Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Special Teams Snap Counts 2011-2016



Year FGA OppFGA XPT OppXPT Punts OppPunts KO Opp KO ST Totals
2016 32 32 46 28 58 70 91 75 432
2015 32 36 25 38 69 74 73 83 430
2014 29 18 56 41 58 67 96 75 440
2013 30 29 47 48 77 61 91 89 472
2012 31 33 37 44 69 74 79 88 455
2011 37 33 39 35 71 72 86 86 459
Yr Avg 31.8 30.1 41.6 39 67 69.6 86 82.6 448

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

One Year Later, Cowboys Still Lead NFL In Suspensions

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/07/26/one-year-later-dallas-still-top-nfl-suspension-list

Team 2014 2015 2016 2017 Suspensions Total Games Lost
1. Dallas  3 4 5 3 15 100
2. Baltimore 2 3 2 2 9 55
3. Cleveland 3 2 5 0 10 54
4. Carolina 3 3 1 0 7 43
5. Indianapolis 4 1 1 0 6 40
6. Washington 3 4 1 1 9 38
7. Chicago 0 6 2 0 8 37
8. Pittsburgh 0 2 3 0 5 35
9. Buffalo 1 2 4 1 8 32
10. Miami  3 1 1 0 5 28

Here is the chapter and verse for each Cowboys suspension since January of 2014:

Player Year Suspension Games Lost
DE David Irving 2017 PEDs 4
WR Shaquille Evans 2017 Substance 4
DE Randy Gregory 2017 Substance 16
LB Rolando McClain 2016 Substance 16
DE Randy Gregory 2016 Substance 10
DE Randy Gregory 2016 Substance 4
LB Rolando McClain 2016 Substance 10
DE DeMarcus Lawrence 2016 PEDs 4
RB Joseph Randle 2015 Personal Conduct 4
OL RJ Dill 2015 PEDs 4
LB Rolando McClain 2015 Substance 4
DE Greg Hardy 2015 Personal Conduct 4
De Josh Brent 2014 Conviction Manslaughter 10
S Jakar Hamilton 2014 Substance 4
CB Orlando Scandrick 2014 Substance 2



Monday, May 15, 2017

Monday Bag of Footballs - Drafting Pro Bowlers

Finally, we have dug our way out from under the heap of draft discussions and news long enough to get to a project that has been in my bin since April.  I realize this is more of one of those "Ask Sports Sturm" topics, but perhaps you will indulge me to avoid exciting mini-camp news about how so and so looked like standing in the slot or so and so appearing to be in a blitzing posture on a beautiful May afternoon long enough to tackle something far more irrelevant.  
And that is a single, solitary Adam Schefter tweet from several weeks ago.  From the looks of his tweet, he merely took a picture of someone else's research, but regardless, the moment he sent this out to his vast Twitter audience, the internet broke from Cowboys fans sending it to me (and others, I am sure) who have suggested the Cowboys could improve their drafting.




Now, it is an odd sample - 15 years - that should tell you right from the start that arbitrary sample sizes can give us all sorts of results to fit one's agenda.  But, 15 years also covers almost every active player who is still in football, so I have no issues with it.  Tom Brady and a few others predate the 2002 draft, but it is down to a simple handful.  
For the Cowboys 2002 is a clumsy fit.  In 2002, the Jerry Jones draft room was in full effect with Larry Lacewell and friends.  Then, in 2003, Bill Parcells was in full power and cleaned out a good part of the front office (Lacewell) over the next few years.  By 2007, when Parcells was gone, it seemed to be a Jeff Ireland draft.  And then by 2008-2010, it seemed like Jerry Jones, Wade Phillips, and even Lacewell was back in the mix to some extent along with young Will McClay and Stephen Jones beginning to have bigger seats.  By 2011, we believe that Jason Garrett, Jones, and McClay started having a greater influence on things and that has only grown until now.  So, 2 things from this paragraph.  1) I used the word "seemed" a lot because the Cowboys are great at not being fully transparent about who has what say on things - partly because I think it has changed countless times.  There is not a consistent system that can be pointed at as their way of doing business.  Some times Jerry Jones has the influence.  Other times, they will say they asked Butch Davis to vouch for Bruce Carter or Rod Marinelli to break a tie on Shariff Floyd and they would.  And 2) the front office has evolved into at least 5 different groups of football brains in these 15 drafts.  Jerry has always sat at the head of the table, but the others may vary.  
And finally, as I am one to do this sort of thing, I personally checked the math.  Using the fabulous www.profootballreference.com draft finder tool, you can easily roll through this and I found Scheffer's tweet to be absolutely true.  The Cowboys have found more pro bowl berths from their draft than anyone else in the sport.  By a mile.  An amazing 37% more than anyone else in the sport.  I really think that is amazing, and I think you should find it amazing, too.  Here is my less beautiful graphic:




