Awl-righty-then. Who's ready to learn some risk management? Yeah, me neither. Learned about it in college...YAWN. I'm not writing about strategy based on risk; I'm writing about strategy based on Risk...you know, the board game. I know, there are eyes starting to roll from some (most...all?) of you, but stay with me here.
I used to love to play Risk as a kid. It really wasn't a difficult game. You'd see what continent you had the most strength in, and you would build from there. Eventually, you had a stronghold, you would build a massive front, and you'd pulverize your opponents. You didn't worry about your weaker territories. Why? It was a Risk you were willing to take because your opponents were trying to figure out how to stop the juggernaut that was terrorizing the board.
I had a friend who never seemed to get that concept...and he never won. He would have the same strategy every time we played. He would inevitably decide to put a few armies on each territory so they could put up a good fight if attacked. His strategy would draw out the game, but his forces would eventually get worn down and he'd lose.
You do see where I'm going with this now, right? Looking at the 2013 Cowboys, it's amazing to think that our best unit was our offensive line. Just a few short years ago, it felt like we'd never be able to say that. Tyron Smith was a great starting piece, but the unit really came around with the addition of the team's first ever, first round offensive interior lineman. Like Risk, the game of football isn't rocket science. If you score, you have a better chance of winning. If you prevent a team from scoring, you have a better chance of winning. Now we have to ask, will a first round defensive lineman help us prevent a team from scoring more than a first round offensive lineman will help us to score?
Before you jump to an answer, think about this. This team has a QB signed for over $100M...over one hundred million dollars! They've brought in an offensive coordinator who prefers to throw it on most downs. The more we throw, the more likely it is Romo will take hits. With his age and recent string of injuries, the more hits he takes, the more likely it is he doesn't make it through the season. That $100M+ is a huge investment and it must be protected. If that much money is on the bench, the season is over. Orton won't save it (if he's here), some other second-string hack like Shaun Hill won't save it.
Romo's health and salary aren't the only things to consider when talking about building up the offensive line. This team is about to have another big investment when our star WR is resigned for at least $60M (if we're lucky...probably closer to $80M+). If our starting QB is on his back or on the bench, that money goes to waste because he'll be running routes for three downs and walking off the field as the punt unit comes on. Let's throw in the fact that we'll eventually have a youngster at QB. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to protect him so he's doesn't develop David Carr syndrome and get shell-shocked out of a career?
Enter Zack Martin as our draft choice. I could go on about what a great player he is, but who am I? I'm not going to pretend I've seen a ton of his tape or that I have a scout's eye for talent, so I'll turn to Mike Mayock whose opinion is valued by most fans. No, he's not a professional scout, but he is one of the top draft analysts out there. Now, some of you may not know this about Mayock, but he serves as the analyst for NBC's telecasts of the Notre Dame games. He has seen just about every one of Zack Martin's 52 starts (yes, 52!!) and he raves about Martin: loves the guy. During the Senior Bowl practices, Mayock said he believes Martin's best position is inside. He made the statement that he could be good tackle, but he'd be an All Pro guard in the NFL and really has the tools to play all five positions on the line. And that right there is what sells me the most about selecting Martin in the first over a guard in the second or third to go along with a first round DT.
If you don't like Mayock, that's ok too. During the Senior Bowl week, it was reported by ESPN that Martin was "named the most outstanding offensive lineman by a handful of respected scouts". Former NFL scout and current NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah agreed with Mayock's assessment. CBSSports compares Martin to Logan Mankins and DallasCowboys.com's own Bryan Broaddus said he could see playing guard his first year then making an effective right tackle and would have no issues with taking him at #16.
I know the defense needs to be fixed. BELIEVE me, I get that. However, it's more than a few pieces away from being elite. Do we want a decent offense and a decent defense or is it time to dominate one side of the ball and then work on strengthening the other side? We are very close to having a stellar offense, shouldn't we just finish the job? I can't help but get excited about this offense thinking about how good (and young) our line could be with the selection of Martin.. No draft choice is a guarantee, but based on what all the experts are saying, there's very little Risk in selecting him.
One last thing...I'd still be thrilled with the selection of Donald so don't think I've soured on him! Just throwing out a different viewpoint than what's been brought up.