The Traditional First Ever Annual BTB Staff Pet Cat Draft Classic!

No, not that kind of cat. - Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

The enduring and revered tradition begins anew and fresh for the first time in the way you have always loved.

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 2014 Blogging The Boys Staff Pet Cat Draft!

I am Tom Ryle, Commissioner of the BTB Pet Cat League. I am humbled and honored to hold this esteemed position, to which I meekly confess to being elected unanimously. I like to think it is because of my integrity and dedication, and has nothing to do with all the talk about putting the Goatmouth somewhere he could do no more harm.

For those who may have just stumbled across Blogging The Boys and are wondering just what in the world a "pet cat" is, the term goes back to when Bill Parcells was head coach of the Cowboys. It basically means a long-shot player you want to make the team, even though it may be somewhat illogical since the player is a late-round pick or UDFA who probably was not taken earlier in the draft for a reason. Or many reasons. The best pet cats are actually the most illogical, those facing the longest odds. Everyone is entitled to have a pet cat or two, except, of course, me. (We will now observe a moment of silence in respect for Danny Coale, who gave his all, or at least a toe and an ACL, and offer our hopes that no one else signed by the Cowboys will ever suffer his fate.)

We will be conducting the draft this year based on the time honored and venerable traditions established by our league, which means that, since this is the first time we have ever done this, I will make things up as I go along. I am taking the great commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, as my role model, so all decisions will be made arbitrarily, with an element of favoritism, and with the financial bottom line as the ultimate guiding principle.

It is great to build a tradition with the Pet Cat Draft, and we are looking forward to making it one of the most highly anticipated mid-May events on the BTB calendar. Until we decide to move it.

Now, it is time to get to the heart of the matter . . . oh, I am sorry to announce that there has been a problem with copyright issues and the use of slideshows, so we have to skip the highlights of the Cheeleaders' swimsuit photo shoot in Cancun and move on to the Draft!

The draft order is determined by the length of time each writer has been with Blogging The Boys, and it will use two rounds so each writer can pick two pet cats (since most people go through more than one a year as players get cut). The second round will then be in reverse order because I say so. Each of our writers will give a quick explanation of why they picked their particular domesticated feline.

With the first pick of the 2014 Dallas Cowboys Pet Cat Draft, Blogging The Boys Fearless Leader Dave Halprin takes Ken Bishop - DT - Northern Illinois.

Gotta root for a big man in the middle with athletic ability. The long dreads gives him the look of a warrior. Plus, he's durable, a must for the new Cowboys defensive line! Hopefully he'll come on and replace the memory of Jay Ratliff as a late-round selection in the middle of the defensive line who breaks out and becomes a force.

The second pick of the Pet Cat Draft is made by One.Cool.Customer, cyber wizard and future digital overlord, who takes Cody Mandell, P, Alabama.

A punter with the second overall pick? Yep. Jim Grobe, the former Wake Forest coach, once said the following: "Your punter is one of the most important parts of your football team. It really adds right into your total offense. If you have a punter who's outpunting the opponent by five to ten yards every time you exchange punts, you just add that onto your total offense."

Why are those numbers important? Because pinning the opposing offense far back inside their own half gives them a long field, which significantly reduces their chances of scoring. Alabama teammates say Mandell kicks the ball "60, 70 yards in practice and he does it in games." In 2013, Mandell had the fourth highest punting average in the nation. That same year, the Cowboys ranked 18th in the NFL. 

That's a weapon I want on my team.

Picking third is rabblerousr, director of the BIA (Blogging The Boys Intelligence Agency), or as we affectionately know him, "that sneaky spook".

J C. Copeland, FB, LSU. With the additions of Zack Martin and Scott Linehan, it looks like the Cowboys will try to run the ball more, and better this year. Enter Copeland, who blocks like an offensive lineman, has a beard that makes Travis Frederick jealous, and yet is surprisingly nimble (see his 42-yard catch and run against 'Bama in 2012). Jerry Jones says the Cowboys offense can make the defense better, presumably by running the ball and keeping the sagging "D' off the field. If that's to be the case, Copeland will play a major part.

Our fourth selection is made by K.D. Drummond, titan of sports journalism in all known media and soon to be in multiple ones we haven't invented yet. (And if you didn't see this one coming, you haven't been paying attention.)

L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri

As had already been discussed, I identified the tall, speedy wideout from Mizzou as a prefect fit for the Cowboys back in January. The one missing element from the Dallas offense is the guy that can take the top off a defense in any given play.

He has a huge hill to climb just to make the 53, with four vets, a Draft pick and another quality UDFA to compete with, but don't count out LDW... He's a gamer. Standing over 6'4" and offended that anyone would dare clock him at more than 4.39 speed? Oh, the underneath space he'll create for his teammates.

Picking fifth is the master of the chalkwhiteboard, Joey Ickes, who predictably makes a bit of a homer selection.

RB Ben Malena Texas A&M (Whoop!)

With Dallas having so far let RB Phillip Tanner leave via free agency, the Cowboys will likely be looking for another RB who can contribute on special teams, while looking to bring more upside to the table as a Runner.  This is exactly what Malena brings.  He's not a power guy, but he was a big time playmaker in the Aggies offense, and it might be this gold Texas A&M ring on my finger, but I can wait to see him wear the star and take a chance at making this team.

(Joey gets extra credit for spelling Malena's name right. I don't know how many "major" sports sites had it spelled "Molina".)

