Yesterday the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers punched their tickets to Super Bowl 50.
GOOD FOR THEM WE'RE HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE COWBOYS!
There's been a lot of chatter in the three-week-old 2016 Off-Season and it has primarily centered around the 4th Overall Pick that rests on the shelf of the Dallas Cowboys Front Office. Who will it be used on? Well that's something that we've been talking about quite a bit here at Inside The Star.
My fellow Staff Writer Sean Martin penned quite the piece that suggested the Cowboys slap that baby on a signal-caller (preferably of the Cal variety... Jared Goff to be specific). That's a fair opinion, as all are, and I'm glad that Sean presented it for discussion.
There are a lot of people that think that's a great idea - I'm not one of them.
I gave my own plea for how the 4th Overall Pick should be used, in a direction of the non-quarterback variety, right here. The gist of it is that I want to get some impact in 2016 form the 4th Overall Pick, which I guess is a silly thought, and I don't want the Cowboys to fall behind the eight ball.
Think about this for a second. Every team, literally every team, will draft a player in the first round this year that will, in theory, immediately make them better. By taking a quarterback, considering we currently employ Tony Romo, we are not taking a step forward like the rest of the NFL - we are taking a step laterally. We're spotting the entire National Football League that head start entering 2016. What a novel idea.
Just in case my point hadn't come across crystal clear enough, I whipped up a fun hypothetical. If you had the 4th Overall Pick and the talent pool was all of the players from the 2014 NFL Draft (save Clowney, Robinson, and Bortles)... who would you take? You can read about all of the great talent you'd be passing up on if you felt the need for a quarterback was too high to not use that pick on.
The world, and Twitter, is full of different opinions. Last week I discussed this issue at length with many of the Staff Writers in the Twitterverse and even on the radio waves when I jumped on with Sean at WMSC Radio last Wednesday.
How could I properly demonstrate just how silly this whole "use the 4th Overall Pick on a QB" thing was? Well in a Twitter debate with a great follower named Duane Stephen... while trying to make my point I came up with the way.
I presented a poll to the loyal members of Cowboys Nation.
Who would you choose if you could have only one of these from the 2015 NFL Draft on the Cowboys moving forward?
So let's break this down for a second. You (Not you silly, the you who voted! Come on!) are telling me that if you could do it over... knowing what you know now... you would still take Byron Jones over Jameis Winston? Even with the shape that the current Dallas Cowboys are in at the quarterback position?
You: Yea man! Byron is amazing! Did you not watch him in 2015? That dude has so much talent and potential. I know that he didn't get an interception, but he's going to be so great for us for so long at safety/corner/wherever! I LOVE Byron Jones!
Me: Did you love him when we drafted him? Were you just as pumped on Draft Day 2015?
You: Oh for sure! He was the best player available so we had to take him. I know we needed a running back and pass rusher back then, but we got Randy Gregory and Darren McFadden so it all worked out. It made total sense and look what Byron's done! I'm so happy!
Me: Oh ok. Cool. I'm right there with ya, You. Byron is a stud and I'm as pumped as anybody that he's wearing the Star. He was arguably the best thing to come out of 2015. We park our cars in the same garage, You!
Alright now. We know that the overwhelming majority of Dallas Cowboys fans, 61% to be precise, would prefer Byron to either of the quarterbacks taken first and second overall, respectively, a year ago. I had another question though, so I ran a poll in parallel with this one.
If you could have any one of these QBs as the future of the Cowboys, who would it be?
Ok wait a minute. Explain yourself, You.
You: It's so hard to choose! Jameis is maybe the best talent to come out since Andrew Luck, but Jared Goff is so good! They're about the same, I mean that's what the poll says. I'd be happy with either one of them leading the 'Boys for the future. I'm good with them both!
Me: So you're saying that Winston and Goff are essentially interchangeable, right? You're down with either one? You like them the exact same?
Me: So if Jameis Winston and Jared Goff are interchangeable... doesn't that mean that you significantly prefer Byron Jones, or in your own words the "best player available", over Goff?
You: Uh... I mean, I don't know. I love Byron.
Me: And you said that you drastically preferred him over Jameis. 61% for Byron as opposed to essentially half, 31%, for Jameis... which you said was Goff since they're interchangeable in terms of talent.
You: Well I never thought about it like that. I want Jared Goff, though.
Me: But if you could do it all over again you'd take Byron over Jameis. And Jameis is Goff. Because Byron was the best player available and fills a need that we had and will for a very long time. You just said that you'd rather have that over Jameis... who is Goff.
You: Alright that makes sense. I guess I do prefer the "best player available" when it comes down to it.
This whole thing was presented as a funny conversation (which I actually had out loud... just so you know), but it's a legitimate way of thinking. If we would really prefer Byron Jones over Jameis Winston by that wide of a margin... why are we going to settle for Jared Goff? Especially with the 4th Overall Pick?!
It should be noted that the host of Cowboys Cast, Bobby Belt, also ran a poll.
Goff wins this poll and Carson Wentz comes in at second, just barely above Jameis. But do you see how not far behind Jameis is even in this poll? 12%. Take that into consideration and remember that 30% of voters preferred Byron over Jameis.
The logic remains the same. The best player available is, for all intents and purposes, the preferred route among members of Cowboys Nation that voted (and my sincere thanks goes out to those that did). Even knowing what they know now. The talent there is worth it.
