One of the most fun portions of the NFL fan’s calendar is draft season. Film studies, spider charts, and general draft debate adorn the halls of our discussions as we look to make our team better.
Imagine though instead of a draft containing the nation’s top collegiate players, if a draft was filled with NFL players... aka an expansion draft. The last time the NFL saw something like this was when the Houston Texans came into existence, but the topic is fresh in the minds of sports fans as the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights will conduct one today.
As a result people are considering hypotheticals and since it’s the middle of June, we can play along as well. Shout out to one of the best football follows out there, Joe Goodberry, for the idea pertaining to an NFL team. We’ll follow his rules here:
Which 10 players would your team protect in an NFL expansion draft?— Joe Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) June 20, 2017
(1st & 2nd year players are excluded)
Per the set rules, first- and second-year players are automatically safe. This means we don’t have to worry about the likes of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Maliek Collins, Jaylon Smith, Anthony Brown, or any of the current rookies. It feels like we’re already playing with house money.
When you consider the current Dallas Cowboys roster you can come up with five guys that you aren’t letting go no matter what: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Dez Bryant, and Sean Lee.
Considering what we’ve already got with our protected players this gives us basically the real-life Dallas Cowboys. We’ve got QB, RB1, WR1, and 60% of the offensive line locked up. Super Bowl, get ready.
This next category yields three players if you’re looking towards the total and complete future of America’s Team: Dan Bailey, La’el Collins, and Byron Jones.
Bailey gives us an elite offensive weapon (I said it and I have no regrets, if you don’t believe me you can re-watch the 2015 season), a special teams piece of stability, and ultimately peace of mind in a critical part of the game. Plus, he’s a beast, we need him!
La’el Collins hasn’t exactly reached the same stratosphere as the actual first-rounders on the offensive line, but his talent and potential are just too large to leave him vulnerable to be poached. If we’re trying to maintain the current identity that Jason Garrett employs in Dallas, we’ll need to shore up the right side of the line. Check.
The Byron Jones pick might be met with criticism, especially in this echelon. Here’s the thing, though... he’s the veteran in the secondary. We’ve got the 2017 rookies in tow already, so I want Byron Jones here to groom these pups. Also did we forget that he’s maybe a real-life bionic man?
The Fine Wines
In this 10-course meal we’ve got pretty much every essential ingredient covered, but we need some wisdom. We want our locker room to have legit leaders, and it helps if they’re also top-notch at their respective positions. This gives us Jason Witten and L.P. Ladouceur.
Do I really need to make a case for #82? His nickname is literally “Gold Jacket Witt” and if that isn’t self-explanatory he’s arguably (a whole different debate) the best player in franchise history. He could be the slowest human alive, a mark he sometimes challenges for, and I’d protect him out of respect alone.
L.P. is arguably the most under-appreciated member of the Dallas Cowboys. He’s 1⁄3 of a bowl of Rice Krispies (because he can snap, but not crackle or pop) and he’s the epitome of consistency. In addition he makes the number 91 look cool, and that’s really hard to do.
The Just Missed The Cuts
There are four Dallas Cowboys who you can make a legit argument for in place of someone in my 10: Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Orlando Scandrick, and Jeff Heath.
Terrance and Cole would be fantastic compliments to what we already have locked up on offense, but considering the fact that Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown are safe... I like my chances of rolling the dice that at least one isn’t taken away. They’re both fantastic players, but they just aren’t the priority for me in my list.
In terms of Orlando Scandrick, the reality is that he’s an older player who’s likely out of Dallas soon anyway and we have a wealth of defensive backs already procured. The same logic applies to the greatest player of all time Jeff Heath, although Heath’s tenacity on special teams is something that would be missed if he was nabbed.
The entire exercise is fun for Cowboys fans when you think of so many players you feel like you’d HAVE to have, and then realize they’re someone in their first two seasons... a sign of the wealth of young talent in Dallas these days. What do you think? Which 10 players, keep in mind the total rules, would you protect for the Cowboys? I’m sure you agree with me 100%, right?