So, yes, a few things here:
1) I agree, pro bowls are a very sloppy way to measure quality.  Every year, the cliche is that everyone gets to go to the pro bowl.  It doesn't prove anything.  We all agree.
2) the NFL average is 29 per team and the Cowboys have 62???  Seriously?  Yes.  
3) Let me stop you before you say it.  62 Pro Bowls did not really translate to playoff wins or a Super Bowl.  We get that.  Everybody does.  If you were forced to choose between good players and a good team, you would always take the team.  But, usually, having good players helps make a good team.  That is what is weird about this.  
4) It should be pointed out that during 2002-2016, there have only been 8 teams in the entire NFL that have more regular season wins than the Cowboys.  The Patriots, Colts, Steelers, Packers, Broncos, Eagles, Seahawks, and Ravens.  So, while many act like the Cowboys have been bad during this stretch "since the triplets", we should at least point out that on a winning percentage basis, they are still a top 10 team during their "down time".  At 131-109 over those 15 seasons.  Pretty good, to be honest.
5) 2nd place is the Chiefs.  Also surprising and also no real post-season achievements of note during this stretch.  And they are actually sub-.500 during that stretch.  
So, how do they get to 62?  Well, Jason Witten has 10 and DeMarcus Ware has 9.  Roy Williams and Andre Gurode both went 5 times each.  Tyron Smith and Jay Ratliff are both at 4.  So, we already have 37.  Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray are all at 3.  That puts you at 49.  So, just with those names, you already are better than any other team in football.  Sean Lee and Terrance Newman both have 2 and then 9 more guys each have gone once.  
And this number does not even include Tony Romo.  Romo was undrafted, so he is not included.  So, if you really want to run up the score, you would put Romo's 4 pro bowls - 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2014 spots - and get to 66.  Again, this is not to suggest anything more than I find it amazing.  The entire league thinks getting to 40 is impressive.  The Cowboys have 66.  
But, again, what does the Pro Bowl even mean?  Anyone of us who follow football know that All-Pro teams are the real bar.  That should tell us the true story.  Only 22 players a year get to the All-Pro 1st team that puts these guys into the Hall of Fame.  One of the highest honors a football player can receive.  
SOOOOOOO, let's run this study back with only 1st Team All-Pro teams from drafted players from each team from the 2002-2016 drafts:




I was amazed when I saw this - having done this research myself - but it is true again.  No team has drafted more 1st Team All Pro players since 2002 than the Dallas Cowboys.  
DeMarcus Ware 4, Witten, Martin, and Smith each have 2.  Roy Williams, Ratliff, Frederick, Murray, Bryant, Lee, and Elliott all have 1 for a grand total of 17.   Again, this leads the NFL and in a league where the average is 7.25, it doubles that total.  
As you can see, Green Bay has 3.  Washington 0.  So, 17 seems pretty phenomenal when Ted Thompson and Green Bay are credited for being great drafters.  
Now, here is the other side of all of this.  The Cowboys have nailed the draft at the top.  They have clearly done the most with their first round picks.  That list of Ware, Martin, Smith, Williams, Frederick, Bryant, and Elliott tell us that they have nailed their 1st rounders as much as anyone.  
It doesn't say that depth is what wins in the NFL.  We have always said that the Cowboys have a "top heavy" roster that has as much talent at spots 1-10 as anyone.  Where they have lost - especially after December starts - is the depth down to spot 53 where they can survive the march to the Super Bowl as well as other teams.  We blame these guys at the top of the roster - Romo for sure - for this team not winning the big one, but it is usually the quality down the roster and down the draft that helps these teams survive.  And that is where the Cowboys are finally catching up, but have always lingered behind a bit.
So, it is all true.  Every bit of his tweet.  The Cowboys have blown away the competition in finding Pro Bowlers and All-Pros in their drafts.  They should be commended.  But, of course, there is one reason why teams go through all of this and that is to pursue Lombardi Trophies.  
The rest of these fun facts are just numbers on a page.  They are true numbers, but the league isn't impressed unless you can win things with them.  They maybe on the right path now, but with just 2 postseason wins since 2002 - fewer than the Bears, Texans, Buccaneers, in fact, and tied with the Tennessee Titans - the Cowboys won't get recognition until they make these great numbers add up to January glory.  
Anyway, an interesting little project for you on this May Monday Morning.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Morning After - Round 1 - Taco Charlton

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/04/28/sturms-morning-cowboys-go-get-man-taco-charlton

