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Cowboys news: Avoiding a repeat of the disastrous 2009 draft

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2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Learning from the 2009 Draft and understanding the conveyor belt of talent – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
The Sturminator educates the masses on the realities of the NFL roster-building, noting the Cowboys face a similar situation to the 2009 off-season.

Once​ upon a time,​ there​ was​ a season when​ the​ Cowboys​ realized they​ definitely​ need​ a play-making​ wide receiver. The​ prices​ were​​ steep in the trade market, but the best wide receiver of recent days was at the end of his tenure with the team. The trade would be expensive, but it would also fortify the future. Because of the move, it would secure a real play-maker (who would need a huge contract), but it would certainly cost the biggest piece of the upcoming draft.

The worst case scenarios all happened next.

The trade busted and the wide receiver, Roy Williams, never approached anything close to a good year in Dallas. You could argue that the Cowboys have never made a trade that was worse than when they sent Detroit a 2009 first rounder (pick No. 20), a 3rd (No. 82), and a 6th ( No. 192) for Williams and a 7th (No. 210), and then immediately inked the former Longhorn to a five-year contract extension for $45 million (nearly $20 million guaranteed) on that day in October 2008.

It was bold and it was reckless. And then, to make matters worse, they did about as poor a job as possible when they turned the 2009 draft into an utter disaster. They lacked the picks, so their objective was to trade back a few times to get those selections back. Not the worst theory, but in trading back they acquired more picks because that is what the smart analytics always say. If you want to draft better, just get more picks like the Patriots, right?

Well, the Cowboys did get more picks. And then they drafted about the worst collection of prospects that could possibly be assembled.

3 potential targets for the Cowboys' 4th-round comp pick, including an 'all gas, no brakes' DT - John Owning, SportsDay
A look at some potential targets for the team’s fourth-round comp pick, including a fleet of foot running back.

Based on positional importance and team need, the Cowboys' compensatory pick would make for a great opportunity to grab a running back.

There will be no shortage of options for them when the pick comes around, but one of the best is Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill, who finished with three seasons of six or more touchdowns and 990-plus yards from scrimmage.

Listed at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds, Hill doesn't have the biggest frame, but he makes up for it with speed, agility and versatility.

Hill, who finished with 3,539 career rushing yards (5.6 yards per carry) and 30 rushing touchdowns, is one of the more elusive running backs in the class, displaying the ability to layer cuts together to make multiple defenders miss. Unfortunately, he has the bad tendency of dancing too much, causing him to miss running lanes and leave too many yards on the table.

Need For Changes on Special Teams? - Nick Eatman,
Continuing a series over at the Mothership, breaking down the special teams unit.

What a year it was for the place-kicking position. The Cowboys’ decision to cut Dan Bailey at the end of the preseason proved to be the right call, considering Bailey’s struggles in Minnesota and how Brett Maher performed for the Cowboys in 2018. But even though Maher’s strong leg produced a franchise-record 62-yard kick and he was successful on 6-of-7 attempts from 50 yards and beyond, it wasn’t always smooth for the first-year kicker. Maher missed an extra point and two others in the 30-39-yard range, but overall he was usually reliable. His next step would be to become automatic with those intermediate attempts. He was 13-19 on field goal attempts from 30-49 yards.

Their Next Step?

As a unit, the special teams could use a jolt in the return game. With the NFL rules that widely limit kickoff returns, it’s the punt return aspect where the Cowboys could show improvement. We saw Tavon Austin make a big return in the playoffs, but he was out most of the year with injuries and therefore, the Cowboys didn’t have much of a replacement as Cole Beasley’s longest return was just 14 yards. Either Austin is re-signed or the Cowboys need to find a dynamic return specialist that can help provide better field position.

30 Years Ago, Jerry Jones Made His Biggest Deal - Jeff Sullivan,
Monday marked the 30-year anniversary of Jerry Jones’ purchase of the Dallas Cowboys. Here’s some insight into Jones’ maverick style from the day he joined the league.

Among the first orders of business, after significantly downsizing the team’s employee count, was working out a contract agreement with Troy Aikman before they selected him with the No. 1 overall pick. Eventually, just a few days before the 1989 NFL Draft, a deal was reached, the largest for a rookie in league history: six years, $11.2 million. The signing bonus cancelled check is framed to this day on the wall of Jerry’s study at his home.

Representing Aikman in the negotiations was super-agent Leigh Steinberg, who the movie character of Jerry Maguire was later based.

“Our first meeting was at Valley Ranch and there was no food except microwave popcorn, so we eventually leave for one of the airport hotels,” Steinberg says. “At first there were six of us, including Jimmy and Stephen, but everyone was falling sleep. Jimmy right there at the table. Everyone else went up to a room. At 5 a.m., Jerry and I are still talking.

“Thing is, it wasn’t about the Aikman contract. We were talking about the future of the league. This guy was so far beyond what anyone else was thinking at the time. He was talking about branding, TV contracts, independent deals of the NFL, naming rights for stadiums, sponsorships. All this is old hat now, but no one was talking about it in 1989. That night was the first time anyone ever mentioned the internet to me. Jerry was explaining to me how he was going to use this internet to grow the brand of the Dallas Cowboys.

