Anyone who reads mock drafts on the web from the cheeseball hoarding, couch potato, regurgitate-everything-said-on-comment-boards variety who read and post articles on various “anyone contribute” fan sites, to those who read slightly more sophisticated offerings will notice that on almost every mock draft there are really only two options mentioned for the Cowboys to take come late April: cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick or guard David DeCastro. While DeCastro would seem to be the “safe” pick, the guaranteed quality starter for the next ten years, there is a certain allure to forcing mock drafts (mock being quite an apt descriptor) to have the Cowboys draft Kirkpatrick, the ultimate boom or bust pick.
Every year there seems to be one, with worlds of potential and worlds of problems. Some of these problems, like raw ability and little refinement of godly skills (both Steve Young and Cam Newton come to mind) can be honed and molded into a dominating player for years to come. Others issues, such as a poor attitude (JaMarcus Russell) or overrated ability (Reggie Bush) are too daunting, the players never pan out, and fall by the wayside.
Sometimes, however, what cause a player to boom or bust aren’t the tools or the talent, but the position. Dre Kirkpatrick is one of those poor souls who has the talent and the background (before a minor dust-up today) to be a successful player in the NFL, but is cursed with a position (along with defensive tackles, running backs and kickers too) that are barely more meaningful in the first round than in the fourth.
Since 2004, only 17.2% of cornerbacks drafted in the first two rounds have been named to the pro bowl (15.6% removing Devin Hester-recently converted to a wide receiver), many of whom are one year wonders. Actually, the only two game breaking cornerbacks of the last eight years have been Darrelle Revis and Jonathan Joseph, and of the 11 pro bowlers, two were above 6’1. Both were Cromartie’s, and both were one year wonders who have had otherwise average careers.
Speaking of average careers, some of the pro bowl “studs” taken were DeAngelo Hall and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. So while 15% looks like a good bet to those who don’t delve into the facts, two shutdown corners in 50 draft picks doesn’t seem like a winning formula (a formula Dallas desperately needs.)
The poor record on cornerback success isn’t a current trend that can be easily dismissed. In the entire history of the NFL, 13 cornerbacks have been elected to the Hall. To put that in perspective, that’s almost a third of the total number of offensive lineman (35 elections.) While expecting a cornerback to be a Hall of Famer is unfair and unrealistic, it does show that cornerbacks are harder to scout and harder to draft than offensive lineman, or for that matter almost any other position, a reason why I staunchly support drafting DeCastro over Kirkpatrick (assuming they’re both available.)
DeCastro would be more likely to be a successful pro, and unlike the cornerback class this year, after DeCastro there’s a major drop-off. After Kirkpatrick there is Stephon Gilmore or Chase Minnifield (both could be first rounders but will likely fall to the second) and further down there is solid depth in Casey Heyward and (god forbid) Cliff Harris. After DeCastro? The next best guard is Kelechi Osemele, a left tackle out of Iowa State who must be converted to guard.
Taking a risk is fine if you’re the Packers or the Patriots, but when you are in the organizational rut the Cowboys are in, safe bets are the way to go. That’s why since January first only four mocks have Andrew Luck not being taken with the first pick- not only is he a great quarterback, he’s also relatively “safe.” If he is David DeCastro in this analogy, Robert Griffin III is Dre Kirkpatrick- he has more physical tools but is just as likely to bust out as bust.
Drafting a cornerback at 14 is no guarantee for the stud that fans crave and the Cowboys desperately need. They might still, despite the evidence, draft Kirkpatrick, Morris Claiborne (a .5% chance assuming he doesn’t bomb interviews) or someone else who explodes onto the scene with a great pro day, but chances are, they’re not getting a stud. Sorry Cowboys fans (me included) they’re probably not getting one any time soon.
|Draft Year Number of CB’s Taken Number of Pro Bowlers