On the morning of Day 2, it is best to write down as many thoughts as possible on the events of Day 1 before the bullets start flying again. So much happens on an NFL draft weekend that if you don't write several times before it is over, it will all start to blur in your memory: what happened, when it happened, and why.
The event that will be written in the history books is that the Cowboys stayed put at pick No. 28 and took Taco Charlton, the big defensive end from Michigan. They were able to secure one of the biggest and most menacing defensive ends in the draft, and a guy who certainly looks the part of a real big presence.
They did indicate after the fact that they did not have a first-round grade on him and left someone on the board who did. We believe that is Kevin King (edit, 10:30 a.m.: I now believe that this is not correct. According to sources, the remaining first-rounder was not at a position that fit the needs), the cornerback from Washington, which does make you wonder about following the board, but you can also understand their position that they considered how Round 2 would play out when making their first pick.
This basically means they thought carefully about wanting to get one edge rusher and one defensive back with their two premium picks and tried to reverse engineer things to see what had the best odds of being there at No. 60. They correctly (in my estimation) ran the numbers and found that the defensive ends who had a chance to be special were in much shorter supply than those corners and safeties. This is true every year, as the Lord made many more athletic marvels at 205 pounds than he did at 275. So, if you want one of the big boys, you better get in there when your chance is presented.
Anyone who follows this blog knows I was a bit nonplussed with Charlton as it pertains to finding a guy who would be a routine menace in collapsing the pocket, smashing quarterbacks and sack totals. I don't think he is a right-side defensive end who can duel with NFL left tackles. I don't see the explosion on his tape, nor in his combine workouts, that is required on Sundays. I don't see a high-end sack guy, and I have said that now for two months or so.
But I do see a very useful part to a defensive rotation. There is no doubt he can help them plenty and there is no doubt he has room to grow. There is also no doubt that Rod Marinelli has a real reputation for making George Selvie and David Irving remarkably better players than they were when they arrived. If he can do that with them, I would love to see what he can do with Charlton. Because I think Charlton is only scratching the surface of what he could be. He battles his tail off and has a real size element to him that is rare and potentially special.
I have been asked quite a few times what I would have done at No. 28, and this "Morning After" blog always serves as a historical record, so in 10 years, when Charlton is continuing his Hall of Fame career, you can point to this and have a laugh at me. I would not have taken him, because I don't think he is the edge pass rusher that you so desire. He has a chance, but this isn't about the either/or that he is either a great player or a horrible one. The draft is about getting the best decisions down at the right moment. It is not a deal in absolutes. It is about a series of "A" or "B" decisions and trying to improve your team as much as you possibly can. I will say that I thought they already had his type, in David Irving, and I prefer Irving as present commodities. They must think he can be better or they can play together.
So, let's go back and discuss a few of the other names the Cowboys might have left with, too, and how it all relates back to their big defensive end, Taco Charlton:
ADOREE' JACKSON: Tennessee took him at 18, which matched up with my information from yesterday that indicated the Cowboys were very likely grabbing him if he was on the board. The mood changed over the weeks in the buildup to the draft and it turned from locking in on him to fearing there was no way he would get to them. He was someone they really admired and were not willing to pay a second to go get him, most likely, but really thought he was the best guy who had a chance of getting to them.
CHARLES HARRIS: I am less certain of my information on Harris and the Cowboys' interest level, but he does have a fair amount of supporters at The Star, and he went off the board to Miami at 22, so scratch him off their list.
GAREON CONLEY: Taken at 24 by Oakland, there was growing belief that Dallas really liked him as well and he also might have been the guy if he slid a bit further. For obvious reasons (last year), the Cowboys have plenty of intelligence in Columbus, Ohio, and felt good about his current mess and think he was a real strong corner.
TAKK McKINLEY: This is the very interesting one. Once he got to 26, the hopes started rising because it seemed pretty safe the Seahawks were going with offensive line. Buffalo would take a corner at 27, then you could have McKinley and dance the night away. I have it on pretty good authority that they liked him slightly better than Charlton, but now it doesn't matter. Atlanta dove in front and took the best edge rusher left right off their plate. The Falcons and Seahawks have quite a relationship between Dan Quinn and Pete Carroll and friends, and according to this report, they had this trade in place long before the draft. Atlanta knew it had to jump Dallas, Green Bay and Pittsburgh to get McKinley, and they pulled the trigger by sending pick No. 31 and their third- and seventh-rounders to go get their guy. Hat tip to the always-aggressive Atlanta Falcons.
That is when the Cowboys went on the clock, after Buffalo took Tre'Davious White from LSU, leaving Charlton, T.J. Watt and Kevin King as their principal considerations.
From there, we can put the pieces together pretty easily. They just didn't like Watt's knee history and odd fit in a 4-3 defense. He is a perfect fit with Pittsburgh as a fall-back to McKinley (we guess) and Green Bay apparently locked in on a corner and decided to move back, letting Cleveland move up for its second and fourth-rounders. 
I can't tell you for sure if I would have taken Kevin King or T.J. Watt over Taco Charlton, because I would have taken both.
KEVIN KING: For King, he plays at 6-foot-3 and would be a great weapon at corner to lock up at the goal line with the beasts at wide receiver in this division and conference. He was a first-rounder and at a position of massive need. They are comfortable seeing what pick No. 60 brings them, but I would have looked at the defensive end group and taken my best corner available.
They did not, and they make the decisions around here. Not only that, but they have quite a winning streak in Round 1 going, so we give them the benefit of the doubt to make it work.
I had no problem with Watt, but I also do not know the results of their medical testing, and Jerry pontificated three things about Charlton that stuck out for him:
1. Charlton can play all three downs, and that is very important to them.
2. Charlton can play right defensive end, left defensive end and defensive tackle. I agree that he has positional flexibility and that helps considerably. I am not sure it would decide the pick, but they value it a lot.
3. Charlton has no real medical history of note at all -- McKinley and Watt do.
T.J. WATT: Watt would have a weird fit on first down, but since the Cowboys are in nickel 70-plus percent of the time these days, I don't have a problem with a smaller edge rusher. Especially since the sack leaders every year are guys between 250-265 pounds, not 275-290. Of the top 12 pass rushers last year, how many weighed more than 265? Zero.
Watt does not have flex. He had one spot -- pass-down defensive end -- in this scheme. Not ideal. But, again, he fit the profile of a legit edge rusher.
And yes, Watt has a history of knee injuries. He is healthy now, but I understand the reluctance when you look into 2014 and 2015.
There are seven corners or so who I would feel great about at pick No. 60, and another handful of safeties, too. If they can get one of them, this will look like a very solid draft in terms of staying there and plugging a hole.
I don't know that Charlton fits the ideal profile of what many of us were looking for: A guy who could dip and bend and use speed to power around the edge to threaten the passer, like those 12 sack leaders. He isn't that.
But Charlton is a very solid prospect who I liked at the right price. Just because I liked a few other players more doesn't mean he didn't instantly improve their defensive front.
I think he needs to play stronger. He is large, yet there are plays when it doesn't appear he knows it. But he has room to grow and develop. His profile is close to some amazing big men, but also similar to a bunch of guys who looked like Tarzan and played more like Jane in the NFL. So, time will tell. But there aren't many humans his size with his talent. Now, it is up the Cowboys to make it fit and work.

