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Dallas Cowboys Stick To Plan, But Did They Succeed?

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This was one of the most gut wrenching drafts for me to watch. Mainly because there was plenty of opportunities for JJ and the Cowboys to do as they have done in years past, and completely deviate from the plan, and try to make a splash.

Now I know everyone wanted to see the Cowboys draft a player or players that would have an immediate impact in one or more of the positions of need. I too would have loved to see them land a top notch Safety or O- Lineman to compete for a starting spot. However by the time the Cowboys went on the clock, all of those players were gone. It was at that particular point in time that my heart began to race, for this is the exact spot in years past when management has overreacted and reached for someone. This year however it was different, Jerry trusted his scouting department, and trusted their board.

The Dallas Cowboy scouting department felt that there was a handful of players that may be available to them with the 51st pick that held 1st round talent, but after that you could throw a blanket over the rest. Simply meaning once the first rounders were gone everyone else was of equal talent. The 2009 NFL draft then became more about "value" than "name".

As Cowboy fans we have spent much of our time since Jerry took the rains of the team, being upset that they could not separate the difference between a "name" and an actual "football player".

The verdict on this draft will not be known for at least 3 years. As the draft began to unfold I realized what was happening and could not believe how stupid I was at not figuring out their plan before hand. The plan was a simple one, but like many of you I had become so mesmerized by what positions needed upgrading, that I completely lost focus about what the true intentions of the draft are. The same things I have for years blasted Jerry for doing I was now doing. The art of drafting college players to become NFL players, is an art, and an art not many have had a lot of success doing. Those who have had success will all say that "if you draft out of need you are going to fail, but if you trust your board and take the best available talent that fits your scheme then you are going to succeed."

In 2008 the Dallas Cowboys had 3 major areas of concern; (1) Special teams (this team lost at least 3 games last year due to there piss poor kick coverage) (2) Secondary (the corner play last year was better, but the lack of a ball hawking safety hurts.) (3) O-Line depth (as you all remember when Kosier went down last year so did the play of this unit)

When the Cowboys time on the clock came, and Louis Delma, Patrick Chung, Darcel Mcbath, Eric Wood, and Max Unger were gone, the Cowboys made a move to collect another draft pick. If you look at the needs of this team, which of the three areas noted could they have the most positive effect on in this draft? SPECIAL TEAMS! This unit has been horrific for several years now, and in dire need of drastic changes. This unit was slow, old, and very poorly coached. The Cowboys took care of the coaching side of things with the hiring of Joe D, and with the exception of the 101st pick (Stephen McGee) they totally revamped the special teams unit. Every single player they drafted this past weekend can be immediate players!

Sometimes in life what we think we want is not necessarily what we need. If this special teams unit plays to there capabilities this year they will impact this team far more than ANY OTHER PLAYER THAT WAS AVAILABLE AT 51. There is no one player that could have made the Cowboys 12-4 last year! but with the load they pulled yesterday this unit could have!

Welcome to the team gentlemen!


Jason Williams - ILB - Western Illinois

Robert Brewster - T/G - Ball State

Stephen McGee - QB - Texas A&M

Victor Butler - OLB - Oregon State

Brandon Williams - OLB - Texas Tech

DeAngelo Smith - CB - Cincinnati

Michael Hamlin - S - Clemson

David Buehler - K - USC

Stephen Hodge - S - TCU

John Phillips - TE - Virginia

Mike Mickens - CB - Cincinnati

Manuel Johnson - WR - Oklahoma



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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Shaun Wellman

    April 27, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Very nice article Philip, and I could’nt agree with you more.

    We do have a nice collection of starters, but it was starting to look like J.J. had forgotten that football teams are built from the bottom of the roster up.

    All but 2 of “The Dirty Dozen” are excellent special teamers, and this draft has now turned the bottom part of this roster on it’s ear. Very few of our starters play special teams, and the guys at the bottom of the roster seem more concerned with getting their shot to start than playing their hardest and contributing anywhere(special teams) they can.

    I love this draft and what it represents. The message sent to the team is very clear. The days of high priced underachieving back-ups are going to soon be over.

    This teams championship window had seemed like it would soon be closed but with this stout injection of hungry role players the Cowboys have followed the lead of modern era champs like the Patriots and Steelers. Both of those teams, when at their best have been chocked full of overachieving role players.

    Good job J.J. of shaking the S__T out of the bottom of this roster. Out with the overpriced underachieving old and in with some younger, cheaper, overachieving new.

