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: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise
Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.
One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.
At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.
A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.
In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.
But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?
The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.
Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.
Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.
Pre-Draft Visitors Highlight Dallas Cowboys 2019 Rookie Class
The Dallas Cowboys are "officially" adding 21 rookies to their roster, eight of which they drafted and the remaining 13 are undrafted free agents. The number of rookies the Cowboys are bringing in isn't all that surprising, but what did surprise me was how many of them were pre-draft visitors.
You may or may not know, but the NFL allows 30 allotted pre-draft visits for each team around the league. Teams don't have to use all 30 visits of course, but the majority of them take advantage of the opportunity and generally use up all 30 visits. It's a chance to introduce these rookies into the atmosphere they could be playing in and work them out in more of a one-on-one basis.
The Dallas Cowboys of course are known as a team who take their 30 pre-draft visits very seriously. Over the past several years they've drafted several players who were brought in for pre-draft visits, and 2019 was no exception.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visits is a good idea because the odds of them drafting one or more of them is pretty high. That's why I decided to run a pre-draft tracker this year, and because of it I was able to confirm 27 of the possible 30 pre-draft visitors for the Cowboys.
Here are 2019 pre-draft visitors currently on the Cowboys roster:
- DT, Trysten Hill
- RB, Tony Pollard
- RB, Mike Weber
- WR, Jon'Vea Johnson
- CB, Chris Westry
If you're doing the math, 5 out of 30 equates to 17% of the players the Dallas Cowboys brought in as pre-draft visitors. But, if Dallas only brought in 27 that percentage rises to 19%. To say that the Cowboys value these pre-draft visits would be an understatement, at least as far as 2019 is concerned.
The first three of Trysten Hill, Tony Pollard, and Mike Weber were of course all draft picks and have the best chance to stick around on the final 53-man roster, but I wouldn't rule out Jon'Vea Johnson and Chris Westry. Both were draftable players, but somehow fell through the cracks right into the lap of the Cowboys as UFAs.
I don't really know if it's a good idea the Dallas Cowboys are so transparent with how valuable the treat these 30 pre-draft visits. We've seen teams time and time again trade up right in front of them to draft a player the Cowboys could've possibly been eyeing, and this year was no exception.
After drafting Running Back/Wide Receiver Tony Pollard with the first of their fourth-round draft picks, it looked like the Dallas Cowboys had their sights set on small school Defensive End/Defensive Tackle John Cominsky out of Charleston with their second pick in the fourth. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Falcons traded up a spot ahead of them to draft Cominsky.
This of course isn't the first time the Falcons have done this, which begs the question as to how they knew the Cowboys could have possibly been targeting Cominsky. We can throw a conspiracy theory out there that Atlanta might have been inside source, but that's highly unlikely. More plausible theory is they were paying attention to Dallas' 30 pre-draft visitors as well.
It may be time for the Dallas Cowboys to deploy a little more smoke and mirrors when it comes to who they bring in for pre-draft visits in the future. But regardless, there's no denying the Cowboys pre-draft visitors highlight their 2019 rookie class.
Are you surprised the Dallas Cowboys added so many pre-draft visitors to the roster?
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Draft Grades
Another year, another draft come and gone. The difference was that this year the Dallas Cowboys were without a first-round pick thanks to their trade for Amari Cooper with Oakland. Their de facto first-round pick would obviously earn an A+ from how well he meshed with Dak Prescott and gave this Cowboys offense another dimension.
Given how well the Cowboys have done in the first round in recent history -- all but two of their first round picks since 2011 have been in the Pro Bowl, a trend that continued with last year’s pick, Leighton Vander Esch. This season, the Cowboys only had picks from round two and on. So this year was all about finding value and hoping it would fall into their laps.
Obviously time will tell if any of these players work out or not. For the time being, we can grade the picks based on what we do know. Some picks were worth it, while others raised questions, as well as eyebrows.
58 Overall: DT, Trysten Hill
In what has been considered the best defensive line draft in decades, the Cowboys took a bit of a risk with their first “official” pick. Trysten Hill is a first round talent out of UCF, but reports questioning his love for the game had some give him a third round grade.
Dallas has already had an off-season dealing with talented defensive linemen with questions around their passion for the game (i.e. David Irving) and so obviously people didn’t love this pick.
It’s a high risk, high reward move that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.
90 Overall: G, Connor McGovern
As far as value goes, McGovern was probably the team’s best pick. In my pre-draft rankings, Connor McGovern was my fourth overall interior lineman; a player who you can play anywhere in the interior and start immediately.
