Friday, January 08, 2016

1/8/16 - Cowboys Mailbag

Sturm's Cowboys Mailbag: If draft was today, two QB picks I'd support with No. 4 selection

Dec 29, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws a pass in the second quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman/Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports 
Dec 29, 2015; Fort Worth, TX, USA; California Golden Bears quarterback Jared Goff (16) throws a pass in the second quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Let's roll through more of  your questions to end this Cowboys' week:
How much better does Orlando Scandrick make our defense? He seems to be really passionate and vocal.
I think Orlando Scandrick is one of the best players in this organization and is absolutely a passionate and vocal leader.  He is clearly the voice of the defensive backs and will fight you until his heart stops beating.  Not only that, but he is very good in the slot and a fine, natural blitzer who also tackles well in space.  I think the team really missed Orlando and the prospect that he returns next season is an exciting one.  They need him quite healthy, but overall, I am pleased bout the idea that he will be back soon.  We should remember that he will turn 29 this February. 

What do you make of Anthony Hitchens? Does he start next year?
I think that is their hope.  One of the items in the last few weeks that did seem positive is that Hitchens made some plays against the Jets and Redskins that reminded you of how good he was at stretches in 2014.  He really was missing much of the season as he stood on the sideline as the team seemed committed to Rolando McClain in more and more situations.  Hitchens has some limitations, but he is very athletic and plays very hard.  I want to see more of him and if the Cowboys can address LB in the draft, great.  But, either way, I think they need to show us that Hitchens and Damien Wilson (the 4th rounder this spring from Minnesota) have some upside to utilize moving forward.  I like them both because they have the athleticism that can compete.  I just thought McClain was exposed too often this year for not being able to run like a LB needs to run in the NFL these days.
Will Travis Frederick get an extension? How much will it cost?
Yes, believe it or not, we are to the point where we should likely expect conversations between the Cowboys and Travis Frederick to heat up over the offseason.  There are no indications that they would mess around on this front and the going rate for centers is pretty clear.  Both Pouncey brothers (Miami and Pittsburgh) and Rodney Hudson in Oakland all have very similar "top of the market" contracts as centers.  They all are roughly 5 years and just under $45 million.  So, basically just a shade under $9 million a year for this position in the marketplace.  The guarantee on these deals is all around $12-$14 million a piece, so I would say this will be a real easy contract to do.  They love him.  He is a real solid piece.  And the market is clear.
You see any way Jerry would go after Sean Payton?
The ship sailed earlier this week.  I will admit that I would have endorsed this move because I think that Payton is an exceptional coach who A) has accomplished plenty in this league and B) understands how to deal with the Jones family.  On top of that, my views on Jason Garrett have certainly cooled during 2015 and I am fine with a fresh approach running this team.  But, there will be no fresh approach and I suppose we should all just wrap are heads around the idea that barring something pretty catastrophic, there is very little chance that Garrett is not only the coach here to start 2016, but also 2017.  He is darn near a member of the Jones family these days.
Based on your early scouting of some college QBs, who is a guy you haven't seen talked about too much that we should perhaps start looking into?
There are 2 QBs to get fired up about this year.  There are many other prospects that are attractive and could be something, but the tools possessed by both Jared Goff of California and Paxton Lynch of Memphis to me are the types that you dream about.  So, you add that the Cowboys pick #4 in the draft and this might be the year for the Cowboys to secure their golden boy who might be good enough to ultimately be this team's QB through the year 2025 or more (if they do it right).  I hear way too many people claim that they would never take a QB that high.  I think they would and I think they want to this year.  I still need to do plenty of more work, but as I stand today, if either of those 2 is available at #4, I am in.  Further, if I have to trade up to make sure I get the one I want, I would at least have to give it some serious thought.
I know it takes a few years to really evaluate a draft class, but based on what you've seen and heard on the field and behind the scenes, how would you rate our 2015 draft class? Chaz Green never had a chance to show anything and Damien Wilson seemed to disappear once the regular season got started. I'm still high on Byron Jones and Randy Gregory, though.
Well, I happen to think this might be an all-time great draft for the Cowboys as I believe they got 3 blue-chip players from the 2015 draft (and you hope to get 1-2 in each draft).  You have to recall how good La'el Collins and Randy Gregory were in the build up to last year's draft.  In January, Gregory was thought of as a #1 pick.  I am not kidding.  #1!  Collins was thought of as the best offensive lineman in the draft.  And Jones was a legit 1st rounder.  When you have that trio, everything else is pure gravy.  
So yes, I would like to see that Chaz Green lives and that Damien Wilson has something in his bag, but honestly, if those 3 are what we think they are, nobody is ever going to have issues with the 2015 draft.
Hey Bob; Rabble from Blogging the Boys here. 
On the pregame show on Sunday, I heard you all talking about the Cowboys' record in securing the "core" guys who receive second contracts, and it got me wondering: how do other teams fare in this regard? As it turns out, not much better (save for the Packers). I have attached a chart showing all the players in each year that each team drafted that have remained with the team (in effect, receiving a second contract). 
Two things: 1) Some of them have left for a season and returned; I have marked those with an asterisk 2) For the 2011 first rounders, I included only those who had already inked an extension. Those who played in 2015 (which would have been the fifth year of their rookie deal) but haven't signed an extension, such as Prince Amukamara, I left off the list.

