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BTB Talks NFL Draft With Draftek, Part V: Cowboys Defensive Backs

For the better part of this week, we have enjoyed talking to Longball from Drafttek, and picking his brain about a multitude of prospects in the upcoming draft. Part one covered the big board and draft scenarios; this was followed by part two's discussion of the offensive line. Yesterday, we talked defensive line and linebackers. In today's final installment, we'll review players of interest in the secondary and finish it off with a couple of peerless prognostications.

BTB: Alright, lets jump right in. The secondary is the area of greatest concern for many Cowboys fans. Before we get to talking about the top prospects, let me ask: what are your thoughts about the current Dallas secondary?

Longball: Is AOA a safety or a cornerback?  Are Church, McCray and Sendejo strictly special teamers?  If someone can answer those 2 questions for me, I can move forward with a strategy.  In today's game, cornerbacks are like closets in a house - you can never have enough of them.  Terence Newman turns 33 in September, Mike Jenkins subscribes to the bullfighter method of tackling, Orlando Scandrick is a penalty waiting to happen, Bryan McCann is a helluva return artist (whether kick or interception) and Alan Ball was lost at safety.  And we haven't even addressed what to do with Sensabaugh - personally, I would rather have a rookie at CB than at safety.

BTB: I've heard you say that a couple of times now. Is that a general philosophy or an assessment of the talent levels at those positions in this year's draft?

Longball: Well, I would straddle that fence...except for the fact that it's barbed wire and could cause some damage!  Actually, I prefer youth and wheels at CB (go cover that receiver) and the 6 inches between the ears at safety, no matter what the talent levels are in the draft class.  If you think about it, Dallas has had 3 rookie safeties start for them:  FS Cliff Harris/Charlie Waters (Charlie took over when Cliff had to fulfill his service requirement their rookie season)...and they had Pro Bowl Cornell Green at SS to coach them through, FS Michael Downs, and he had SS Charlie Waters to tell him where to line up, and SS Roy Williams, who had FS Darren Woodson to tell him who to hit.  Now, if we draft a safety, who is going to tell him what to do on the field during a game?

BTB: That's a terrific point--and you clearly know your Cowboy lore!

Longball goes deep--into the secondary--after the break.

BTB: So, do they need to pick up a field general in free agency, or can somebody currently on the Dallas roster fill that position? Gerald Sensabaugh--if he comes back?

Longball: Even though Sensabaugh had more picks the second half of the season, I still have questions as to what's above his shoulders (from a quarterbacking the defense perspective).  If you promise me there will be a free agency period, and are providing me a large shopping buggy, then I'm going out west to see if me and Cuzzin' Jerruh can sweet-talk Michael Huff into giving us a "hometown discount".

BTB: Without free agency, I fear the position is sunk. Sadly, this is a weak safety class, especially when compared to 2010. Other than UCLA's Rahim Moore, the name that's usually tossed out when talking about safeties, who do you like? If there's any strength in the safety class, where might it be?

Longball: You're right, there's not much to like - I happen to like DeAndre McDaniel of Clemson at SS, but it seems all Cowboy fans are screaming for that centerfielder.  Tyler Sash of Iowa is heady, but not athletic...I am going to be interested to see how Deunta Williams of North Carolina recovers from the surgery on his broken right leg.  Quite frankly, I would like to see Dallas address this situation with a veteran.

BTB: I agree. Lets assume they can't. Is there anybody who has those "centerfielder" qualities? Perhaps a guy from a small school or a good-sized corner who might not be "quick twitch" enough to be strictly a cover guy?

Longball: A talented, yet injury-prone, CB/FS combo that might slide a bit is Ras-I Dowling.  He would be outstanding value in later rounds and a number of teams will shy away due to his history of injuries.

I'll throw out 3 names that may slide to the 4th/5th rounds:  Quinton Carter of OU (surprised? Well, maybe 3rd round), Jermale Hines of Ohio State, and Will Hill of Florida.  (Remember, I said may slide . . .)

BTB: How about corners? I'm not sure how likely the Cowboys are to draft a corner high, given that they have a lot of more pressing needs and have invested a lot in Newman and Jenkins. That said, they'll almost certainly draft one (they can't go into the season with three corners again).

Longball: Not to pick on your question, but that type of thinking--"have invested a lot in Newman and Jenkins"--is exactly what got the Cowboys in trouble: not playing the best player, no matter what the pedigree is. OK, got that off my chest, I feel better now...LOL!

BTB: I'm glad I could oblige! In recent years, the Cowboys have looked at good size-speed ratio DBs who, for some reason might not have the best tape--guys like Charles Godfrey, Tracy Porter and, last year, Brandon Ghee and the guy they eventually took, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah--guys who have first- or second-round measureables, but who might fall to the third or later rounds. Do you see any similar players in this year's draft?

Longball: I don't understand why, but Jalil Brown of Colorado has slid (is "has slid" proper English?) and might be available in the 4th - if so, that's excellent value for a big cover CB.  The Cowboys have spent quite a bit of time with DeMarcus Van Dyke of Miami, but after he blistered his 40 at the Combine, there may be a lot of teams looking at him earlier than the 5th round.  

BTB: Okay, final question. You have obviously been closely following the Cowboys and the draft for some time now. How about a prediction: name one thing you'd bet will happen for Dallas during the draft?

Other than the fact that at some point I will scream profanities at a Cowboy selection and throw something at the TV???  LOL...OK, I'll do you 2 better and give you a 3 for 1 deal on predictions:

1)    Cuzzin' Jerruh will do some maneuvering - Yeah I know, not exactly a "News Flash"; however, for the students of historical trend analysis, whenever the Cowboys have had options (more than one player they like at position(s) of need) they have been "wheeler/dealers" (remember the maneuvering for SS Roy Williams, the last top ten pick?)  Some good players are going to slide, at Cowboy positions of need and other teams' positions of need, and it doesn't cost "an arm and a leg" for another team to move up to #9.
2)    Based on Prediction #1, if Dallas moves up in the 1st round, it will be for Patrick Peterson; if they move down, they will take Tyron Smith (or the next best OT available if he's gone).
3)    A very good 3-4 DE will slide to Dallas in the 2nd round, based on the depth of the position - look for Christian Ballard or Cameron Heyward to be available.

4 has always been my lucky number - for the past 2 years, I have correctly predicted Dallas' 4th round selection (Stephen McGee in 2009 and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in 2010).  I'm not ready to make my final prediction at this time (as I am waiting for further information from sources), but I'll throw out 2 names that will be under consideration:  John Moffitt of Wisconsin, who can play all 3 interior OL positions and the aforementioned Chris White, SILB from Mississippi State. I will get back to you when I'm ready to post "my final answer" LOL!

Fair enough. But make sure you give me enough time to get to Vegas first!

Thanks, Longball, its been a succinct pleasure chatting with you about the draft. I could sit down with a fellow draftnik/ Cowboys fan for hours and not even notice the time passing.

Look forward to O.C.C. using Drafttek's metrics to run a variety of intriguing draft scenarios over the next few days!

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