From here until the draft I want to make sure that we talk out the draft and Cowboys' issues that are on your mind on a regular basis so I will be attempting to answer your emails (firstname.lastname@example.org) and your tweets (@sportssturm). Every week, I will try to knock out thousands of words (this time, 3,428 words) in an effort to give you something reasonable to read along the way.
Here is this week's edition:
Guest: I know you blogged about Prince's lack of INTs... in a sentence, how does that affect the boys decision to snag him if he's there?
Bob Sturm: Well, as you know, lack of interceptions is not always a great indicator of the play of a CB. But, my particular problems with Prince Amukamara are the following: He doesn't jump off the screen in the 5 Nebraska games I have watched this spring. In fact, he is part of a Nebraska secondary that seems to be oozing with talent. He plays a bit overconfident and falls for some elementary tricks (see the OSU youtube tape on the double moves). He doesn't return. He is not a great edge tackler. So, when you tell me he is a press corner who can shut you down, I need to see it at the college level. I don't. And, I don't believe the Cowboys are interested, either. He is not a bad player, mind you, but I think he is sort of a default choice at a default position. I think the Cowboys owe it to themselves to not go default that high in the draft.
Doug Fu: Tyron Smith seems like a high risk/high reward type guy. The Boys need help on the OL, but can they afford to take a guy like that at 9?
Bob Sturm:I am not saying he is money in the bank or anything, but I don't see him as a high risk. The risks with Smith are that we hope he can gain weight. And we hope he can learn technique at the NFL level. Otherwise, there are not hopes. Your eyes see his ability to do what needs to be done for a RT, and I think his tools make him a rather safe pick. The downside is that he may require 24 months to put it all together. The rookie season could be way rougher than say, Gabe Carimi, but his 7th season should be way better than a finished product like Carimi.
Phillip: Thoughts on rumors that the Cowboys could trade down? Could they be acknowledging that they don't think much of the players projected to them (Amukamara) or that they need to focus on other needs (O-Line) that are projected later in the first round?
Bob Sturm:Trading down is an option that I am sure they would love. I also here of several other teams that would love to move down, too - Washington for sure. So, you need a partner. That is why we look at 2 particular positions - QB and WR. Here is why you want those guys taken at 1-8 (Gabbart, Newton, Green, and Jones) - so that the good DE/OL/DT prospects get to you at #9. Here is why you DONT want them to be taken at 1-8 - so you have teams calling you to move up and snag them. This is the draft day chess game that the Cowboys have to play and have to play right.
Kevin: What's the feeling about Stephen McGee and his spot in the QB order. Who's first out if the Cowboys draft another? Kitna, McGee?
Bob Sturm:I think they still believe McGee has a chance to be something. I was not thrilled with the game plan in the final week of the season at Philadelphia because they went so vanilla that they did not learn much about McGee at all. I think they like his arm, love his toughness and leadership, and wonder if he will put it together at this level. He takes some chances and makes some plays, but you don't have time to develop a guy unless things are going really well up top. Kitna earned another year for his play in November and early December. He is very limited with his throws, but he really did a good job with what he has to work with. Although Miles Austin would disagree - since Kitna doesn't have the arm to use Austin in his best situations.
Guest: Can you please use your exclusive press access to beg Jerry not to draft another offensive skill position player at #9?
Bob Sturm:I will tell you that the only Offensive skill position that I hear any rumbling about it Ingram from Alabama. Surely, they would not take him at #9, but if they trade back, we should at least think about it. Ingram would of course be a declaration that they don't have a proper all-purpose back on the roster which would be a bad sign for the Felix Jones camp. But, I really think the odds of a RB high are low and the odds of a QB and WR are non existent.
Guest: Hey Bob, to start out I'll say I'm a fan of the Cowboys getting Tyron Smith. But if Jerry sticks to no offensive linemen in the first round, and he truly thinks the Cowboys don't need another corner (which is crazy), where do you think they will go? Maybe JJ Watt?