Here was my write-up on Charlton from February:
POSITIVES: Charlton has size that makes him a focal point of the defense and battles his tail off from the snap on. He bulls through traffic and makes himself at home in the backfield on a regular basis. He comes up big in big games. He has an impressive get-off as well and really has a skill set that offers plenty to like. I really love his traditional skill set in terms of looking how defensive ends always did. He can carry 280 pounds and play a style that will hold up well on the edge in terms of crashing a pocket with brute strength. I really like his compete level and his bull rush. He was getting a lot of clean runs at quarterbacks, which is a credit to Jim Harbaugh's scheme up there.
CONCERNS: The biggest concern about a player like Charlton is simply his short-space quickness and ability to change direction. This is a very fast league with very athletic tackles, and while Charlton is impressive for sure, the reason you may prefer someone with a bit more fluidity to their game is that it seems like they are generally the high-production players on Sundays. He moves well on rails, but if you ask him to circle and change directions quickly, he appears to lack those hips, comparatively speaking. You get a bit concerned when a player is this young and looks that way, because it seldom improves with age in the trenches.
-- There is no question he is a fine prospect, but you have to put the proper value on him.
The Cowboys took him over a first round-graded player on their own board and some corners they really liked. Whether he was a better pick than a solid corner may never be fully determined. They saw their guy and they have made a sizable bet on a sizable man in Taco Charlton because they think the next 28 picks will break right for them. A gamble, for sure. But a reasonable one on the surface.
And now, we see how Day 2 can complement their Day 1 decision-making process.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Bag of Footballs - April 24 - Big Board and final draft thoughts

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/04/24/bag-footballs-draft-weeks-final-thoughts-rankings


