Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning Draft Thoughts

Unlike Thursday's 1st round, Friday's 2nd and 3rd round selections for the Dallas Cowboys were not met with approval from all precincts and therefore is on my mind as we try to sort out what the Cowboys decided upon for Picks #40 and #71.

As we talked about yesterday, it seemed vital for the Cowboys to continue to grab potential starters on Day 2, and fortify a team that has enough holes to go around.

As you know by now, the newest Cowboys are ILB Bruce Carter from UNC and DeMarco Murray, the phenomenal RB from Oklahoma.

Both are talented young men who have very impressive college resumes. Both also have major injury concerns that pushed them down the draft. There was a time where both names were projected to be 1st Round Draft picks, but in both cases, health issues took them out of that mix long before April of 2011 arrived.

I started discussing my issues with Bruce Carter this morning on Twitter, but quickly realized 140 characters was not going to be enough to clearly and concisely organize my thoughts.

So here they are:

After looking at his film, reading his reports, and talking to scouts, I can certainly understand the idea behind drafting him. Many suggest that it was a round too early, but regardless, there is no doubt that in today's NFL, you need sideline to sideline linebackers who can fly around and make plays and not be left in the dust if a RB tries to run a route in the flat.

The finesse label he has appears evident on the tape, but there is no doubt that players are not running away from him very often. Bradie James and Keith Brooking are not known for closing down the ball carrier with superior speed. Well, this guy has superior speed.

So, you have to love the wheels. You have to love the instincts on special teams that have allowed him to block kick after kick. You have to love that he is an athlete that can find the ball.

Concerns? There are plenty. Not the least of which would be that a "speed" athlete is coming off ACL surgery in November. Is he fully ready for camp in July (if there is one?) - well, I can't count on that.

But, really, my biggest beef is this. I am being told that he is particularly ideal in nickel schemes. He is a guy who should be able to be awesome in coverage - and if there is a dump off to a RB on 3rd and 8, Bruce Carter should make sure he doesn't reach the sticks. So what is my issue? Well, you won't believe this, but I promise you I have had this exact conversation with personnel experts after the 2005 draft (2nd Rounder Kevin Burnett), the 2006 draft (1st Rounder Bobby Carpenter), the 2009 draft (3rd Rounder Jason Williams) and the 2010 draft (2nd Rounder Sean Lee). So in 7 drafts since converting to the 3-4, the Cowboys have used a premium pick on an inside linebacker who can cover (not rush) 5 times!

And, for different reasons, they still need to select one in 2011. Is Sean Lee a bust? No, I don't think he is. I assume the plan is for Carter and Lee to form a duo for 10 years if we are lucky. But, how can anyone say that with a straight face after hearing similar projections for Carpenter, Williams, and Burnett?

But that must tell us they have a rather short leash projection for Bradie James (we already assume Keith Brooking will be slowly phased out this season). James, a long-time defensive leader, is in the final year of his deal in 2011 and I would imagine he has spent the last day feeling like the Cowboys gave him their intention about a contract extension with the Carter pick.

So, do I not like the pick? Well, I like Bruce Carter's upside. But, I am not crazy about taking another inside LB with a very important pick for the 5th draft in 7 years.

Now, let's move on to the exciting name in this draft class - Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray. Very few players have fluctuated in draft value like Murray. 2 seasons ago, he was thought to be "the belle of the ball" for the class of 2011. 2 months ago, there were questions about whether he would even be drafted.

But the Cowboys took him at pick #71. I find this interesting - not because of his value as a player or his talent. I find it interesting that the Cowboys feel they need a full-time RB again. Because, that is what Murray will have to be for this to be a worthwhile investment.

In choosing a RB at this spot, they passed on Will Rackley from Lehigh (Jacksonville - Pick #76) who many think could have started at LG on opening day. They also passed on Safety, CB, and DL options that remained.

More importantly, they told us what they think of their current RB set up with Felix Jones, Tashard Choice, and of course, Marion Barber (who is already out the door). Taking a RB in this draft is not a surprise. They needed a 3rd RB who could be a special teams ace. But, taking a RB who is known for his pass receiving and his potential to be a #1 RB should at least disappoint those who retained hope that Felix Jones is what we thought he would be when the Cowboys took him in 2008.

With so many pressing needs on the roster, they still want to fix RB? And they get Murray who is best known for his ability to catch the ball (he had 71 receptions in 2010). This redundancy with Felix's new-found catching ability is quite a statement.

So, do I not like the pick? Well, I like DeMarco Murray's upside. But, I am not crazy about taking another RB when there seem to be more pressing needs.

And that is the taste in my mouth after Day 2.

And one more thing...

Does Jerry realize that it is a really bad idea to tell us that Larry Lacewell, Barry Switzer, and Butch Davis signed off on these picks?

If you are like me, then you feel that the Cowboys are making picks to make up for previous sins. If previous OL picks could play, then maybe they don't need to address the OL. If previous cover LBs could play, then Bruce Carter is not a need because Carpenter is in his prime and Jason Williams is entering his 3rd season. If previous RBs were what Dallas needed, then they don't need Murray.

Previous draft disappointments haunt the Cowboys. And when Jerry tells us that he is not listening to his scouts, but more about how he listens to his old buddies about picks, then we should assume that the draft process has not changed very much. I needed Jerry to tell me that Tom Ciskowski and his staff have targeted this player and we trust them. Instead, he tells me that Switzer signed off on the Cowboys taking an Oklahoma RB.

It might be just a little thing, but that bothered me more than the picks themselves. You have scouts and personnel experts. Use them or fire them and find new ones you do trust.

The process seems to be the same. So, are we crazy for hoping the results to be different?


Jay Callicott said...

Ya I love offensive line help. I remember Norm saying this draft went deep at RB, I would have been pleased if we had drafted one late.

Jay Callicott said...

Also I feel like Jerry Jones only drafts players he's heard of...which is not good...