Thursday, December 4, 2014

The hindsight 20/20 redo of the Cowboys's draft.

I wrote this back after the NFL draft in May, but never posted it.

"The days after the draft offer a unique ability to understand the motivations of the coaching staff and get a sense of how the scouting department valued players.

Sadly it looks like the cowboys' 2014 draft board will not be leaked this year...

Given what I know know about how both sides feel about the players they landed and their thought processes on a strategy for the draft, what would I have done differently?

First round.

I entered the draft wanting Johnny Manziel, but I have been swayed by the implications of the Cowboys' argument that if you drafted Manziel he is "too good to sit".  To me, this is code that if you drafted Manziel, as soon as Romo had a bad game, the fans and half of the team would turn on Romo.  QB controversies have a widely unrecognized additional fallout.  Usually a small handful of guys overcommit to the losing QB and in short order the team has to replace a few extra players.  Dallas just can't afford any unnecessary player attrition.

I considered Aaron Donald option 1A.  I understand that Dallas had talks about moving up to take Donald but the cost of their first and third was deemed too costly. (Which really makes me scratch my head that they gave the third for Lawrence.)  I would have been open to trade up if Minnesota would take that offer.  Donald hit me as the only "safe-sounding" trade up option.

Although I liked the idea of picking OT Taylor Lewan, but I would not give up a third to move up for him in a year where a third is a likely immediate long term starter.

I am not an Anthony Barr fan and would not have traded up to pick him.

Likewise I don't think 4-3 OLB is a high priority position and Shazier was a guy pundits had going 8-16 picks later. Combine those two factors and trading up for him would have been a non-starter with me. Plus picking Shazier would have forced Dallas Shawn Lee to stay at MLB.  To me this was a horrible idea even though Shazier is a good player.  Luckily he went at 15.

Which left us at 16 with the same options Dallas was considering.

Jones has said Martin had the same grade as Aaron Donald, Anthony Barr, and Ryan Shazier, but based on Dallas's actions was not the team's preference vs. Shazier.  Martin is a durable, consistent player.  Martin was considered the 9th to 13th best prospect in the draft by draft day and he can probably play RT which is a Dallas trouble spot.  Value combined with the need made Martin a sound pick.

16: Zack Martin RT Notre Dame

Second Round

Defensive line is a huge need at this point as is MLB.  Several WRs in this round looked like late first round prospects to me, but that is a spot where we don't need a ton of help.

I would have vetoed a trade up for Lawrence who likely would have gone to Atlanta at 2 (37).

Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde would have been a great change of pace/ backup at RB, but Ultimately I would have passed on him because there were other RBs at lower costs.

Chris Borland was a guy I liked at MLB as much as anyone in this draft, but Borland has had some injury moments and Dallas's coaching staff and scouting department was apparently very high on Anthony Hitchens as a MLB prospect.  I could be convinced to pass with that in mind (as well as Dallas's chronic injury problems) in favor of Arizona State's Will Sutton  (who Dallas's front office was not gaga over.)

As a Junior, Sutton was just as dominant as Aaron Donald.  Sutton did his damage in the PAC-12 though.  As a senior Sutton was advised to gain weight,  he put on 20 extra pounds and was a shadow of his former self.  The reports are he has lost most of that weight.  While Donald is clearly a 3 technique, Sutton hits me as Donald with some of Timmy Jernigan's skillset.  I especially like the fact that despite being a strong pass rusher, Sutton can hold his position.  Given Dallas's run issues last year, that is a great asset.

Sutton fell because he was still overweight. While in shape players like Martin, Donald, and Barr rose, overweight guys dropped in the extended pre-draft period.

Sutton had more of a late second grade.  I might have tried looking for a partner to work a trade down.  The Dolphins ended up trading to 2 (50).  I'd have given them 2 (47) for their 2 (57) and 4 (125) offer.

57: Will Sutton, 1 technique DT.

Third round

OSU DE Scott Crichton would have been a steal in the third, but he was gone before the Cowboy's pick. He is a bit limited, but a very good player.

I would have gone along with the Cowboys' desire to draft LSU G Trai Turner. Turner is young, strong, and aggressive.  I am not arguing with Bill Callahan on OLs.

78: Trai Turner, RG 

Fourth round

Dallas' front office graded Anthony Hitchens as a MLB.   They were all over him in the fourth.  I would have forced them to look at him later in the draft.

David Yankey would have been high on my list. He looks like a 10 year NFL starter. Getting that in the fourth round is gold.

I would have also tried hard to convince the scouting department to take Ben Gardner here, but Dallas's scouting department would talk me out of it due to his much lower grade. Likewise, FSU's  MLB Christian Jones appears to have taken a  pot related slide out of the draft.  Given that no one drafted him, I would think that my scouting department would have steered me to safer waters.

I'd have taken a long look at Oregon DE/DT Taylor Hart with the second fourth round pick.  Hart is a guy who can contribute as a rotation DL, but he has a had a couple injuries in college and I cannot be assured he is not injury-prone. That is the last thing Dallas needs.

Devin Street looks like a fit in a 5 receiver Dallas rotation, but I think there are better players at other spots.

Stanford S Ed Reynolds would be my pick at 125.  He plays instinctively and has a shot to fix the FS weakness.

119:  David Yankey LG
125:  Ed Reynolds FS

fifth round

Caraun Reid would be a sensible pick in the fifth round.  He has some pass rushing ability from the middle.

158: Caraun Reid DT


229 Jackson Jeffcoat DE
231 Ben Gardner DE
238 Micheal Sam DE
248 Ahmad Dixon S
251 Ken Bishop DT
254 Christian Jones MLB/OLB

To me all of these guys had a real shot to contribute.  Jeffcoat is a Shante Carver type who most teams seem to feel didn't work hard enough.  Playing for Dallas would likely get his motor going.  He has edge speed. Gardner is a guy I liked who Dallas drafted, probably due to "position flex". Sam is a better than seventh round pick who appears to have slid because NFL teams do not want to add openly gay players.  Dixon is a nice gamble. I am Ok with Bishop and I would totally roll the dice on Jones at this point.

I'd sign Josh Mauro DE/DT and  as a free agent and try to trade a 6th next year to carolina for RB Tyler Gaffney."

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