The overflow of negativity and hatred regarding this year’s crop of rookies for The Dallas Cowboys is unwarranted and downright depressing. In all honesty hearing the boos from the Dallas Cowboys fans were embarrassing and were also reminiscent of what you expect from Jets’ Fans. Besides, having read some of the negative articles floating around I come to the notion that it’s just more of the same malarkey that leaves this Cowboys fan and aspiring analyst shaking my head.
Call me an optimist or whatever you may feel, but I’m ashamed of some of the people who call themselves fans and I don’t care if this offends you. Now this article will not be to chastise the ones in disagreement, because everyone is entitled to their opinion. The truth is that none of these analysts or myself for that matter are Draft experts; not Mayock, Kiper, or McShay. In fact, I don’t believe that any of these so-called “grades” mean a rip when it’s all said and done. Want proof? Carson Palmer was taken #1 overall by The Cincinnati Bengals in the 2003 Draft; Tony Romo went un-drafted, now convince me that Tony Romo isn’t the best Quarterback of that class…Don’t worry I’ll wait….*crickets*
For those who do believe in the Draft grades, this is for you, calculate the average grade by adding all and dividing by 7.When doing so, the end result is that The Cowboys actually rank 1st in the league with an average of 77.6. All 32 teams go into the draft every year with “pressing needs”, but after doing the research you’ll find that the majority of teams that Draft for need fail miserably. The teams such as The Packers, The Broncos, The Giants, Ravens and 49ers draft with the Best Player Available approach and its seems to have worked out for them.
I don’t agree with every pick 100%, or the mathematical formula used to execute each pick, but I’ll at least give credit where credit is due. Jason Garrett made it clear that this team needed to get better on the offensive line and give Tony Romo some added time. The team’s message rang clear with their first three picks. Though many believed Callahan wanted to run a Zone Blocking Scheme, it has become evident that is not the case. The Cowboys have been running a ZBS for some time now and Callahan has now indicated a shift to possibly a Gap/Power Scheme is in order, but then again who knows?
Look no further than the all too unpopular choice of C Travis Frederick, Wisconsin:
There have been plenty of documented deficiencies out of the Center position in the past few years. Though not a side to side mobile Center; Frederick will fit nicely in a Gap Power Scheme because of his skill to completely turn defenders around and drive up the field on blocks. His intelligence will also be significant help in getting The Offensive Line in sync. Although his versatility has not gone unnoticed; look for The Dallas Cowboys to build this Offensive Line by keeping him at Center and moving outward by possibly searching Free Agency for a Tackle on the right side. If Frederick can perform well, this smells like a great foundation for the next 10 years.
Much has been made of The Dallas Cowboys red zone deficiencies in the past few seasons dating back to the dreadful 2010 campaign. Though they have shown production in getting down the field and scoring from deep balls off Tony Romo’s arm; once actually in “plus territory” the Cowboys have been settling too often for three points. The first three selections of this year’s crop all have one thing in common: they are all proven commodities in the red zone. In fact each of the three were relied on heavily once inside the 20 yard line. Don’t believe me? Go study the tape! In the NFL with constant double teams and more stout running Defenses, The Dallas Cowboys were in need of some fresh red zone targets.
TE Gavin Escobar, San Diego State:
Escobar adds many dimensions for Callahan’s offense this season. Though picked for his great ball skills and pass catching abilities, his major asset in College was his red zone antics. At 6’6 254 lbs, He is a huge target for Tony Romo. He will definitely need work in honing his blocking skills, which at this point is a bit of a worry; however Coaching can be the key there. His ability to catch over the middle and stay on his feet is admirable. This pick was not merely due to his capabilities near the end zone; but also an opportunity for The Cowboys to try their hand more often in 3 TE sets in order to mimic The New England Patriots style of offense. The only difference is The Cowboy’s core receivers are better than New England, makes you wonder what may be.
WR Terrance Williams, Baylor:
I respectfully disagree with our very own Editor’s opinion on this prospect, in fact I don’t know what tape he was watching because I’ve seen bad and good and can assure that this pick is one of the best picks made by Garrett and Co. Terrence Williams is nothing like Kevin Ogletree. William’s sideline awareness is impeccable, though body catching is not always safe; he’s damn good at it. I feel he may need some assistance in route running, but he lays all out for the catch. He has a tremendous amount of burst and has the ability to be a game changer, and very efficient in red zone plays and blocks. Just knowing the injury prone history of some of the Cowboys wide-outs is indication of the smarts used in this pick.
This was the point into the Draft that I actually became nervous, with all 3 of the Cowboys picks thus far going toward Offense, it made sense but I was itching for some Defenders. After all arguably the biggest change to be made all offseason was the implementation of the 4-3 Tampa-2 Defense and this scheme was going to require some pepper in certain positions. Since Jay Ratliff was sliding to a 3-Tech Defensive Tackle, with Hatcher, Lissemore and perhaps now Crawford waiting in the wings; there were still holes at the 1-Tech and more notably Free Safety position. Little did I know the Cowboys would make my favorite pick of the lot.
FS J.J. Wilcox, Georgia Southern:
While many mocks were fixated on Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, or Matt Elam; Bryan Broaddus and Ed Cahil from the Draft Show mentioned Wilcox as a raw but talented option for The Dallas Cowboys. When I first laid my eyes on Wilcox’s tape, I was intrigued. It’s no secret that since Darren Woodson’s departure this team has suffered somewhat at the Free Safety position. Over the years many have stepped in and most notably Gerald Sensabaugh did a decent job, but the Cowboys released him to make more cap room, and it wasn’t like his play was remarkable. Wilcox, though not having much experience (1 year) at the position; he definitely has a play-maker demeanor about him. He hails from a small school, but some of his traits cannot be taught. Much like the “Honey Badger”, he has a nose for the ball. He seems to always know where to be and isn’t afraid to lay you out cold. He’s tough, rangy, physical and has good size and speed for the position. His only question mark is his rawness, but with a Coach like Jerome Henderson he will be in good hands.