Wow, as someone who enjoys data and fun charts, I will compliment your fine work.  So, let me explain to the readers what we are doing here.
On the pregame show on Sunday, we started talking about the "personnel conveyor belt" of the NFL as it pertains to making sure your draft is populating your roster.  This leads to continuity and a healthy salary cap as well as a young roster that doesn't grow old at the same time.  With rookie contracts at 4-5 years, you are drafting 22 year olds (roughly) and they are cheap labor until they turn 25 or 26.  Then, you keep the keepers (at a much higher cost - like Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant) and start over with the others by replacing them with 22 year olds again on cheap deals.
So, the theory is that the only players older than 30 are franchise caliber types (Romo, Witten) and everyone else is turned over within one 5 year life cycle.  That means the players between 26-30 are all substantial players who make a real difference every week.  It is a fun theory.
Then, we bemoaned the fact that the 2009 draft was a Cowboys disaster and the only player kept from 2011 is Tyron Smith.  On top of that, we are close to the 2012 draft being cleaned out with Tyrone Crawford the only true "keeper" as Mo Claiborne and James Hanna won't be signed to big extensions (if they are kept at all).
So here is Rabble's chart which shows a 5-year snapshot of all 16 NFC teams and we can see the Cowboys actually aren't in a bad spot when you compare with everyone else.  It is interesting that Green Bay, Seattle, and Minnesota are the top 3 in this category.  The Panthers are not great on here, but if you look at its roster, it seems they are doing quite a bit on the strength of the 22-26 year olds (like Seattle already did).  Like Seattle, they will find that those guys get pretty expensive when they need their deal, but there are many ways to skin a cat.  Very interesting stuff, there.  I did not fact check his chart, but it looks pretty accurate on 1st pass.  
And man, the Bears.  Wow.    

Do you think the Cowboys should draft a new QB, trade for one, or keep Romo?

They are absolutely keeping Romo - as they should - and he will be this team's QB1 until he demonstrates he can't do it anymore.  Beyond Romo, I am a firm believer that they should draft his replacement at #4 (I reserve the right to adjust this view as I study the draft further) and let that young man develop behind the scenes in 2016 and maybe even 2017.  This is where we need a veteran backup and Kellen Moore is already here and the leader in the clubhouse.  I don't have interest in a retread reclamation project from an area school - although the Jones family likely disagrees with me.  
But, for me, if the only thing they do at QB is walk away with Goff or Lynch and proceed with Moore backing up Romo, I think I am good with that.
Have a great weekend!

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