Greetings BTBers. What with the draft buildup and subsequent analysis, it's been a long time since I've doled out awards for the top FanPosts - which is a crime because you have been putting up some excellent stuff. Sadly, I can't go all the way back to the last FPOTW and offer up some richly deserved retroactive recognition, so we'll have to make do with a look at the last two week's worth of FanPost goodness, with a side of humble pie, courtesy of yours truly. But you don't read these posts to picture me in a supplicating position. No, you want to know more about the cool stuff the rest of the community has shared in the last fortnight. Fair enough; here goes:
In the last couple of years, I have spent a lot of time in deep study, with a particular focus on the players who were invited to Valley Ranch for individual visits. Because there has been such a high correlation between these invitees and the players and positions the Cowboys drafted, this has seemed to be a worthwhile endeavor. This year, however, none of the invitees that O.C.C. so meticulously compiled ended up being drafted. But that doesn't mean that none of the draftees were invited; as it turns out, both fourth rounders, Kyle Wilber and Matt Johnson, visited Dallas. We just didn't know about it - and if Cool doesn't know, believe me, nobody does (probably not even Stephen Jones).
What I learned from this is that trying to gig the draft is a fool's errand. Sure, it's important that we do our homework but we're simply not privy to enough information to make anything other than vague speculations. Boyman, this week's first honorable mention addresses precisely this issue. Sharing what he learned from how the draft panned out, boy (or is it man?) offers a set of draft tenets culled form his experience of studying the draft (for the first time). One of them, "Mocking a draft without trades is kind of pointless," speaks to my earlier point: the draft is chaos theory in action, and there are too many variables for anybody to predict what's going to happen after about the fourth pick. All we can do, I suppose, is to embrace the chaos.
More FanPost goodness after the jump...
As might be expected, the FanPost pages have been churning with the inevitable post-draft selection digestion. Some of the best of this can be found in posts by ProBowlFactory, who treats us to a superb pick-by-pick analysis replete with Christopher Walken video (!); zlegend36's equally strong set of looks at the new Cowboys, with a career prediction for each (the surprise? Matt Johnson has Pro Bowl potential); and a pair of posts that predict a ceiling and a floor for each of the Dallas draftees: the_hat's "New Boys Same as the Old Boys" and BATTMAN's "Best Case/ Worst Case" review. Great stuff all around!
These reviews were immediately followed by stabs at a 53-man roster. Although premature, these were also so interesting as to merit our curiosity, so check out Lissyyyyyy's "Highly Anticipated" take on a 53; "The Bubble" by mfoster; and VAFan's detailed roster review. The prevailing theme here (as with a Kegbearer FanPost promoted to the front page earlier today) is competition. Slowly but surely, the Jason Garrett administration is accomplishing one of its central goals: creating competition throughout the roster so there is an upward pressure to perform. How could that not be a good thing?
Although this line of thought leads me directly to this week's winner, I'd like to take a quick detour to recognize one of our members whose recent output might not fit conveniently within this post-draft narrative but has nevertheless been superbly-crafted and deeply knowledgeable, both of which are characteristics that designate an "RKG" FanPoster. The author in question, IckesJb, has treated us to a series of "Xs and Os" posts without compare: a look at Andrew Luck and the infamous "Spider 2 Y-Banana"; the anatomy of a big play; and a breakdown of a DeMarco Murray run in his big breakout game against the Rams. I, for one, would love to see more of these, Ickes. Once the season starts, maybe they could become a regular feature (hint, hint)?
And on to this week's winner. I decided on the winning FanPost yesterday, before our beloved former colleague, Kegbearer had a FanPost promoted to the front page. Rather than find a different winner, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to gather the community together and give the man a big, group welcome-back hug. If that's not your style, then put your hands together for his winning post(s), a potent pair of takes on team building. In the first of these, he looks at how successful organizations, specifically the Patriots and Steelers (both of whom have different philosophies), develop talent from within and build their rosters; in the next, he uses the same two teams as examples of franchises that "manage to maintain winning records, if not succeed in the playoffs, because they remain true to a consistent process of invigorating a good team on a continual basis." In short, they are clear-eyed about their respective strengths and shortcomings - something that Dallas has struggled with in recent years.
The takeaway from Keg's potent pair of ponderings? Try this on for size:
Have any recent draft picks in franchise history made more sense than the 2011 and 2012 picks of Tyron Smith and Morris Claiborne? The two greatest flaws to the Cowboys at that time and Jason Garrett and staff made swift work in revitalizing both units in just two seasons. It seems Garrett "knows our team" and has done a great job of incorporating immediate needs to help achieve his long term plans for the team.
I suppose one of the reasons why I like Keg's work so much is that we share an interest in organizational structures and a curiosity about what makes a given group succeed in a highly competitive and parity-driven environment like the NFL. It's been some time now since the Cowboys were mentioned in discussions of the league's "model" franchises. Keg implies that this is changing, and I'm inclined to agree - although it will probably take two or three consecutive Lombardis for Jamie Dukes to admit it.
Congrats to all for your excellent work. And, Keg: it's great to have you back, big fella! We're the richer for it.