Sunday, April 18, 2010

Draft Thoughts

Before I launch into all Spurs-Mavs, let's focus a bit on pick #27 for the Cowboys, and the various choices they have when considering that spot.

I think we all know that the Cowboys have two needs that jump off the page at us.

According to their own team website depth chart , we see this:

LT Pat McQuistan

FS Alan Ball Michael Hamlin

First, Left Tackle:

I know that McQuistan is not their plan to start. He is what he is, and that seems to be a marginal reserve who will be replaced when he is no longer reasonably priced (sooner rather than later). They believe that Doug Free is ready to play left tackle on week 1, 2010. Whether he is ready to quiet his critics and skeptics (I am a skeptic about his strength to drop anchor and seal the edge at LT which is a very difficult and vital responsibility) remains to be seen, but they felt strong enough to risk a 2nd guess all season long on the Flozell Adams decision and therefore that should speak some volumes.

Obviously, #27 is no place to find a tackle in the NFL Draft. Like QB, any LT worth a darn is usually gone before we are all exhausted from the draft coverage.

Using Today's Rick Gosselin mock , here are the tackles and OL types off the board by #27:

#5 - Russell Okung - OT - Oklahoma State
#6 - Trent Williams - OT - Oklahoma
#13 - Anthony Davis - OT - Rutgers
#19 - Bryan Bulaga - OT - Iowa
#21 - Maurkice Pouncey - C - Florida

Interestingly, the player I really love for Cowboys purposes, Mike Iupati, G, Idaho, is still on Goose's board at #27. If he is there, I am not sure how you pass on a guy who nearly every observer indicates is ready to "start for you for 10 years". If he is that guy, then even Dez Bryant (who Goose has sliding to Dallas) might be worth passing. For crying out loud, some people have Iupati as a guy who can play any of the 5 Offensive Line positions. That gets me excited just thinking about it.

Also, lest we forget, the Cowboys took a tackle last year in the 3rd Round, Robert Brewster, the rather portly project from Ball State who injured himself rather soon after he joined the Cowboys last summer.

Todd Archer spoke about Brewster :

On whether or not Robert Brewster can ever be a starter for the Cowboys, and what that position might be...

TA: I think they're keeping him at tackle although I know there was some talk of him at guard. We only saw him for a brief second in the off-season before he tore his pec muscle. I sort of liked him. He didn't always look the prettiest but he kept himself between the QB and the defender.

Now, on to Safety:

Goose has the following safeties off the board at #27 -

#7 - Eric Berry - S - Tennessee
#20 - Earl Thomas - S - Texas

It does leave Taylor Mays, but I personally believe from what I have heard that the Cowboys do not see him worthy of a 1st round grade. To take a safety that high who has some serious coverage deficiencies is just not a prudent thing to do.

If you watch Mays enough, you will likely arrive at the same destination so many others have; He is Roy Williams 2.

Watch this video and tell me his strengths and weaknesses do not perfectly match those of our beloved Roy:

Against the run, he is a devastating destroyer he runs downfield and is looking for a body count. Also, he has that same Roy attribute of thinking all of his hits are kill shots and therefore never wraps his arms up and often looks foolish as the RB bounces off of him and keeps running downfield. But, in space, against players with quickness (not speed, quickness) he is too stiff and often lost - in the college game.

Could you figure out a way to use him? Maybe, but he is not what you need to step in and take over safety. They appear to be caught in no man's land at safety. Nothing good enough to slide to them, and nothing worth taking at #27.

So, what do you do? Take Dez Bryant? Trade up to get Earl Thomas? Stay put and take the best available player at a number of spots? OL, DL, LB, CB, WR and just improve the talent level on the team?

I think the last scenario is likely what we should anticipate. The draft will unfold as it will. It is highly possible at #27, with so many 3-4 teams picking in front of you, that the board will look rather uninspiring when the Cowboys are on the clock.

But, it is much cheaper there than it would be to jump up to #19. I think the Cowboys may end up with 8 or 10 different guys who are not OT or S, and we shall visit about them on Tuesday...


