Friday, April 01, 2016

DMN Mailbag - 4/1 -

Well, we have made it to April.  The month of the NFL Draft has finally arrived and therefore I am a little over a month from slowing down so my keyboard can stop smoking from all of this off-season football writing.

But, that is still many weeks away.  We must finish strong.  Still want to try to get to 60 prospect profiles (44 down, 16 to go) - then rank the draft by positions here in a few weeks for the print and digital outposts here.  We will get there.  Stay hydrated.
Now, for your tweets and emails that have been received - Let's do this!
Q: What did you think of Jerry Jones using the word 'absurd' regarding NFL and head injuries?
It was a very bad plan and he knows it.  He has certainly been reasoned with and I highly doubt you will hear that come out of his mouth again.  But, the damage has been done and he is off by himself as most experts in his sport are now admitting there is certainly a link and now we need to figure out how much of one and what to do with that information.  But, to take the 1980 view of the idea that you should just rub some dirt on your head wound and get back out there is pretty silly.  He has never been one of the greatest orators of our generation, but he certainly has never said no to an open microphone, either.  
Q: Other than Romo and Dez, who is the Cowboys' most indispensable player on offense? On defense?
Well, we are basically ranking the roster here and I am always up for this exercise.  The most valuable offensive player who doesn't wear #9 or #88 is easily Tyron Smith.  He is a superb talent who deserves every penny he gets and might be the best player at his position - a position that is one of the most valued in the sport.  This is why I always caution anyone on 2nd guessing JJ Watt on Tyron Smith.  Yes, Watt is the better player, but if Tyron is the consolation prize, that is quite a contest.  
Now, on the defense, the most valuable piece - or most indispensable piece is a bit more murky as there appear to be no superstars apparent right now.  I suppose the most indispensable would be Sean Lee, but the most talented should by Byron Jones - depending on his development.  DeMarcus Lawrence is hopefully in that category soon and Tyrone Crawford would have been my answer if you asked me 12 months ago.   They have some nice pieces on defense but nobody who you have to build your gameplan around right now.  They have a lot of pretty good, not great at the moment.  But, they do have pieces that can grow into that perhaps.  And maybe #4 to use.  
Q: Would Cowboys be better served if Alfred Morris wins the starting job this season and be able to use McFadden off the bench?
Yes.  Very much so, yes.  I have written about this previously and would advise anyone interested to give it a read.  I think Morris is very much more the scheme fit and scheme fit is a very important consideration when looking for the right man for the job.  You didn't draft Tyron, Frederick, and Zack so that you could run something other than their ideal scheme.  Yes, they are good enough to do something different, but why would you want to intend to do that?  Play to your talent's strength is one of the top considerations.  Here is the piece I wrote on Morris.  I think he can have a very big year for the Cowboys.   I still think anything received from McFadden is a bonus.  His deal is such that you can afford to look at it that way.  He had a great 2015, but that is not a new normal, most likely.  
Q:  Heard Wentz described as being as athletic as Andrew Luck and Cam Newton. If that's the case and the Cowboys get a shot at him, how can they pass it up? He seems to have the other intangibles as well
