At one point in time this past weekend a stadium full of people, while present for an NFL Playoff Game, chanted for Brandon Weeden to come in and save the day for the Houston Texans.
That's how bad things can be in the game of football. Without a reliable quarterback you have no shot - that's just the way it works.
At the end of the drubbing that the Chiefs put on the Texans I gave a lot of thought to the upcoming draft for the Dallas Cowboys. I don't want us to ever be in the quarterback purgatory that Houston has placed their permanent home in.
Watching Brian Hoyer throw interception after interception, seeing the look of frustration on all 16 Texans fans, hearing them beg and plead for Brandon Weeden... as a Dallas Cowboys fan you couldn't help but be thankful for the strong sense of reliability that we've had at the all-important quarterback position, save for 2015 obviously.
I say "save for 2015 obviously" because it's no secret how the Dallas Cowboys rotation of quarterbacks this season was a carousel of clumsiness and ineptitude. A tradition of iconic moments at the quarterback position was replaced by broken clavicles, interceptions, and palpable frustration.
The members of Cowboys Nation left their seats at the 2015 table with three inescapable truths: Tony Romo is our MVP, his health and longevity are now seriously in question, and we were nowhere near even kind of close to being prepared in terms of quarterback depth.
My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin pounded on that very table yesterday here at Inside The Star about how the 4th Overall Pick, which the Cowboys have in the 2016 NFL Draft, is a resource that must be devoted to righting those wrongs. You can read Sean's argument here.
Let's pause for a minute and go back to the Houston Texans.
The new doormat for the Kansas City Chiefs and the 2015 Dallas Cowboys actually have a lot in common. They both had sub-par play at the quarterback position and were both carried by strong defenses. Obviously the Cowboys lost Tony Romo, but how did the Texans find themselves in such a precarious situation?
We'll rewind this thing a little bit more. In 2012 the Texans won their division and a playoff game... a lot like the 2014 Dallas Cowboys.
In 2013 the Texans had a catastrophic season and wound up with a high, number one overall, draft pick... a lot like the 2015 Dallas Cowboys.
The whole "at least we have a high draft pick to get back on track with" song was sang by the Texans entering the 2014 NFL Draft. Sound familiar?
With some high-name prospects at quarterback, and a serious need at the position, Houston declined to get a new signal caller and went with famed pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney out of South Carolina.
Many people questioned Houston's dismissal of a new signal caller, especially with in-state hero Johnny Manziel available for the picking. Johnny, Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, and one other QB were all options that the Texans declined; however, it was the right strategy.
Houston felt that there wasn't a once-in-a-generation type talent at quarterback (think Andrew Luck in 2012) so they decided to capitalize on their strength. The Texans already had a Defensive Player Of The Year in their stud pass rusher JJ Watt (who would go on to win it again in 2014), so they decided to strengthen their strength with the addition of Clowney.
Enough chatter about the beleaguered Texans, let's talk about that other quarterback they let slip through their fingers. His name is Derek Carr and his older brother, David, was actually the first ever draft pick by the Texans all the way back in 2002.
Derek Carr was the second pick by the Oakland Raiders in that 2014 Draft. Their first selection was a pass rusher by the name of Khalil Mack who made history last week when he was named as an All-Pro at two positions! After taking a quarterback for their defense in Mack the Raiders took an actual quarterback in Carr - who Houston passed on again in the second round, mind you.
Carr and Mack have become cornerstones for the revamped Raiders franchise. Oakland was competitive for a substantial amount of an NFL season for the first time in what feels like forever... and that can largely be attributed to how strongly they hit in the 2014 Draft. They did what Houston had the opportunity to do had Clowney already developed and they'd taken a quarterback a little earlier. Houston's logic worked... just for another team.
Carr was the fourth quarterback taken in 2014 (Bortles, Manziel, and Bridgewater all went in the first) and for what it's worth Houston took the seventh one, Pitt's Tom Savage, in the fourth round. Savage hasn't amounted to much in two seasons while Carr has blossomed.
Alright RJ... I stuck with you long enough. What exactly are you trying to say?
While the Texans, seem to have, missed on Clowney... the logic behind the pick was sound. I just hyped up Derek Carr, but has he set the world on fire yet? Have any of the 2014 quarterbacks? Nope.
The Texans could still have something in Clowney, the Raiders definitely have something in Mack, and both of those players were taken by their respective teams before they addressed the quarterback position. And that's because neither of them had Tony Romo on their team!
It's difficult for all of us to acknowledge that Tony Romo probably won't play all 16 games in a season ever again, but we're planning on him at least playing a majority aren't we?
Why are we about to devote the 4th Overall Pick on a quarterback when we have one who we're planning on playing a majority of the season and there are other highly skilled players at positions who will contribute across the whole season?
There is undeniably a need for quarterback depth, but are we really going to sacrifice the #4 in the name of it? If your rebuttal is about some guy who has great vision, pocket awareness, and arm strength... well didn't Bortles, Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, or any other top prospect in the history of the NFL? There are no guarantees in football.
