Austin On Dallas: Re-Drafting The Cowboys’ Offensive Starters in 2013


Assume a scenario where the current offensive starters for the Dallas Cowboys are all rookies entering the 2013 NFL Draft.  All must be acquired by the team in 2013. Now knowing what each of these 22 key players has to offer, what draft value would you assign them?

This is an ideal way to assess the value to the offense that you place on these players.  More importantly it’s an excellent method to judge the overall state of the offensive unit as it stands.

Below are my assessments of each starter according to my current draft values.  Feel free to share your own revised draft values on these players as well.


1st Round Selection (Undrafted Free Agent)

As Tony Romo has matured and settled into the position, I truly believe he is a Top 10 QB in the NFL.  His overall stats over the last 7 years are quite impressive.  64.7% completions, 25,737 passing yards, 177 TD’s, 99 INT’s, and 95.6 QB rating.  No doubt that places a first round grade on Romo.  It’s time to get this mature version of Tony some reliable protection and a complimentary rushing attack.


2nd Round Selection (3rd Round by Cowboys)

DeMarco Murray is a 1st round talent who has the total skills package to run well, pass protect, and catch the ball effectively out of the backfield.  However, his less than ideal reliability (missed 9 of 32 games) bumps him back to the 2nd round.  Still a round higher than where he was originally drafted.


Undrafted Free Agent (6th Round by Browns)

Vickers may have performed adequately earlier in his career, probably even on the level with his original late round draft value.  After one season in Dallas, I can’t justify a late selection for him.


1st Round Selection (3rd Round by Cowboys)

Witten is the ideal salty veteran every coach dreams of drafting. The future Hall of Famer has been going strong for 10 years and still showing no signs of letting up.  Witten’s 110 receptions in 2012 broke the all-time single season catch record for tight ends in NFL history.


1st Round Selection (1st Round by Cowboys)

In 2012, Dez put it all together and easily earned his first round stripes.  He finally showed the durability to stay on the field and played lights out.  His 12 TD’s ranked 3rd in the NFL for all WR’s.  I expect no regression in 2013 with the determined mindset of the physical phenom.


2nd Round Selection (Undrafted Free Agent)

In 2009, Miles Austin flashed the talent of a 1st rounder with 81 catches, 1,320 yards, and 11 TD’s.  Even on a down year in 2012 he racked up 943 yards.  Problem is Miles can’t seem to stay healthy and remains unreliable.  One of my favorite comments to date was from a fan after reading an article on Miles Austin…”I think I pulled a hamstring just reading that”.


1st Round Selection (1st Round by Cowboys)

Tyron Smith has definitely shown quality production and versatility proving his round 1 selection was not misjudged.  While he still has a ways to go to reach All-Pro level, the 3rd year player certainly has the ability.  I’d love to see how much he would elevate his game with a quality o-line to his right.


Undrafted Free Agent (Undrafted Free Agent)

Livings went undrafted originally and his 2012 performance in Dallas simply didn’t do any wonders to improve that assessment.  In my opinion the Cowboys likely would have received no worse production from the undrafted rookie Ronald Leary last year.


Undrafted Free Agent (Undrafted Free Agent)

Phil Costa’s first year starting at center for the 2011 Cowboys was no ringing endorsement of value.  Jerry Jones stuck with him in 2012, and he was a broken egg in a bare center cupboard.  Costa supplied one solid game starting against Baltimore, yet Baltimore’s run defense was atrocious at the time, allowing 180+ rushing yards the week before and after.  Costa is still not worthy of a draft pick.


Undrafted Free Agent (7th Round by Panthers)

In his first year as a starter, Bernadeau did little to earn my admiration.  He’s said to be versatile by playing both center and guard, yet in my assessment he plays both spots equally subpar.  I’d have little concern if Bernadeau was outright released, the same with Livings. Both were ridiculous reaches by Jerry Jones in a futile effort to fill huge o-line holes.


7th Round Selection (4th Round by Cowboys)

I may get roused for even selecting Free in the draft, yet Doug has shown the ability to play the game at a high level in his recent past (2010).  Just a few years back he was the top rated OT entering free agency before Jerry preemptively locked him down.  I’m using a late selection here for the simple fact that Free is the only one of the 4 questionable o-linemen who has proven he can play well in the league.  This spot would get him cheap enough to be a back-up.


Simply put the Cowboys’ offense is a pairing of high-draft value specialty players, and the vast majority of blockers who couldn’t start for most NFL teams.  Between FB Lawrence Vickers, LG Nate Livings, C Phil Costa, and RG Mackenzy Bernadeau, none are worthy of a draft selection.

RT Doug Free is even a late-round stretch given his terrible production in 2011 and 2012.  At least Free has proven in his recent past (2010), he once had the ability to solidly earn a high-round draft selection.  But his crucifying contract paired with the demise of his play eliminates his current worth before the conversation even starts.

The answer to solving the riddle of the Dallas Cowboys’ offense is simply to secure quality players to protect and clear the way for all of these highly talented weapons.

Every sane Cowboys fan is convinced of this except the one man in charge of making sure it happens. Hopefully Jerry Jones has a startling epiphany and invests 2 high-round picks on hefty slabs of prime rib.

I’d still like to see Dallas grab tackle Eric Winston off the free agent market when the draft is concluded.  Dallas likely will not be able to find the right value for selecting an OT in this draft.

D.J. Fluker would be reaching at 18, and there is minimal worth in selecting an OT in the 2nd round with this class.  Draft 2 talented guards early (or a guard and center), sign Winston as a FA, and this Dallas line will instantly go from NFL chumps to NFC East champs.

To round out the draft, the Cowboys should secure a mid-round, back-up RB for insurance to Murray’s injury concerns, and draft a stout blocking TE to bolster run packages and pass protection.  At least 4 of the 7 draft picks turned in by the Cowboys must be committed to solidifying offensive concerns.  If applied correctly, this team will make huge strides in 2013.