After a few days dealing with quarterbacks who don't want to come to work and others who have gotten a new chance at the NFL, I want to get back to looking at possible first-round draft options for the Dallas Cowboys that may not be someone most of us are expecting. I do this because on very rare occasions, the Cowboys wind up taking someone in the first round that almost no one saw coming. To look at the last time it happened, you have to go back to . . . uh, 2013, when the team traded back and got Travis Frederick, who was on just about no one's radar as a first round pick. OK, but before that, the previous time was . . . uh, 2012, when the team traded up and grabbed Morris Claiborne, who no one really thought the team would trade up to select. All right, but the year before that, Jerry Jones and his staff picked Tyron Smith. Who, as it happens, was the first offensive linemen taken by Dallas in the first round in thirty years . . .
Perhaps you are now seeing that things often don't go the way we predict in the NFL Draft. That is the entire point of my little series. We have out dream selections, and players that we think will fit Dallas like a bikini on Kate Upton, but reality just does not often conform. Rather, the odds are almost overwhelming that things are going to play out very differently than we imagine, with possibilities of trades up and down. Frustration can come when a situation develops the way it did last year. Then, the Cowboys seemed very focused on a certain position group. It looked pretty clear they really wanted to get help for the interior of the offensive line. There were prime prospects at guard, and a long history of guards not being taken early in the first round.
Which all blew up. It wound up working out for Dallas, as Fredbeard exceeded almost all expectations, and the team picked up Terrance Williams as a very nice bonus in the deal. But it hardly went the way anyone really anticipated.
So I offer another somewhat out of the box name to consider as someone that the Cowboys might take as a first round pick: Ryan Shazier LB Ohio State.
How he gets to the Cowboys at 16: He is a player that is seen as going just about anywhere from 11 to 32, so he is right in Dallas' wheelhouse. If the players that Dallas would likely have ahead of him on their board, like Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr, and Zack Martin, are all gone, that would just have the effect of increasing the chances that Shazier is still available. The 15 teams ahead of Dallas all have to make choices, too.
And he is a player the Cowboys could certainly use. Rowan Kavner at DallasCowboys.com believes the team is interested in him to challenge Bruce Carter for the Will position. Bruce Carter can use a little challenge there.
Why the Cowboys should take him: Did you notice that I mentioned Bruce Carter? Beyond that, in multiple rankings Shazier comes in as the third best linebacker in the draft, behind Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr. Unlike them, he is likely to stay at linebacker because of his size, which means he may be the top OLB drafted this year.
But don't let that size make you think he can't bring it. This guy led the Big Ten in tackles last year. He is praised for his speed, quickness, agility, and smarts. And one very big thing he brings is that the team can expect him to play all three downs from the start. He will need to develop his coverage skills, but based on what I have read, he is already better at that than Carter was last year. He is very strong against the run, and he also is another way to rush the passer.
He might also be a target if the Cowboys get a partner for a trade back. As I said, he is seen as going anywhere after the first 10 or 15 selections in the draft. Trading back usually requires several possible targets to make sure there is a player the team wants when they go back on the clock, and Shazier looks to be someone who could fit that role very well.
Why Dallas should pass: First and foremost, if there is ANY defensive line prospect still available that grades out as high as Shazier, you have to go DL. And given the fact that assigning those grades is an imprecise art, it may be wise to fudge a little in favor of the big guys. Shazier is a good player, and at 20 or 25 might make us cheer as a selection, but at 16, he dang sure has to be clearly the best player left. And looking over the boards, I am not sure that is going to happen.
I do like the idea of getting him if there is a trade back, but just am uncertain about using the sixteenth pick on him. But drafts just have a way of surprising us. And truthfully, I think I could get used to the idea of him wearing the Star.