    Hopefully we will be hearing these guys names called every game after a big time play on special teams, and watch out for a very different looking defensive backfield sometime either mid to late season.

  2. bags030404

    April 27, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Thanks for the kind words Shaun. It took me longer than it should have to figure out what they were doing, but I am ecstatic with what they did.

  3. Joe C

    April 28, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Was just watching SC and they were giving “grades”, more like Mel Kiper Jr, was, for each division, and they gave Dallas a D for choosing Jason Williams and also not picking in the 1rst round. Obviously they don’t realize what we did and how much talent we actually picked up, but its whatever soon enough they will finally realize that we had an excellent draft this year.

    I’m already stoked, no I have been stocked about this season for a long time now, but this just puts icing on the cake.

    HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS!

  4. Eric

    April 28, 2009 at 7:50 am

    I’m torn about the draft. They did address most of their needs (LB, DB, OL, backup QB, WR) but not sure they picked the players in the best order or got best value.

    For example the Jason Williams pick. I’m not a college football expert but from what I read he was ranked around the 10th best LB and around 100-something pick, yet the Cowboys seemed to reach for him with the 69th pick. Seems like they could’ve picked a top 5 safety like Rashad Johnson, or someone with punt returning abilities, and still got Jason Williams later.

    Special teams was bad last year but don’t believe you should draft for special teams alone. I think you should draft for players that can competeplay on the regular roster AND also contribute to special teams as an added value.

    The biggest shock of the draft was the kicker in the 5th round. Are they really going to have 3 kickers (including the punter) active on game day? Or is this just a training camp competition thing? Are they thinking of trading Folk?

    I’m also surprised they didn’t try to make a move to trade picks this year for more picks next year. Seems they went the quantity over quality route and hope it promotes competition during training camp.

    Bottom line, it will be a few years before we know the true impact of these players, so I’ll hold judgement. Like you, I just have to trust that the scouting department knows what they are doing. It looked like they did with the 2008 draft, but this one on the surface feels more like the below medicre 2006 draft.

  5. TT

    April 28, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Eric, I understand your inclination to feel this was correctly graded by dipschtick Kiper at a D, but you’ve got too look deeper into it to understand what they were doing.

    1. First and foremost they wanted guys with good motors and talent to add some competition to the bottom of the roster.

    2. They chose guys who fit their system above guys that were nationally ranked.

    I’m actually encouraged by the moves they made because they did what every team preaches about doing on draft day … sticking with your board. They spend weeks putting together a board based on years worth of scouting, yet they don’t usually follow what they have and end up with many names that are never heard from again.

    Getting Jason Williams at 69 might have been reaching a little, but the guy has good upside and will contribute right away on special teams. The kicker, this is a guy who put on a show at the combine, for a kicker, with his speed and strength that beat out a lot of linebackers there. But his main feature? He can kick the hell out of a football. Nick Folk is an accurate kicker, and while he can make the 53 yard field goals, he can’t kickoff worth a damn, so keeping a kickoff specialist in Beuhler on gameday is a good idea for field position.

    I was upset myself seeing Rashad Johnson on the board at 69 and 75 while they picked someone else, but they had him going around 100 and stuck to it. They weren’t far off either as he went like 96 or so. Had he been there at 101, they’d have taken him because they liked him.

    It’s hard to remember that this team is pretty much set on the depth chart, and that they weren’t drafting to find starters for this year. They were drafting to find football players to compete in camps, and some of these guys have a shot at earning some real playing time this year.

    I personally rank this years draft class as a B/B+, but it’ll take a year for anyone to really see why.

  6. Shaun Wellman

    April 28, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Wade and Jerry knew that coaching alone wasn’t responsible for the poor performance on special teams over the last three years.

    The hiring of Joe D. is a good start, but I’m sure he got here and looked at tape and didn’t like what he had to work with.

    The great finds that the Cowboys have had in late rounds over the last several years are all major contributors or starters so they are all at the top of the roster. Just look at how many starters where drafted in the 4th round and later.

    The Cowboys have done so well at polishing these “Diamonds in the Rough” that they depleted the talent pool at the bottom of the roster.

    That is what the team had lost sight of. They have taken the approach that having one of the most talented starting lineups means that they have one of the most talented teams.

    The draft is intended to add talent to a TEAM. A TEAM consists of more than just the starters.
    You are not going find starters every year in the draft; at least not next years starters. Every year TOP teams churn up the bottom of their rosters and get the most out of those players.