However, guard didn’t really seem like a need. This was obviously a “best player available” pick. What this pick has done instead is raise a bunch of questions.
Who’s job could be on the line?
Does this imply the team won’t re-sign La’el Collins?
Is Connor Williams going to play tackle like he did in college?
Is one of them going to get traded?
Is Travis Frederick really ready to go?
So many questions surround this pick, but there’s no questioning the player. Connor McGovern is likely a future starter on the line and Cowboys fans should be excited about that.
128 Overall: RB, Tony Pollard
If you follow me on Twitter, you know my feelings about Tony Pollard already.
Tony Pollard might be my favorite #Cowboys pick. Has experience at both the RB and WR position, plus had 7 career kick return TDs in college. He addresses all 3 needs in 1. #NFLDraft
Returner has been a need for a year now. I never liked the team trading away Ryan Switzer because it created a huge hole on special teams, as well as the receiving core.
The team also needed a backup running back to take the load off Ezekiel Elliott a bit. With Tony Pollard, they get all three positions filled in the form of a player who's 6'0" 210 pounds, ran a 4.52 40 and compiled 25 total touchdowns. Terrific value in the fourth round.
158 Overall: CB, Michael Jackson
This is the type of corner Kris Richard loves; big and tall. At 6'1" 200 pounds, Michael Jackson fits the profile.
His 2017 tape was actually better than his 2018 tape, and all four of his career interceptions came in '17. However, the team is obviously betting on his potential, especially with corner being a serious need.
With the Cowboys' four primary corners coming into contract years the next three seasons, odds are that at least one will be gone. MJ doesn’t fill in day one as a difference maker but, given some time under Kris Richard, he could be a nice player.
165 Overall: DE, Joe Jackson
Take Joe Jackson, new Cowboy, as well as Michael and Darius Jackson, and the team is just two short of a Jackson 5 reunion.
The team has been very busy trying to rebuild the depth at edge and Joe Jackson is icing on an already stacked cake. In an off-season that saw the retirement of David Irving and another suspension for Randy Gregory, the team was able to extend DeMarcus Lawrence and trade for Robert Quinn.
The edge room was already full but you can never have too many.
Joe Jackson is a fun, productive player from The U, who was teammates with the previous pick, Michael Jackson. In his career, he totaled 24 sacks and 37.5 tackles for loss all in three seasons. He’s not the fastest edge rusher in the world but has plenty of power to make up for it. With the team only for sure having DeMarcus Lawrence guaranteed beyond 2019, it’s good to have as much talent as possible.
213 Overall: S, Donovan Wilson
The team really needed a safety and it enraged most people that they didn’t pick one earlier. Especially with Taylor Rapp, Juan Thornhill and Amani Hooker all available at different times.
Donovan Wilson is an interesting pick. His career has been a rollercoaster while at Texas A&M, with a highly productive 2015 season, a dip in 2016, a fractured foot in the 2017 opener, and a rebound 2018 season.
Had his career not been derailed by his injury, he’s likely gone way before the sixth round and the Cowboys are obviously betting on his potential. Meets a need, but not a plug-in right away type of pick.
218 Overall: RB, Mike Weber
Tony Pollard is going to get first crack at the backup running back spot. However, given that he’s also the team’s likely return man as well, it makes sense that they’d want to deepen the running back room to give the team a true RB2.
Mike Weber was Ezekiel Elliott’s teammate at Ohio State, but didn’t come close to the impact Elliott had. Only topping 1,000 yards once in college, Weber is likely in competition with Darius Jackson for the backup spot.
He’s not as flashy as Zeke but can pick up the slack when asked to and is a solid receiver out of the backfield. If Weber can’t beat Jackson for the backup spot, then Weber is a likely candidate for the practice squad.
241 Overall: DE, Jalen Jelks
Jalen Jelks falls into a similar boat that both Hurricanes players are in. Like Joe Jackson, he’s a good solid edge piece (fifth round draft grade), but like Michael Jackson, his prior season's tape was better than his final season.
It's interesting that the Cowboys would pick a player who seems to be better suited to play in a 3-4 as a OLB, but has plenty of starter potential. Otherwise he’s a player that’s likely headed to the practice squad that the Cowboys wanted to make sure they get first crack at. Still, a good value in terms of where he was picked.
Dallas Cowboys Overall 2019 Draft Grade: B
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