The front office absolutely has to address the need at quarterback. That can happen via free agency or even the Draft itself! I'm not saying that it can't.
What I'm saying is that there is a Jadeveon Clowney or a Khalil Mack out there who can come in and contribute significantly right now. Not to mention that the odds of a successful draft pick are higher for non-quarterback positions, but that's a topic for another day.
I understand that we have to prepare for the future and the post-Romo era, but what good is planning for the future if we're sacrificing the present?
There's a delicate balance that we have to find, and it's certainly not easy. We need to capitalize on our strengths in 2016 (like Houston tried to do with Clowney) with the 4th Overall Pick, but we also need to get our quarterback before it's too late (like they failed to do in the same draft with Derek Carr).
Considering that we have Tony Romo for next season, at whatever length we do, that buys us time that Houston didn't have in 2014. We can't take that for advantage and take this season's Tom Savage, we have to learn from their mistake and take this season's Derek Carr.
The 4th Overall Pick isn't a luxury. Using it on a quarterback, or for that matter any player who you aren't planning on using every game of the season, is treating it like one. Think about it... What player have you EVER seen taken in the Top 5 who's team didn't intend on using all 16 games? You can't because that's ridiculous.
There are a lot of players in this upcoming Draft that I really like, and a lot of them are quarterbacks. But we don't have to take one at #4 just for the sake of taking one.
Best player available. It's a tale as old as time. Let's live it.
Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Iowa State Cyclones WR Hakeem Butler
The 2019 NFL Draft is light on a lot of the offensive skill position players at the top of the draft. There are a couple of wide receivers that are making noise in the first round, but I'm surprised to see that Iowa State Cyclones Wide Receiver Hakeem Butler isn't one of them.
Is he a perfect NFL prospect coming out of the Big 12? No. But this year, there isn't a perfect NFL wide receiver prospect, in my opinion.
Hakeem Butler measured in at 6-5, 225 with 35 1/4 inch wingspan, and 10 3/4 inch hands. He's a big receiver and generally, the type of wide receiver that the NFL looks for when they're attempting to build their receiver corp.
Here are his measurements, courtesy of Mockdraftable.com.
And here is his Spider Graph, if you're into that sort of thing.
As you can see, Butler moves the needle on the spider graph in the strength and athletic testing. He didn't run the short shuttle or the 3-cone drill at the NFL combine, which isn't surprising as those would be lesser traits to his game.
For his size, Butler runs an excellent 40-yard dash at 4.48 seconds. That puts him at the same time as Carolina Panthers Running Back Christian McCaffrey. Former Dallas Cowboys great, Dez Bryant ran a 4.52. The 40-yard dash helps measure straight line speed and it's helpful, it just isn't the be all-end all. Sure, you'd like a receiver to be faster, but Butler's size-speed combination makes up for being a touch slower than the guys running in the 4.3's.
In order to get a handle on Hakeem Butler, I watched his games against Iowa, Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Baylor, and Washington State. Believe me, watching the Iowa State offense was no small task. Quarterback much?
Here's what I saw from Hakeem Butler.
- Is able to create separation on a variety of routes and against press coverage. Ran posts, slants, ins, outs, curls (both in and out breaking), double moves off of slants (sluggo and hitch and go), and nine or go routes.
- Moves well for size, could use some more quickness.
- Hakeem Butler is at his best when thrown back-shoulder fade routes. He's an excellent ball tracker and shows great anticipation for the ball being thrown under the route for him to come back to the ball.
- Quarterback play at Iowa State was an issue. I counted three, maybe four different quarterbacks that he had to work with throughout the 2018 season. Though Butler was able to bail them out at times, he and the rest of the Cyclones receiving corp dealt with poor ball placement.
- Butler is a physical blocker at the point of attack and away from the ball. He uses route feints to set up the defender so he can get square on them and uses good technique to secure his man and plays till the whistle.
- Was lined up all over the field in the games watched including the slot, the middle receiver in bunch formations, and in tight sets as a single receiver to one side.
- Is very physical against press coverage and fights to get free throughout the route.
- The two games he struggled the most were against TCU and Iowa where they used more zone coverage than Iowa State's other opponents. Those teams kept him bracketed, which left him little room to work in the zone and forced him into more contested catch situations.
- He had bad drops in both the Iowa and TCU games, but also came up with excellent catches.
- Butler is very physical after the catch and uses his size and agility to break tackles and create yards after the catch. Against the Sooners, he broke three or four tackles after the catch to take one the distance for the touchdown.
I like Hakeem Butler as a pro prospect. He has some nuanced route running to him and is more than just a jump-ball specialist, red zone threat. He has the skills to be a lead receiver for a team in the NFL and could even be used as a big-slot receiver much like the New Orleans Saints use Michael Thomas. Despite some drops, I think he has really good hands and with his size and physicality would be an excellent addition for the Dallas Cowboys.
I'd be surprised if he was available for the Cowboys at pick 58 of the second round, but if for some reason he was there, I wouldn't hesitate to select him. You can use him on the outside and move Amari Cooper to the slot or put Butler in the slot and use Cooper on the outside. His ability to run routes from all over the formation is an asset that a smart team will take advantage of.
