Monday, April 7, 2014

I normally love, but...

I was very disappointed in their review of Dallas Cowboys' team needs. 

"Dallas Cowboys (Last Year: 8-8) 

Season Summary:
Different year, same results. The Cowboys always find some way to screw up, and it apparently doesn't matter who the quarterback is. Whether it's icing the kicker, wasting timeouts or checking out of running plays when trying to bleed the clock, something always goes wrong, and Dallas seems to finish 8-8 no matter what."

So far that's all fair.  Then they go off the track.

"Team Needs:
  1. General manager: Some analysts like Phil Simms and Daryl Johnston inexplicably love to kiss Jerry Jones' butt, even when he drafts third-round centers in the first round, but the fact remains that the Cowboys' owner desperately needs to hire a general manager to handle football operations. Jones has proven that he has no idea what he's doing.

  2. Two Defensive Tackles: The Cowboys will probably have to spend one of their top draft choices on a defensive tackle. The situation was dire at one of the spots this past season, and now Jason Hatcher won't be returning because he's too expensive. Signed Henry Melton and Terrell McClain

  3. Two Defensive Ends: DeMarcus Ware was cut. Anthony Spencer won't be back next year. George Selvie is a good situational pass-rusher, but Dallas needs two starters. An option could be available at No. 16 overall this May. Signed Jeremy Mincey

  4. Strongside Linebacker: When defenders like Ernie Sims and DeVonte Holloman are playing major snaps for the defense, something absolutely needs to be done.

  5. Guard: The Cowboys might get away with one of Ronald Leary and Mackenzy Bernadeau starting, but they can't have both on the field. Perhaps Brian Waters will return.

  6. Safety: J.J. Wilcox was a third-round rookie this past season. He didn't play very well, but Dallas may give him another chance. Still, the team could stand to bring in another safety.

  7. Running Back Depth: DeMarco Murray is injury-prone, so the Cowboys should think about obtaining another running back for depth purposes.

  8. Wide Receiver Depth: Miles Austin-Jones is not expected back next year because of cap reasons. If he's let go, Dallas will need to add another receiver for depth."

1) Pointless cheap shot at Jerry Jones.  OK, Everyone loves taking shots at Jerry Jones, but history suggests Jones landed the better player in the first round last year. Travis Fredrick looks like a 10 year starter and maybe a pro bowl player at some point.  The jury is very much out on Shariff Floyd.

WalterFootball's staff may have a little butt hurt in that they were part of the vast majority (say 75%) that thought Fredrick was maybe even a fourth round grade due to a lack of footspeed/athleticism. (They would later upgrade him to a 2nd/3rd round grade.)  The Cowboys were among the minority opinion (~25%) who thought Fredrick was just athletic enough and had Fredrick as a player likely to go at the top of the second.  It only takes one team to like a player and there were apparently a few that did like Fredrick.  (Long time Colts GM Bill Polian liked him as an early second rounder and spelled out that several teams did as well.)  The Cowboys took him at the end of the first in front of that possibility and it looks like a very smart move today.

The idea that Jerry doesn't know what he is doing as a GM doesn't really hold up.  You have to be good at some things to keep a team around 500 in the NFL . A much more accurate statement is that Jerry Jones has proven to have major behavioral flaws as a GM that prevent him from taking the next step with his team.
4) A vague shot that is not up to Walter Football standards.   The argument is that Dallas needs a Strongside LB. That should have been focused on, instead they talk about two guys who were supposed to be bench fodder who played --- not why they played.  Dallas signed FA Justin Durant to fill one of their LB spots, but he was fought hamstring injuries all year.  He was OK when he was healthy --- he just wasn't healthy much.  What do the Cowboys think of him for the coming year?  That's something that should be discussed in arguing for him to be replaced.

