I am not sure why I have spent the past few hours listening to readings of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” on YouTube. Maybe I like poetry. Perhaps I share a spiritual bond with a fellow former West Pointer who walked the Long Gray Line many years before I did. Maybe the raven speaks to me as well. We, Cowboys fans, have lost our Lenore. The dynasties of old are Nevermore to return to Dallas. We must build new ones or we will be left to be tortured by our thoughts, dreams and memories until we approach the brink of insanity. Nevermore. Nevermore. Maybe Poe was onto something…….…… or maybe he was just talking to birds.
Usually around this time of year, talking heads on the bright box in the den tell us that teams either need to pick the best player available or a very specific need for their team. I have never understood this argument. The best franchises take the best player available that fits a need. It should never go deeper than that. Yet, you will find wars on other Cowboys blogs and comment sections alike IMPLORING Jerry and Stephen Jones to pick seven straights cornerbacks/safeties OR to pick the best player available no matter what happens. Even if that is Tony Romo’s eventual replacement at quarterback.
Listen, this team is obviously weak in so many areas that anything is on the table for this upcoming draft. That being said, let’s not get carried away. The way to return this team to playoff contention does not start with trading up to draft RGIII. Nor does it require OVER drafting the defensive back positions either. What the Cowboys need to do is decide what positions need IMMEDIATE help, make a plan for free agency and draft everything else. Stephen Jones knows what I’m talking about. He had this to say around this time last year:
“We’re going to take the best player that’s available when it comes time for us to pick,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “I know that’s the old saying that people get tired of hearing about, but that’s what we need to do with this team. You never know who is going to be injured and who is not going to work out from year-to-year, so you just need to take good football players, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
Since there are so many areas of emergency assistance that the Cowboys can’t possibly fix in one off-season (Jerry-anger building), I will use NFL Network’s list of best players available in at every position. This week, we start with the most glaring need: cornerbacks. Note: I hate this crappy highlight film music as much as y’all do. Feel free to exercise your mute button.
Morris Claiborne, LSU – Best cornerback in the draft according to Mel Kiper, Jr. and Todd McShay. No way he is there by the time #14 comes calling. If he is, I’ll be shocked. Cowboys would have a much improved defense with him in tow.
Janoris Jenkins, North Alabama – Much more intriguing prospect because it is in the realm of possibility that he could be around. He takes some hits in style points for me (because he is soft) but he is so physically gifted that you have to be impressed. He is incredibly fast and seems like a true competitor. He could also be the answer for punt/kick returns. His history with drug-related problems at Florida is most certainly a concern.
Alfonso Dennard, Nebraska – No question in my mind that he will be available to select in the first round at #14. He seems like a gritty player that is not afraid to mix it up with anyone. He has questionable hands but incredible athleticism. I appreciate his ability to hit in college but something about his game makes me think Terence Newman. Shit, I just jinxed it didn’t I? Well, I guess go ahead and buy your #15 jersey now.
Leonard Johnson, Iowa State – I was surprised he was on this list. He is a great athlete but does not seem like he is NFL ready. He will be a player in the league, just does not seem as though he is polished to start next season. Besides, do we need more of the bonehead shenanigans shown below?
Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama – I was very surprised to see him this far down on the list. If he lasts until #14 pick, Dallas would have a tough time passing him up. His recent marijuana charges may drop him into the late first round or early second round. If Dallas finds a way to pick a pass rusher and then land Kirkatrick in the second round, I will buy a Jason Garrett jersey in celebration. It won’t happen, but let me dream. Kirkpatrick sounds like a moron and makes horrible personal decisions (seriously, why can’t players Dallas needs stop doing drugs?) but he plays cornerback better than nearly everyone in the draft. Just keep him away from Dez in the off-season.
That’s it for cornerbacks. Once we get through all positions, we’ll talk about mocking the rounds 4-7 of the draft as well. Next week: linebackers!