I hate waiting to see if we are going to sign player X, but I also love waiting to see if player X will be signed. Yes, waiting is agonizing, but at least it means we are active and trying to improve the team. Currently, we're waiting on the decision concerning FS Ken Hamlin. The Cowboys were working into the night and presumably into today to get him signed. The DMN blog states that Hamlin is well-liked by Cowboys' secondary coach Brian Stewart, so that probably weighs heavily in that decision. On the other hand, Jerry Jones has stated he's not going to sign anymore big-money contracts in free agency, complicating the matter when trying to sign a "big name" free agent.
I support trying to sign Ken Hamlin, I think we need competition at the FS position, but more importantly we need a veteran presence at that position. If we do sign Hamlin, I'm not advocating that we hand him the stating job, instead, he will have to compete with last year's draft pick Pat Watkins. But it's important to have a veteran, someone who has played the position before and has received some acclaim while doing it. The debate over Hamlin's coverage skills will continue if he's signed, and will probably continue into the season, because the only sure way we'll ever know is to watch him play the position for a significant number of games. But the consequences of not signing him would likely mean a 2nd-year player, Pat Watkins - who had issues with the position last year - competing with a rookie draft pick. Reggie Nelson, Brandon Merriwether, or whoever else we may draft is no sure thing. Despite whatever skills they possessed in college and bring to the NFL, there is never any assurance that those skills will automatically translate to the NFL game.
Personally, I fear the idea of a rookie and a 2nd-year player competing for a position that dogged the Cowboys all last year and was a major source of the defense's decline. Granted, an improved pass rush would help the secondary tremendously. And I think Wade Phillips will do everything he can to make that happen. He was on the radio today discussing that very subject, suggesting that he will put the Cowboys' personnel in the proper position to make that happen. Undoubtedly, this is good news for any Cowboys fan. But that won't always solve the problem, and poor FS play will keep Phillips from moving Roy Williams closer to the line. He wants to utilize Williams in the blitz schemes much more often, but if we still have a hole at FS that won't be possible.
Pat Watkins, with a year's experience under his belt, may have a greater understanding of the NFL game and a greater confidence that allows him to show off his natural abilities. But at this point, I'm not ready to count on that. And I'm not ready to count on a rookie FS to handle the position because the ability to excel at the college level - while a strong indicator - doesn't always translate to success at the NFL level.
For this reason, I'm hoping that soon we'll hear that the Cowboys signed Hamlin. This will free the Cowboys up from having to draft a FS early, and put them in the position of choosing to pick a FS if they find one with value at any time in the draft.