Monday, April 27, 2009

More Thoughts on the 2009 Draft

Now that everything has calmed down and I have had a chance to clear my head and spend a little time finding out more about the players drafted I feel better informed to offer my opinion on how things turned out for the Dallas Cowboys in this years draft. Before I start, I can only pray that most of you reading this understand that any opinions or draft grades offered by any of the various media sources at this point are pure conjecture. It is extremely difficult to project whether any of these guys will turn out to be impact players over the next 5-10 years. Anyone who wants to tell you unequivocally that the draft was boom or bust is just blowing smoke. It is going to take a few years before we find out what we really got in this draft.

And I don't like hearing all of the talk about how the Cowboys should have traded up higher in the draft. They were working those phones during the second round like madmen but they just couldn't seem to find a trading partner. You could tell if you were watching the War Room camera that they were disappointed when the run on players they wanted started about 10 picks before the Cowboys were up. It seemed like all of the players rated as second round picks on their draft board were gone when they finally got their chance so Jerry and Stephen Jones made the decision to trade down to acquire picks so that they wouldn't be forced to reach for a player. Could they have overpaid to move up in the draft? Probably, but then everyone would slam them just as hard as they are now for not trading up. Going into the draft without the first and third round pick they traded for Roy Williams left them with their hands tied early in the draft.

Overall, I thought the Cowboys did a very average job in the draft. Jason Williams looks like a phenomenal athlete and several of the defensive backs look like they could develop into good players. I didn't expect any big time players given their draft position but I expected a little more since they went into the draft with so many picks to use as ammunition to trade into spots to get they guys they had rated high on their draft board. I can't get past the fifth round pick for a kicker. Jerry can try to sell us all he wants on that pick but I see that one as a waste unless they are setting something up for a trade. I just don't see how you can justify keeping two kickers and a punter active on game day no matter how they try to spin that one.

I've heard draft grades for the Cowboys anywhere between an F and a B+. That just shows you how subjective the grading process is at this point. What I am looking at to assess the draft is how they addressed their roster needs. The only positions I thought didn't get enough attention were speed receiver/punt returner and defensive tackle. I guess they really think highly of Junior Siavii since they didn't feel it necessary to draft depth at defensive tackle. The only thing I can say is still a need coming out of the draft is track star speed at wide receiver. I know Jerry Jones is going to say that Miles Austin is the speed receiver, but I wanted a guy who can run past anyone in the league. There were countless opportunities in the draft to get a 4.2 or 4.3 forty guy fairly late in the process and they never made the pick.

I am putting my trust in the scouting department and hoping that several of these guys can become good players. They have cornerbacks, safeties, linebackers, a quarterback, a kicker, and an offensive lineman to develop. The odds are in the Cowboys' favor that a few of them will become quality players just based on percentages since they picked 12 players. They can't all be busts...I hope.

What became obvious if it wasn't already is that Roy Williams has to prove that he was worth what the Cowboys gave up to get him. The focus of the draft was defense so clearly the coaching staff believes they have the playmakers in place for a successful offense. He is the first round pick in a sense so he has to produce to make the draft successful. Roy Williams has the weight of the world on his shoulders this season. I hope he is up to the task of being a big time #1 receiver.


  1. To many people out there already throwing these draft picks under the bus. If you're not given a chance, where would most of us be?.

  2. First, we've had 4.2, 4.3 receivers that couldn't make our practice squad, much less the team. It's no use being one of the teams that waste a late pick on that guy, when we could pick a football player with a legitimate shot of making the cut.

    Second, I see Miles Austin as a better Alvin Harper, but without the leaping ability.

    Third, they clearly see DeAngelo Smith as the cornerback / returner combo everyone says we should have gotten. The guy averaged 9.5 yds/ return.

    Fourth, no one seems to be clear on one thing: From a certain perspective, we drafted 11 starters this year. Any coach will tell you offense, defense and special teams are equally important. The staff wants to "churn the bottom of the roster", replacing lackluster 2nd and 3rd year backups with stellar special teams players who have a shot to make rank in their position group. That has the benefit of freeing the cash to sign Ware and keep our valued FAs the next 2 years.

    Fifth, that kicker Beuhler is an athletic freak. Remember our replacement kicker last year who made the hit on that guy? They expect Beuhler to contribute like that on special teams on a regular basis. The guy out-benched some of the elite offensive linemen in this years draft.

  3. Oh, and I forget the exact numbers, but out of 100+ of Beuhler's kickoffs, over half were touchbacks and only 5 (FIVE!!!) were returned past the 20 yard line.

  4. The fact that we drafted we an eye on special teams is not lost on me. We lost at least 2 games last season due to poor special teams play. But even if Beuhler is an athletic freak you are telling me that we drafted a guy who will be on the field for 5 or 6 plays a game? I hope he is athletic enough to play on all of the special teams units because I think Nick Folk can get the job done if you just ask him to kick deep instead of directional kicking. I just don't think that a kicker was a necessity...but if he can do all the things that Wade and Jerry believe that he can then maybe he'll be a nice luxury. I just thought we should address all of our high priority needs before picking a guy who is a luxury item.

    I think Miles Austin is set for a breakout season, so I think we can agree on that one. My point on the speed guy is that I was hoping for not just a guy who CAN return punts but a guy who EXCELS at it. We haven't had a legitimate punt return threat in years and that is what I was hoping we would find.

    And don't forget that having all these guys in camp fighting for roster spots is going to ratchet up the intensity. Nearly all of the positions are going to have battles for roster spots and I really believe that is going to make them a better team next year because everyone will be forced to work a little harder.

  5. You're right that we probably didn't get a standout returner, but that's such a hit-and-miss position. Pacman was supposed to win 1 or 2 games a year for us by himself, but he couldn't even catch the ball. I still like Felix as a kick returner (he did set an NCAA record for avg return), but I'm guessing they won't risk him there after last season's injury. Although, if we can get some guys to block this year, it might be a different story. Crayton is at least serviceable as a punt returner. Maybe DeAngelo Smith will be a slight upgrade there. I don't think you can get a guy who excels at returns and has a legitimate shot at making the active roster at his position after the second round. Those guys are way way too valuable in this league.

    I may have been a little too high on the Beuhler pick. You're right that his impact will be limited. With the extra five yards on kickoffs, who knows how many he can put out of play at this level. I will say that the Joneses and coaches all seem to agree that Folk can't cut it on kickoffs. (aka "the philosophical decision to carry two kickers" on If Beuhler can put a few through the uprights during camp, I wonder if they'll try to trade Folk for a draft pick instead of cutting another LB, DB, or WR when the cuts start getting tough.

    However, there is one more thing I like about Beuhler. If he does in fact cover punts as DeCamillis has suggested, he will be breaking down that barrier that kickers aren't a part of the team. I like that idea...

  6. I love Folk, but even when he's kicking away he seldom reaches the goal line...and when he does, the kick is flat and gets there too fast. I'd say if a late fifth-rounder is on the field 5-6 plays a game, that was a good pick. And remember, the guy's a good FG kicker, so if Folk has to go on IR, we're set.

    I agree we had needs to address that we didn't, I was REAL unhappy with our third round, but once you reach the 170s you're not drafting for need anymore.

    If you think the draft was focused on special teams (you're right) then a kickoff specialist is not really a luxury...he's the guy that gives the coverage a chance to pin a team inside the twenty...and I'm real tired of seeing teams start at their 40 or better.

  7. I think he'll find a way to make the team...

  8. wow - great link, thanks!