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Thoughts on the Cowboys draft - Day 1

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That was one strange draft day. It was like a movie with an excellent beginning that gets you all revved up for what comes next. Then the plot sort of loses its way and ends anti-climatically. But, it’s one of those films that you end up appreciating more after you think about it. We’ll be enjoying today’s film just about one year from now, when we have two first-round picks in 2008.

That’s the big news, and can’t be lost in any of this. The Cowboys just picked up what will likely be a high first-round draft pick without paying much at all. They just had the good fortune of watching Brady Quinn fall and also occupying the spot right in front of the Chiefs. Jerry parlayed that into a 1st round pick next year by trading out of the 1st round to the top of the 2nd. At that point, it was all good.

Then things got a little tricky, and contrary to what Jerry said about having all their bases covered, they had one uncovered. That must be what they believed to trade back into the first round like they did. If they didn’t think it was a need, they could’ve sat at #36 and taken a player like Justin Blalock or Chris Houston. They could’ve let the draft come to them at that point, they had options. They could’ve drafted one of the WR’s. But they decided they needed Anthony Spencer. So they jumped back into the first round, swapping spots with Philadelphia, and giving them a 3rd and 5th.

This draft told me that Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys organization are on board with the Phillips 34. In a big way. More specifically, Wade Phillips looked at his roster and determined that for the defense to work, they had to get another pressure player. And Jerry backed him up to the hilt. They wanted it so badly that they were willing to part with picks to make it happen. Greg Ellis has the injury, so Phillips is worried about that. Bobby Carpenter hasn’t proven yet he can be an elite pass rusher and he may be shifted inside. Wade Phillips made sure that the first pick was Anthony Spencer, who was the last of the big-time pass rushers on the board. Phillips is very serious about creating pressure on the QB, and he didn’t think he had the horses.

I like Anthony Spencer as a player. When offensive tackles he’s played against say he’s the hardest guy to block or gives them the most trouble, you have to believe the guy has something. 93 tackles in a season by an end in college is a lot and he also had a ton of tackles for losses. The guy lives to get after the ball. I don’t know if he can drop back in coverage or how well he’ll do playing the run in space, but if he can get to the QB, we’ll be a much better team.

When the #53 pick came along, Dallas just missed out on what it wanted. Jones and Co. were hoping that one of the higher ranked WR’s would drop down to their spot. It didn’t happen as a run on Sidney Rice, Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith thwarted their plans. At that point, they didn’t like anybody enough at that spot and traded down again. There were a couple of players that they could’ve gone with there, I thought CB Eric Wright might be the guy, I guess character issues made a difference because he has the talent. Also CB Marcus McCauley or WR Jason Hill. But the Cowboys passed and traded down to the #67 pick and also got a very early 4th round pick for tomorrow and jumped up 17 spots in the 6th round. That’s not bad if you don’t like any of the prospects at that spot. But there were a few good players that I though they could’ve taken there.

At #67, they took T James Marten. That’s not a bad pick. I wouldn’t call it a reach, but they did grab him at the top end of his rankings. Still, the Cowboys have Flozell Adams in a contract year, and they’d rather not give out another big contract to him at his age. Marten gives them some options, as he’s played guard and tackle, but ultimately, I see him as a RT who maybe can be a LT with some coaching. Whatever the case, he’s a Boston College lineman and that should mean something, those guys churn out quality linemen like they have a factory. Look, you can always do worse than trying to solidify your line. Injury is always a concern, and Pat McQuistan might be good enough to play, but we don’t know for sure. It’s nice to have options.

I got to give Jerry props for getting the first round pick next year. That was money. If Anthony Spencer turns out to be a force on defense, then I’ll have no problem with the trade back up to get him. Trading out of the second round was sketchy for me, and can only be justified if they hit on something with the two picks in the 4th round. They had a good start and a questionable middle, but they are in position to bring it home with some solid work on the 2nd day.