I was watching about the 23rd straight hour of the NFL Scouting Combine on NFL Network when I must have dozed off. I soon found myself in a very pleasant dream. Unfortunately, I find myself dreaming about the Cowboys all too often. Much has been written about the upcoming draft and the potential player the Dallas Cowboys will pick at #14. Their needs are many – a shut down corner, a pass rushing linebacker, a reliable safety, a true run stopping nose tackle, a reliable offensive guard or center, etc. and so on. But, in my dream at least they took a bold, completely different route than anyone had expected.
Commissioner Goodell approaches the podium at the 2012 NFL Draft and announces, “The St. Louis Rams have traded the 2nd pick in the first round to the Dallas Cowboys, who select quarterback Robert Griffin III”. The Radio City Music Hall crowd erupts in both cheers and boos as RGIII is happily making his way on to the stage. The representatives for the Redskins, the Browns, and the Dolphins are seen openly weeping. RGIII is handed a Cowboys hat and jersey with his name on it and flashes his million dollar smile as he holds it up and poses with the Commissioner as camera flashes explode all around him.
The draft pundits immediately start dissecting what transpired. Rich Eisen turns to Mike Mayock and says, “Wow. Shocking move by Jerry Jones and the Cowboys. Let’s look at how this came together and what it means for the Rams.” Mayock responds, “This was a bold move and it did not come cheap. But, it is hard to argue against it. This kid is ultra talented – he’s smart, athletic, can accurately make all the NFL caliber throws, and has blazing speed for a QB. The Cowboys don’t necessarily need a quarterback but the typical school of thought is that you draft the best athlete on the board when your turn comes up. It would be very difficult for anyone to argue that this kid isn’t the best athlete on the board.”
Eisen interrupts, “But, Mike, what did this cost the Cowboys?”
“Well, no one was going to get this kid on the cheap. The details are still coming in but it appears that the Rams get the Cowboys first round (#14) and third round pick in this year’s draft, their 1st round and third round picks in the 2013 draft, and the Cowboys have traded Miles Austin to the Rams.”
Eisen comments, “Wow. That seems like a huge price to pay. Is this the reverse of the Herschel Walker trade the Cowboys engineered with the Vikings? Who got the better of this one?”
“Well, in Miles Austin the Rams immediately get a quality receiver that can stretch the defense – something Sam Bradford has desperately needed. And, they get what should be 2 quality picks this year. The value of next year’s picks will depend upon the type of season the Cowboys put together in 2012. Robert Griffin’s impact won’t be felt immediately = at least on the field – so the Cowboys will likely continue to struggle this year. So, the picks will be likely still be quality picks in 2013. The Rams were in a great position and got maximum value for the pick”.
“For the Cowboys, the downside is they don’t address any of their immediate needs. But, there is no question they have their franchise quarterback in place for whenever Tony Romo is ready to call it a career. And, he can be brought along slowly and learn from a very capable veteran. Of course, you can’t forget either that they prevented their division rival from landing the franchise QB they have been desperately seeking. That alone would make this an attractive move, but RGIII is not only a once in a lifetime athlete but is also smart and has none of they typical baggage or bad attitude a college standout QB typically enters the league with. He will become the face of the franchise and the Cowboy’s fan base will be electrified by this move. Jerry Jones knows how to sell tickets and this will sell tickets.”
“On the down side, they still have a lot of holes to fill on the defense. But, they still have picks in the 2nd round and the 4th through the 7th rounds. There have historically been quality players come out of most of those rounds. They can still get a cornerback or a linebacker in the 2nd round that will be an impact player and improve their defense. Through free agency and the picks they have left, they can still make themselves better.”
“Trading Miles Austin had to be a tough decision and one likely driven by the Rams. He doesn’t save them a ton of cap money this year (roughly $2.5 million) but his backloaded contract starts to get expensive after 2012. It starts to save them a lot of money beginning in 2013 (Austin was slated to make $6.7 million in salary plus a $1.5 million prorated signing bonus in 2013). Factor in that Austin has had trouble staying healthy for a whole season which probably made the decision a little easier. And, the Cowboys still have Dez Bryant, have already re-signed Laurent Robinson, and will likely shop the free agent market hard for some quality receivers.”
“What about Jason Garrett and his offensive philosophy? Does RGIII get plugged into the existing offense at some point in place of Romo? Or, does Garrett adapt to Griffin’s strengths?”
“Well, most good coaches will try to adapt their approach to fit their personnel until they can get the right personnel ideally suited for how they like to gameplan. But, the Cowboys are not going to pay this kind of a price just to turn around and force RGIII to play a different style. They will still likely be a “pass to set up the running game” type of team, but Griffin definitely has a different set of skills from Romo and they will gameplan to take advantage of that”
“But, what about…”
Just then the pizza guy rang my doorbell and woke me from my happy dream. I rubbed my eyes and looked around for my wallet as reality came crashing in – it was just a dream. The Redskins will likely trade up to get RGIII and Cowboy fans will spend the next 10-15 years hating him as he likely lights us up along with the rest of the league. No matter who the Cowboys end up really taking, I’m afraid this dream will turn into a nightmare that lasts a long, long time.