Bob Sturm:JJ Watt keeps coming up when I talk to people around the team. I don't think he is as attractive to me as Cam Jordan is. I also assume that Dareus and Fairley are gone. Watt is a Wisconsin guy that I have watched quite a bit, and I guess I don't like where I think his ceiling might be. I think Jordan can be Richard Seymour, but of course, I am just a media guy who has never done anything more than watch a lot of football.
Santiago: Do you think the Cowboys have any needs on the O-Line, and if so, do you have any thoughts as to where they will go to fill them?
Bob Sturm:The Cowboys have substantial needs on the offensive line. Colombo needs a replacement immediately. I really liked his game, but all through 2010, he demonstrated that his mind is willing but his body can't do it anymore. There were too many games that he looked overmatched and the Arizona game in Week 16 sealed the deal. Davis and Kosier could both use challenges at both Guard spots but I am not sure if the Cowboys see this as a priority. I would be thrilled to snag a guy like Danny Watkins from Baylor or the Moffitt kid from Wisconsin or Bolling from Georgia at pick #41 to be an instant contributor in the interior as they all look like they could start at guard as rookies. If the Cowboys took a RT in the 1st and a Guard in the 2nd, you would not hear me complain at all.
Jeftime: so... Jub Jub is hot for Prince but you have broken down his actual football play and think he's overrated. Could Prince be a safety, or is Jub's football talent evaluation to hampered by watching Mean Green football each week?
Bob Sturm:I love and respect Georgie and Goose and many other experts who like Prince. But, I have to trust my eyes and I didn't like what I saw. Look at this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVeWn3bwWTg - But, I really don't like the conversion idea that high in the draft. If you want a safety, take a safety (Rahim Moore - UCLA). Conversions are very risky and complex and Prince is going to be making a ton of money. I need sure things for that much cash. And please, no Newman to safety ideas. He can't tackle.
Guest: All whispers indicate Quinn is completely off the Boys radar. With Spencer a FA next year, and likely to demand $8-10 million per year, is it that crazy to see if he falls to you?
Bob Sturm:It is true that Spencer is a FA at the end of 2011, but Quinn is obviously a tricky player to read given his dicey college career. Spencer is one guy I think Rob Ryan may be able to really bring out a big year in. Spencer is very under-rated for his play against the run and if the Cowboys could get a decent DE on his side, we might really see him explode. I am not ready to give up on Spencer yet.
Philly: Does it seem like the Cowboys missed on Mendenhall?
Bob Sturm:Yes. And Chris Johnson. And Matt Forte. And Ray Rice. And.... They blew the Felix Jones pick. There is no other way to say it. He might still be able to prove me wrong, but the clock is ticking and everyone is losing patience. A new and improved OL might do him good, but you really wish he was able to demonstrate the ability to make something out of nothing a bit more often.
Adam: If Peterson slips to 5 or 6, should the cowboys make a play to move up for him in your opinion?
Bob Sturm:Peterson is the one player the Cowboys might get antsy for. Unlike Amukamara, Peterson does jump off the screen at you, does have unreal return speed, does tackle, and can play off or press. However, I would not give up the necessary ammunition to move up given the many holes on this team. They did for Jenkins and Dez (trade up), but I cannot do this too often.
Guest: What's our plan at SAFETY ... is there someone available at #9 (or a trade down) or do we get this position filled in later rounds in the draft. What are you hearing?
Bob Sturm:I don't think anyone sees the safety crop as very good. There is nobody close to 1st Round talent. Moore from UCLA is the best and I think he might possibly be there at #41. He is a FS type. Quinton Carter (not Quincy) is pretty average to me from Oklahoma. I think the Cowboys really owe it to themselves to make a strong push for Michael Huff in free agency since they obviously didn't think OJ Atogwe was as good as I do. I think safety is a position where i need a veteran. Q Mickell is also someone to keep in your head as a possibility.