There's a Byron Jones out there in the 2016 NFL Draft. And with the 4th Overall Pick chances are we're going to have a good chance at getting him. Do you really want that pick to be a quarterback because he's a great and talented prospect?
Or do you want a guy who's the best player available? A guy who you already said you wanted?
The votes are in. Best Player Available is the way to go. Let's do it.
Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?
You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.
I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.
Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.
Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:
2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano
You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.
Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.
The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.
DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.
The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.
Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.
I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.
Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?
Cowboys Draft Class: How Many Will Be Starters In 2018?
The Dallas Cowboys have been showered with praise by most national NFL media outlets for their 2018 NFL Draft class. NFL.com graded the Cowboys as having the 2nd best class in the league, and most other analysts have agreed that the team had a strong showing.
But now, of course, it's time to see what these new players will actually do on the field. Some are hoping the team found 3-5 new starters for the 2018 roster, but history would suggest that is pretty rare.
Dallas' 2016 draft class has been lauded as one of the best in the last decade, especially considering they look to have found their franchise quarterback in round four. That strong class only features four full-time starters heading into 2018, but we have to wonder if that's the outlier and not the norm.
Still, as we look back and examine this 2018 draft class it really appears they have found three day one starters in the first three rounds.
First round pick Leighton Vander Esch is expected to be the starting MIKE linebacker this season, with former second round selection Jaylon Smith moving to SAM. Vander Esch wasn't my favorite option at 19, but he is certainly starter-worthy in this Cowboys LB corps.
On day two the Cowboys added OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup, two of my personal favorite picks of their entire class. Williams should be the starting LG week 1 of the season, and Michael Gallup may overtake Allen Hurns as the most productive WR on the roster by year's end.
What about the rest of the class?
Dorance Armstrong will probably have too much competition to start at defensive end this season, but he should be an interesting rotational pass rusher. TE Dalton Schultz has the chance to surprise some people, but overtaking Geoff Swaim as the "starter" would be unexpected.
After that, the player with the best chance to make the team and contribute early on might be Boise State WR Cedrick Wilson. Wilson was a late day-two, early day-three pick to me so snagging him in the sixth round should provide incredible value to this roster. That wide out room is getting very crowded, though, so Wilson has his work cut out for him heading into camp.
How many of the Cowboys' 2018 draft picks will be starters in 2018? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
Did the Dallas Cowboys Find 4 Starters in the 2018 NFL Draft?
One of the many winners of the 2018 NFL Draft were, without a doubt, the Dallas Cowboys. Not only did they addressed some of the team's most pressing needs, but they managed to draft very talented, capable players beyond the first round.
Cowboys Nation had to feel better about the rookie class the front office walked away with, specially after the second day of the Draft. Just like last year, they managed to find steals in the second and third rounds. In 2017, they did so with Cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis. Now, they stayed put at their original picks and walked away with OL Connor Williams and WR Michael Gallup.
But first things first. In the eyes of many, Leighton Vander Esch wasn't worth the 19th overall pick. While I do agree that Vander Esch was a questionable selection, the Cowboys fixed arguably their most concerning position of all. As much as it pains to admit it, Sean Lee has yet to play an entire NFL season and Jaylon Smith was pretty much the only other capable starter on the roster.
Although Vander Esch needs to develop a ton before reaching his full potential. he's a week 1 starter and an early contributor for this defense. Whether it felt like a "reach" or not, the Cowboys took a starter in the Boise State linebacker.
Later, the Cowboys managed to add an arguably first-round talent with pick #50 to plug-and-play along the offensive line. Texas OL Connor Williams was also seen as a tackle prospect, but he'll likely start at guard for Dallas as a rookie.
Since Ron Leary left for Denver, the left guard spot hasn't been as stable. Jonathan Cooper did a decent job filling that spot, but with Williams taking his place, the Cowboys dominance in the trenches will finally return. Playing next to All-Pros Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, Connor Williams might become the best rookie in this class for the Cowboys.
One can't simply say the team found a "replacement" for Dez Bryant since he's a special player and with a very specific skill set, but Michael Gallup from Colorado State has the potential to become the team's WR1 pretty soon.
In the team's effort to build a Dak-friendly offense, Gallup is a crafty and smooth route-runner who has what it takes to play in any spot of the offense. His skill-set will allow him to play anywhere on the field and become Dak's favorite target in a year in which Jason Witten and Dez Bryant will no longer be lining up on his squad.
Taken in the first three rounds, Vander Esch, Williams and Gallup will be unquestionable starters. The question, however, is who else could become a starter for the Cowboys? Who could line up and start in week 1?
Even though it definitely isn't as certain as the other three rookies, I'm betting on Dalton Schultz to be a more important starter than we imagine. Listen, maybe it's not an ideal scenario to have the TE from Stanford start in week 1, but it could be necessary.
The Rico Gathers Adventure might just be over before it starts and Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin may not be anything special. In college, Schultz was pretty good at run blocking. In the Cowboys' offense, led by one of the best running backs in the league, Ezekiel Elliott, Schultz may be able to find success earlier than expected.
Besides, he has what it takes to catch passes in the NFL and although he certainly won't be the flashiest, he could be enough to give Dak Prescott a reliable tight end.
Dalton Schultz could be the surprise of this Draft for Dallas. He'll probably become a starter at some point in the season and for a fourth-round pick, that's a very good thing to say.
For a front office that's constantly bashed by Cowboys Nation, their job at this year's NFL Draft was a pretty good one. Now it's just a matter of time to find out which picks were as good as we originally thought.
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