First of all, I’d like to applaud the Dallas Cowboys brain trust for putting together a shockingly bold yet ultimately solid draft. I also found it humorous to watch the deep ripple effects caused by the Cowboys as picks began to land with teams few had predicted, not even their new beholders. By boldly moving up and taking the highest rated defensive player on the board in LSU’s Morris Claiborne, the Cowboys left everyone speechless for a few minutes. Many minds began abruptly twisting and turning in a frantic attempt to grasp what had taken place and why.
On my end a game of twenty questions instantly began. Why did they sacrifice a second-rounder in such a deep draft? Doesn’t Dallas need more starting players from this draft? What were they thinking in the big picture? What does this mean for next season? And when the answers all came back it hit me like a ton of bricks…Dallas had just created a massive advantage on defense which fits their division perfectly. Not to mention, come next off-season. cornerback will be far from a position of need to address once again.
No doubt Rob Ryan is lovin’ life right now and must have played a huge role in such a perfect move for his system. This scenario had been gamed out long before draft day, and if the right circumstances were to present themselves, Ryan was ‘all systems go’ on the move.
Ryan schooled GM Jones on exactly what a guy like Claiborne would enable for his defensive system…games, stunts, switches, etc….the overall ratcheting up of pressure. He could now comfortably incorporate all tactics with two physical, highly capable, man coverage cornerbacks. Rest assured Ol’ Jer was well informed Claiborne would unearth several new aggressive options for the Ryan defense.
Secondly, as we have heard time and again, even from Mr. Jones himself, you can never have enough good corners in this league. So after exploring all the freedoms and new attacks that were now made possible for Rob Ryan by nabbing Claiborne, I next focused on our cornerbacks group as a whole. Brandon Carr assumes Terrence Newman’s top spot and provides a huge upgrade without question.
Morris Claiborne slides in the former role of Mike Jenkins. I’m still a believer in Jenkins ability and respect his game when his mind and body are both right, but Claiborne is special talent and a future All-Pro. Orlando Scandrick remains in the slot where he capably fits best. And of sheer delight, Mike Jenkins erases the liability Alan Ball created at the fourth corner position. What a dream scenario. I must admit the vision of the 2012 secondary envoked a huge smile probably akin to the one Rob Ryan is projecting these days.
With Jenkins in this new role, Dallas also has a player that can rotate in with the top starters now and again to provide a breather where needed. And most importantly, he becomes a HUGE insurance policy to any main starter in case of injury. How many teams in the NFL have a solid starting-quality CB ready to replace or relieve another starter at a moment’s notice and barely miss a beat against top competition? Dallas will deploy FOUR respectable corners ready to face off against any group of receivers an opponent could throw at them. And the NFC East is now loaded with deeper, even more talented WR groups than 2011. Last year the potent passing attacks within the division absolutely throttled the feeble Cowboys secondary.
Rex Grossman: 47-75 (63%) for 542 yards, 3 TD – 2 INT, QB rating of 86.5.
Michael Vick: 39-60 (65%) for 572 yards, 4 TD – 0 INT, QB rating of 118.9.
Eli Manning: 51-80 (64%) for 746 yards, 5 TD – 1 INT, QB rating of 113.7.
NFC EAST QBs: 137-215 (64%) for 1,860 yards, 12 TD – 3 INT, QB rating of 106.4
Since all three divisional foes will capably present dangerous 3-WR and 4-WR sets in 2012, having four very solid corners was an almost unimaginable luxury to ponder before General Manager Jerry Jones shockingly pulled the trigger on Claiborne. Things are now looking up in Valley Ranch, so where’s the problem? Exit General Manager Jerry Jones, enter Owner Jerry Jones….