The Dallas Cowboys have long known that the offensive line is the weak link on their team. As it stands today, the starting offensive line will be Tyron Smith, Ron Leary, Travis Frederick, Mackenzy Bernadeau, and Doug Free. On an interview on a Dallas sports radio station on Tuesday, Jerry Jones was asked his thoughts about the offensive line. It was pretty telling that he did not mention the current members on the line, but rather stated that he feels going with two tight end sets will help the blocking situation, bootlegging Tony Romo and getting him on the move, and that he hopes the backs will also help in this department. It has also been well chronicled their attempts to lure both Brandon Moore and Brian Waters out of retirement to come start on this offensive line. With the team switching to a 4-3 defense this season, depth on the defensive line will also be key. The team has already lost Tyrone Crawford for the season, and Jay Ratliff has missed all of camp, only become more injury prone in recent seasons, and will turn 32 in a week. Anthony Spencer has also not played a down yet this preseason.
Watching the NFL Draft is a fun time for fans of the game. It is held in late April, roughly 2 ½ months after the Super Bowl and about 2 ½ months prior to the start of the first training camps opening up. It gives the NFL fans a little taste of what they have been missing, and gets their interest piqued right when the NBA and NHL playoffs are starting up.
While watching from my home, I was able to come to grips with the team trading down and passing on Sharrif Floyd (DT) and Eric Reid (S) to later pick up Travis Frederick at 31. I told myself, at least we drafted OL in Round 1, he should automatically be a starter from day 1, and he comes from a college program that is known to produce quality offensive linemen.
What got me on day 2 of the draft was the absurd selection of Gavin Escobar at 47in Round 2. I actually jumped out of my recliner and starting screaming bad things at the television set. Jason Witten is still on the roster, and should still play at a high level for the next 3-4 years. James Hanna, drafted late in 2012, looks to be a nice young player and has basically the same skill set as Escobar. I’ve long hated the selection of Escobar, but this past week I’ve started hearing guys on the radio start saying how they hate the selection as well. Last weekend while watching the Cowboys/Cardinals game, I heard an announcer (who will go nameless here and who is a Cowboys homer) say “well if you don’t draft Escobar at 47, then who do you select?”. To answer that statement, I’ve listed some names that look quite interesting today, and who would have looked good on the roster today. I also preface this by saying that even though Escobar was taken at 47 by the Cowboys, doesn’t mean that was where he should have gone, as many draft experts felt 47 was too early for the player to be selected.
Johnathan Hankins (DT) was selected at 49 by the Giants (known for their strong DL play) and is a rotation with Lival Joesph, Cullen Jenkins, and Shaun Rogers. Arthur Brown (LB) was selected at 56 by the Ravens and will be a starter this season. D.J. Swearinger (S) at 57 will be the nickel safety for the Texans this season and looks to have a bright future. Larry Warford (G) of the Lions came off the board at 65 and is competing for the starting RG position with Dylan Gandy and Jake Scott. Bennie Logan (DT) was selected at 67 and will be either the starter, or a rotation player at the least.
Tyrann Mathieu (S) wasn’t even on the Cowboys draft board as they had red-flagged him due to character issues. However, he may be the steal of the draft at 69 by the Cardinals and might have been the safety the Cowboys have been looking seemingly forever for. Lastly, Brian Winters (G) got drafted at 72 and will be the starting LG for the Jets.
I stopped this analysis at 72 because the Cowboys drafted at 74 and selected Terrance Williams. When hearing people say “if you don’t draft Escobar at 47, who do you draft?”, the aforementioned names are just a few of the options. The players mentioned above would have been great selections for the team, and I would of chose any of these guys over Escobar. Yes, Escobar did score a touchdown late against the Cardinals 3rd string guys, but I was not impressed. Sadly, the team has selected a tight in the second round three times in recent seasons with future hall of famer Jason Witten already on the roster. With the drafting of Fasano (2006), Bennett (2008), and now Escobar (2013), the team has Cowboys fans flabbergasted and left scratching their head. It is also these poor decisions in Round 2 that have contributed to the team’s lack of success over the last decade plus.
Follow Craig Cortemeglia on Twitter at @ccortemegliaTLH