I recently bought a new car. Before I threw down that kind of cash, I went through an evaluation process to make sure I would make the right choice. There were a few different cars that appealed to me, but I really had my heart set on a BMW 328i. My wife however, didn't care for my choice. Maybe it was because of the price or maybe she was just committed to the every-day task of denying me of the happiness I deserve. As we discussed this further, I assured her that I would put all the car choices through a thorough analysis and eliminate any candidates that failed to meet our requirements. It would have to satisfy the following conditions: price range, mileage, good fuel economy, strong safety rating, reasonable maintenance cost, roomy, and have some decent get-up-and-go capability. Since the BMW was an expensive investment, she felt confident that I would never find one that would satisfy all the requirements. Little did she know that with some patience and diligent searching, eventually I would locate one that made the cut.
I was wrong.
While I was able to get the price/mileage to intersect, I could not get around the fact that a BMW comes with a high maintenance cost. True to my word, I made the decision based on which car graded out the highest. I bought a Nissan Altima.
While it wasn't the car I was hoping for, after a couple weeks went by - I was really happy with my decision. And that is the same feeling that I typically have about the Cowboys first-round draft picks in recent years. While my BMW-type picks over the last few years have consisted of players like Star Lotulelie, Aaron Donald, and Alvin Dupree, I have been very pleased with the choices the Cowboys have made. And with the 2016 NFL Draft offering up a lot of luxury cars available to them, the Cowboys again have to be meticulous in putting together their board so that the right player is selected.
While Will McClay and company have their way to configuring their board, I thought I would put my decision-making process to the test as it pertains to the top candidates for the Cowboys coveted number four pick. Since we are comparing players across different positions, this isn't about who is the most talented, as I'm rolling with the assumption that all these purchases would be fine performing machines. Instead, it's just a different way of looking at what direction the Cowboys should go with the fourth overall pick.
Here are the top candidates (I'm going out on a limb and assuming the top two QBs have been taken).
Requirement #1 - Long-lasting investment
Essentially, this is any player that doesn't have a stud player ahead of him on the depth chart, meaning he'll be the future at this position. For example, the Cowboys don't have a lot of positions locked down, but if Laquon Treadwell was one of these candidates, he'd be eliminated because the Cowboys have an All Pro wide receiver in Dez Bryant.
Player eliminated: Laremy Tunsil
While Tunsil could move to RT, that's a waste of a star LT. Even if held down the fort on the right side, he's going to want some LT money in that second contract. Tyron Smith is under contract until the 2023. This isn't a pick that you want to just sign to a four-year lease.
Requirement #2 - Money Five
K.D. Drummond coined the term "money five" for the positions that teams have to invest the most money towards. They are QB, LT, DE, WR, and CB. And if you look at the Cowboys contracts, that's where the money goes, however, with Greg Hardy now off the books - they are missing a defensive end.
Player eliminated - Ezekiel Elliott
It pains me to see my Little Red Corvette get taken off the showroom, but rules are rules. The running back position is just not a position that teams throw a lot of money at because they just don't have very good re-sale value. With so many teams opting to pick up a used version without too many miles, using such a high pick on a running back doesn't seem financially feasible.
Requirement #3 - Durable position
If you're going to invest a fourth-overall pick in a player, you want him to be around for the long haul. There are some positions that just don't hold up as well as others. Linebacker is one of those positions.
Players eliminated: Myles Jack
This isn't about his knee, although that brings about concerns of its own. This is simply about the linebacker position taking a beating. You'd be asking your number four pick to take on a lot of wear and tear year-after-year. And you can't purchase an extended warranty with this draft pick. Is that really how you want to use this investment? Not me. Hit the road, Jack.
Requirement #4 - No character red flags
Whether it's a problem with drugs or the inability to play within the confines of the law, players that make bad choices put their playing career in jeopardy. And when these players screw up, the team suffers. There is no preventative measure to protect yourself from this type of fallout, but if a player already has alarms before playing a down in the NFL, that's a "check engine" light you don't want to ignore. It's risky business to blow past the stop sign and take a character risk player at pick four.
Player eliminated: Joey Bosa
The defensive end from Ohio State has some off-field concerns. He's already been suspended for refusing to take a drug test and it is suspected that he has some party hard drug use. It's nothing severe, but it is a red flag and under this process - his loan doesn't get approved. He's got a bad credit score and you don't want your #4 pick getting repossessed by the league.
Last Man Standing: Jalen Ramsey
The Florida State defensive back checks off all the boxes. The Cowboys have a handful of corners on the roster for 2016, but both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne become free agents in 2017. Orlando Scandrick is a good CB, but he's coming off a knee injury. A talent like Ramsey can certainly be the team's cornerback of the future. CB is a money five position. Cornerback isn't a position that wears down easily. And Ramsey doesn't have any character concerns.
Ramsey has smooth acceleration with a tough frame to weather the storm of the NFL. He's economical as it may provide the Cowboys with the option of cutting loose a Carr that hasn't given them the five-star performance they were hoping for. Ramsey is already projected as one of the top choices for Dallas on Thursday because of his remarkable athletic ability. If the front office decides to go that route, it's could be a result of him just being the most sensible investment for the Cowboys