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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
  • Shaun Wellman

    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.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ bags030404

    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.

  • Joe C

    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!

  • Eric

    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.

  • https://insidethestar.com/ TT

    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.

  • Shaun Wellman

    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.

  • http://www.grantbailoutplan.com/ Shaun Wellman

    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!

NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft Target: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft Target: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

Heading into the 2018 NFL Draft it’s pretty clear that defensive tackle is towards the top of the Dallas Cowboys’ needs. Dallas has invested multiple draft picks and resources into the secondary, linebackers, and defensive ends. But their interior defensive line still needs to add depth and talent.

One potential draft target to fill this need would be Michigan Wolverines defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. Over at Slant Sports I completed a full scouting report on Hurst, giving him a first round grade and ranking him atop this defensive tackle class.

At 6’2″ and about 280 pounds, Maurice Hurst clearly projects as a three technique at the professional level. Hurst played the under-tackle most of the time at Michigan, but he did kick down over the center or inside the guards at times. Still, I wouldn’t expect a team to draft Hurst to be their one tech of the future.

Hurst is an explosive beast at defensive tackle. Playing with a nonstop motor Hurst wins off the ball often, but also created effort and hustle plays behind the line of scrimmage during his college career. Hurst’s first step, quick hands, ability to win with leverage, and overall explosiveness shine through on film often.

nfldraft2018 maurice hurst 5 – Streamable

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“Here’s an example of that explosive first step. Hurst is lined up as the 3-technique on the far side. Winning with his first step quickness and burst, Hurst gives the offensive linemen absolutely no chance to block him. He then powers through the recovery attempt by the lineman to make the tackle in the backfield.”

Hurst clearly doesn’t have the prototypical size of a defensive tackle in the NFL, but his play style suits his body well. His explosiveness and burst off the ball make him incredibly dangerous, and his quick hands, low pad level, and strong lower body help him to win against any offensive lineman.

He obviously isn’t at this level, and may not deserve eye-to-eye comparisons with this player, but Maurice Hurst’s play style and body type remind me of a young Aaron Donald. (I’m not saying he’s better than Aaron Donald, save the comments).

nfldraft2018 maurice hurst 8 – Streamable

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In terms of his fit with the Cowboys, Hurst would be competing with Maliek Collins for playing time at the three technique. Respected draft guru Dane Brugler has mocked Hurst to Dallas in his latest mock draft, but the way they handle both Collins and impending restricted free agent David Irving will play a huge role in determining if Hurst would even fill a need.

Regardless, Maurice Hurst is a name deserving of first round buzz and Cowboys Nation should keep their eyes on him this offseason.

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NFL Draft

Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys

Sean Martin

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Sean's Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller A Needed Weapon For Cowboys
AP Photo / Jessica Hill

Slotted to pick 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in position to add a first-round talent to a team that fell just short of the playoffs at 9-7 in 2017. Faltering entirely on offense without RB Ezekiel Elliott too many times this season, it’s hard to argue this asset is not best spent on new talent at WR.

The Cowboys haven’t drafted a wide receiver in the first round since 2010, trading up for Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant. Frequent injuries and the inability to develop with QB Dak Prescott have diminished Bryant’s status as a star receiver in Dallas, and it may be time to overhaul the position entirely.

After scouting Memphis WR Anthony Miller, he may be just what the Dallas Cowboys need. Let’s take a closer look at his fit in the Cowboys’ offense in the first draft-season edition of Sean’s Scout.

WR Anthony Miller 2 – Streamable

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With 96 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final season at Memphis, Senior WR Anthony Miller is one of the top players at his position in the 2018 NFL Draft. These inflated numbers in the Tigers’ pass-happy offense do little to highlight Miller as a next level prospect…

This film clip and quote from my full scouting report on Miller shows the pure play-making ability Miller has. Miller wouldn’t fill the Cowboys need for an over-the-top burner at WR, but he has no problem tracking the ball with ease and adjusting in the air to make big plays down the field.

…Miller is as tough of a cover as you’ll find thanks to his explosive and concise release off the line.

Anthony Miller is certainly a “Dak-friendly” pass catcher, as he possesses the catch radius to snag passes away from his frame using his exceptionally strong hands. Even when he is covered, Miller is open vertically.

With that said, Miller has more than enough ability to separate with good initial quickness and elite balance through his routes.

WR Anthony Miller 4 – Streamable

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…he wastes no time accelerating through the secondary, and running with a powerful stride that makes it difficult to bring him down.

There may be better technical route runners in this draft class, but few set up defenders as consistently well as Miller — who has the production to match these NFL traits.

A willing run blocker too, Miller could walk into Dallas and immediately earn snaps as an X, Z, or Y receiver. Miller’s best fit to start his career is likely as a Z receiver, drawing less attention in coverage while being allowed to run a full route tree.

