Jan 1, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers running back Montee Ball (28) runs with the ball against the Stanford Cardinal in the first half during the 2013 Rose Bowl game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Black and Blue Need to Come Back to Dallas

Like most of you, I have updates and e-mails galore coming to me on a regular basis covering everything Dallas Cowboys related. From news to scores and rumors to the newest apparel, I can’t get enough of the Dallas Cowboys. With Nike’s release of the limited edition black jerseys I not only have a new thing added to my wish list, I also saw the light on a way to upgrade the Cowboys this off-season. Now if we can just get owner and general manager Jerry Jones to get his black and blue on. Let me explain further.

Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter (54) tackles Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

What is one thing the Cowboys’ young stars and key role players always get knocked for? They have potential and ability oozing out of every pore and yet they cannot seem to stay on the field. Inside linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter both ended the season on injured reserve and starting running back DeMarco Murray spend a great deal of time on the sideline. Players like wide receiver Miles Austin, Phil Costa, and Ryan Cook seem to always be working through some kind of ailment. It’s nothing new when I say it’s hard to compete at this level when your key players cannot seem to find a way to stay healthy.

I won’t fault Jerry and Co. for drafting players like Lee and Carter, who both slid in the NFL draft because of torn ACL injuries they were coming off of. Both of these players would have been drafted in the first round had they not been injured at the time commissioner Roger Goodell took the podium. This was a high-risk, high-reward way of finding talent, but it should not be the rule, only the exception. If you remember Murray’s draft day, he was a player with an injury history as well, and the Cowboys were luck to get him in the third-round. And we can’t forget players like Costa, who can’t seem to find his way on the field for any stretch of the imagination.

Now is the time to move away from this style of acquiring talent and  start looking for bruisers built to withstand the rigors of a full NFL season. Dallas needs players that can dish out the punishment without landing themselves on injured reserve every-other season.  Here are some options the Cowboys should look into as upgrades or solid roles player that can take over if (or when) starters like Lee, Carter, Costa, and Murray get hurt.

Brian Schwenke – Center – California

As stated earlier, and by many around the NFL landscape, Costa is a liability at center. If the Cowboys draft how they should, then they’ll spend their second- or third-round pick on  Brian Schwenke out of the University of California. Schwenke can play all three of the interior line positions on offense. That versatility is needed for a team that downgraded their guard positions last off-season. At 314 lbs. Schwenke is built to hold up to the beating guards and centers take in the NFL and he will only get better as he gets time in solid off-season conditioning program.

Sheldon Richardson – Defensive Tackle – Missouri

Jay Ratliff is another name that can be added to the long list of Cowboys players hampered by injuries on a regular basis. That, along with the switch to a 4-3 base defense, and you can see why Dallas has to seriously think about drafting a top-tier defensive tackle. In steps Sheldon Richardson from the University of Missouri. For a guy just about 300 lbs. he ran a blazing 4.71 second 40-yard dash at his pro day. Speed to go along with quickness and a frame built like a redwood tree and you have a player that has the potential to be a disruptive force on the interior of the Cowboys’ defensive line.

Jon Bostic – Inside Linebacker – Florida

November 17, 2012; Gainesville FL, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Jon Bostic (1) points during the second half against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the Jacksonville State Gamecocks 23-0. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I say the Cowboys need an insurance policy at the linebacker position. Not only that, they could use another bruiser that can come in and spell Carter of Lee and limit the potential for injury throughout the season. Jon Bostic out of the University of Florida could be that guy if he slips into the fourth round. He has decent speed but more importantly than that he has the size (6′ 1″, 245 lbs.) and instincts to excel at the pro level. People called Jerry Jones a loon when he drafted DeMarco Murray while he still had Felix Jones and Marion Barber on the team. Well Jones is in search of a team willing to take a chance on him and Barber isn’t even in football anymore. The NFL landscape can change in an instant so why not stock up now while you can right?

Montee Ball – Running Back – Wisconsin

You can find a running back in just about every round so there are a handful of names that can be inserted here as a back-up/change-of-pace back to help keep Murray healthy for the entire season. Montee Ball out of the University of Wisconsin would be a great choice for Dallas if they could get him in the fourth- or fifth-round. Ball has sharp change-of-direction ability  and the footwork to sidestep defenders, bursting upfield. He runs with purpose, but also stays patient, following and allowing blocks to develop.

There are so many more prospects available for the Cowboys in this year’s draft and these are just a few that I have watched recently. As the draft approaches the big board will morph and who knows what will happen. Until then hold on to the seat of your pants Cowboys fans. We’re in for a bumpy and unpredictable ride



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Tags: Brian Schwenke Bruce Carter Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray Jerry Jones Jon Bostic Montee Ball NFL Phil Costa Sean Lee Sheldon Richardson

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