In a recent look at possible draft permutations, rabblerousr considered a "worst-case" scenario where the Dallas Cowboys went on the clock at 16 with a handful of players that had first round grades left. Unfortunately, these largely did not include any of the "usual suspects" for first round targets. Who was available:
Yikes! The best remaining players on their board are a tight end, two cornerbacks, a one-technique DT, and an offensive lineman.
Obviously, this means the Cowboys need to desperately seek a trading partner and move down. At least, that is what conventional wisdom says.
Well, I am one of those people who often think that conventional wisdom is often really widely held misconceptions wearing a bad disguise. And I think that Dallas is making a serious attempt at setting things up to draft the best player they can at 16. This may be because they don't have faith in being able to trade back, or they have a different view of the possible players they can get than many outside observers assume. As rabble mentioned, there are two cornerbacks who might be in play for the Cowboys, Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard. They might actually fit what Dallas is trying to do.
One.Cool.Customer, in tracking who the Cowboys are bringing in for a visit, made an interesting observation while we had a virtual discussion going on. He has identified 23 names of players that have either had private workouts with the Cowboys or are scheduled for a visit at Valley Ranch. And five of those 23 names are corners (the numbers for CBS are where their website has them ranked among all draft prospects):
|Player||School||CBS Sports Ranking|
|Brandon Dixon||NW Missouri St.||291|
They are looking first hand at players with potential ranging from the middle rounds to UDFA, and investing a fairly large number of their workouts and Dallas Days visits in them. Just to put the amount of focus in perspective, only one other position, defensive end, is also represented by five names (although the projected visits include Anthony Barr, seen as a possible top 10 pick) so far. Keep in mind that the names we've gathered so far are only a fraction of of the eventual total, but five CBs is already a significant number regardless.
After OCC had tossed out his little tidbit about the group of corners coming to Dallas for a visit, I ran across this:
The article, written by Todd Archer and quoting Dominick, adds another name to the list of corners visiting Dallas, TCU's Jason Verrett, and looks at the situation in Dallas. As it states, the Cowboys have three starting corners locked up now in Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. But this may be a make or break year for both Carr and Claiborne, who were not seen as playing up to expectations last season. And Scandrick and Carr are both 27, which means that it is not a bad idea to start planning for their replacements. Archer concludes:
The draft is not just about 2014. It is about the future as well. Scandrick's re-worked deal late last season all but guarantees he will be around in 2015. The Cowboys have not restructured Carr's contract, in part, because it would make it more possible to release him after this season if he does not find his 2012 form. Claiborne is signed through 2015 with a team option for 2016, but if he does not improve significantly this season then it would seem unlikely the Cowboys would exercise it.
So maybe drafting a cornerback, even early, makes sense after all.
This would fit in with the longer view that the Cowboys seem to be taking about things, trying to build some depth and having that next man up ready and in place, instead of getting trapped into signing them off the street. The problems caused by getting caught short handed last year, particularly along the defensive line, seem to have had some impact.
I agree with Archer that if the Cowboys draft a corner or two, they are not likely to be a direct threat to the roster spots of the three starters from last year. But Sterling Moore and B.W. Webb both could wind up in a fight to stay with the Cowboys.
And also on the topic of cornerback prospects, there was a profile of one of the possible first round options at DallasCowboys.com.
The take here is a little more aggressive than Archer's, stating bluntly that a pick this high would be seen as a direct challenge to take either Carr or Claiborne's job. It might seem like giving up after spending so much on those two - but it would clearly show that getting better is all that matters. And there is always the theory that you can't have too many good cornerbacks on the roster. Even if the Cowboys took one early in the draft, he would not be costly during the rookie contract.
If a first round pick is a bit of a stretch, a mid-round selection would not be, and using a seventh would not take any justification whatsoever. It certainly looks like the Cowboys are interested in cornerbacks. The only question is, should they be looking early, late, or wherever a good one falls?