Dallas Cowboys: Zack Martin Vs. Johnny Manziel


I was going to give a more in depth look into the Dallas Cowboys 2014 draft class this week, but there is plenty of time to cover that before and during training camp.

The more interesting story to me is how Dallas’ first round draft pick will play out. My article last week discussed how the Cowboys went the smart route by passing on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and instead selecting a much more needed and much safer bet in Notre Dame offensive tackle Zack Martin.

The conservativeness of the pick is the real point here. First and foremost, I am going to say that Martin was a good pick and will make an immediate difference on this team in a much needed way.

“…just because you won your fantasy football league last year does not make you an expert on NFL prospect talent assessment.”

The problem is this pick is going to be retroactively judged based on the performance of “Johnny Football” this upcoming season. Consider what the backlash would be should Manziel have the breakout rookie season Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III did. Even if his production tapers off in the following years as they have with Griffin, that doesn’t change the fact that the Cowboys (and mainly owner/general manager Jerry Jones) will be criticized all season for making a poor draft decision and letting a huge talent slip through their fingers.

That’s the problem with drafting quarterbacks, it is a high risk/high reward gamble. Linemen, linebackers, these guys are generally pretty safe bets. It’s the skills positions that you never can predict how they will translate from college to the NFL, and the quarterback position is by far the most unpredictable.

How many quarterbacks were selected in the first round that went on to obscurity? Anyone remember Ryan Leaf? Okay, does anyone remember Leaf in a positive way? Quarterbacks can often and easily be a first round pick thrown directly into the trash, and that’s what makes Martin such a smart choice.

That doesn’t change the fact that if Manziel does have an extraordinary rookie season, the lynch mob will be in full force, crucifying Jerry for not being aggressive enough, for being a poor judge of talent, and ultimately the worst general manager in the history of professional sports.

This is why Jerry just can’t win with most fans. If he aggressively Pursues high performing talents through free agency or the draft and they end up being a disappointment (Roy Williams, Morris Claiborne at this point), all fingers point to Jerry as being to fault for taking such a risk, wasting money and valuable cap space on such a foolish judgement call.

Then if he plays conservative, and passes on a talent that may or may not pan out for a variety of reasons (Randy Moss and now Manziel) and they end up becoming superstars, all fingers point at Jerry for being too conservative, and for allowing such valuable talent to slip through our fingers on such a foolish judgement call.

That’s the pitfall of being in Jerry’s position. Statistics, Heismans, the so called “measurables”; none of these give you any guarantees in what essentially comes down to a crap shoot when skills players make the jump from college to the professional level.

It’s real easy for us to sit back and criticize decisions after the fact, and just because you won your fantasy football league last year does not make you an expert on NFL prospect talent assessment.

As much as I would love to be the guy who selects our players from the draft and free agency, I don’t think I could handle the backlash. Every minute decision or move made to be criticized by the media and public after they’ve had the benefit of hindsight.

But that’s the role that Jerry accepts, putting himself out there to be cursed and hated every time things don’t go right. I couldn’t handle it, I’m pretty sure that most of you couldn’t either, but when it comes down to Martin and Manziel…I strongly believe that Jerry made the right call.