…Miller gets on cornerbacks in a hurry, setting them up with his fluidity and size to track the football through contact.

A potential replacement for Terrance Williams with the Cowboys, Miller is somewhat of a similar player in the way he wins with mostly size.

The Memphis product would still be an upgrade over Williams though, as it is much easier to get the ball in Miller’s hands. Add in the red-zone ability that Anthony Miller has to box out defenders, and the run-after-catch burst as an inside target, and Miller is a weapon the Cowboys could desperately use.

WR Anthony Miller 1 – Streamable

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…I found myself constantly impressed with the speed at which Miller gets up the field when taking the ball underneath.

Miller will have nothing but opportunities to raise his draft stock over the coming months. He will be at this month’s Senior Bowl, receiving NFL-level coaching to refine his game. The Scouting Combine will also be critical for Miller’s testing numbers to confirm the athlete seen on tape dominating at Memphis will take the next step.

Earning a second round grade on my 2018 NFL Draft Board, there is a chance the Cowboys have to use their first round pick if they truly want Anthony Miller in Silver and Blue. A very complete player that fills a need, Miller as the Cowboys first pick could make plenty of sense in April.

Tell us what you think about “Sean’s Scout: Memphis WR Anthony Miller a Needed Weapon for Cowboys” in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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NFL Draft

Luxury or Need for Cowboys to Draft Another 1st-Round OL?

Brian Martin

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Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, offensive line

Due to growing concerns about Tyron Smith‘s availability and future health, due to reoccurring back injuries, there seems to be a growing consensus among Dallas Cowboys fans that there’s a need to draft an offensive lineman with the first-round pick. But, is it actually a need, or would it be more of a luxury?

There is legitimate concern about Tyron Smith and his future health.

Back injuries have a way of flaring up at the most inopportune times. It’s also not an injury that’s going away anytime soon, if ever. This is the unknown the Cowboys are faced with heading into the off-season, and it could end up having a major impact on the direction they go in the 2018 NFL Draft.

There seems to be a growing consensus around Cowboys Nation that the Dallas Cowboys should seriously consider selecting the best available offensive tackle with the 19th overall pick.

There are probably two reasons for this:

  1. Tyron Smith’s health concerns, and
  2. the need to upgrade the swing tackle position after watching Byron Bell and Chaz Green play in 2017.

But, the question remains: is drafting yet another offensive lineman in the first-round a luxury or need for the Dallas Cowboys?

Personally, I can see both sides of this argument. So, let’s break it down a little and examine each.

Luxury

Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys RG Zack Martin

The Dallas Cowboys have already invested an enormous amount of resources to build arguably the best offensive line in the NFL.

They’ve spent three first-round draft picks to acquire Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin, two of which have already received long-term extensions with Martin waiting in the wings.

That’s a lot of money devoted to one position, which ultimately means the Cowboys have to go cheaper in other areas in order to fit under the salary cap. This is the money that would be used in free agency to acquire some of those higher-priced free agents fans are always hankering for.

It also can be used to re-sign some of the Cowboys players at other positions, such as DeMarcus Lawrence.

But, it’s not only the money that makes drafting a first-round OL a luxury.

Four out of five of the Cowboys OL are already pretty much set in stone. The left guard position is really the only unoccupied position right now, but that could be filled rather easily. This, of course, is assuming Tyron Smith stays healthy, but regardless, he is the starting left tackle when the 2018 season begins.

Need

Byron Bell

Dallas Cowboys OL Byron Bell

There’s no reason to believe Tyron Smith will be able to play an entire 16-game season going forward. The last two seasons he has had to sit out several games due to injuries, and unfortunately his back issues aren’t going away anytime soon.

To make matters worse, Dallas doesn’t have an adequate backup, which was proven on more than one occasion in 2017. Hence the need.

With the exception of the quarterback, the left tackle position is arguably the most important on offense. They protect the QB’s blindside and are largely responsible for keeping him healthy and upright.

There’s a reason they are drafted so highly and paid so handsomely: they are that important to a team’s success.

There was also a reason the Dallas Cowboys offense started to sputter once Tyron Smith started missing time. Opposing defenses no longer respected the Cowboys LT, and started putting their best pass rusher on that side to get after Dak Prescott.

Prescott ended up having happy feet and it had a ripple effect throughout the entire offense, and not in a good way.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

Quite honestly, I think it would be a luxury to draft any kind of offensive lineman with the Cowboys’ first-round selection, but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if that’s the direction they went. There are positives and negatives to both sides of the argument.

But, if they stick to the draft board and an OL is their highest rated player there, I say go for it.

The only thing we can do is have faith that the Dallas Cowboys know more about Tyron Smith’s health and his availability to play then we do as fans. If they decide to draft an offensive lineman early, I think we should all take that as an indication that they are worried about Smith, at least a little bit.

Luxury or Need: Do the Cowboys draft a first-round OL?

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