It is here.  Draft week.  
The week that determines so much in this league.  Perhaps not always in Week 1 of Year 1 of a draft, but there is no question the team that finds the players who work for cheap in this week of every year are at a distinct advantage over the competition.  Do it often enough and your roster becomes strong or remains strong for another several years.
Things change very fast in this league, but there is little doubt that the "four-year conveyor belt of talent" is the great equalizer in how teams can rise up and overtake their rivals.  We dispute this when we obsess about the league being QB vs. QB, but those who study the game know that a simplistic view such as that is too basic and just absurd.  The game is won with roster depth and talent that provides strengths and hides weaknesses.  Top heavy rosters get exposed.  As do substandard positions with the starters.   
To fortify the rosters, you need more than one player or one round.  You need to hit and hit again and continue to add 22-year-olds to take over from the 32-year-olds.  Build margins for error and cover for star players who have health issues or salary cap situations that have not been managed well.  
In this space, we value the draft enough to get started the day the regular season expires.  It requires three months of attention, but it is finally here.  A new crop of young players to populate the league and determine the course for the next several seasons.  
So, today's objective is to give you some idea of what I think about the 55 players I have spent a few hours each on and to construct some level of a big board for those who really like those types of things.  
Now, this is possibly the oddest "big board" you will see all day.  This is not a mock draft.  This is not a thorough look at the entire draft.  I did not spend any time on wide receivers, tight ends, or offensive linemen.  None.  There are none of those on my board, yet we know that there will likely be about 10 of those in the first round alone.  So, my 32nd player is probably close to the 45th player in the draft.  I wish my staff was bigger than just me and I didn't try to cover seven sports, but I do.  So, I had time for 11 weeks and five players per week.  So, we did 45 defensive players, five running backs, and five quarterbacks.  
It doesn't make a ton of sense, but it is what will have to suffice for my 2017 NFL draft effort.  
Now, with that said, this is the type of ranking list that people will want for historical purposes.  Any of us who like to evaluate prospects -- even with only a few hours on each player -- like to take stabs in the dark and see if we can pick out any future stars.
So, the following observations are not a mock draft, nor something you should use against me in six months.  Rather, the hope here is to offer some thoughts on how I see this all in 2019 or 2020.  Who are the real players in the NFL from that 2017 draft?  What did you think at the time, Bob?  
Well, here we go:
TOP 10 PLAYERS IN THE 2017 DRAFT
This category is pretty self explanatory.  These are the 10 players who I think will be the best 10 players in this draft a few years down the road.  This will certainly be amusing to read in 36 months when two of these guys are no longer in football, right?
  1. Myles Garrett - DE - Texas A&M  - He is fantastic and will not disappoint.
  2. Jamal Adams - S - LSU - Just a phenomenal talent.
  3. Solomon Thomas - DT - Stanford - Scheme fit will really help.  3-technique!
  4. Malik Hooker - S - Ohio State - Should be a fun ball hawk.
  5. Jonathan Allen - DT - Alabama - Only slightly less sold on him than Thomas.
  6. Marshon Lattimore - CB - Ohio State - Of all the corners, this is the best one.
  7. Leonard Fournette - RB - LSU - Health makes me nervous, but so much potential.
  8. Derek Barnett - DE - Tennessee - This dude would be the best DE most years.
  9. Joe Mixon - RB - Oklahoma - I know, I know.  But, I think his best is ahead.
  10. Haason Reddick - LB - Temple - His fit will be vital, needs creative defensive coach.
OK, let's keep this party going.
PLAYERS I LIKE MORE THAN MOST 
This category is quite subjective, but I try to see what "Draft Twitter" or the famous draft people think and see if I agree or disagree with them.  So, these are the guys -- in no particular order -- I think I like more than your average smart draft guy:
Tra'Davious White - CB - LSU - I have no idea why his hype is so low.  Love his profile.
Jabrill Peppers - S - Michigan - Most controversial prospect in draft (in on-the-field terms).  I love him.  Think he will be a difference-making stud for a while.
Tim Williams - DE - Alabama - This one is a risk, but if you just put on the tape, he looks like 10 sacks a year.  But, there is considerable baggage to consider.  I take that chance for 10 sack upside.
Teez Tabor - CB - Florida - I don't like bad 40-times, either.  But, his tape says he can handle things on the corner.  I believe in his skills.  
Desmond King - DB - Iowa - Again, I am not worried about the 40, I am worried about the football skills and Desmond King is a player.
Sydney Jones - CB - Washington - Yes, I know.  Redshirt year and Achilles projection.  But, he might be my favorite corner in the whole draft.  Hope he recovers.
Chidobe Awuzie - CB - Colorado - A player who seems to offer all sorts of flex and splash ability.
Budda Baker - S - Washington - Geez, a lot of Huskies on this list.  He is so small, but at that size he made such an impact that I will trust it and gamble on him.
Derek Rivers - DE - Youngstown State - He looks like a real edge presence and there is a price to grab him.
Tarrell Basham - DE - Ohio - Yes, it is a projection pick.  But, I love his ability moving forward.
PLAYERS I LIKE LESS THAN MOST
Again, another subjective category, but I am not positive I see what everyone seems to see in this list of 10 names after spending three games on these guys.  Still nice players and all, but I think they must see something I don't totally see.  Again, no particular order here:
Obi Melifonwu - Safety - UConn - I have a code on safeties that they must be more physical than corners.  Despite his size, I don't see that.  
DeShone Kizer - QB - Notre Dame - Maybe I am wrong, but I don't think his CPU moves at the speed required to be a strong decision maker at the NFL level.  His tone isn't helping, either.  
Gareon Conley - CB - Ohio State - No doubt a talent, but I must be missing the first-round ability.
Taco Charlton - DE - Michigan - This one makes me nervous.  But, I think he lacks the athleticism to be elite on Sundays.  
Ryan Anderson - DE - Alabama - He seems to benefit a lot from his environment.  He won't enjoy that benefit at next level.  
Jarrad Davis - LB - Florida - Tremendous college talent that might lack the wheels on Sundays. 
Justin Evans - S - Texas A&M - I wish I thought he could tackle someone.  Might be more of a corner at next level, because he can really play the pass.
Quincy Wilson - CB - Florida - He definitely has use, but he is down my corner rankings several names.
Tyus Bowser - DE - Houston - Again, I like him.  I'm not sure I like him like you guys seem to like him at those prices.
Fabian Moreau - CB - UCLA - The combination of age and health have me pushing him down several spots on my corner rankings.  But, still easily a top 60 player.  
Finally, 
MY TOP 5 SCENARIOS AT NO. 28 FOR DALLAS
This is simple -- what am I hoping for on Thursday night when the Cowboys are on the clock.  Hypothetically, you would take the highest player available from this list -- assuming Derek Barnett or someone way up there doesn't fall in your lap:
  1. Takk McKinley - DE - UCLA - of all the players in the range, this is the one I am most sold upon being a real stud on the edge.
  2. TJ Watt - DE - Wisconsin - He is down a level and I do not know about his knee situation, but I think he has a very high ceiling.  I would be thrilled with him, too.
  3. Kevin King - CB - Washington - He is ranked higher, but I do take the edge over the corner.  This is my favorite corner that has a chance.
  4. Tra'Davious White - CB - LSU - Again, don't be scared of a corner from LSU.  Claiborne is no more a comp than Pat Peterson.  White can really do it all.
  5. Tyus Bowser - DE - Houston - I like him.  I just would argue that there are too many unknown components if the other 4 are alive.  If they are gone, let's figure out how to use his quality skills.
And last but not least, here are the 55 players as I ranked them over the weekend.  Again, there are no TE, WR, or OL in here at all.  I really heavily weighed the defense in this draft.  Go easy on me.  I just want to hit .330 like Tony Gwynn:



