Friday, January 25, 2013

Learning The Draft - DT Edition

These types of posts will show up periodically over the next few months and you certainly will have to decide how badly you want to follow along.  I won't be offended if you are the type to only care about the draft when it happens and you might want to read about the first few guys that the Cowboys take.

However, I am not wired that way, and while there are many who spend more time on the draft than I do, I would argue that I certainly may have a problem to have already spent countless hours on this thing with about 90 days to go.

My goal is not to know everything, nor is it to give you my "mock draft" for all 7 rounds as some people do (I cannot think of a bigger waste of energy than that).  Rather, I just want to try to zero in on the top few rounds and top few picks of the Dallas Cowboys.  Look at every option from every angle, and attempt to build our preferences and ideas solely around that effort.

Mocks and boards are out there and useful, but for us, we just want to see the following:  1) What do the Cowboys need?  2) What are the options at each spot?  3) What do we think they should do?

Sounds easy, but it will take us the next 3 months to do it.  And we will likely still not nail it, because Jerry always has a Morris Claiborne trade up idea that we never see coming.

But, it is still a passion and therefore, we will at least learn the top players about to join the NFL.

Before we dig too deep, let's get a handle on what the Cowboys have at their disposal in the April draft.  As you can see, it is their normal full allotment, save for the 7th that they had to burn last September for Ryan Cook.  Given that they received 837 snaps from Cook in 2012, they will have to admit that investment was worthwhile.  His quality level was not fantastic, but it also wasn't bad.

Here is what they have:

RoundPickOverall - (Approx)
Rd 1#18#18
Rd 2#19#51
Rd 3#18#82
Rd 4#19#115
Rd 5#18#146
Rd 6#19#179
Rd 7#18#220 - Traded to Miami for Ryan Cook

That means that we will attempt to get ready for 3 picks in the Top 82.  Beyond that, there are plenty of other places to find people to speculate about pick #146, but I will draw the line at basically the "Top 100".

When discussing the Cowboys needs, we can go on and on for quite a while.  Looking at the offense, they need a young QB, a RB, a WR, and as many OL as they can grab.  Defensively, they could use DT, DE, OLB, FS, and SS.  And while you are at it, does anyone have enough cornerbacks?

So, they need a lot of positions, and they also have to decide overall what is more pressing A) do they address the lacking physical prowess of a team that was routinely bullied along the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense.  Or B) do they realize that the entire league is basing just about every decision and advancement on one term: speed.

Unfortunately, those are two completely different objectives.  Improve the ability to be physical and win a game with strength and draft OL, DL, OL in the first 3 rounds or understand that the league is in a spot where you need to pass and stop the pass - therefore finding another perimeter weapon WR, a change-up RB, and a safety or corner.  You can't do both.  But, it would only be nice if you could.

Instead, you have to examine how to best fix what is broken and figure out how to best use your assets in a way that gets you ready to go.

Many of these points that have been made require elaboration - remember, we have 100 days til the draft and 200+ to opening day - but for now, I will fast forward ahead to my personal conclusions.  I fully believe that they best way to pass the ball is to provide your QB the opportunity to progress through his reads while keeping his eye level high on the receivers, not low on his failing protection.  I also believe that the best way to stop Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady or Drew Brees is to hit them repeatedly and make them uncomfortable.  And that is why I want to go big in this draft.  Big and strong on the offensive line and defensive line is where this team needs an infusion of youthful talent.

The last major investment in the defensive line was.....a long ways back.  In fact, 2005 might be the last real major DL moves on draft day.  And, before Tyron Smith, we all know that it had been a lifetime since the Cowboys spent high on that unit.

Well, it is time to invest in big.  WR and RB are needs, safety is always an issue, but I need this April to be about 300 pounders, not smallish skill position guys with Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, Dez Bryant, and Claiborne.

Got to swing the balance back to a tough, strong squad that is not filling those gaps with other team's leftovers.

With that in mind, we will begin to look at specific positions and give you some viewing material to digest and "get to know" some candidates on some very early initial lists.


Here is the list of CURRENT NFL All-Pro players at the position.  Forgive the fact that Ngata is a 3-4 DT, Wilfork plays DT in multiple fronts, and Atkins and Suh are 4-3 DTs.  But, I do think it is helpful to compare the relative sizes of the best in the business at these spots as we consider prospects for the next level.


And then here are the top DT prospects that appear to be the consensus top handfuls of guys we better learn about for April:

Hankins-Ohio St6'3322-5.30

Of this list, just about everyone feels that the top 2, Lotulelei and Hankins will be long gone before we get to pick #18.  While we won't ignore them, we also won't spend too much time on them since the Cowboys do not seem to be a candidate to trade up (although that didn't stop them last year).  

But, the next 5 names, starting with Richardson all the way down to Jenkins, we see names that both fit the profile of the Cowboys needs and seem to fit the range of Dallas' top 2 picks.  It is very difficult to determine which players would be a fit at #18 or #51 at this juncture, but I wanted to look at plenty of video on each player and get familiar with these guys in particular.

So, here are some games for you to look at:

Sylvester Williams - North Carolina - 25games - 8.5 sacks

 Vs Maryland


 Vs Va Tech


 Kawann Short - Purdue - 50g - 19.5 sacks

 Vs Notre Dame


 Vs Ohio State


 Vs Illinois


 John Jenkins - Georgia - 27g - 4 sacks

 Vs Auburn


 Vs South Carolina


 Vs Missouri


 Sheldon Richardson - Missouri - 24g - 6 Sacks

 Vs Alabama


Vs Florida


 Sharrif Floyd - Florida - 37g - 4.5 sacks

 vs Texas A&M

 Vs Florida State

This is a lot of information and plenty of things to consider.  If you are like me, you will spend the next few days watching all of this with a notebook and trying to determine which 2 or 3 you like and which you don't care for.

Watch for Jenkins, Short, and Williams in the Senior Bowl on Saturday, and we will start comparing notes next week.

Also, we will move on to Defensive Ends and then to the Offensive Line.

It is officially Draft Season.

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