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Cowboys Tidbits: PFF's Top 101, Cowboys Draft History, Sean Lee Taking Leadership Role

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That's right... it's almost hunting season again.
That's right... it's almost hunting season again.

Can you smell it? That's football in the air! With the Rookie Mini-Camp kicking off yesterday there's quite a bit of Cowboys news circulating. We had a wrap-up of yesterday's camp activities last night, but the other news discussions shouldn't be left out. Also, we have some generic Cowboys discussions that hold some interest I thought I'd bring to the table as well. Without further ado, it's the return of the tidbits!

Pro Football Focus' Top 101 Players of 2011

As I said in the recent podcast, I'm not a fan of how the NFL Network conducted their Top 100 Players exercise, so I'm not paying much attention to it, no matter how many times they play that super-awesome Verizon sobbing mom-and-daughter commercial to convince me to stay on that channel.

Related: "Cowboys Crunchtime Podcast" Episode 1.3: Interior O-Line, Rookies And More

PFF of course doles out cumulative season grades based on individual game grades in order to help place a player's performance in perspective. It's important to remember that grades aren't ratings per se, and are accumulated based on opportunities. They are also limited by the same television view as we are (Seriously NFL, where is the All-22 cam?). Back on topic, PFF has countered NFLN's listing with their own Top 101 based on cumulative ratings with the following guidelines:

• It was based solely on 2011.
• It was based on an ethos of all positions created equal. This isn’t about the most valuable players; otherwise there would be a lot more quarterbacks. This is about looking at what is expected from a position and who most exceeded that.

So which Cowboys made the cut? Follow the jump to find out.

26. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys

Doesn’t have the biggest impact in the run game, but when you do what Ware does as a pass rusher, you can look past that. Capable of rushing from both the strong and weak side, the Cowboy presents nightmares for offenses who just can’t slow him down. Don’t believe us? Take a look at the 71 combined sacks, hits, and hurries he racked up. Graded positively in all but one game (where he scored a -0.1).

Best Performance: Week 3 versus Washington (+4.6)

Key Stat: His 42 defensive stops were the second-most of all 3-4 outside linebackers.

59. Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys

Over the past few years we’ve seen rookie tackles come into the league and struggle. You have to credit Smith for bucking that trend. He only had two games graded in the red (both courtesy of Jason Babin) as Smith established himself as one of the top right tackles in what is likely to be his only season (for the foreseeable future) at the spot. Overall, Smith graded positively in every aspect of his play as a rookie.

Best Performance: Week 4 versus Detroit (+4.8)

Key Stat: Had 10 games where he was either perfect in pass protection or gave up one pressure.

77. Jay Ratliff, DT, Dallas Cowboys

There was some wondering whether Ratliff would excel in a Rob Ryan defense. They should have known better, because wherever you put Ratliff he’s going to make plays. Don’t be fooled by his two sacks; the Cowboy nose tackle actually had the 10th-highest number of QB disruptions of all defensive tackles. What’s more, he did it while making plays in the run game. That earned him our fifth-highest rating among defensive/ nose tackles playing more than 400 snaps.

Best Performance: Week 16 versus Philadelphia (+5.6)

Key Stat: 10th in total pressures of all DT’s, he was also 10th in our Defensive Tackle Run Stop Percentage Signature Stat.

So still, no Romo, but again these rankings were normalized so that QB's didn't dominate the rankings. What do you think?


Stats Up The Wazoo: 10-Year Draft History | Cold Hard Football Facts

So, what kind of trends do you think Dallas has when it comes to drafting? Think they like linebackers a little bit? I'd wager that you'd be correct. How about quarterback; can you recall Dallas drafting a couple? Stephen McGee? That's it? Ugh, they aren't listening to my podcast, are they?

CHFF is one of my favorite general NFL sites, as they do a great job of mingling humor in with statistical analysis. They took the time to track all of the draft picks, round and all, that each team has made over the last 10 years. Here's Dallas' chart:

1st 1 1 1 1 3 2 1
2nd 1 1 2 1 1 1 3
3rd 1 1 2 1 1 1 1
4th 1 2 3 1 1 3 1 2
5th 1 3 3 1
6th 3 1 2 2 1 1 2 2 1 1
7th 2 1 1 1 2 2 1 5
# Picks 1 9 8 6 8 4 4 3 6 10 15 5 0 2 0
Value Points 4 29 33 24 32 16 10 4 25 52 45 18 0 5 0

15 corners? Young Jeezy... Dallas has spent the most draft picks on the position in the NFL, by far, however they aren't even Top 5 in Value Points. This means that while they draft a lot of them, most of the time it's later round flyers that really have a much smaller chance to make the team. I remember Charlie Casserly saying something along the lines of 20% of 5th rounders make the team and only 8% of 7th rounders.

Well, you can see why Dallas is having some trouble along the interior of the line, right? 4 draft picks from the first five rounds in 10 years? That's disgusting. I strongly suggest checking out the entire article and comparing Dallas' total to those of teams that have been able to maintain prolonged success in the league.


Sean Lee: 'If there's something that needs to be addressed... | DMN

The Cowboys need for a vocal leader is one of the easiest stories for the media to latch onto, and with the return of a multitude of Valley Ranch activities, guess what's come up? Well, Sean Lee says it's not a problem; if something needs to be said, he'll say it.

"I think playing more last year, being a guy that makes the calls in the huddle, I'm definitely going to have to step up from a leadership standpoint on the field and off the field," said Lee, who was sporting a red Texas Rangers hat. "I got a ton of great guys on the team right now to look up to. Guys like obviously Tony [Romo], Jason [Witten] and DeMarcus [Ware]. So, there are a lot of guys that I'm looking up to and trying to be like, but at the same time, trying to become a better leader myself."

Now that's what I'm talking about... someone time warp me to September, please!


Free Agent Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau Sidelined With Hip Flexor | Star Telegram

It seems the Cowboys proclivity for finding injured potential has jumped from the draft boards and into their free agency plans. Guard acquisition Mackenzy Bernadeau who signed a modest four-year contract in March apparently has a hip injury, a flexor, that is keeping him from the offseason workouts. The team is being cautious in bringing him along but thinks he'll be fine by the time OTA's kick off at the end of the month.

Bill Callahan has named him a possibility for the center position, as well as his main position of guard.

"It’s one of the things we knew about him," offensive coordinator Bill Callahan said. "He had played some center in the preseason with Carolina so he’s been exposed to that spot. He’s got that position flexibility so that’s a real positive. Yeah, he has that in him. I haven’t seen it as of late, but he did serve as a backup center in emergency situations, so he has taken snaps from what we’ve had in our conversations with him."

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