    Most fair-weather fans pay most of their attention to offense, then after they see a pick six or a sack for a big loss they start paying alittle more attention to defense. During special teams play they’re in the john or getting a beer, and those are the guys who want to know why we did’nt draft our next superstar.

    Our special teams unit is full of guys that think they should be or could be starters, and thats all they care about. Look back at some game footage and watch the body language of our guys(Especially Pat Watkins & Barbie Carpenter) coming off the field after a coverage situation. Of course the guy or guys that make the tackle are excited, but look at the rest of them walking off, heads down, pouting because they’d rather be doing something else. Special teamers need to have a sense of comraderie with each other, like its them against the whole world, and I think a rookie class of late rounders will play like theres no tomorrow.

    A football game consists of THREE key phases, and winning 2 of the 3 usually wins you the ball game. Last year we lost at least 2 games when the offense and defense where good enough but the special teams gave the game away. I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts we lost in that phase 10 to 12 times last year.

    I give this draft an A- because of the lack of production from Roy Williams last year,or otherwise I’d give an A.

  7. Shaun Wellman

    June 5, 2009 at 5:11 am

    Wade and Jerry knew that coaching alone wasn’t responsible for the poor performance on special teams over the last three years.

    The hiring of Joe D. is a good start, but I’m sure he got here and looked at tape and didn’t like what he had to work with.

    The great finds that the Cowboys have had in late rounds over the last several years are all major contributors or starters so they are all at the top of the roster. Just look at how many starters where drafted in the 4th round and later.

    The Cowboys have done so well at polishing these “Diamonds in the Rough” that they depleted the talent pool at the bottom of the roster.

    That is what the team had lost sight of. They have taken the approach that having one of the most talented starting lineups means that they have one of the most talented teams.

    The draft is intended to add talent to a TEAM. A TEAM consists of more than just the starters.
    You are not going find starters every year in the draft; at least not next years starters. Every year TOP teams churn up the bottom of their rosters and get the most out of those players.

    Most fair-weather fans pay most of their attention to offense, then after they see a pick six or a sack for a big loss they start paying alittle more attention to defense. During special teams play they’re in the john or getting a beer, and those are the guys who want to know why we did’nt draft our next superstar.

    Our special teams unit is full of guys that think they should be or could be starters, and thats all they care about. Look back at some game footage and watch the body language of our guys(Especially Pat Watkins & Barbie Carpenter) coming off the field after a coverage situation. Of course the guy or guys that make the tackle are excited, but look at the rest of them walking off, heads down, pouting because they’d rather be doing something else. Special teamers need to have a sense of comraderie with each other, like its them against the whole world, and I think a rookie class of late rounders will play like theres no tomorrow.

    A football game consists of THREE key phases, and winning 2 of the 3 usually wins you the ball game. Last year we lost at least 2 games when the offense and defense where good enough but the special teams gave the game away. I’d be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts we lost in that phase 10 to 12 times last year.

    I give this draft an A- because of the lack of production from Roy Williams last year,or otherwise I’d give an A.
    BTW I love your blog!

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NFL Draft

Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?

The Dallas Cowboys have taken a few risks when on the clock in the second round of the NFL Draft in recent years. Randy Gregory and Jaylon Smith, both important starters on defense, were drafted to the Cowboys after they went down on many teams' draft boards. In 2019, they'll have the opportunity to take yet another risk. Recently, one of the best defensive tackles in this year's class, Jeffery Simmons, suffered a torn ACL while going through a drill during his workout in Florida.

Simmons took to Twitter to share the unfortunate news that will drastically affect his draft stock only a couple of months before the Draft.

Jeffery Simmons on Twitter

Jeffery Simmons on Twitter

https://t.co/0NAzPv0bvY

Before the injury, Jeffery Simmons was seen as a top draft prospect. Some even envisioned him being drafted in the top 10. As a 21-year old defensive tackle from Mississippi State, Simmons had an impressive career during his time in college football. In three seasons he managed to rack up 157 tackles and seven sacks.

If one thing is clear it's that the Mississippi State product will be an impact player when he gets on the field on Sundays. His quick reaction on the get-off will still interest a lot of teams despite his injury. A sound defender on the running and passing game, he'll pay big dividends for whichever team decides to pull the trigger on him come April.

