One of my earliest memories takes me back to riding in my Uncle John's conversion van, cruising down I-95 towards Disney World back in the mid-1980's. As you can imagine, six kids 16 and under on a two-day drive required a lot of self-entertainment. I Spy, Punch Buggy, Animal Vegetable Mineral... and one favorite of ours was the card game, I Declare War. As a child you think winning and losing required skill, and you bragged as if that was the case. However, the game was pure luck as the winner simply had to be dealt well-placed high cards. That's somewhat reminiscent of how the NFL Draft works in my opinion; you think it's skill, but for the most part you have to be lucky that you get dealt enough high cards.
We had a spirited debate earlier in the week about the worthiness of rooting for a higher draft pick. One point that I never argued against was that a higher draft pick does give a team a better pool of choices to improve their roster. With the ninth pick in this April's draft, the Cowboys are in prime position to add one, maybe two, first-round grade talents; as well as another second round rated player with their third pick. As we saw last year, it all depends on how the cards fall. The Cowboys were lucky that Dez Bryant fell to the 24th selection and that Sean Lee, a player whom they gave a first round grade, was still available with the 51st pick. It also requires a great deal of luck that the player you are drafting turns all that potential into talent, and that he stays healthy. Hard work and dedication by the player are needed, sure. A sound organizational strategy on developing talent definitely is important. The meshing of all these things though, that requires some luck and providence. Besides, some will even say that luck is simply when preparation meets opportunity; the "right guy, right place, right time" concept.
With the announcement that Jason Garrett is the right guy to now lead Dallas, underclassmen are rushing to call the NFL offices and announce that they are making themselves eligible for the 2011 NFL Draft. We have a large contingent of arm-chair draft gurus here at BTB, and I'm very interested to see their take on how the following eligibility announcements shapes the early rounds of their mock drafts. Most folks, now more so than when he took the interim job, feel confident in Garrett's ability to lead this team. Let's start tracking who he might be tracking to join this club at training camp.
Follow the jump for more information on the latest draft news that should be of note to the Dallas Cowboys.
The following reports are listed based on the time of the announcement, not their expected impact on the Dallas Cowboys. I'll try to provide links of the announcements when possible.
- John Clay, RB Wisconsin. Big back, powerful, not much pass catching, mid round prospect. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel here.
- Julio Jones, WR Alabama. 1st team all-SEC receiver. Big guy smooth, 1st rounder. Chase Goodbeard on Twitter.
- Rahim Moore, FS, UCLA. Two-time All-American. Only 1 pick this season after 14 last year. 1st/2nd round grade. espn.com
- Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida. Replaced Joe Haden, held AJ Green to 42 yards. Should be third corner behind the Prince and Patrick Peterson. espn.com
- Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama. 2009 Heisman winner, slowed by injuries. Plays in pro-style offense and can catch passes. Mid to Late 1st rounder.
- Marcel Dareus, DE, Alabama. Top 10 worthy on potential, 6'3" 306lbs.
- Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas. Might be the first QB off the board since Andrew Luck is staying at Stanford. Mid-first grade now, expect him to go top 5 by the time April comes around
- JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin. 6'6" 306lb former TE. Pass rush skills and very good off the edge, though opinions differ on if he has a true position in the NFL. mid-first round pick.
- Darren Evans, RB, Va Tech. Power back that lost his 2009 season to an ACL injury. Think Frank Gore, replacement for MBIII. mid-round pick
- Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. Big-armed QB that may compete with Mallet for first QB taken in the draft. If available at 9, the Cowboys could be fielding trade offers so someone can grab him. espn.com
- Muhammed Wilkerson, DT, Temple - 2nd round prospect, All-MAC two years in a row. 16.5 sacks in twenty-odd games from a DT? Very interesting.
- Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson. Won Nagurski and Hendricks award, considered best defensive talent in the draft. 6'4" 280, prototype 4-3 end. Not sure how he'd fit but people seem high on him.
- Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame. Considered the top TE prospect this year. Great pass catching and above average blocking. Late first, early 2nd rounder.
- AJ Green, WR, Georgia. Widely considered to be the first receiver to go off the board, top 5 pick.
- Brandon Harris, CB, Miami. 2nd round prospect that hasn't always performed up to his talent level
- Akeem Ayers, LB, UCLA. Mid first round prospect, can probably play any LB position in 4-3 or a 3-4.
- Tanden Doss, WR, Indiana. 3rd round prospect with great kick return skills, averaged 24.8 yards per last season. nbcsports.
- Barndon Burton, CB, Utah. Early 2nd round grade. 6' corner that runs a 4.35. Only three interceptions in three years, but may have received some Asomugha treatment. Desert News
- Tyron Smith, OT, USC: 6'5" 285lbs- Ranked by Mel Kiper as 5th best underclassman O-Lineman. espn.com
- Jurrell Casey, DT USC, 6'1" 306lbs - 4th best underclassman D-Lineman. Led team in tackles for loss and sacks. espn.com
Let me know if I've missed any junior prospects that might have declared before the New Year. Have some inside info or opinion on some of the prospects? Want to talk about the seniors that will outperform these guys? Let the masses know what kind of cards you'd like to see us lucky enough to be dealt.