Friday, April 21, 2017

Monday, April 17, 2017

Bag of Footballs - April 17 - Jerry Jones Draft Day Trade Log

https://sportsday.dallasnews.com/dallas-cowboys/cowboys/2017/04/17/bag-footballs-annual-jerry-jones-draft-day-trade-log

Over the next 10 days, we will endeavor to elaborate about our more specific beliefs about the Cowboys' 2017 draft plans. But today, I wanted continue an annual tradition and fill in the blanks on a particular topic that goes hand in hand with player selections on draft day in Dallas. With so many people wondering if the Cowboys will use the draft day to "make another splash" (to go get that War Daddy), we need to ponder the track record around here of making splashes. 
This will be the 24th draft that the Cowboys will participate in since Jimmy Johnson left town before the 1994 draft. In that time, the Cowboys have certainly taken on a different reputation for their drafting ability and one of those cliches that analysts will use is the idea that "Jerry cannot sit still" on draft day. 
He is thought of as an owner over the years who falls in love with a target and then trades up to go get him without worrying too much about the cost. He is thought of as a major downgrade to Jimmy Johnson's 5 years of drafts, but in fairness, Jimmy compares favorably to almost anyone who ever drafted in any organization so that isn't a stretch. Presently, we cannot oversimplify the front office by saying it is Jerry Jones sitting on a throne calling out orders to his servants. Rather, Will McClay, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett all have significant say and on most moves, we believe that Jerry serves more as a tie-breaker than a decision maker. 
Anyway, through covering this team, I feel it is always more helpful to actually deal in facts rather than what we can recall. If you polled draft experts, many would accuse the Cowboys of trading up all of the time. Others might say that they actually trade down quite a bit. Obviously, this seems to indicate they certainly enjoy trading in general, up and down. In this post, I wish to document the trades they have conducted that take place using picks from the top 3 rounds (Top 100) only. But that alone will take up quite a bit of space.
Below is a very basic summary of the trades by era. The Player +/- is simply a quantity count of Top 100 players in versus out in these trades. They, by no means, account for quality of players so it is a flawed discussion for sure. But, just so you can see the activity by era, here it is:
So, by my count, 27 trades that involve Top 100 picks over the 23 drafts by Jerry Jones. If nothing else, you should never leave your television set during draft coverage, because as the cliche tell us, he can't sit still in that war room. If the Cowboys lack success, it isn't because they are napping. In fact, quite the opposite might be true. A nap might be what they need over the years. 
However, you might find that the Jason Garrett/Will McClay/Stephen Jones era is the time in the last few decades where the Cowboys "slow their roll" a bit. Oh, sure, Peter King assured us that the Cowboys were trying to do everything in their power last year to go get Paxton Lynch in Round 1. But, let's at least compliment them that they had a price and held strong to that price, rather than make the trade at any cost. So, they are active, but not desperate. And that is the balance we should want them to have. 
Everyone points to Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his plans.  Some suggest he is overrated.  I would say this study should get you to see his genius.  The Cowboys are a minus-2 in 23 drafts on Top 100 picks.  Belichick has gained, according to this study on Grantland from  2 years ago - "it's like he's been handed the 99th overall pick in each of his 15 drafts just for showing up and saying yes to overanxious teams."  We can point to Tom Brady as a reason why the Patriots have been successful.  But, I think to put solid rosters around him, we need to look at the Belichick draft plan. 
Starting with 2016 and working backwards, here are the Cowboys trades involving the traditional "Day 1" picks - including the names that those picks ended up being: 
Jason Garrett/Jerry Jones Era 
2016: No Trades 
2015: No Trades (in the top 100 picks, that is) 
2014: Traded 2014 second round pick #47-Trent Murphy and third round pick #78-Spencer Long to Redskins for second round pick #34-Demarcus Lawrence TRADE UP 
2013: Traded #18-Eric Reid to 49ers for pick #31-Travis Frederick, third round pick #74-Terrance Williams. TRADE DOWN 
2012: Traded #14-Michael Brockers and #45-Alshon Jeffery to the St. Louis Rams for 6th overall- Morris Claiborne. TRADE UP 
2011: No Trades 
Summary of Garrett/Jones: 6 drafts and 3 major trades. Plenty of activity and definitely leading us to believe that they are still spending some time locking in on a target and displaying urgency to grab it. You may recall that even when they traded down in 2013, they still talked about Travis Frederick as "the last of the Mohicans" that they had to have. But, 2015 and 2016, the Cowboys are grabbing their full allotment of players and getting the right ones. 