Well, I would argue that he is both very athletic and a tier below Newton and Luck.  Hopefully, that is still acceptable.  Those were both no-brain #1 picks overall by most GMs.  Wentz may not be a no-brainer #1 overall, but if the Cowboys have decided that Carson Wentz is the play.  I believe in the guy although I think Goff has a real chance to have a higher ceiling.  That said, I am more than fine with this kid and consider it is very close between the two.  But, as I have said for a while, if the Cowboys decide to fix QB at #4 overall, I am completely with them.
Q: Saw your profile of Georgia LB Floyd, said him being skinny was a little bit of a concern? Does that also apply to Randy Gregory?
Well, they are both skinny, but Gregory was a very strong and dominant edge man at the college game.  Floyd was moved around constantly by Georgia and he was playing a ton of inside linebacker by his final year.  That is quite odd and not close to Gregory's path.  There is nothing wrong with skinny if you can play at a high level.  But, with Floyd, if at Georgia they were trying to figure out how to use him, that would make me pretty nervous at the next level.  
Q: I see pass rush as more important than back end of defense. Therefore I say take best pass rusher, which I suppose means Bosa. Your thoughts?
There is nothing wrong with that line of thinking at all.  I would argue that if you want the best pass rusher, you must also check Noah Spence out, but I think he is way more of a pass-rush only guy and an issue that high in the 1st round against the run.  Bosa is the most well-rounded of the group and over the past week I have been advised to get more acquainted with Oregon's Deforest Buckner as a possibility, too.  I don't like the fit, but I also concede I cannot see hypothetical fits and positional conversions very well - I didn't like Zack Martin in Round 1 to play guard if he had never done it at Notre Dame - so there is a big drop off from NFL scouts to bloggers online.  I am the first to admit I am nowhere near that league.
Q: Is Brandon Carr gone come June 1? How much of a paycut do you think he'd have to take to stay on?
I bet the draft would have something to say about this.  If they get a corner in the first few days, that might be the end of Carr, but personally, I am not ever on the train to get rid of Brandon Carr.  Yes, he is overpaid.  But, you can do way worse than Carr on the field.  So, if you are trying to save a few million - only to spend it finding his replacement, if the net result is "break even" or worse, what is the point?  He plays 1,000 snaps a year for the Cowboys and is seldom a guy the opponent attacks.  They can save some money and therefore have some leverage if they want to offer a pay cut and for the first time he might take it.  But, I am not eager to have to replace his workload.  That position is expensive to replace.  Especially if they want Byron Jones to be a full-time safety.  I have heard the idea of actually offering him a 2-year extension or something to bring down his cost, but in a way where you can keep him moving forward at a much smaller price, but I have no idea how realistic that idea is.
Q: Any thoughts on new Cowboy Joe Looney? Is he just a guy?
Yes, he is just a veteran emergency interior swing guy.  You need these guys on the roster, but they are generally not someone you want on the field.  But, you are trying to cover yourself in case of emergency.  Without the valuable insurance policy of Mackenzy Bernadeau around anymore after he got 2 years in Jacksonville, they needed to figure this out and now have covered themselves without having to use a pick.  I like the move.  I just don't want him on the field because that means somebody very talented has been injured.
Q: Think the Cowboys should make a run at Josh McCown? I think he'd be an ideal backup QB
Like trade for him?  I am not inclined to trade anything for a 36-year old backup QB in April.  If he is on the market, let's talk, but I have not heard Cleveland is up for that yet.  They may if they go QB at #2, but for now, I assume the Browns will keep him around.  

