It’s a rare thing for most folks to be able to attend an NFL Draft. If you’re out of state in Texas like me, just the airfare to New York alone is enough to prevent the annual trek. But this year was different, as I was able to line up both my work and personal schedules to allow for the draft experience, and it did not disappoint. I’m emptying my note-book of all the good I experienced at the draft, as well as insights on some of the newest Dallas Cowboys.
Being in New York for a nationally televised event such as the draft alone is enough to give you goose bumps, but the atmosphere was particularly electric, and there was a buzz all around the city. I’ve visited New York many times for business and pleasure, but I’ve never experienced the sheer excitement that permeated the metropolis as was the case this weekend.
The host New Yorker’s were very welcoming and accommodating. I know they get a bad rap, and at times that’s deserving, but in this case the people of New York were wonderful. Now, here’s where it gets really crazy, I met three Eagles fans (yes that’s Philadelphia Eagles) and these were the nicest guys you could ever meet.
TJ, Jim, and Jack were the anti-stereotype that you typically think about with the rowdy Iggles. They were polite, courteous, and enjoyable. Only once or twice did they question my manhood or shout jibes, but it was all in good fun. What’s best is they found a bar a few blocks from Radio City Music Hall which sold $3 beer! Leave it to three guys from Philly to find cheap beer in New York. Anyhow, those three have, in my mind, more than made up for the Eagles fans tossing snow balls at Santa Claus thing, at least for now.
I did get a chance to meet Commissioner Roger Goodell too. Everyone knows you’re supposed to boo Goodell at the draft. The boo-birds were merciless and constant, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Yes Goodell has made some unpopular decisions, but I watched a man who had spent an entire day in meetings and conducting interviews walk the entire line to meet the fans who waited to get tickets into the draft. Think about that for a second, arguably the most powerful man in sports shook the hand of every person waiting in line. It was unprecedented access, and he showed a grace and humility not frequently exhibited by men in his position.
When I met the Commissioner, I asked him about bringing the 2015 NFL Draft to AT&T Stadium and he smiled saying,
“We are exploring all options.”
It was a perfectly worded politician’s answer, and pretty much what I expected he would say. Hey, I had to ask, right? By the way, I did not and will never boo Commissioner Goodell again.
I also had a chance to interview the always passionate former Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin. With Irvin, what you see on TV is what you get. He never shied away from a question, stopped to take pictures and gave autographs to so many fans I lost track. He wore a genuine smile the entire time I was with him.
I asked Michael who he thought the Cowboys were taking with their first pick and with his ever-present toothy grin he responded,
“Oh man, the Cowboys need to, with their 16th pick, they need to see if the league will let them bypass the rules and draft a whole defense! The whole defense!”
Irvin’s response of course drew a big laugh from the crowd filled with Cowboys and non-Cowboys fans alike. He continued, “But seriously, we’ve got to get some help up front on the D.”
As to the draft itself, I believe the Cowboys got a couple of substantial steals late which will make a difference this year. The Cowboys drafted Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon in the seventh round with the 248th overall pick. I had a chance to interview Dixon back in February and you can see the article here.
Dixon plays like a human missile! He never shies away from the hit, and will punish wide receivers who dare cross his territory. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, and is exactly the type of intimidating force the Cowboys need in the backfield. You remember all of those big six foot plus WR’s who essentially ran over our secondary last year time and time again? Me too…Dixon will be an enforcer and will be a difference maker. Great late round pick up by the Cowboys.
Another young player I think the Cowboys made out like bandits obtaining is undrafted rookie free agent cornerback Dashaun Phillips from Tarleton State University. Dashaun was not invited to the NFL Combine. If he had been, however, his pro-day numbers show that he would have performed in the top 10 in most combine categories.
In this scouting article I wrote back in March, Tarleton Head Coach Carey Fowler said of Dashaun “He is the best football player I have ever coached.”
Phillips had no less than 12 NFL contracts offered to him immediately after the draft, and he seized on the opportunity to play for the Dallas Cowboys. It is baffling to me that he was not drafted, but the other team’s loss is the Dallas Cowboys gain as I believe the Boys just robbed the entire league of a special player for very little cost.
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