January 28, 2012; Mobile, AL, USA; South Squad defensive lineman Courtney Upshaw (41) takes a bow after making a quarterback sack during the Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

2012 NFL Rule Changes and Dallas Cowboys Pre-Draft Hype

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The Annual NFL Owners meeting concluded last week in Palm Beach, FL.  John Mara (Owner, NYG) ran his mouth in an ill-advised fashion about how the Cowboys and Redskins deserved the cap punishment they received, and how they are lucky that they didn’t lose draft picks.  Jerry Jones admitted to us that both he Cowboys Head Coach, Jason Garrett, got the chills when it was announced that the Giants would play host to the Cowboys in the NFL Season Opener on Sept 5th.  (This was predicted first here).

March 25, 2012; Palm Beach, FL, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell speaks during an press conference at the annual NFL meetings at the Breakers Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

During the owners meetings, several rule changes were voted on. The most significant change is the transition of the previous playoff-only Over Time rules to be applied in every regular season game.  Simply put, if the coin toss winner in OT takes the ball down the field and scores a field-goal, then the other team gets a chance to score as well.  Last year, the Cowboys won two games in OT by FG’s (49’rs and Redskins).  This makes you wonder how Jason Garrett would have managed those games with this new rule in effect.

Turnovers are now automatically reviewed plays, same as all scoring plays were added last year.   I like this rule because it seemed that too many times there was a turnover that was really close, but the coach wanted to keep his challenge, or not risk losing a timeout over it.  This allows for the game to be played and coached at a purer level.  It might make a game about five minutes longer, and also give the television networks one more spot to occupy with a commercial…

Additionally, the rules regarding a defenseless player have changed a little bit, specifically regarding a “crack-back block”.  Previously, on a crack-back block, a player could not target another player’s knees.  The head and neck have also been included in areas that are now against the rules to hit on a crack-back block.

In Cowboy related news, last year, Jason Garrett attended one pro-day.  One.  Our 1st round draft pick came from the one pro-day that Coach Garrett attended, Tyron Smith.  This year, Jason Garrett is only planning to attend one pro-day.  See the pattern here yet?  With the addition of two veteran offensive guards this off-season in Bernadeau and Livings, don’t look at the Cowboys to be targeting anyone on offense from Alabama. The three (first round) prospects include CB Dre Kirpatrick, S Mark Barron, and OLB Courtney Upshaw.

Each of these prospects is not an immediate need, but each will be a need next year.  CB Mike Jenkins is in the last year of his rookie contract, and with the injury history he has, I cannot see the front office springing for a large contract extension.  With the opposite CB and slot CB spots secured for the next five years, looks like Jenkins is the odd man out, and we could see Dre Kirkpatrick, what some consider the closest thing this college season to a “shut down corner”  ride some time on the bench, and learn the system before Ryan throws him to the wolves

Anthony Spencer (known in some circles as “Almost Anthony”) was given the Cowboys franchise-tag. This ensures that the Cowboys don’t have yet another hole to fill, and Spencer earns a cool $8.8 million.  This is only a one year stop gap measure, however.  The Cowboys have until November to renegotiate an extension that would keep Spencer around for much longer.  His replacement would be OLB Courtney Upshaw, who was the MVP for the shut-out performance by the Crimson Tide defense against the LSU Tigers in the 2011 NCAA National Championship and earned 1st-team All-American honors in 2011.

The Cowboys let (Average) Abe Elam walk this year after signing him as a 1 year communication man.  Elam had experience in Rob Ryan’s scheme of  ‘organized chaos’ and was brought in to help teach the secondary the ins and outs and be a communication man. The Cowboys might have well had tin cups and yarn setup as the 11th man, because communication was horrible in the secondary, and we were carved up many times because of it.  Brodney Pool, another “Ryan guy” from NYJ, was signed on a one year deal.  This is also a stop gap measure.  Gerald Sensabaugh will be a lock for at least the next four years as a FS, and look for the Cowboys to draft Mark Barron, 1st Team All-American safety.  It would be nice to have a legitimate safety in our secondary, something we haven’t had since Darren Woodson left.

Now this is all a little bit of a re-hash as you read first here that the Cowboys would be selecting a prospect from Alabama.  As I have expressed my personal opinion countless times before, the Cowboys should will need to completely fix our secondary, rather than focusing on anything else.  Drafting Mark Barron will put a legitimate threat as our last line of defense.  Our corners up front can play more aggressively if they trust the men at their back.  I am not against Kirkpatrick, because you can never have too many corners with elite covering ability, but I would love to have a high quality safety prowling, just waiting for those over thrown balls.

What do you think readers? Share you opinion in the comments section below. I join the discussions quite frequently and would love to hear what you think.

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Tags: Abe Elam Anthony Spencer Brodney Pool Courtney Upshaw Dre Kirkpatrick Jason Garrett Jerry Jones John Mara Mark Barron Mike Jenkins

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