Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2008 Dallas Cowboys Draft Review

Realizing that the Stars and Mavericks have enormous games for significantly different reasons tonight, I thought I should make sure to get my thoughts of this past weekend’s Cowboys draft on the record.

That way, if I am right or wrong about how the Cowboys handled it, I will have taken a stand and you can either bury me with it in 2 years, or pretend it never happened.

Anyway, I have Made my stance of lukewarm on Felix Jones pretty clear, and I won’t beat you down here. In fact, once this is on paper, I am ready to accept their decision and proceed. Whether right or wrong, it isn’t changing, so Felix Jones it is.

But, the idea that Rashard Mendenhall was available takes me back to that day of Steven Jackson being there, and the Cowboys getting cute, out-thinking themselves, and then we are left to wonder how the Cowboys were offered a favor from the draft gods, only to spit on it and pass.

Mendenhall is an every down back, or a “feature” back as they say. Felix Jones is a “change-up” back, used and selected primarily to compliment Marion Barber.

Which leads me to some questions about MB3:

1) Is a he a feature back? Not in his only crack at it - But I am optimistic for his future.
2) Will he get re-signed here? With Drew Rosenhaus, anything is impossible.
3) Will he stay healthy?

If the answer to all of the above is “yes”, then Felix Jones is the right call.
But, if any of the answers become “no”, then we are all going to wish Jerry had the common sense to take the feature back, not the compliment to a guy who is no longer available to be complimented.

Of course, I have no idea what kind of pro Mendenhall will be, but that is why we fall back on the consensus of the teams and experts. They have been wrong before, but more often than not, they are pretty smart. And, everyone saw Mendenhall as the better running back. Except Jerry.

Here is the day Mendenhall made a believer out of me:

I just never thought he would fall into the Cowboys lap….and then out of it, and in to the Steelers’ lap. This is what makes the job fun. It may be a while before Mendenhall gets a look due to that Willie Parker character (himself undrafted), but the careers of Mendenhall and Jones are now as linked as Julius and Steven Jackson.

Now, on to Mike Jenkins. Makes plenty of sense. You cannot have too many talented CB’s in your arsenal, and with Terrence Newman’s contract running out, it is good to cover yourself.

The Martellus Bennett pick perplexed many, but he has always fascinated me. He is an Aggie, so I have had a chance to view him regularly, including a few games from a few feet away, and I am convinced that he will be in the NFL for 8-10 years. He seems like he may come with a fair amount of maintenance, as he has always been a huge fan of himself, but his skills are top notch and he seems strong as you would like. I know he can get down field and cause matchup issues, but more importantly, unlike the 1 dimensional Anthony Fasano, he can pass block. Which means, unlike last year, when Jason Witten had to stay in and help on the most important play of the season (4th down vs Giants in the playoff game), Bennett is more than capable of doing that, allowing #82 to get down the field and make a play.

I like Tashard Choice a bit, but need to see him in person before I get carried away. But to those that cannot grasp the idea that he may be the better of the two when it is all said and done, please reference the premise as it pertained to Julius and MB3. You just don’t know how everyone adapts to the NFL. But, with 3 promising Runners, the Cowboys now have options to get optimistic about.

The thing that really doesn’t sit well with me is the Wide Receiver situation. In 2007, the Cowboys left the dominating Dwayne Bowe when they traded out to get Cleveland’s 2008 pick (Felix Jones). They seemed to get away with it in 2007, as Witten and Owens were plenty most Sundays to make the Cowboys offense scary. With Terry Glenn turning 34 in July (and coming off a 0 catch season) and Terrell Owens turning 35 in December, aren’t they continuing to play with fire by not acquiring a stud WR to build around?

The draft experts are telling me that one wasn’t there. All I know is that if you want to address a spot, you can. The Cowboys traded up, traded down, and stood pat plenty over the weekend, so I am reasonably sure that one of those 3 options could net you a wide-out. And with 10 taken in the 2nd round, it appears the NFL thought that there were some reasonable prospects.

And, to make matters worse, many of the top WR prospects are now in the division. Washington nabbed Devin Thomas, Fred Davis, and Malcolm Kelly. Philadelphia has DeSean Jackson. And the New York Giants are fine gambling on Mario Manningham at the end of the 3rd round, three spots after a spot the Cowboys decided to trade back from. If any of those guys can play, the Cowboys will get an up close look for a long time.

Anyway, I liked the 1st day overall, and the 2nd day is such a crapshoot, I don’t even have an opinion on that. I just think the Cowboys may have fallen in love with Felix, and didn’t have the cajones to deviate from that plan, so now they must tell me how he works out like Michael Irvin.