Ernie Sims was signed to be depth a few years ago.  DeVonte Holloman was a 7th round pick who was forced into the starting lineup last year.   He flashed some decent play when he did play.  These guys are treated in a shoddy fashion that shows little attention to detail and only reflects poorly on WalterFootball

6) A lack of insight in this point.  JJ Wilcox is a guy who only played safety his senior year in college.  Dallas knew they were drafting a very raw player last year.  He went in the third because he has very good talent and plays a physical brand of football. On draft day, Dallas' secondary coach was bordering on orgasmic to land him. Dallas likes his talent.  It is very likely that Dallas expects Wilcox to show a lot more this year.  There is none of this in WalterFootball's assessment.

The point that Dallas could very well draft another safety is a valid one.  Dallas has needed two average or better safeties for quite a while. Maybe they feel they cannot wait for Wilcox That argument is fine. Being totally lacking in insight in looking at why is just disappointing.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

2014 NFL mock draft (2.0) Cowboys focused.

It is time for my second mock draft.

Once more, in this latest mock I have pulled heavily from the more credible sounding posts listed on the Walter Football draft rumors page.

I still think the Rams (a team with a history of trading down from early picks) will trade down from the 1(2) spot.  The Atlanta Falcons seem their likely trade partner.  I think the recent talk of the Rams falling in love with Khalil Mack as an option at #2  is a believable smoke screen designed to agitate the teams picking in the top 6 --- specifically Cleveland and Atlanta.

Due to complaints from a disgruntled Saints fan, I have gone ahead and filled out the second half of the first round as well.

Pick    Team
1(1)    Texans Blake Bortles, QB, UCF

Bill O'Brien is rumored to like him;  Bortles played for George O'Leary who has history with O'Brien.  The trouble is the quality might be a little iffy in the second  (I am one who thinks a team might trade into the end of the first to lock up a QB like Jimmy Garoppolo for an extra year). I think Houston effectively HAS to take a QB and O'Brien (allegedly) like Bortles best.

1(2)    Rams (From Redskins) Predicted trade to Atlanta Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina   

The Rams need to be able to do a fair evaluation of Sam Bradford's development. I would think that would point to the rams taking a WR and an OT with these pick, bu the Rams' GM has publicly talked down the idea of spending another high pick on a WR. If there is truth to that and the rumors that the Rams are eyeing either Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Justin Gilbert (should he fall) at 13, that makes a lot of sense out of  the Rams flirtations with Khalil Mack.  The Rams may be trying to get the Jaguars to swap picks in order to allow the Rams to nab Greg Robinson ahead of the Browns.  I suspect it won't work, but that things will work out of the Rams as the Falcons will sweeten the offer a bit.

1(3)    Jaguars  Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo 

There is a lot of talk that the jags want a pass rusher and might trade down.  The thinking is they will roll with Henne and try for Garoppolo in the second round.  That could open the door for the Jags to pick someone like Khalil Mack, who has blown scouts away with his talent. 

1(4)    Browns   Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn

I think Cleveland is very content to roll with Brian Hoyer this year, tank, and try to draft Oregon's Marcus Mariota next year.  A new coaching staff, under Cleveland's circumstances, does not suggest any urgency to win.  The Browns have expressed an interest in Robinson.  Robinson provides a major and needed upgrade on the OL.

1(5)    Raiders    Derek Carr, QB, Fresno State

With only Bortles off the board, I think the Raiders would feel immense pressure to draft a QB.  I think the Raiders (and especially owner Mark Davis) would have loved to have Manziel.  Their personnel department seems to really like local boy Derek Carr (someone I think would eventually be a solid pick for Oakland, even though Oakland is far from an ideal situation for Carr).

1(6)    Falcons   (Predicted trade to Rams)  Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M

Even though they miss out on Robinson, the Rams get a proven pass blocker to keep Sam Bradford upright.

1(7)  Buccaneers Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson

 Watkins is considered a top 4 prospect in this draft.  Bridgewater fits what the Bucs need and want at QB --- a position they probably want to upgrade, but can the Bucs pass on Watkins with their WR problems?  This becomes even more of a possibility if it looks like Bridgewater will slide deep into the first round where the Bucs could potentially trade up to get him.

