The Dallas Cowboys are now on the clock. 10:00, 9:59, 9:58…
The clock's ticking, Cowboys Nation. I've always found that looking towards the future is never clear, but doing the same for the past is 20/20. For example, in 2003, if anyone had told a young quarterback out of Eastern Illinois University that he would become the face of the franchise for the Dallas Cowboys, he probably would've thought you were doing blow. But now, looking back, it's obviously what actually took place.
It's an interesting argument, looking at the past is, because a lot of people would argue that the past can depict the future. How many times did your parents tell you, when you were growing up, to “learn from your mistakes?” Did you? Not always. But, generally throughout life, we look back at a past experience to make decisions for the future.
You'd have to be insane to think that past decisions don't influence future ones for this team, or any for that matter. As much as the Cowboys may say that every year is a new year, you know they're constantly looking to learn.
I put out a poll on Twitter the other day that asked Cowboys Nation.
I essentially depicted, for each player, what their careers would look like. I asked folks who they would want the Cowboys to take at pick #4, knowing ahead of time how good these players will be. Don't we all wish we had this superpower?
7:34, 7:33, 7:32…
To do this, I took a player at a matching position to my four rookies, and said that the corresponding rookie would have a skill level better than the player listed. For Jalen Ramsey, I felt Richard Sherman would be a fun benchmark to compare skill levels. They're certainly different kinds of players, but the point is that they've reached a certain skill level. Hey Sherm, which pick do the Cowboys have in this draft?
Remember Patrick Willis? The all-pro middle linebacker who played for the 49ers and abruptly retired just on the backside of his prime years? Could you imagine if Myles Jack ended up with his skills, but faster and more instinctive?
Some people believe that Josh Doctson may be the best wide receiver in this draft. I may not go that far, but in the right system with a good quarterback, he's certainly capable of having an all-pro career; a career that resembles AJ Green's, without the nagging injury bug.
Lastly, I come to a future hall of famer. A player who seems to defy father time and post damn near 1,000 yards as a 32 year old running back for the Indianapolis Colts. Wouldn't it be something if Ezekiel Elliott had a better career than Frank Gore? He's certainly viewed by some to have the talent level to achieve it.
4:13, 4:12, 4:11…
The reason for all these comparisons is this: who would the Dallas Cowboys choose at pick #4, if given the choice between Sherman, Willis, Green, or Gore?
After the poll closed, an overwhelming majority settled on one player: Richard Sherman. Coming in at an astounding 63%, most Cowboys fans would want to take him (Jalen Ramsey) at #4. Coming in second was Frank Gore (Elliott) with 19%, third was Patrick Willis (Myles Jack) at 14%, and rounding out the bottom, in 4th place was AJ Green (Josh Doctson) with a mere 4%.
Keeping in mind that we would be getting one of these players during their prime, it begs the question, “Which one would help Tony get his ring?” First, Dez Bryant on one side, and AJ Green on the other. Scared doesn't even begin to cover the feelings that defensive coordinators would have when game planning for this offense.
Second, Frank Gore and this offensive line. Are you kidding me? Tony wouldn't ever have to throw the ball again. Gore in his prime was ten times better than DeMarco Murray was last season, and he was pretty good. Gore's ability to pass protect, catch, and run the ball, in combination with the talent on our offensive line, would offer this offense a dimension that they haven't truly had since Emmitt Smith.
I want you to close your eyes and picture this. Don't worry, if you're in public, just tell people you have a headache. Now, imagine being Eli Manning and looking across the line of scrimmage. Who do you see? Sean Lee and his eyes, knowing where you're about to throw the ball before you do. “Crap. Let me see where else I can go on this throw,” ponders Eli.
He looks to the right trying to find an open hole in the coverage, except he can't because he sees Patrick Willis being nine yards wide as he drops into his right-hash, cover 3 position. By the time Eli makes his decision, DeMarcus Lawrence is standing over him and the referees are waving their hands above their head, indicating a sack. Patrick Willis would bring a tandem to this team that I'm not sure they've ever had.
Lastly, the voice of the people. Richard Sherman, Orlando Scandrick, Byron Jones, and Barry Church. What a secondary. A secondary that could very well be the best in the game. Yeah, I said it, Earl Thomas. With this group of defensive backs, the Cowboys would not only be incredibly stingy against the pass, but they would give Romo and our offense several more chances to punch it in for a score, due to the play-making turnover abilities they could bring to the table.
1:42, 1:41, 1:40…
All four of these players would be a boost to this team. I'm sure Jason Garrett would take each one of them given the choice. But, in the spirit of this article, you can only have one. While I think Cowboys Nation has a point with their choice of Richard Sherman locking down the right side of our secondary, I can't get the image of Sean Lee and Patrick Willis out of my mind. Talk about an elite tandem.
With a slight upgrade at 1-technique (Nick Hayden's spot and the player who lines up on the outside shoulder of the center) and some free agent depth at right defensive end, we would likely instantly have a top 5 run defense. Being able to stop the run is crucial to any football team. Ask any expert, or even a fair-weather fan, and they'll likely say the same thing.
What about pass defense, Ian? What about it? Sean Lee averages over a pick every 5 games. Adding Willis' 8 career interceptions and 2 touchdowns to that, you're bringing a ferocious linebacking corps to your cover 2 and cover 3.
So who do we take? The potential hall of fame linebacker to form the best pair of linebackers in the game, or the loudmouthed cornerback, providing an incredible mentor to Byron Jones and a shutdown presence to the left side of the field?
0:03, 0:02, 0:01…
With the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys select: Jalen Ramsey
This team is looking to win now, but they can't do it with a crap secondary. If we're able to either bring back Rolando McClain, sign a competent MIKE, or get surprising production from Damien Wilson or Anthony Hitchens, Ramsey would provide what may just be the missing link to a complete secondary.
Josh Doctson would provide a solid presence on the outside, but Tony Romo has found ways to make this offense very competitive with the group of wide outs we currently have.
And lastly, Darren McFadden showed last year that he can carry the load for a team and stay on the field for all three downs, for 16 games. He may not be as flashy and young as Zeke, but I just don't see the need there.
So that's it. You're walking away from this draft with arguably the best corner in the game in Richard Sherman. I'd love to hear your thoughts and/or disputes on this, or if you think we should go elsewhere with the pick.
So I guess now the question is, who are we taking at pick #34?