Mornin' Bob: If Fairly does slide due to his Haynesworth like symptoms, will the Cowboys take a flyer on him the same way they did with Dez?
Bob Sturm:Fairly in a 3-4 defense is a topic I cannot quite get my arms around. His "Haynesworth-like symptoms" do not bother me, because unlike Albert, this guy plays hard all of the time. Fairly destroyed. If you want guys to jump off the screen when you watch them, then Nick Fairly is for you. But, is he too small (Jay Ratliff) to play the nose? Is he too small to play the 2 gap 5 technique? Or, is he too special to worry about it and you just grab him if you are lucky enough for him to slide. I remember Warren Sapp Sliding for character flaws and Tampa did ok there, right? I would love to figure out how to utilize this dude. He brings quite an attitude with his game.
Santiago: Bob, how much tape do you watch, on average, per week this time of year?
Bob Sturm:Quite a bit. I store a ton of college games on my harddrive so i can look at the prospects I want to see. Then, with NFL.com you can access any game all season for about $40 and it really helps me recall some of the details of the Cowboys games or look at a player in free agency without trusting some writer somewhere. I really enjoy my football this time of year.
Drew: I read your interview from Profootballfocus.com a few weeks ago. In it, you discussed Gerald Sensebaugh and how he's not a cover guy and more of a box/ blitz guy. Do you think he can become a better cover guy under Rob Ryan?
Bob Sturm:I am not sure. I think Sensabaugh is a player that could be a part of the plan moving forward if the idea is to blitz from anywhere and have 11 dangerous players in a QB's head in the presnap. But, Sensabaugh is not a player I would invest in because he had a very poor year when it came to hitting players. He is a finesse safety. A box safety has to bring a sack of hammers with him sometimes and he is not that at all. I remember a play last year where he had Favre lined up for a blind side and basically babied him to the ground when he might have knocked him out of the game with a real hit. I think he is a guy who is playing to avoid a fine. I don't care for that mentality in my Strong Safety.
Guest: Can they squeeze another year or two out of Colombo by moving him inside?
Bob Sturm:I don't know. He has had so many knee issues and health concerns that I just don't know if he is better served in the trenches. If guard was so bad that Colombo could improve it, I might try, but Davis and Kosier are better inside than Colombo would be, in my estimation.
Jef: how much of our secondary problems have been talent and how much scheme? Did we think Jenkins 2 years ago was a stud because Ware/Spencer/Ratliff provided such a great pass rusch (Spencer in last 1/2)?
Bob Sturm:Absolutely. Corners always look better when there is some pressure. Look at Pittsburgh. There is no way that you can tell me William Gay is a better corner than Mike Jenkins. But, with pressure, you can go to the Super Bowl (or win one) with corners who are average because the QB has to make quick decisions with a guy about to hit him hard. I am a firm believer (and I think most people are) that if I have to choose between great pass rushers or great cover guys, I need the pass rushers. Who were the great cover guys on the 2007 Giants? The 2008 Steelers? It is all about getting to the QB. Get better DE play, and your corners - even Jenkins and Newman will look way better.
Doug Fu: If you were in the Cowboys War Room on Draft Day, what one player would you be championing for them to take?
Bob Sturm:Tough scenario because there are many players in each round that I like and many I stay away from. But, if most of the mocks are right, and we are talking about #9, I will be very happy with Jordan or Smith at #9. And very disappointed with Prince or Solder. By the way, here is some tape on why Colorado LT Solder is not a player I would take. Youtube Solder vs California I don't care how many trainers he can toss in a workout. This tape suggests Trent Cole would destroy him.
Drew: Who do you think has a better projected career ahead of them. Patrick Peterson or Prince? And who would be a better fit for the Cowboys?
Bob Sturm:Peterson, Peterson, Peterson.
