fall because of the top 3 QBs he is the most likely to fall in this draft if at all.
Finally the moment you've been waiting for ... all of the mock draft junkies can begin salivating now or foaming at the mouth if you're still hopeful for the first 5 picks to be defense. Let's begin "Mocking A Backup Quarterback"!
3 - Compensation picks at the end of the 7th round based on Craig Turner's projections for losing players to free agency
* Yes I selected IK Enemkupali from Louisiana Tech in all of my drafts. I think the Cowboys had a good meeting with him at the Combine and they are going to get value in him as a last day pick.
Johnny Manziel Scenario:
1) 16# QB - Johnny Manziel - Texas A&M
2) 47# DT43 - Dominique Easley - Florida
3) 78# DE43 - Chris Smith - Arkansas
4) 115# DT43 - Caraun Reid - Princeton
5) 146# G - Brandon Linder - Miami
6) No Pick
7) 207# CB - Walt Aikens - Liberty 210# WR - Shaq Evans - UCLA 215# OLB - Prince Shembo - Notre Dame
Comp) 1# DE - IK Enemkupali - Louisiana Tech 2# FB - Trey Millard - Oklahoma 3# S - Marqueston Huff - Wyoming
Jimmy Garoppolo Scenario:
1) 16# DT - Aaron Donald - Pittsburg
2) 47# DE43 - Scott Crichton - Oregon State
3) 78# QB - Jimmy Garoppolo - Eastern Illinois
4) 115# ILB - Yawin Smallwood - Connecticut
5) 146# G - Trai Turner - LSU
6) No Pick
7) 207# WR - Cody Latimer - Indiana 210# CB - Carringon Bydom - Texas 215# OLB - Denico Allen - Michigan State
Comp) 1# DE IK Enemkupali - Louisiana Tech 2# G - Spencer Long - Nebraska 3# DT - Calvin Barnett - Oklahoma State
David Fales Scenario:
1) 16# DT - Timmy Jernigan - Florida State
2) 47# WR - Allen Robinson - Penn State
3) 78# G - Cyril Richardson - Baylor
4) 115# DE - Demarcus Lawrence - Boise State
5) 146# QB - David Fales - San Jose State
6) No Pick
7) 207# RB Dri Archer - Kent State 210# S - Isaiah Lewis - Michgian State 215# DT Kerry Hyder - Texas Tech
Comp) 1# DE - IK Enemkupali - Louisiana Tech 2# WR - Austin Franklin - New Mexico State 3# FB - Jay Prosch -Auburn
Brett Smith Scenario:
1) 16# DT - Aaron Donald - Pittsburg
2) 47# G - Xavier Su'a-FILO - UCLA
3) 78# S - Deone Bucannon - Washington State
4) 115# DE43 - James Gayle - Virginia Tech
5) 146# QB - Brett Smith - Wyoming
6) No Pick
7) 207# WR - Jalen Saunders - Oklahoma 210# RB - Kapri Bibbs - Colorado State 215# DT - Jay Bromley - Syracuse
Comp) 1# DE - IK Enemkupali - Louisiana Tech 2# CB - Aaron Colvin - Oklahoma 3# WR - Quincy Enunwa - Nebraska
Twilight Zone Free Agency Scenario:
Jerry Jones loves to make a splash and in this scenario he proves that he never listens to his scouting advisors and coaches as he does what he does best, drive Cowboys fans crazy. Jerry cuts Demarcus Ware, Jason Hatcher, Anthony Spencer, and Miles Austin. He somehow horse trades his way into signing Michael Vick to be his backup quarterback. It takes a little convincing but Jason Garrett signs off on it and buys in. Make sure to read the twilight zone scenario that unfolds beneath the mock draft. Jerry goes on to have the following draft:
1) 16# WR - Mike Evans - Texas A&M
2) 47# G - David Yankey - Stanford
3) 78# RB - Carlos Hyde - Ohio State
4) 115# DT - Justin Ellis (334lbs) - Louisiana State (Plays the 1 technique position)
5) 146# CB - Pierre Desir - Linwood (At 6'2" he is the tallest corner on the Cowboys roster)
6) No Pick
7) 207# RB - David Fluellen - Toledo 210# FB - J.C. Copeland 215# OT - Justin Britt - Missouri
Comp) 1# TE - Jordan Najvar - Baylor 2# DE - Larry Webster - Bloomberg 3# RB - Silas Redd - USC
Well after a nuclear meltdown at Blogging The Boys the dust settles and the yes men surrounding Jerry and Stephen Jones all high five each other but have to spend a little time convincing Jerry Jones it was a good thing to pass on a TE in the 2nd round this year. As a consolation pick to ease Jerry's worries they still managed to get another TE in the 7th with a compensation pick.
The Cowboys go on to go 3-2 to start the season before Tony Romo injures his back again. Jerry Jones calls up John Kitna but he turns down Jerry's offer because he isn't ready to handle the rigors of a near full season. Jerry breaks down and calls Tim Tebow in the middle of an ESPN network broadcast to be their backup quarterback. Tim agrees, then throws his headset down and Tebows on national TV. The Cowboys go on to win the NFC East Division but Michael Vick manages to get one of his ribs broken on one of his patented QB scrambles for a touchdown. The Cowboys go on to win their wildcard matchup against the Panthers on the back of Tim Tebow who throws a Hail Mary to Dez Bryant only to have to square off against the Seattle Seahawks in Seattle. By this time Tony Romo is back but not healthy enough to be the starter. Tim leads the team on a 4th quarter comeback drive in a 20 to 21 game to setup a 19 yard field goal. Tony Romo holds the ball and the kick is good! He begins running around the field in excitement only to find out Jason Garrett called a timeout before the snap. On the 2nd attempt the hold is botched by Tony Romo but somehow he manages to run it in for a touchdown this time. Jerry Jones looks like a mad genius, Tony Romo is spared a lifetime of counseling, and Jason Garrett finally gets the Cowboys to the Super Bowl.
The previous scenario though turns out to be just a dream and Tony Romo wakes up. The Blogging The Boys readers put down their pitch forks & torches and we get back to reality where we have one of the worst defenses in franchise history. Please realize the last scenario was a joke and I realize Jerry Jones and the family along with all of the Cowboys staff are a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for and they try very hard to make the Cowboys a winning team year in and year out. I think this should be evident by them interviewing not only Aaron Donald and IK Enemkupali but also 3 QBs (Johnny Manziel, Jimmy Garoppolo, and David Fales). Hopefully everyone has humored me in this "Mocking A Backup Quarterback" fan post and can discern between the dry humor and the very real possibility of a backup quarterback being drafted. Enjoy and Go Cowboys!