Wade Phillips/Jerry Jones Era 
2010: Traded #27-Devin McCourty and #90-Taylor Price to the New England Patriots to select Dez Bryant and pick #119. TRADE UP 
Traded 2010 second round pick #59-Montario Hardesty, 2010 fourth round pick #125-Clay Harbor to Eagles for 2010 second round pick #55-Sean Lee TRADE UP 
2009: Cowboys acquire WR Roy Williams and a 7th from Detroit for #20-Brandon Pettigrew, #82-Derrick Williams, #192-Aaron Brown. TRADE OUT 
Traded away pick #51-Andy Levitre to Buffalo Bills for 75th Robert Brewster and 110th Victor Butler picks. TRADE DOWN 
2008: Traded #28-Lawrence Jackson, #163-Owen Schmitt, #235-Brandon Coutu to Seattle for pick #25 Mike Jenkins. TRADE UP 
2007: Cowboys trade away #22 Brady Quinn to Browns for #36-Kevin Kolb and 2008 first round pick #22-Felix Jones. TRADE DOWN 
Then, Cowboys Traded #36-Kevin Kolb, #87-Stewart Bradley, #159-C.J. Gaddis to Eagles for #26-Anthony Spencer. TRADE UP 
Summary of Phillips/Jones: This is where trading up to "get your guy" really got traction. They went up to get Anthony Spencer and then up to get Mike Jenkins and then up to get Dez Bryant and then to get Sean Lee. In the process that that cost a total of 10 picks to get 3 players and 1 additional (and significantly lesser pick). If you add to that the 2008 Roy Williams trade that gutted the 2009 draft, they basically spent 13 picks to get 5 players. And we wonder why this team has so many holes. 
They also had 2 trade downs, including the 2007 trade down to get an extra #1 in 2008 (Felix Jones) and a trade down in 2009 where they picked up quantity but dropped significant quality to do so. Just stay there and grab Andy Levitre has been said quite a few times since that bad idea of a trade down and settle for Robert Brewster (who never played) in the 3rd Round.
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Bill Parcells/Jerry Jones Era
2006: Cowboys Traded #49-Kellen Clemons to Jets for #53-Anthony Fasano, #189-Drew Coleman, #211-Pat McQuistan. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys Traded #80-Clint Ingram to Jaguars for #92-Jason Hatcher and #125-Skyler Green. TRADE DOWN
2005: No Trades (but the extra pick from 2004 accounted below).
2004: Cowboys traded away #22-J.P. Losman to Buffalo for #43-Julius Jones, #144-Sean Ryan, 2005 first round pick #20-Marcus Spears TRADE DOWN
2003: No Trades
Summary of Parcells/Jones: As you can see, this is a unique period in which draft picks were used poorly, but they were always valued. The Cowboys only participated in 3 trades in 4 drafts of top 100 picks, but each time they were accumulating bodies and stepping back. They sent away 3 picks and brought back 8. This is how a roster is built quickly, if it can be done properly. Mistakes were made when Parcells ran the war-room, with the Steven Jackson/Julius Jones decision chief among them, Bobby Carpenter, and many offensive linemen too (Jacob Rogers, Stephen Peterman), and of course the legendary battle where Parcells wanted Marcus Spears or Shawne Merriman over DeMarcus Ware. But, overall, the efficiency and conservative nature of his draft day philosophy is in sharp contrast to say, Phillips/Jones.
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2002: Cowboys traded #6-Ryan Sims to Kansas City for #8-Roy Williams, #75-Derek Ross, #186-Zuriel Smith. TRADE DOWN

