Let's start with some superlatives from Bob Sturm, and his evaluation of the Cowboys' rookie class.
Let's start here: I have spent 19 years covering the Dallas Cowboys and I have never seen a draft like this. I am reminded to not use superlatives when discussing this compared to great drafts in Cowboys history, or even NFL history, but we have to be honest -- this one seems historic. Time will be required for us to know where some of these guys go in their careers and we certainly have to consider that two of the top four picks have yet to play a single snap, but the excitement level from the 2016 draft is incredibly high.
Not only that, but as you watch the Pro Bowl festivities, or even just your random NFL Films summaries of what this season brought us, it seems pretty clear that the league is infatuated with Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott. They not only play well, but they play with an attractiveness that suggests people are tuning in for them. They are interesting and have something extra that makes them, potentially, the next big thing in the NFL. They are at least the flavor of the month, for sure. We can only imagine how nuts Super Bowl week would have been had they gone all the way to that point as rookies.
Sticking with one of Sturm's standouts, here's a guest commentator on what he thinks Dak needs to do to be ready for next year.
Hopefully, he can forget what happened his rookie year. Now it's time to do it again. Hit that reset button. There's a saying called, 'Nothing fails like success.' Where you just continue to live on yesterday's success ... I don't know him, but he strikes me as being a very humble guy, turning down all the appearances. Hopefully, he'll continue to have the same work ethic, and I think he'll be successful in this league for a really long time.
From Dak to Dez. That's a combo that could stand to be better in 2017.
But even though the Cowboys missed out on their bigger goals, Bryant says the 13-3 record from 2016 has set the stage for the future, something he thinks is brighter than ever.
"The standard that we have created makes us feel rejuvenated," Bryant said. "The whole organization – we have something special here and let’s take advantage of it."
So how does one take advantage of that exactly?
"For me, the first thing I thought about was, where can I get the best training? Where can I get the best this and that, so we can get better and get started on 2017?" Bryant said. "It’s already started. I think the rest of the guys feel that way, too."
Whither Tony Romo? Ask 10 people, and you will likely get 10 different opinions. Here's Matt Mosely's take.
"Peyton Manning was obviously a risk for the Broncos, but that one worked out pretty well. I think once Tony is traded or released, you can't obsess about him anymore. You lucked into a great QB in the fourth round who's just getting started. That's more exciting than wondering about Romo possibly leading the Texans to the playoffs. Or a matchup with the Texans in 2018. I don't think there will be a huge market for Romo. That's probably what Elway's hoping. Now if the Texans and Broncos both want him, things could get interesting. Maybe the Cowboys get a second or third-round pick in that scenario. Probably not more than a third though."
The headline's about Romo, but the interesting tidbit is about Prescott, and how he excited the team from the first pre-season game.
"Dak, now that was something else. We couldn't have seen in any way that Dak would be as accomplished and as impactful as he was very early on, and we first saw what Dak was going to do really in the [Los Angeles] Coliseum in our first preseason game. When he stepped out there before the injury to Romo, and he stepped out there and had the success he had going up and down the field, making some of the throws he made, playing with the confidence he did, that made us all give attention. I was sitting with Michael Irvin, and Michael said, 'That's pretty impressive, the throw he just made. But you want to see something impressive, look at your sideline.' There were 100 players out there because it was that time of year [and cuts hadn't been made yet]. Every one of them were almost out on the field, their eyes wide open, excited about what Dak Prescott was doing. And [Irvin] said, 'You know, Jerry, it takes more than one to play this game on the field. And look at what he's doing to the team.'"
Turning to the draft, here's an assemblage of some greats taken with the 28th pick, including Darrell Green (Cowboys need a great cornerback), and Derrick Brooks (Cowboys actually have a great weakside linebacker). Click on the link for a table listing 20 years of picks.
Brian Broaddus gives us his take on the Senior Bowl players who might be Cowboys' targets in the draft.
Heck of a game for Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis. I didn’t notice Willis like Dane Brugler and David Helman did during the week when we had our nightly discussions on "The Draft Show," but he came to play on game day. Willis made life difficult for all of the North team offensive tackles. It didn’t matter if he was on the left or the right side, he was able to get a rush. The North team tackles had a hard time getting their hands on him due to the way that he was positioning his body as he was going up the field. There just wasn’t much hitting surface and they were unable to control his rush. At his current height and weight of 6-4, 255 pounds, that makes him a nice fit to play on the right side. But from what I saw from him during this game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him move anywhere along the line as needed. I’m looking forward to studying his game in the coming weeks.
Here's a mock draft tracker showing 12 picks (11 different) for the Cowboys. Charles Harris, DE of Missouri is the one guy selected twice. Click on the link to see all 11.