As the draft nears, fans and pundits tend to start over-thinking and hyperventilating. Trust me, it's a perfectly natural feeling to have as we're all excited to see what new toys will be in the garage this season. Every year we pour over thousands of mock drafts and scouting reports only to be surprised come D-Day.
A rough estimate 3.500 players are eligible each year to be drafted, but an average of 235 are actually selected by the 32 clubs. That's an approximate average of 7% of the possible candidates being drafted. Of course, we take into consideration that each club then signs about 20 undrafted free agents to compete for a roster spot. Looking at all these numbers in front of you easily explains why so many kids are either elated or completely crushed after draft weekend.
It reminds me of what Jason Garrett so chillingly said to the entire team on the first day of training camp in Oxnard two years ago. "This is a hard room to get into, but it's even harder to stay in."
The many sleepless nights that folks like Will McClay, Tom Ciskowski and others go through in order to prepare the front office is extraordinary. This year's draft will certainly give team's the opportunity to build depth and fill roles maybe more so than in recent memory. However, for the Cowboys picking towards the end of each round will present it's challenges. Keep these three things in mind when preparing for the draft:
Enough With Round By Round Pettiness
If the Dallas Cowboys like a player, it may be best served to pull the trigger early in order to not miss on a guy that they really feel is a fit. Bryan Broaddus always talks about not being scared to take a player that you like and especially never trading away from a good player for your team. If that's the case, who cares is the Cowboys feel Jay Ajayi is their man and are willing to take them in the first?
They did so with Travis Frederick, though that, too, was met with scrutiny, it's turned out well for them. Sure, there are plenty of other times that these things haven't worked out in the Cowboys favor but this front office is proving to be a strong yet decisive bunch.
Media Draftniks Are Not Experts On Team Fits
For me, it's easy to create mocks and look at a team's so-called needs, but that doesn't make me an expert on what the team is planning. A lot of circumstantial occurrences lead to when and why a player is selected for a club. That is why I prefer to read the products of my colleagues and true Cowboys gurus. Even so, we make mistakes and misjudgments of players' values all the time. For example, I'm not a fan of Nick Hayden being the one-technique and looked high-and-low for his replacement through free agency and draft prospects. I was set on a big body, a typical mountain in the middle. However, our fearless leader Dave Halprin pointed out that Rod Marinelli doesn't look for a big body on his interior, he looks for a quick, penetrating tackle. If Hayden was replaced, it likely wouldn't have been with a huge run-stuffer. Point taken.
Then in another case, after researching the series of evidence brought forth by our own Jason Thomas about Hayden (Part I, Part II, Part III), I had to agree with him. Hayden's got value and despite my feelings, these coaches want who they want and play who they play.
In essence, when the Kipers, Mayocks and McShays start giving their analysis and opinions on why team A made a bad choice; it's sandwich time. Take it all with a grain of salt.
A Name Doesn't Make The Player
These team scouts and coaches shuffle through thousands of names and watch endless hours of tape on guys we've never heard of. That is precisely why I don't allow a surprise third- or fourth-rounder of whom I know nothing about leave me scratching my head. Last year in the case of Hitchens, I immediately put on some tape of his Iowa days and said to myself, "okay, makes sense."
Same goes for Gavin Escobar's second-round selection, I thought good hands, size and probably a red-zone target. Too many times in the past, I got so caught up with certain names I had been reading about and mocks that I've seen, only to feel silly when I didn't know who the player was. Our research, though very thorough at times, still cannot come close to an entire department of scouts who eat, sleep, and breathe this process every day. I actually love it when an unknown commodity is selected because it allows for more research. Justin Gilbert out of Oklahoma State was touted the best corner in the draft last year at 8th overall, but it was the 22nd pick Jason Verrett from TCU that had the better rookie campaign. Apples and oranges.
For many of us this is the most exciting time of the year and it can't get here soon enough. I'm getting a little stir-crazy myself. The excitement and anticipation is at an all-time high and I for one can't wait for the festivities to ensue.