Some additional reading:

Pat Kirwan's latest mock draft shows the Cowboys on Indiana LT Rodger Saffold.

26. Arizona Cardinals
Brandon Graham, LB, Michigan
The Cardinals took some hits during free agency -- especially on defense -- and signing Joey Porter isn't much more than a stop-gap move. Graham can play linebacker or defensive end. In the Cardinals' 3-4 package Graham could line up at strong-side outside linebacker, just like Lamarr Woodley does in Pittsburgh.

27. Dallas Cowboys
Rodger Saffold, OT, Indiana
Saffold has been moving up draft boards for weeks since the offensive line coaches started their private workouts. The Cowboys released Flozell Adams and need line help. This kid can play guard or tackle, and don't let the quiet, passive demeanor fool you, he is a solid player.

Ironically, those two players are captured going head-to-head below:

Ross Tucker's mailbag reminds us that it is not always connect the dots with obvious needs and obvious picks.

Needs. Every NFL team seemingly has them, although some are certainly more pronounced than others. All fans want to know is how their team is going to go about filling their needs in next week's draft. But in recently compiling the biggest needs for each NFL team heading into next week's draft, I discovered there are some serious limitations in this logic.

Most of the team needs are based upon the media and fans' perspective of what a team is lacking. That doesn't necessarily mean team executives feel the same way. Most of the time the two do in fact mesh, but that is not always the case.

Most needs are based upon either a relative lack of experience at a certain position or the public's perception of a given player, which may be altogether different from the team's. Just because a player hasn't yet gained meaningful NFL experience doesn't mean he can't get the job done or the team doesn't have the confidence he can step in and do the job.

Take the Dallas Cowboys, for example. Their recent decision to release offensive tackle Flozell Adams and safety Ken Hamlin would appear to make those two positions of need even more pronounced. But we don't necessarily know that.

For all we know, the Cowboys may be extremely high on likely starter at left tackle Doug Free and inexperienced players like veteran Pat McQuistan and last year's third-rounder, Robert Brewster. Maybe they are capable of being solid starters but weren't able to get on the field because of the presence of Adams and right tackle Marc Colombo.

The same holds true at safety. Based on what he did in training camp and last year in practice, the Cowboys may be convinced that youngster Michael Hamlin not only will fill the void left by Ken Hamlin but also be a superior player due to his range and athleticism.

Also, the perceived need is not necessarily filled just because a team signs a free agent or drafts a player at that position. Sometimes fans and media members appear to have a checklist in place and as long as the team gets a player who fills that need, they are happy. They can cross that position off their list because the team has taken care of it.

If only it were that easy. The truth is signing or drafting a player at that position doesn't guarantee anything. In fact, draft or sign the wrong player at a position and the team has simply compounded the problem and that spot will be an even greater need the following year.

In the Cowboys example, even if they draft a player with the 27th overall pick at one of those positions, the results are far from certain. No matter who they take at offensive tackle, for example, the chances that player is as consistent as Adams is remote. Yeah, Flozell was known for jumping offsides once or twice a game. But he also did a better-than-average job of protecting Cowboys franchise quarterback Tony Romo week in and week out. We'll see if Free or someone else can fill that need.


Brian said...

Nate Allen.

Unless we see one of the top CB's fall to #27.

Iupati and Pouncey will be gone.

So will Dez.

-- DCFanatic

Shawn said...

Even with the elimination of Flozel Adams, the Cowboys are the oldest offensive line in football.

All our starters except Free will be 32 or older by the end of this season. There is only one starting O-lineman in the NFL that is 34.

The effects of this age are already well doccumented with the Minnesota meltdown and the inability to convert 3rd-and-short. Get ready to see a lot more Leonard Davis pancaked on his belly and Andre Gurode wiffing on blocks as speedsters trick him.

Over the next 2 years the boys are going to have to turn over this entire offensive line and there is no one on this roster to replace them.

It's sexy to talk about safeties and left tackles but what we desperately desperately need out of this draft are centers and guards that can take the place of our aging O-lineman.

Anonymous said...

Great post Bob. I think Iupati is also a solid pick if hes there at 27.