Great. I hope he plays like him.

Blogging the Boys breaks down Felix v Rashard

This brings me to the Felix Jones/Rashard Mendenhall debate. It's a very valid issue among Cowboys' fans and media alike. Immediately your thoughts go back to 2004 when the Cowboys found Steven Jackson sitting all pretty and ready to be drafted by them right there at #22. But the Cowboys were convinced they could get a valued running back in the second and traded away the pick to Buffalo. Steven Jackson went on to go to the Pro Bowl with St. Loius while Julius Jones is now playing playing with the Seattle Seahawks. Just like in 2004, the Cowboys had Rashard Mendenhall fall into their laps. Incredible! Everyone was certain that Mendenhall would be long gone before #22 but there he was. All the Cowboys had to do was write his name down on the draft card and hand it in. Instead, the Cowboys drafted Felix Jones, sending the Blogging The Boys community into a frenzy of emotion. How could Jerry Jones make the same mistake all over again.

To truly judge this pick, you have to step back and see it from the Cowboys point of view instead of a fan's. The Cowboys wanted to draft a running back who was a true complement to Marion Barber and who gives them big play potential every time he touches the ball. Mendenhall is not that player. He is a running back who need 20-25 carries a game to be effective and he would not get that playing behind Marion Barber. Jones has played in a two-back system his whole career and makes the most of it every time he touches the ball. He is a threat to take it to the house on any play he is on the field and is extremely versatile as well. Some may point out that Jones and Mendenhall had nearly the same amount of big plays last year, but then you have to realize that Mendenhall had 130 more carries than Jones.

A lot of you have brought up the question of what if Marion Barber is not here next year? Mendenhall would have been the perfect back to draft to be the franchise back of the future. Well, that's all well and good except the Cowboys are not rebuilding their team and are not looking for a running back of the future. The Cowboys are in the hunt to win now and to win it all. The Cowboys went into this draft with every intention of re-signing Marion Barber to be their long term running back. If that happens, then Mendenhall was not the player that fit this team. While everyone including me, thinks that Mendenhall was the better back of the two, the only way we can even know that is to just wait and see.

Martellus Bennett profile

Martellus Bennett can dunk better than you

Pro Football Weekly like the Cowboys Choice! …rock me….

Landing Georgia Tech RB Tashard Choice in the fourth round was a steal for the Cowboys. Choice is extremely competitive at a position where the trait could not be more important, and he will find a way to compete for playing time and could be groomed to replace Marion Barber. The selection of two running backs in this draft should be a clear indicator to Barber that he may not get paid by the Cowboys to stick around next year, which both parties may have already known. If Choice stays healthy, he could prove to be the best player from this round.

Choice vs. Notre Dame

Tashard Choice in the room

What became of Tommy Blake?

For the first time since 2000, no players from TCU were drafted this weekend.
Defensive end Tommy Blake, the 2007 preseason All-American whose clinical depression and social anxiety disorder kept him out of several games and practices his senior season, was not selected. He has not yet signed a free-agent contract, his agent, Reggie Rouzan, said Sunday night.
Rouzan said Blake will visit Tampa Bay for a workout this week.

When busting a sag goes wrong


Josh said...

From that video, Choice seems like a good guy to have in the locker room as this team continues to grow over the next few seasons.

The call from Jerry to Martellus Bennett was nothing short of amazing.

- Josh

Bitterwhiteguy said...

The fact that Tommy Blake went undrafted is amazing. I understand why teams stayed away, it's just surprising to see a probable 1st rounder a year ago fall off the face of the earth like that.

Tony said...

For what it's worth Mendenhall & Jones versus a (somewhat)common opponent USC:

Felix Jones vs. USC 06-07
7 carries, 48 yards, 0 TDs
3 receptions, 20 yard, 0 TDs
3 fumbles, 1 lost
Arkansas 14, USC 50

Rashard Mendenhall vs. USC 07-08
17 carries, 155 yards, 1 TD
5 receptions, 59 yards, 0 TDs
0 fumbles
Illinois 17, USC 49

Bitterwhiteguy said...

btw showing a video of Choice lighting up Notre Dame is like showing JJ Barea light up Southlake Carroll.

sjc said...

Mendenhall did look impressive against Wisconsin. But if you watch most of the highlight runs in that clip, you will see the Illini line dominating Wisconsin's front seven.

mrowlou said...

the choice video makes me want to sports cry.

A Silence Production said...

"...and what's that?"
"that's my penis."