1(8)    Vikings  (Predicted trade with Lions) Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

I had thought that OC Norv Turner would be able to talk HC Mike Zimmer into drafting Johnny Manziel, but the latest rumors suggest the Vikings are moving towards targeting QB Zack Mettenberger in the second round.   This suggests that the Vikings aren't all that sold on Manziel or Bridgewater.   I find that totally conceivable as Cam Cameron (a fellow Zampese protege) coached LSU's offense last year. With that in mind, I think the vikes could draft a LB, a CB, or trade down.  I think in this scenario they trade down with the Lions knowing they will still get their choice of CB or LB at #10.  The Lions have been very conspicuous in looking at WRs.  They get what might be the best in this draft to partner with Megatron and Golden Tate.

1(9)    Bills Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan 

With Evans snapped up right in front of their pick, the Bills would likely look at either at a top TE or an OT to help EJ Manual. ESPN's Mike Maycock thinks the top 3 tackles in this year's draft are better than the top 3 in last year's draft who went in the top 4 picks.  Despite Lewan being predicted to go lower in this draft, if his value is considered that high, he could be the guy at 9 for a team that needs a tackle, wants to play smash mouth, and has a young QB they want to keep upright..
1(10)    Lions (predicted trade with Vikings)  Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Gilbert or Anthony Barr may be the best talents on the board and they fit team needs for the Vikings.  Look for Zimmer to land a #1 CB in this high flying division. Do not be suprised if the Vikings trade into the end of the first round to pick Mettenberger in order to put another cheap year on the LSU QB's first contract.

1(11)    Titans  Anthony Barr, OLB/DE, UCLA

 I think Derek Carr is the only QB in this draft that the Titans might kick Jake Locker to the curb to get.  I think the pick would come down to a three way heat ---Anthony Barr, Aaron Donald, or Zack Martin.  I am going to give Barr the edge here as he may grade out the highest.

1(12)    Giants Zack Martin, OT/OG, Notre Dame

I know it is a popular pick to say Aaron Donald, but I think the Giants are going to take the best OL they can get.  They cannot afford to see Eli Manning beat to crap again.  Martin is probably undervalued due to the strength at OT in this draft.

1(13)    Rams Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

Rams get the safety they allegedly want.

1(14)    Bears Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh

The Bears are reportedly looking at Donald and Anthony Barr pretty seriously.  Donald is a nice player for their needs.
1(15)    Steelers  Eric Ebron, Tight End, North Carolina

The Steelers were another team interested in Lewan.  There are rumors that Pittsburg is looking for a big receiver.  With that in mind, FSU WR Kelvin Benjamin is a possibility, but he hits me as a huge reach here.  I would probably consider Marquise Lee or Stephon Tuitt if I had the Steelers' pick and needs, but Ebron is a great value talent here and would fit nicely as the big receiving threat the Steelers crave.

1(16)    Cowboys Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M

This isn't the pick Jerry Jones wants to make in the first round, but it probably is the one he needs to make if Manziel is on the board and Donald, Martin, and Lewan are gone.  Manziel's issues are a lack of maturity,  an instinct to run too quickly that has not yet been coached out of him, and a he could be a little bigger and stronger to take NFL hits.  Two years in the weightroom and on the bench behind Tony Romo would do a lot to fix those issues and would dramatically diminish the chances of Manziel being a bust.  Jerry Jones cannot buy a better marketing future in Texas.  (I would look for Dallas to trade out of the second round for more picks if this is the move).

1(17) Ravens Marqise Lee, WR, USC

GM Ozzie Newsome listed WR as one of the team's 3 big time needs.  Baltimore needs a big time #1 receiver. Lee has star potential.

1(18) Jets Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State

The Jets are supposedly very high on Cooks.  I don't think he is anywhere near the best player available at this point, but whatever...

1(19) Dolphins Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA

In a way this is a reach, and in a way it isn't.  Su'a-Filo is considered an end-of-first round player, but is considered the best guard in the draft and a likely plus starter for 10 years.   With all the 1st round OT's gone and a team with gaping holes on the line, this is a very solid pick.

