All signs are that the Dallas Cowboys really want to find some defensive help in the draft, especially for the line. As noted by One.Cool.Customer, 14 of the 27 known national visitors to Dallas this season, or just over half, are DT or DE candidates. And, using the CBS Sports position ratings, of the top 12 players that have been brought in to Valley Ranch, all but one of them, OT/OG Zack Martin, work the defensive side of the ball.
But yesterday, quarterback Kyle Orton, the backup for Tony Romo, did not show up for the first day of the voluntary offseason workouts. When taken in combination with the earlier rumors about him wanting to retire rather than to suffer the hardship of being paid over $3 million to practice and stand around on the sidelines for most if not all of the season, it is only logical to speculate that he may not be with the team at the end of training camp, whether from just leaving, or from lack of motivation.
This, in turn, leads to the question of just how much Romo still has in the tank after two back surgeries. He just turned 34, and even though the team is confident he has at least a couple of good seasons left in him, time will eventually win.
Up until a few weeks ago, I would have dismissed the idea of the Cowboys drafting a future replacement for Romo in the first round as unworkable. Everyone knew the top three quarterbacks, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and Johnny Manziel, were going to all go in the top ten picks. There was even some speculation that Derek Carr was going to get into the first round because of the usual inflation that happens with quarterbacks.
Things seem to be changing. More and more, there are comments from national writers and draft gurus about the quarterbacks slipping. Not one in particular, but all of the ones that used to be seen as sure-fire top ten picks.
If that happens, it is very likely that players most of us would be much more happy to see Dallas draft (mostly defensive studs) would wind up going before Dallas gets a shot at them.
I previously looked at the Cowboys using a mid round pick on a quarterback (a post in which I referred to a Brian Bortles, who I can only surmise is the little know Eli Manning equivalent of the Bortles family). But what if the top quarterbacks do start to slide?
How do the Cowboys get to drafting a first round quarterback?
I don't want to focus on any name in particular (and you know the one that would lead to a Twitter/blogosphere meltdown of Biblical proportions if he were to be picked by a certain GM who likes to have him hang around), but consider instead the idea of a quarterback. Consider a composite player, "Teddy Freaking Bortles", or TFB for short. TFB is a player that the scouts and coaches have looked at, decided is a definite winner, and Wade Wilson in particular has beaten on the table and proclaimed that, with a year or two of coaching, TFB will be a franchise quarterback, and that if he should be available at 16, the team has to take him. He is asked if Brandon Weeden has that potential. The question comes just as Wilson is taking a drink of coffee, and the meeting pauses for a moment to clean up the contents of his mouth that he just sprayed all over everything, and he then clarifies that Weeden can be a very competent backup. A very competent career backup. Emphasis on career and backup.
So the team winds up with one (or even more) of the big three quarterbacks on the board with a solid, take them at 16 grade, unless a select few players are also there. On the day of the draft, all those select players are already selected, and the clear and obvious choice for Dallas is to pick the QB, or go through another Shariff Floyd-style controversy.
Why this would be the right move. I am assuming this is a case of the staff, with Will McClay conducting things, coming to a genuine consensus about my hypothetical TFB. There is always that wild card known as Jerry Jones, but if he were to throw down his GM/owner/I can fire everyone in the room card and go against the board, I think we will know from the faces around him in the war room. I am not talking about a pick that leaves scowls and hostile body language, but one where everyone is at least nodding in agreement.
That means that Wilson and Jason Garrett do see another franchise quarterback, most likely another Tony Romo, in this player. Someone who is not ready right off the bat to run the offense, but who has those intangibles and skills that Garrett in particular prefers. And this quarterback is the best player left on Dallas' board. It would take everything falling the right way, but if it all does align, then the choice should be pretty much predetermined by this point.
Why this would not be a good idea at all. The very fact that we are talking about any of these players being there at 16 says that they are not good bets to be franchise players in the first place. The very question marks that started the slide should be caution enough. In some years, players like that would be worth it, but not for Dallas in 2014. The other needs are too great. This entire scenario should never come to pass, because the draft board should not show one of these quarterbacks as a first round choice, not with the flaws they have.
All this is, of course, from the outside, just guessing how the team will evaluate these players. It all depends on how that board will look, and we are unlikely to have any idea of that until rabblerousr can get video of Jerry Jones conducting interviews on camera in the war room. I don't know that the team will have a first round grade on any of the quarterbacks this year. But I don't know that they won't, either. And if things line up, this could happen. All the other targets gone, leaving Dallas with a quarterback to groom. This would not be any immediate help, but long term, it could be vital.
Garrett likes to think about the long term. The question is, will he be around for the long term if Dallas does wind up with a quarterback in the first?