Part 2 

Here we go - Part 1 is already in the wild, so let's go and put Part 2 on wax - focusing largely on emails and tweets from you the valued reader! 
Q from @zkmavz: Is Andrew Billings a possibility at 34? Will be be available then?
My answer to both is yes.  Yes, it is possible Billings is available at #34, however I would say odds are against it.  He just seems like too impressive a prospect to think he would slide there.  The one reason that it is possible is that there are so many attractive DT candidates that there will be a few very nice 1st rounders who get to the top of Round 2 just because of depth at this position will cause teams to wait to address this need.  And, I can tell you, even with the signing of Cedric Thornton, if one of these top DTs slide to #34, I bet the Cowboys jump on it.  You can never have too many big bodies and let's be honest - they aren't close to having too many.  I would really be interested in looking at which premium DTs make it to that spot if the Cowboys do not use that pick to trade back into Round 1 to get a QB.
Q from @jordan_newsom  - sports gun: you pick up Goff or Ramsey w 4, and can trade Collins to move back into top 10 for another stud. Do you pull it?
I really don't find it reasonable to think that La'el Collins is either A) being shopped to trade or B) able to fetch a high 1st rounder in return.  I could be wrong that because he did show some incredibly impressive traits at times in his rookie season, but it would be rather uncharacteristic for something like this to occur.  Further, his contract is quite unique in that there are 2 more years left on it and then he would become a restricted free agent already after 2017.  This also would likely not assist in his trade value and there is a very real possibility that the Cowboys offered assurances against this sort of thing in the first place when they struck a deal with La'el last spring.  This is all a way to say that your scenario seems impossible from where I sit.
Q from @smartasstexan - don't you think the Cowboys are already playing their hand by not signing a back up QB? They HAVE to draft a QB at #4 now.
Well, I wish that the Cowboys actions always added up that easily.  The fact is that last year, for instance, they were using Brandon Weeden who looked nothing like a solid backup the year before as their fall-back in case Romo was ever unavailable and they did not feel the slightest bit compelled to go draft a QB.  They don't have to draft a QB.  The wind seems to indicate that they likely will in their first four picks, but nobody knows where.  
This franchise has always put all of its hope in Tony Romo for as long as I can remember.  It sure doesn't seem that they are sending clear messages that this is changing for me.  I advise them to take Wentz or Goff at #4.  I think it is easily the smartest thing they could do.  But, they haven't listened to me very often in 18 seasons and I assume that trend will continue.  
Q from @theimmackulate:  Would a clean Randy Gregory be talented enough to mitigate DE concerns? 4 games not that long if he gets it together.
He very much would in many ways, but he still would not be that run stopping edge DE that they still need.  That is why Bosa gets so much talk and Buckner, I guess, as well.  They both can pack some real physicality on the edge, and not just speed around the corner.  Gregory is always going to be a real small DE which is fine with pass rush, but not great with 1st and 2nd down in a physical battle.  But, if your point is not to make this really short-sighted decision to spend everything because Gregory is out 4 games, I agree.  This should not be a decision about 1 month, but rather 1 decade.  If you need a DE, go get Jeremy Mincey back on a 1-year deal.  
Q from@Gman5711 -  Bob, your best guess. Romo has closer to one quality season or four left in his career?
I have placed the over/under at 25 more starts.  So, I would say that is much closer to 1 season (16) than 4 (64).  I love the guy and I want him to have a very happy ending to his career, but my faith in his body holding up at this stage with this high of an odometer is just not very strong right now.
Q from @A_MFReynolds - is Ramsey a better corner or safety, is he available at #4, and if he's a cowboy, where does he play?
I think he is a better safety.  I think he can be a Troy Polamalu clone and could dominate the line of scrimmage for years to come.  But, I believe the Cowboys would only take him if they thought he was the physical and dynamic corner they imagined Mo Claiborne was and would play him out there at that more premium spot.  So, my best guess is that if he became a Cowboy, he would be doing it at corner - where I am not as big of a fan.  If you want the best corner, that is likely Vernon Hargreaves, but I am not tickled with the quality at the top of this position in the 2016 draft.  
That being said, I think Ramsey is the best prospect in this draft.  But, only if you are going to use him at safety.  
Q from @Blk_Dolphin - Why doesn't Myles Jack get more chatter for the 4th pick? Would be a great add IMO.
I kind of think he gets all sorts of chatter from some colleagues.  I have heard many respected voices call him their favorite player in this entire draft.  I am not one of them.  I would not take Jack because that position - run and hit LB - has a very short lifespan in the NFL because it is a violent spot where bodies do not survive on Sundays for very long in most cases.  I must play the odds here and not spend a top prospect unless I think he will be one of my 3 best players in the 2023 season.  That is not realistic for an inside LB in today's NFL.  And, to make matters more crazy, Jack is already dealing with health related concerns.  So, he is awesome and a real freak of nature, but I don't want to spend this top resource on something that history tells me won't be around for long enough to make it worth my while.  
Have a great weekend.

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