“That was one of the most exciting nights of my career. It was the first time I heard an owner talk about where the league was going. Jerry got it, he saw what the league could be financially. I’ve never met anyone who could envision the future like Jerry can. He was on his way to reshaping the NFL.”

Comp. Committee to discuss potential rule changes - Kevin Patra,
So, apparently having a Super Bowl bid stolen by wholly inept officiating isn’t enough motivation for the NFL to reconsider the league’s obvious officiating issues.

The league's Competition Committee kicks off the NFL Scouting Combine week with their annual meeting on Monday.

The biggest attention will be on the discussion of expanding instant replay in the aftermath of the non-call in the New Orleans Saints playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

Don't hold your breath on a bold move being declared after Monday's meeting.

NFL Network's Judy Battista reports one committee member told her that he is not sure anything will be done to instant replay this year. The member doesn't see enough support for reviewing non-calls, like the one that helped sink the Saints.

Now 30 years in with Cowboys, Jerry Jones as enthusiastic as ever - Todd Archer, ESPN
Also commemorating Jones’ 30th anniversary as team owner, Archer notes 30 milestones during Jones’ tenure.

17. The big catch: After suffering through three straight 5-11 finishes, Jones stunned most football observers by naming Bill Parcells as head coach in 2003. Parcells had been out of coaching since 1998, and many assumed the partnership between the two would never work. Though they did not achieve playoff success, Parcells led the Cowboys to the playoffs twice in his four years and stocked the roster with numerous Pro Bowlers -- most importantly, a quarterback named Tony Romo.

18. The crown jewel: One of the reasons Parcells was hired was to help gain votes to build a stadium in Arlington, Texas. The vote was successful, and on April 10, 2006, ground was broken on what would be called AT&T Stadium. The Cowboys moved into the $1.2 billion stadium in 2009, and Jones has estimated he has poured in another $200 million into the building since it opened.

Evaluating Third-and-Long Strategy with Expected Points - Andrew Kyne, Football Outsiders
Curious to know which play calls proved most successful in third and long situations? Which defensive schemes were best at stopping teams in those situations? Football Outsiders has some insights you might be interested in.

Defensively, Cover-1 and Cover-3 are used most often in pass coverage on third-and-long, just as they are in other situations. Though Cover-1 outperforms Cover-3 in this context, neither is a bad call.

There is significant separation, however, between coverages like Cover-2 and Cover-4. Among the main coverages, Cover-4 is the most effective third-and-long scheme. Cover-2 is the least effective.

Plays on third down with at least 8 yards to go against Cover-4 result in -0.07 EPA on average for the offense (a positive outcome for the defense). Conversely, plays against Cover-2 result in 0.10 EPA on average for the offense (a negative outcome for the defense).

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's dog seized after it bites neighbor - Sarah Sarder, Dallas News
And apparently Dak Prescott owns some dogs, a couple got out and one bit a neighborhood woman. The pooch is in the hoosegow for the next ten days doing penance. Let’s hope the victim isn’t badly hurt.

Frisco police seized a dog belonging to Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Monday morning after the dog escaped Prescott's home and bit a woman.

A resident called police around 10:50 a.m., when she saw a loose dog fighting with her dog through a fence in her front yard near Hilton Head Lane and Princess Caroline Court. The woman went outside and saw that there were two loose dogs, one of which bit her when she tried to stop the fight, police said.

The woman was taken to a hospital with injuries that weren't life-threatening.

Officers who went to the home were able to capture both loose dogs, which they determined belonged to Prescott and were able to escape his home through an open door. Prescott was not home at the time, police said.

The Cowboys replaced half their starters and still won the NFC East? Who’s getting replaced next on offense? - Danny Phantom, Blogging The Boys
How much turnover should fans expect in the team’s starting roster? Our own Danny Phantom investigates.

And the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit too. Despite the constant changes, the team scratches and claws as they keep fighting through adversity. It would’ve been so easy for the team to collapse after starting the season 3-5, but they kept their focus and worked incredibly hard to rise out of the East and give fans bonus football in January.

But all this change affects the football team. A couple weeks ago, we talked about how the team will be looking for 20 new players for the upcoming season. That speaks to the typical turnover NFL teams go through each year as free agency and the draft alter the makeup of each team’s roster. That’s a lot of new faces, but keep in mind - many of them were bottom roster guys that were added after the season started. And most teams in the league deal with this same type of thing.

But how many of these changes came at the expense of the Cowboys starting unit? Well, quite a bit as it turned out. Nearly half of their starting unit from 2017 either departed or was shelved for the year due to some heath-related issue. Half. Six players on offense and five on defense. That’s a pretty good chunk of contributors the team ended up replacing last season.

The Cowboys won’t tender RFA safety Darian Thompson, according to Todd Archer.

The Cowboys will not tender an offer to restricted free-agent safety Darian Thompson, allowing him to test the open market. The team would like him back at a lower price and will speak with his agent, Ron Slavin, at the combine this week in Indianapolis. Thompson, a former third round pick of the New York Giants, joined the Cowboys last October off Arizona’s practice squad and played in a special teams’ role in 2018.

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