Phillip: I was looking at some lists of people who could be taken in later rounds. Is it just me, or are there a bunch of promising skill players projected in later rounds? Instead of looking to grab Ingram at 9, why wouldn't the Cowboys grab a position of need there, then look to someone like Kendall Hunter in the 3rd round?
Bob Sturm:To me, if the Cowboys do anything with a player who wears a number lower than 50 in the first 2 rounds, I will think they made a mistake. Their needs are clear. Offensive line and Defensive line. Everything else can wait.
Morris: The Cowboys have always talked about moving Ratliff to DE. Do you see Rob Ryan converting him to a DE in a pass rush role much like Jason Taylor in his brothers defensive scheme?
Bob Sturm:I think in time this will happen. If the Cowboys could just find a proper NT who can 2 gap like Casey Hampton, Kris Jenkins, or BJ Raji, I think we would see the Cowboys defense take off. Ratliff could really be a strong DE. In pass rush situations, he can help you anywhere.
Brd: Remind me again why Barber and Williams are still on the Cowboy's roster?
Bob Sturm:Jerry Jones hates to admit defeat. Really, really hates to admit defeat. However, I don't see a way Barber is on this roster. Williams has a chance - and a bigger one every time Dez Bryant gets his name in the paper - to hang around although I would advise against it. The Cowboys should really just move on with some fresh faces.
Kevin: Let's say the Cowboys fill a need or two, their draft grades at a B+. Where do they stand in the NFC East? 2nd? 3rd? 4th?
Bob Sturm:An impossible question. However, we should all understand that the NFC East is tightly compacted. Washington has major issues. Romo is going to be back. Rob Ryan is a great addition. Philadelphia has significant defensive problems. And New York looks like the best team at this very second. If Romo gets back and plays well, with Dez and Miles and some help at the line of scrimmage, I don't see the Cowboys very far out of the Wildcard mix. The NFC is not an impossible task to crack the top 6.
Philly: So, lets say the Cowboys sign Huff and are increase their lead in the highest salary race. Does that effect our top two picks?
Bob Sturm:Not at all. It affects the ability to pay Roy Williams, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo, And Terence Newman some of their giant cap hits.
Drew: Any chance Ogletree can develop into a top flight reciever? Typically, it takes 5 years to develop a WR right?
Bob Sturm:I hope it doesn't take 5 years. Ogletree's biggest issue is he is a dicey special teams player. So, if he can't be good on teams, then he can't be active unless he is an exceptional WR option. Well, he is not that either, so he sits on game day. I think he really needs to advance at camp or he might be gone. They want to utilize him and his rare speed, but there aren't enough roster spots to do it for a 3rd season unless he breaks out into the mix for #3 or #4 receiver.
Aggie: Bob, do you think the Cowboys offense could be elite with the addition of Tyron Smith at RT? I mean we do have the weapons.
Bob Sturm:I think it has a chance to be pretty good. He is already a solid run blocker and very athletic in space (like Free). The question is if he is ready for all of the edge rushers with spotless technique at the NFL level. That is asking quite a bit. Think of him like a great pitching prospect. He is a great piece to have, but it might take him a few years to put it all together. He just turned 20 years old.
BRD: Was the miss on F Jones not partly due to the terrible evaluation of Barber? Believing we already had a power RB and needed an alternate style more than someone like Mendenhall?
Bob Sturm:I guess I don't understand why your 2 RBs have to have completely opposite styles. Sometimes it helps, but I suggest that Barber and Mendenhall would have been a fine 1-2 punch. If you are going to take a player in the 1st Round, I don't think it is wise to merely take him because he contrasts with your current RB. You take him because he is a stud. And the Cowboys took a part-time player at Arkansas and thought he would be a #1 in the NFL. So far, they were wrong.
PhurdTurner: What is the reason behind moving the kickoffs
Bob Sturm:I wish I knew. Some suggest health concerns. But, for the life of me, why would the league like to eliminate the excitement of Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs? I know coaches who have been burned by those guys must love it, but it doesn't make any sense to me.