The final pick of the first round will go to Blogging The Boys' own piercing legal intellect and living proof that football fans are not all smelly and dumb, Dawn Macelli.

With one cold (contraband) Yuengling consumed Dawn selects offensive lineman Andre Cureton out of the University of Cincinnati.  The Cowboys love their OL projects, and Cureton fits the bill. With only 20 games played in five years as a Bearcat, he is a raw prospect with good size and instincts but not much experience. What he lacks in playing time, Cureton makes up in heart and desire. With Bill Callahan having plenty of free time to coach up the OL this season, the UDFA from the banks of the Ohio River will have a chance to make the most of his opportunity.

Now, in the Fantasy Football serpentine manner adopted by the Pet Cat Draft, Dawn gets to kick off the second round. (Just to be clear, although they use the methodology, the Pet Cat Draft, particularly the Commissioner of the same, totally does not like nor participate in fantasy football, and has absolutely no advice to offer about who to start or sit. He is, however, not adverse to talking about himself in third person.)

With a second illegal beverage cracked open, D-Mac again selects a lineman, this time for Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett to coach up. DE Joe Windsor out of Northern Illinois has four seasons of experience as a part of the Huskies defensive line. In 54 games he amassed 99 tacles and earned All-MAC third team honors this past season. We all know what the DL coaches in Dallas can do to get the best out of a player and in Windsor they have someone who can be coached up into a rotational contributor.

Joey's pick turns out to be someone Rabblerousr was wanting to change his first pick to, but that was disallowed because, draft.

Davon Coleman DT Arizona State While the Cowboys didn't devote heavy draft resources to improving the depth at defensive tackle (spending only a 7th rounder on the position), they made Davon Coleman a priority free agent.  He is a guy who jumps off the tape when you watch the Arizona State defense play, and his versatility to play either the 1 or the 3 technique in this scheme  depending on situations will help him earn a roster spot.

KD did a Google Hangout with his next selection, who sealed the deal for him with what looks suspiciously like a little playing to KD's ego. Not that KD has a big and easily stroked ego. Nope. I never said that.

The Cowboys find themselves striking cornerback gold in the seventh round with Oregon DB Terrance Mitchell. He loves to press, can pay zone and attacks the ball. Mitchell plucked 5 interceptions last season to go along with 12 pass breakups; he snared no picks the prior year. The reason? "That sophomore year I wasn't targeted that many times, that's why I had that doughnut." Win. Plus, he believed me when I said I was a former Cowboys draft pick. I'm rolling with Terrance.

Rabble mans up, wipes the tears of despair from his eyes, and makes a pick. And disparages a Texas school in the process.

I'll take Baylor TE Jordan Najvar (pronounced "Ny-ver"). The Cowboys have been chasing a blocking TE ever since they said goodbye to Martellus Bennett at the conclusion of the 2011 season. Najvar has terrific size and can block from the "Y," "F" and "H" positions. But Najvar is more than a third offensive tackle; although underutilized as a receiver in Baylor's spread offense, he has good athleticism and big, soft hands. Plus, he's smart: Najvar initially enrolled at Stanford before transferring to Baylor.

OCC grabs another rushman for his group, but passes on the chance to further diss Texas schools who are not up to the standards of the Hahvahd of the West Coast.

I can't believe my good fortune, just like the Cowboys couldn't believe their good fortune when they found Stanford DE Ben Gardner waiting for them at the top of the seventh round. I of course pounce on him.

Gardner suffered a torn pectoral muscle in October, but battled back from the injury to record an impressive pro day, where he logged a 39.5" vertical, a 10-2" broad jump, a 4.24 short shuttle, and a 6.98 three-cone. Gardner was a team captain as fifth-year senior, and recorded a 1.55 production ratio over his last two years at college. His versatility (he can play both defensive end and three technique) will likely secure him a roster spot, and before long he'll become an emotional leader for the Cowboys defensive line rotation. His aggressiveness and here-comes-the-cavalry attitude to pass-rushing will quickly endear him to Cowboys fans.

And finally, with the last pick of the draft, Dave selects Mr. Irrelevant. If, that is, any UDFA is less relevant than any other at this point. (Actually, reading this writeup, I am looking forward to seeing this one on the field. NOT THAT HE WOULD IN ANY WAY WHATSOEVER BE CONSIDERED MY PET CAT! Just sayin'.)

Keith Smith - ILB - San Jose State. Quite simply, the dude is a tackling machine. He lead college football in 2013 with 159 total tackles (78 solo, 81 assist) for an average of 13.3 tackles per game. He finished his four-year career with 476 total tackles! That's sick. Early in the 2013 season he had two weeks where he put up 21 and 20 tackles. His motto should be "Find football, tackle football".

Before we leave, OCC has asked me to announce the award of the Dallas Cowboys Eternal Unicorn Award to a player who may have set the all time record for consecutive years on somebody's pet cat list, the always lovely Matt Johnson!

It has been great to have all of you supporting our draft! We plan to do it exactly the same next year, except for stretching it out over a fortnight, introducing live entertainment between the picks (featuring Uncle Bud's Bluegrass Gansta Mariachi Crew), and having the rounds hosted sequentially in randomly selected rural county seats in Mississippi, Nebraska, and Oregon.

Now, of course, the action returns to you, the readers! It is time to stake your claim to your own personal pet cat or cats. Unlike our staff, there is no limit to how many people can have the same pet cat, although style points are awarded for obscurity or pointlessness. So sound off on who you are hoping will beat the odds and wear the Star this fall!

Follow me @TomRyleBTB
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