Cowboys traded up to #63 to take Antonio Bryant and #129 Jamar Martin, sending Chicago #72-Roosevelt Williams, #104-Alex Brown, #140-Bobby Gray. TRADE UP
2001: Cowboys traded #37-Idrees Bashir to Colts for #52-Chris Chambers and #81-Kenny Smith. TRADE DOWN 
Cowboys trade #52-Chris Chambers to Dolphins for #56-Tony Dixon and #122-Markus Steele. TRADE DOWN 
Cowboys trade for pick #53 Quincy Carter by sending the Saints #70-Sedrick Hodge and #81-Kenny Smith. TRADE UP
2000: Dallas traded 2000 first round pick #19-Shaun Alexander, 2001 first round pick #7-Andre Carter to the Seattle for Joey Galloway. TRADE OUT 
They also traded pick #80-Darrell Jackson to Seattle for James McKnight. TRADE OUT 
Summary of Campo/Jones: We really don't think Dave Campo was involved in the drafting, so this might have been more the "Jones and Larry Lacewell" era. Wow. To see it all on paper again is tough to read. This is where things really started spiraling out of control as Jerry went "all in" on the Galloway trade. In fact, he went so crazy that we really forgot about the overpayment for James McKnight with the SAME TEAM! Then, the targeting and drafting of Quincy Carter and Antonio Bryant in which neither guy was what you hoped he was and then finally a very impressive job trading back in 2002 for 3 picks to just fall back 2 slots to take the guy you truly wanted. Pretty crazy reviewing these drafts and the gutting of the Galloway trade which set the 2001 trade back initiative into motion. What is truly nuts is that the Galloway trade did not scare him off the Roy Williams idea in 2008.
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Chan Gailey/Jerry Jones Era: 
1999: No Trades
1998: No Trades
Summary of Gailey/Jones: about as non-descript an era of the Cowboys history as we can find. The only notable footnotes of these 2 drafts would be the Randy Moss/Greg Ellis decision which has been discussed pretty thoroughly by now.
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Barry Switzer/Jerry Jones Era: 
1997: Cowboys trade with the Eagles to get #22-David LaFleur and send away #25-Jon Harris, #155-Luther Broughton, 1998 third round pick #70-Brian Alford. TRADE UP
They then trade #54-Kevin Abrams to Lions for #65-Dexter Coakley and #101-Antonio Anderson. TRADE DOWN
1996: Cowboys trade Washington Pick #30 - Andre Johnson for #37-Kavika Pittman and #67-Clay Shiver. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys get pick #49-Randall Godfrey from Miami in exchange for #60-Michael Cheever and #99-Phillip Daniels. TRADE UP
1995: Cowboys trade Tampa Bay pick #28 - Derrick Brooks for #41-Ronald Davis and #63-Shane Hannah. TRADE DOWN
Cowboys trade Atlanta pick #41 - Ronald Davis for #46-Sherman Williams and #110-Eric Bjornson. TRADE DOWN
1994: Cowboys trade for pick #23 - Shante Carver from San Francisco (also receive pick #217) for #28-William Floyd and #62-Tyrone Drakeford. TRADE UP 
Summary of Switzer/Jones Era: This was certainly a very active era where the Cowboys were constantly doing something in these 4 drafts. In the end, the trades up and trades back seem to cancel each-other out in number - but don't be fooled. The quantity is out-weighed by the details. The 1995 passing on Derrick Brooks for what amounts to Sherman Williams, Shane Hannah, and Eric Bjornson seems crazy. Also, the amount of heaven and earth that was moved to get Troy Aikman his new tight end in David LaFleur should not be under-rated, either. And in 1994, sending a 1st and 2nd to get Shante Carver is a bit cringe worthy, too.
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In a day and age where studies continue to prove that the only way to win in the long term is by trading down (see those studies here and here) this should show that aside from Bill Parcells being here and doing just that, every other Cowboys draft room of the modern era seemed to err on the side of giving more than they received -- although this current group seem pretty well-read.
Resist the urge to instinctively shrug off sending a 3rd round pick away to move up 4 spots in the 1st. It is a move that the winning organizations almost never make.