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What Would You Do With a First Round Pick?

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Note:  Use this as your Senior Bowl thread.

I've seen some grousing in threads over Dallas' loss of the 20th overall pick for Roy Williams.  I've been wondering how much value Dallas might have lost for him.  I'm going to address two questions:

First, could Dallas have obtained a better wideout than Williams in the 20 slot?  Second, what type of player could the Cowboys have landed there?

Question One:  In most year, the draft pool of number ones, players with first round grades, is somewhere between 18 and 21 or 22.  Last year, for instance, the Cowboys assigned first round grades to 21 players. 

This means that the 20th overall pick often comes right on the fault line for players with first and players with second round grades.  I've gone back through the decade and found that only seven wide receivers were selected in the 20-25 range.  They are:

  1. 2000 -- Sylvester Morris, Baltimore, 21st overall;
  2. 2001 -- Freddie Mitchell, Philadelphia, 25th overall;
  3. 2002 -- Javon Walker, Green Bay, 20th overall;
  4. 2005 -- Matt Jones, Jacksonville, 21st overall;
  5. 2005 -- Mark Clayton, Baltimore, 22nd overall;
  6. 2006 -- Santonio Holmes, Pittsburgh, 25th overall;
  7. 2007 -- Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City, 23rd overall;

This list is further evidence of why wide receiver has the highest "bust factor" of any position in the draft.  More wide receivers are selected in the first round than any other position. And no position has a higher rate of failures than WR. 

The Cowboys needed a WR.  They've needed one since Terry Glenn's knee went out.  What's more, they needed a readymade.  Even the best rookies usually take at least a year to emerge.  Players like Randy Moss, who was dynamite right out of the box, are anomalies. 

Back to the list.  Bowe is the only player who shows the skills to be a true number one receiver, though it's unclear if he's a good receiver or a potentially great one, since he plays for the Chiefs.  Holmes has emerged as the Steelers deep threat, but don't forget the team had to wait out a nasty domestic violence charge against him his rookie year, and faced heavy pressure to cut him.  Does anybody think this wouldn't be mentioned every day if he were a Cowboy?

Walker had the beginnings of a great career, but he suffered a serious knee injury while a Packer.  He was putting it all together again in Denver but was near useless as a big ticket buy for the Raiders.  I've read speculation that he has never recovered mentally from the drive-by murder of best friend and Broncos CB Darrent Williams. 

The rest are textbook busts.  Mitchell was all sizzle and no steak.  Jones is the latter day Mike Mamula, a workout warrior who benefitted from a dazzling Combine workout and a non-stop PR campaign by ESPN's Chris Mortensen.  Clayton is good, but is nothing special. 

In short, the answer to the question:  could Dallas have gotten a player as good, if not better than Williams, the answer is no. 

Question Two:  I'm going to play a little what-if game here.  The Williams deal is done.  The 20th pick belongs to the Lions. 

But lets say, just for argument's sake, that Dallas found a way into the top 20.  Let's say, strictly for argument's sake, that they shipped Marion Barber to San Diego to be LaDainian Tomlinson's replacement, and got San Diego's 16th pick in return.  (Before you rip me, full disclosure:  the pollen is out of control here at BloggingtheBoys central and I'm heavily medicated.) 

What could Dallas get for its trouble.  I doubt the team would take another WR.  What do you get there that fills a need?  I'd look at Boston College NT B.J. Raji, but he's zooming up the draft charts after a strong week of Senior Bowl practices.  One revised mock today has Raji going 8th overall.  That seems realistic.  I doubt today that he would slide past Denver at 12. 

So then what?  I can see two options.  First, take the guy penciled in at 16 in most mocks:  USC ILB Ray Maualuga, a 6'2", 260 lb. rock, or you hope one of the OTs, like Michael Oher, drops.  

Either way, is this better than keeping Barber?  (Again, this is purely hypothetical, but which player on Dallas' roster is most expendable and has the value to get the team back into the 1st round?)

Your turn.

Note:  Use this as your Senior Bowl thread.