Thursday, 27 February 2014

Disheveled in Dallas: Drafting mediocrity

By a Dallas Cowboys fan from T.O., not that T.O. But that is my quarterback

No executive has ever batted 1.000 at the NFL Draft. Not even St. Jimmy.

And yes, hindsight is 20/20.

Give Dallas Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones some credit. The Generalissimo has fared rather well in early rounds recently, scooping up blue chippers Dez Bryant, Sean Lee and Tyron Smith. Last season’s daily double of Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams also looks promising.

But…

Those are the picks you’re supposed to hit on. They’re batting practice fastballs. Whiff on them and you’re the Raiders.

A Super Bowl contender hits on picks early in the draft consistently and gets “lucky” with some late rounders.

The Super Bowl may be won in February but it is most often lost in May, at the NFL Draft. Teams that draft the best are the ones jumping on the podium with confetti raining on their heads.

In 2010, one team drafts safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in the fourth round. The next defensive back off the board is Kam Chancellor.

A year later, one team drafts DB Josh Thomas in the fifth round. Eleven picks later, that same other team takes Richard Sherman.



The Seahawks net two Pro Bowlers, including the self-proclaimed best cornerback in the game, while the Cowboys get 10 games out of Owusu-Ansah.

What are the chances the Seahawks hit the jackpot on both picks and the Cowboys crap out?

Drafting is not an exact science but it’s not a game of chance either.

The Cowboys’ draft history under Jones, without the assistance of Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, is underwhelming, and astonishingly poor in the later rounds.    

In the past five years, Dallas has chosen 27 players in rounds 4 through 7. There’s not a pick that comes within sniffing distance of what the Seahawks unearthed in 2010 alone.

The best of the lot may be linebacker Victor Butler or on special teams, kicker David Buehler.

In 2010, Seattle came away with K.J. Wright (4th), Sherman, Byron Maxwell (6th) and Malcolm Smith (7th). Four Super Bowl starters, including the MVP. Seattle’s other recent drafts produced similar quality.

Not only have the Cowboys failed miserably to find diamonds in the rough, most of their later picks are no longer with the team or the NFL, leaving the franchise with little or no depth. It’s why an unsigned free agent like George Selvie can come in off the street during training camp and start 16 games at defensive end.

The Seattle comparison is one-sided but useful because that’s your competition in the NFC. That’s the top dog you have to punch in the mouth. Do the Cowboys have the guns to do it?

The answer is no.

Given the team’s draft record, there’s not much hope that franchise players are suddenly going to start popping out like popcorn. And there are no extra picks to increase those chances.

Moreover, the team’s core of Pro Bowl players is getting older and the team is in salary purgatory, so not only are free agent fixes unavailable, the Cowboys have to shed a portion of their mediocre amount of talent to meet the league’s cap.

To be continued.