Cowboys Draft Target: Central Florida DT Trysten Hill
NAME: Trysten Hill
POSITION: Defensive Tackle
SCHOOL: Central Florida
JERSEY: No. 9
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
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Uploaded by Micah Wade on 2019-02-22.
The first thing that jumps off the tape when studying Trysten Hill is his first step quickness at the snap of the ball and his burst to get upfield. He is scheme diverse, but projects better as a 4-3 defensive tackle. Can play the one-technique or the three-technique in a 4-3 defense, but is at his best as a one-gapper.
Hill plays with a nonstop motor and high energy down after down. Doesn't take any plays off. Shows the ability to fight off blocks. Always working his hands and feet to free himself. Is equally disruptive harassing the quarterback as a gap penetrator and in the running game playing sideline to sideline.
Shows good agility and flexibility to bend and finish tackles behind line of scrimmage and in the open field. Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to improve his overall play strength. Uses a twitchy arm over and spin counter move to penetrate the gap as both a pass rusher and run defender.
There are questions about Trysten Hill's maturity, work ethic, and coach ability. He found himself in the doghouse last year at Central Florida and only started one game. Was he demoted because of the new coaching staff or are the character concerns about him factual? This is something teams will have to dive deeper into.
Needs to do a better job of playing under control. Will run himself out of gaps at times, which causes him to lose his gap responsibility. Can get washed out of the play by down blocks. Needs to develop a better feel and response to keep that from happening.
Can anchor down against double teams, but needs to add functional strength in order to become more consistent. Drops his head at times on his initial punch. Needs to develop a more diverse pass rushing repertoire. Relies too much on arm over and spin move.
Trysten Hill is a versatile defensive tackle capable playing the one-technique or the three-technique in the Dallas Cowboys 4-3 defensive scheme. Due to his first step quickness and high motor, he is likely better suited to play the three-technique. He has starting potential, but would likely be a rotational piece on the DL as a rookie behind Maliek Collins. His ability to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage and sidelined the sideline would be a welcomed addition along the Cowboys defensive front. He projects as a late Day 2 or early Day 3 draft pick, and that's exactly where the Dallas Cowboys would likely have to target him to acquire his services.
Cowboys Draft Target: Nebraska WR Stanley Morgan Jr.
NAME: Stanley Morgan Jr.
POSITION: Wide Receiver
CONFERENCE: Big Ten
JERSEY: No. 8
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
"Where I come from ... I had to block for Leonard Fournette, I played on the same team as Tyrann Mathieu," Morgan said. "It's just guys like that around me that made me want to work harder, just to keep going and give it my all. It's something that I was born with."
Stanley Morgan Jr. was a consistent and productive wide receiver during his time at Nebraska. He projects as a "Z" receiver in the NFL, but is probably better suited to play in the slot because of his skill set. Might be the best route runner in the entire 2019 WR draft class.
There's no questioning his toughness and competitiveness. His passion for the game shows up on tape. Unafraid to carry his routes across the middle of field. Possess good separation ability due to his precise route running and his ability to change directions on a dime. Has an understanding of how to temper his routes as well and has a way of lulling defensive backs to sleep and catching them off guard.
Has soft natural hands and shows good technique at the catch point. Shows the ability to make contested catches. Large catch radius. Excellent catch focus and body control. Shows the ability to climb the ladder and high point passes. Unfazed with DBs draped on him and shows good spatial awareness along the sideline. Has a little wiggle to be a threat after the catch, but doesn't have homerun ability.
Stanley Morgan Jr. could be labeled as "just a guy" as a wide receiver prospect. There is nothing really special about his game and he has just average speed and athleticism. Despite his productivity and consistency at Nebraska, he may have already reached his peak.
Morgan may be nothing more than a slot receiver in the NFL. He doesn't possess the necessary speed to be a threat down the field and doesn't show a lot of burst out of his breaks. Average speed will limit his big-play ability as well. Struggles to beat press coverage, which could cause cornerbacks to sit on underneath routes.
Doesn't offer anything on special teams. Had a handful of opportunities at Nebraska as a kick and punt returner with very little success. Doesn't show a lot of functional strength on film. Lack of strength and power limits his blocking ability in the passing game. Arrested for marijuana possession in May 2017.
Although Stanley Morgan Jr. has the ability to play the "Z" position with the Dallas Cowboys, they would likely move him into the slot full-time as Cole Beasley's replacement now that he's officially moved on to the Buffalo Bills. He may not have the same kind of change of direction skills as Beasley, but Morgan's precise route running ability immediately makes him a threat in the Cowboys aerial attack as a rookie.
Morgan unfortunately doesn't offer much, if anything, on special teams. He returned a few kickoffs and punts during his time at Nebraska, but had marginal success. He will probably never be more than a WR3 and might have already reached his peak as a prospect, but he is the type of WR who can have a long career in the NFL. As a potential mid-round draft pick he is an intriguing slot option for the Cowboys, but probably won't help fans forget about No. 11 anytime soon.
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