Due to their recent second round draft history, I can't help but wonder if the Dallas Cowboys will consider him when they're on the clock in the second round. This year though, there will be a big difference. Pick #58 will be the first time the Cowboys will be on the clock in this year's draft after trading away their first rounder for Amari Cooper last year.

It will be tough for them to wait until the third round to pick a player they could actually put on the field for the 2019 season. Specially considering the fact that they're a football team with title aspirations this year. Despite their history and the fact that Simmons will be one hell of a pro, I believe the team will not want to make such a pick in the second without a first round selection.

The team has a big need at DT, although Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins were very serviceable in 2018. We'll see how tempted they are if Jeffery Simmons is still on the board when they're on the clock.

Tell me what you think about "Could Cowboys Take Another 2nd Round Risk On DT Jeffery Simmons?" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.

John Williams

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Cowboys Draft: Film Notes on Maryland Safety Darnell Savage Jr.

The Dallas Cowboys defense was one of the better units throughout the season, but it wasn't without its flaws. An area where they struggled was in creating turnovers and at times against the run. As good as they were in 2018, they have positions where they can use upgrades; defensive tackle and safety. Xavier Woods showed a lot of promise in his second season with the Dallas Cowboys and should continue to be a prominent player moving forward, but Jeff Heath's full-time role may have run its course. Today we're going to look at Darnell Savage Jr, safety from Maryland.

Per College Football Reference, Darnell Savage Jr. stands at 5-11 and weighs in right at 200 pounds. In his last three years at Maryland he played in 35 games. He averaged 56.67 tackles, 2.67 interceptions (3.5 per season over his last two seasons and four in his senior season), and three tackles for loss over his final three seasons. He had eight pass deflections as a junior and two more as a senior.

Savage could be a player that's in play for the Dallas Cowboys at number 58 of the second round.

I watched the Texas and Temple Games from 2018.

Darnell Savage Jr. Film Notes

  • Maryland lined him up in two-deep cover two looks a lot and dropped him into different coverages. From his two-deep alignment, he would move into cover-3, cover-4, and man coverages.
  • Temple or Texas looked to avoid him as part of their game plans. The one time the either Texas or Temple through his way, he came down from his 2-deep look into man coverage and jumped a five yard out route and intercepted the pass, taking it to the end zone for a touchdown.
  • He's excellent in diagnosing bubbles screens and swing passes. On several occasions he met the ball carrier five yards behind the line of scrimmage and dropped him for a loss.
  • Savage wraps up in the open field against. Once he diagnoses the play, he gets moving toward the ball in a flash.
  • Willing to take on bigger blockers and receivers with the ball in their hands. Stymied the 6-4 225 pound Lil' Jordan Humphrey from Texas on a bubble screen after Humphrey had broken one tackle. Savage wrapped him up and brought him to the ground.
  • Temple attempted to run a reverse after the hand off and Savage came all the way from across the field to meet the runner for a six yard loss.
  • Plays with excellent speed and aggressiveness when he sees the play. Sometimes Savage gets caught watching the action on his side of the field and doesn't recognize what is happening in the middle or opposite side of the field.
  • Several times on the read-option, it appeared that he didn't recognize that the QB had given the ball away. It could be that he was schemed to take the quarterback, but one time the runner went against the grain to Savage's side of the field and he was unable to get to him before he scored a short touchdown.
  • Maryland had Savage cover tight ends and wide receivers and again, Temple and Texas didn't throw his way much at all.
  • Again, in a two-deep safety look came up from 10 yards deep to make a play on a toss to the running back and tackled him for a four yard loss. It's dangerous to run things to the perimeter with this guy. If he gets to the line of scrimmage unblocked, he's bringing you down.
  • When blocked on runs to the perimeter, he does a good job of stringing the play to the outside. Savage works his blocker and doesn't give up on the play. He fights to get unblocked in order to make a play.
  • When a team runs play action or hands the ball off out of shotgun or pistol formations, Savage is slower to react and diagnose the play. He'll need to get quicker in processing what's happening there at the next level.
  • One of the more impressive plays I saw him make was on a trick play. Temple attempted to run a wide receiver pass to the outside. Everyone bought the wide receiver reverse and even Savage did too, but was able to use his quickness and speed to make up five yards of separation that the Temple receiver had on him to be in good coverage. The Temple receiver wasn't able to come down with the catch and Savage's coverage affected that.