I’ll admit I didn’t know what to expect for the final day of this year’s Draft, but I didn’t try to predict at this point. The Dallas Cowboys approach became very evident to me early on, and in the 4th-7th rounds most teams are looking for role players, which is indicative of the many picks unknown, with the exception of Matt Barkley and the other quarterbacks. The Cowboys however were looking to get as many role players with significant chances to start.
CB B.W. Webb, William & Mary:
Considered by many as a 3rd round prospect, B.W. has the ability to really cover a lot of ground in the secondary. After the departure of Mike Jenkins, and attempting to continue to build at the position it makes since for Monte Kiffin to like this cat. He has quickness, fantastic awareness and an outstanding vertical of 40.5! His tape is very intriguing because he plays hard on every play and really shows up. He needs a little work playing man to man, but he still has those traits. His quickness is remarkable, and with Scandrick due some cash next season, Webb is a candidate for a replacement.
The 5th round was another moment of almost panic for me, because after witnessing a run on running backs, I was really hoping this team would have a good one available without too much injury history. I felt very embarrassed as the pick was made with not having studying this prospect that was given a good grade by many scouts and gurus. I think I was too enamored with Giovanni Bernard and Le’Veon Bell, and that was a mistake.
RB Joseph Randle, Oklahoma State:
Very similar makeup as Murray, but he is slower. I can’t lie and say that doesn’t worry me a little, but his shuttle was 4.25 and that seems oddly fast for his 40 time of 4.63. Like Murray he is a very good pass catcher. He is a one-cut runner who has the ability to fool linebackers into leaning the wrong way. He is very good at pass blocking and quick to chip at defenders. He needs to learn to stay upright when blocking bigger defenders instead of lunging at them, but is still very effective. He will fit the offense well because unlike Felix Jones, he has all the traits of a starting 3-down Back.
Frankly, I didn’t put much emphasize on the 6th Round selection because I figured this pick to be a Bisaccia Pick. Although, despite a couple of speed bumps last year in punting, the special teams unit showed some promise. Even though J.J. Wilcox is a skilled punt returner, he will have his work cut out for him to take the job from Dwayne Harris. Kyle Wilber, Alex Albright, and Eric Frampton showed up well on teams, but I don’t expect Frampton back. To be honest, the only thing that irks me about this Draft was the complete ignorance to the Defensive Line. I understand the fans being upset with the passing on Sharrif Floyd, and have said if it was me; I would have probably taken him. However I do see more value in Frederick and Williams over just nabbing Floyd. My frustration comes from knowing where I see fits on this new Defensive Line, but the holes are too evident. Jay Ratliff will add a year or so to his career by moving to the 3-Technique. I’m intrigued by the Defensive End position as well with Ware, Spencer, Crawford, and possibly now Wilber. The big question to me is “Who is going to play the 1-Technique?” Looking at the Depth Chart only gives me 1 option and that is UDFA Robert Callaway. So I was hoping the 6th rounder would be used on a “big boy” for the 1-Tech, but then again this pick seems to be a Special teamer with potential to battle for an Outside Linebacker spot.
LB DeVonte Holloman
The Cowboys seem to have put a lot of focus toward the SAM Linebacker in the 4-3 Scheme. Free Agency included a re-signing of Ernie Sims and an acquisition of Justin Durant. My guess is that Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli see this as a priority in this new scheme and want to have as much competition to find their starter. In fact this is my pick for best battle of the offseason. I feel that Holloman has a legitimate chance to win the spot. He has really remarkable athleticism and versatility. After all, he was a Safety/ Linebacker Hybrid in College. He has long arms which make him a great tackler over Tight Ends but also in open field play. One thing that shows up vividly on tape: This kid hits really hard! Now that can be a good and bad thing in The NFL. I assume that Marinelli will be spending time teaching him legal/illegal hits. He does lack straight-line speed which can often cause him to lunge ahead at times. Has a knack for bullying offensive linemen to make his tackles in run formations. He will have to show up in Special Teams early to get noticed, but he’s a true competitor.
I know some of my readers will think that this is a complete fluff/homer piece; I want to reassure you that it is not. The Draft grades that have been given out so far really can’t come to fruition for another 3-4 years. This article was designed to give information about each prospect and shed some light on so much darkness in the last several days since The Draft’s conclusion. Was everything perfect? No, far from it, but if you research each prospect and watch the tape it makes this organization’s messages very clear. Do I agree with Jerry Jones lament that The Defensive Line is a strength? Not exactly, there is no clear answer at a very important position. What I do realize is that there are still available options for this team in Free Agency, and with spots filling up fast; these veterans are going to lower their asking prices for sure. Although panic has set in with some of the Dallas Cowboys fan base, I hope this “scouting report” could give some solace as to what positive outcomes could play out this season. Jason Garrett loves to create competition in every area that is possible, and I believe his notions are warranted. I would rather have a team full of young guys ready to play hard and give their all, than have a lot of veterans that have grown complacent with their statuses and aren’t trying to achieve greatness. Mini-Camps are about to begin, which if you’re like me, pray to the gods for a healthy outcome. With some questions still left unanswered, we can only hope these Dallas Cowboys have a plan and stick to it. Welcome to the NFL rookies, now you have to fight to stay there.