Most of the talk this week has been about the $108 million extension the Cowboys inked with Tony Romo locking him up for the next 6 years (although it is very unlikely that he will play through that entire contract as he will turn 33 on April 21st). Whether as a fan you like the move or not, it was really the only play the Cowboys could make. Jerry hooked his team’s star to Tony’s wagon a while back and they are now stuck with him for better or for worse. He IS their best option at this point.
But, a lot of folks have already analyzed that deal since it was announced last Friday. It is what it is and it’s now time for us to turn our attention to other things – like building a team around our franchise QB that will maximize his (and the team’s) potential.
Next up is the 2013 NFL Draft. There have been some of you that have talked yourselves into believing that the Cowboys negligible participation in free agency is good. “Teams always over pay for free agents, anyway”, you say. “It’s better to build a winning team through the draft”. That is of course true – IF you draft well, and IF you haven’t traded away all your draft picks. What should be on every Cowboy fans’ radar right now is that Dallas has the fewest draft picks in the NFC East in this April’s draft. That increases the need for selecting good players that will contribute quickly to your team – no room for error. If you don’t, the odds are good that you slip further behind the competition you must face twice a year in hopes of earning a playoff berth.
NFC EAST DRAFT PICKS – 2013
Philadelphia Eagles – 9 picks: 4th overall selection in the first round, 1 pick in rounds 2-6, and 3 picks in the 7th round (#4, #6, and #24);
New York Giants – 7 picks: 19th selection in the first round and 1 pick each in rounds 2-7;
Washington Redskins – 7 picks: No first round selection, but 1 pick each in rounds 2-4, 2 picks in round 5 (#21 and #29), and then 1 pick in round 6 and 7;
Dallas Cowboys – 6 picks: 18th selection in the first round and 1 pick in rounds 2-6 with no 7th round pick (traded to Miami for center Ryan Cook).
In the entire NFC, only Carolina and Chicago with 5 selections have fewer picks than the Cowboys and only Detroit (no 4th round pick) and New Orleans have an equal number of draft picks as the Cowboys (the Saints lost their 2nd round pick in 2012 and 2013 as a result of the bounty scandal). For comparison, both Minnesota and San Francisco – two playoff teams last year – have 11 selections each. Minnesota has two first round selections (#23 and #25), two 4th round selections, and three 7th round picks. San Francisco has one pick in each round with a second pick in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 7th rounds. If the Cowboys hope to close the gap with the other teams in the NFC through the draft, they had better draft well. A disaster like the 2009 draft – 12 picks overall and not a single player left on the roster today with the departure of Victor Butler in free agency – and the Cowboys will slip further down the power rankings for years to come. (To be entirely fair, the Cowboys did not have a first or second round selection in 2009 and did not make their first pick until the 5th selection in the third round).
Picking this year at #18, we should be able to get an impact player. We got Dez Bryant with the 24th overall pick in 2010 and Anthony Spencer with the 26th overall pick in 2007. But, I’m less worried about our first round pick as compared to rounds 2-6. We have a lot of needs: safety, backup running back, a quarterback to develop for the future, offensive line, and defensive line not to mention better overall depth in case of injuries and better special teams players. We can’t afford to miss on any round and need to find some late-round gems like James Hanna (6th round, 2012), Dwayne Harris (6th round, 2011), and Jay Ratliff (7th round, 2005).
Let’s hope the scouting department has once again done their homework and can prevent Jerry and company from swinging and missing like they did in 2009. I like our chances for a good draft but I can’t help feeling uneasy about the number of picks versus everyone else. I would not be at all surprised if Jerry considers trading down in the first round (or even out of the first) if he can pick up some extra draft picks. I hope he resists that urge, but we all know Jerry likes to make a splash and doesn’t let conventional wisdom guide his decisions all the time. Go Cowboys!