Summary

Darnell Savage Jr. doesn't have a ton of height, but he's an explosive player who can play down in the box and in two deep looks for the Cowboys. He's a guy that would pair well with Xavier Woods as you could use those two interchangeably depending on the matchup you face week-to-week. He's an aggressive player who uses his speed to get into the play and cause disruption. Savage could be around for the Dallas Cowboys at 58 and if they don't sign one of the big name free agent safeties, should be the selection. If he isn't a day one starter, he'd be starting by the end of the season.



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NFL Draft

Pre-Combine Position Rankings: Sorting Out The Tight Ends

Kevin Brady

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Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts a Theme Persists

It's pretty much universally agreed that the Dallas Cowboys have a need for a starting tight end, particularly one who can stretch the field as a receiving threat.

Despite not having a first round pick, this class should give the Cowboys an opportunity to add tight end talent to their roster through the NFL Draft.

Will that be TE1 talent, though? Or will it just be another replacement-level tight end on a roster which already seems full of them?

Let's get into my top 5 tight ends of this 2019 class, and see what they could potentially bring to the Cowboys this season and beyond.

1. TJ Hockenson, Iowa

The clear TE1 in this class is TJ Hockenson. The 2018 John Mackey Award winner earned his way to the top of this list with his versatility, lining up in-line and as a slot receiver for Iowa during his college career.

At 6'5" 243 pounds, Hockenson looks like he was made in a tight-end producing lab, and he has the athleticism and ability to maximize his build.

In the run game TJ Hockenson is a good blocker, showcasing excellent effort and competitiveness through his blocks. A technical route runner with good hands, a plus-catch radius, and legitimate yards-after-catch ability, Hockenson has a chance to be the very first offensive skill player off the board this Spring.

2. Noah Fant, Iowa

Hockenson's teammate at Iowa, Noah Fant, comes in at number two on my tight end rankings. While Hockenson is the more well-rounded of the two players, Fant certainly has more athletic upside. I expect him to test better than Hockenson will at the combine, and has the receiving skills to be a real threat at the next level.

Noah Fant fits the bill for a modern NFL tight end, flexing out wide and threatening defenses vertically with his receiving ability. A long player with good route running ability and speed, Fant is able to create separation against defensive backs in a variety of ways.

Fant is far from a one-trick pony, and would be an excellent addition to a Cowboys offense which is yearning for this type of flex-threat from the tight end position.

Unfortunately, he won't last anywhere near 58th overall.

3. Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

Cowboys Draft Target: Alabama TE Irv Smith Jr.

Can I interest you in a tight end who averaged 16.3 yards per catch and scored 7 touchdowns last season? If so, meet Alabama's Irv Smith Jr.

Smith is the number three tight end on my board entering the combine, and I really don't expect him to drop whatsoever in the coming months. Smith is an athletic player who runs good routes and offers excellent run blocking ability. He's not as refined as Hockenson nor as athletic/explosive as Fant, but he combines the in-line and flex abilities of the two to a certain extent.

Smith is the first somewhat-plausible target for the Cowboys on this list, though I'd still be surprised if he lasted until 58th overall.

4. Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M

Jace Sternberger came out of nowhere last season at Texas A&M. Relatively unknown before the 2018 season, Sternberger finished the year with 800+ yards and 10 touchdowns on 48 catches, and earned All-American honors for his production.

Now he has a chance to be a second round pick in the 2019 draft, and is finding himself mocked to the Cowboys by many major draft media outlets. Sternberger fits the prototype of the modern receiving tight end, with better speed and hands than most others in his class. Though he is still raw in many areas, his upside is intriguing, and there's no doubt he's a pretty good player as is.

Like the first three, it's hard to imagine I will move Sternbeger any lower than fourth in this class, and he is a legitimate option for the Cowboys 58th overall.

5. Isaac Nauta, Georgia

While the first four tight ends on this list will make their money with their passing game production, Georgia's Isaac Nauta looks like more of an old-school run blocker. Nauta is right up there with any tight end in this class in terms of blocking, and would be an immediate contributor to the Cowboys' run game in that area.

He's still growing in multiple areas as a receiver, however, such as his route running and yards-after-catch ability. Still, I think Nauta is much better as a receiver than his college production would suggest. He, like others in that talented Georgia offense, got lost in the shuffle a bit, and didn't get the number of targets he could have seen elsewhere.

There's a real possibility Nauta is available at 58 when the Cowboys pick, and I wouldn't be surprised if he were the pick either.



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