1(20) Cardinals  Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville

Pryor is a nice piece to add to an emerging defense.

1(21) Packers CJ Mosley, ILB, Alabama

Mosely is the best inside linebacker in the draft, but injury concerns have him sliding a bit.  He should be a plus starter on a defense that desperately needs this kind of linebacker.

1(22) Eagles Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Philly would have preferred Lee or Cooks, but Eagles DC reportedly really liked FUller at VT's pro day.

1(23) Chiefs Odell Beckham, WR, LSU

KC needs a deep threat.  Beckham has really upgraded his standing in the post season.  Seems like a solid meeting point between a surging prospect and a team with a need.

1(24) Bengals Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The thinking is that Cinnci is focusing in on Roby, but that is with an ssumption that Dennard will not be available. I do not think that is a given.

1(25) Chargers Louis Nix, NT, Notre Dame

This seems a common pick on mock drafts.  Again, need meets value well here.

1(26) Bucs (Predicted trade with Browns) Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville

With Carr off the board, Cleveland may be very receptive to trading down. Bridgewater is the right kind of player to fit in Jeff Tedford's offense and is marketable in Tampa --- He just had sucha poor post-season that he wouldn't be a QB the Bucs would be wise to pass up a top 4 talent in the draft to pick. Bridgewater has had a very unimpressive post-season.  Trading up a dozen spots or so to take the sliding Bridgewater however, could make a world of sense.

1(27) Saints Dee Ford, DE/OLB Auburn

This seems like a pick that will be made if the Eagles pass on Ford. The Saints pick up a much needed edge rusher.

1(28) Panthers Bradley Roby, CB , Ohio State

This seems the right spot to pick up a top CB.  The draft will have solid linemen and safties later on.

1(29) Patriots Ra'Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota

A very big and solid player who can play multiple spots that seems like the right kind of guy for the patriots.

1(30) 49ers Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

San Francisco needs wide receiver help.  I have Benjamin here because he appears to have a mid to late first round pedigree, but maybe the 49ers look for a faster WR?

1(31) Broncos -- Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

A linebacker who fits the Bronchos needs.

1(32) Seahawks -- Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri

Seattle needs a DE.  Ealy was considered a mid-first round prospect.  He appears to be sliding.  He probably fits Seattle's needs.

I also went ahead an mocked out the first 14 picks in the second round with (IMO) the most impactful prospects remaining, that fit teams needs.

Round 2
1. Houston Texans Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
2. Washington Redskins David Yankey, OG, Stanford
3. Cleveland Browns Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
4. Oakland Raiders Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State
5. St. Louis (Predicted trade with Atlanta) Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
6. Cleveland Browns (Predicted trade with Tampa Bay) Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
7. Jacksonville Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
8. Minnesota Vikings Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
9. Buffalo Bills Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
10. Tennessee Titans Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
11. NY Giants Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
12. St. Louis Rams Jimmie Ward, SS, Northern Illinois
13. Detroit Lions Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
14. Pittsburgh Steelers Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Now Dallas could probably use 2(15) on Antonio Richardson OT Clemson, but IMO Richardson may have worked himself into more of  a top of the third round player.  I would think if Dallas could add an extra player or two in the third to 5th rounds, that could more than offset the loss of 2(15) in this very deep draft.

It would be a very successful draft if Dallas could grab a number of thrid to fifth round guys like LB Christian Jones of FSU, DEs Will Clarke of West Virginia, Jackson Jeffcoat of Texas, Morgan Breslin of USC, 3 technique Will Sutton of Arizona State, Caraun Reid of Princeton 1 Technique Dominique Easley of Florida, George Uko of USC, S Ed Reynolds of Stanford...and really, so many others. 

Heck, another idea is that Dallas could draft a Stanford player with each pick after a Manziel pick and have a great draft!  That wouldn't yeild stars, but a lot of guys who can contribute and provide toughness and sound play.