Dallas Cowboys: Reclamation projects don’t always work
The Dallas Cowboys scored with their selection of injured linebacker Jaylon Smith. Others haven’t worked out as well. Let’s see why.
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has shown the propensity to take on reclamation projects. To be fair, it’s his team and he can do whatever he wants. However, he missed more that he’s hit.
Jaylon Smith showed us this past season why he is one of the best young linebackers in the game. Giving credit where credit is due, the Dallas Cowboys hit the lottery with this pick. Unfortunately, this was an anomaly.
It’s been well chronicled that Smith suffered a devastating knee injury in his final college game. The Cowboys took a flier on him with a second round pick in 2016, which paid huge dividends. Smith was able to work himself back into game shape and was force on the defense.
The major difference here was that Smith was recovering from a physical injury and not substance abuse. In any major sport, a player’s best ability is his/her availability. Two other reclamation projects haven’t worked out so well, in part due to substance abuse.
Former linebacker Rolando McClain was the eight pick of the 2010 draft by the the Oakland Raiders. He was an All-American at Alabama and was seen as a can’t miss prospect. He was later acquired in 2014, by the Cowboys via trade with the Baltimore Ravens.
From the outset McClain showed why he was a first round pick with his physical style of play. He was the unquestioned leader of the defense. In the end, his demons caught up with him and he hasn’t played a down of football since the 2016 season.
Defensive tackle David Irving was acquired in 2015, off the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad. He played in 27 games in his first two seasons and looked to be force in the interior of the defensive line.
His signature game was in 2016, against the Green Packers, where he forced 3 fumbles on only 19 snaps, garnering NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. However, due to injuries and suspensions for violations of the substance abuse policies, Irving has appeared in only 10 games the last two seasons.
Irving was sorely missed in the NFC Divisional game against the Rams. He could be facing another suspension for missing a drug test.
A third player of note is Randy Gregory, who was acquired in the second round of the 2015 draft. The jury is still out on him. Gregory has violated the substance abuse policy three times in his young career.
Gregory is an immense talent, who appeared in 14 games this past season, after only seeing action twice last year and 12 games in 2016. Gregory showed a glimpse of what he can do by registering 6.0 sacks this season after only recording one in his previous 14 games combined.
The worry is, has he finally reached the top of the mountain and can he build on his success this time around? Or will his career continue to be derailed by his personal issues. Only time will tell.
Without a first round pick in 2019, should the Dallas Cowboys continue taking on projects? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.