This weekend, ESPN released there offseason grades for all 32 NFL teams. The Dallas Cowboys ranked last in the NFC East and 25th in the entire league with a “C” grade.
As I have said before, you have to take everything you see on media outlets such as ESPN and NFL Network with a grain of salt.
These people are apart of the national media, and are the same people who left the Oakland Raiders off of the “top offensive lines” list while including the Green Bay Packers.
Yeah, that was bad on NFL Network’s part.
And in my opinion, this offseason grade is bad on ESPN’s part.
NFL analysts Bill Polian, Louis Riddick, Field Yates, and Mark Dominik administered the grades, and centered there argument for the Cowboys having a poor offseason around one draft pick.
The Cowboys “C” grade had to do with their perceived inability to help their pass rush through the draft when, in Riddick’s mind, they could have added a strong pass rusher in the second round instead of Smith.
The obvious counterargument to this point is the Cowboys did add both a top ten player in this class in terms of talent with Smith and defensive line help during the next two rounds.
There is no question that pass rush is still a question mark for the Cowboys, as they have chosen to go with upside, youth, and athleticism over having a true veteran presence of proven rusher.
But, I feel as if ESPN completely ignored the Cowboys picks of Maliek Collins and Charles Tapper in the third and fourth rounds. No, you don’t necessarily expect mid-round guys to contribute a whole lot early on in their careers, but as I explored in my draft breakdowns, both of these players come in with talent and athleticism, and will see snaps from game 1.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that Tapper was a much better value pick than Emmanuel Ogbah or Kevin Dodd would have been had Dallas traded up to snag them. Because, well, they would have had to trade up to draft them.
Instead the Cowboys stayed put and added a potential monster linebacker who, if healthy, may turn out to be a top five player in this draft.
But here’s the thing, offseason grades are ridiculous to begin with so we shouldn’t pay too much attention to what is being said.
The teams that win most offseasons are usually sorry before that offseason, and then just as bad come the fall.
We have even see teams have good years before “winning” an offseason, only to regress the following season.
Think about who has “won” the offseason the last few years. The Eagles were 10-6 in 2014 before winning the 2015 offseason by adding Byron Maxwell and Demarco Murray. What happened? They actually got worse.
The Minnesota Vikings won 10 games in 2012 before spending over $100 million in free agency and falling off the NFL cliff the very next season.
In fact, the teams who have spent the most in free agency have a combined winning percentage of just .333 over the last three seasons.
What do the Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers all have in common? All of them made the playoffs in 2015, and all of them were towards the bottom of spending in free agency last offseason. You could argue that the Cowboys don’t have as much talent as those teams listed, and therefore would need to try to spend more than those others have, but once again I would argue you were wrong.
Imagine the Patriots without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, or the Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. What do you have? You might have more than only four wins, but you will have a similar year to what the Cowboys experienced in 2015 without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant fully healthy. This franchise believes in Tony Romo. It believes in this offensive line. And it truly believes that this team is not far off from Super Bowl contention.
So while the “experts” give the New York Giants the best grade in the NFC East and 7th best in the entire NFL mostly due to the money they spent in free agency, it is the Cowboys who played it smart and added guys who would be considered more “under the radar” who are still the favorites to win the division.
I would also expect those “experts” to praise the Patriots had they drafted a player such as Jaylon Smith in the second round, and talked about how Bill Belichick is a genius for having the guts to draft him this early.
Instead, Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are made out to seem like fools for it.
But hey, maybe I am just drinking the Cowboys Kool-Aid. Either way, I agree with Dallas’ overall approach this season regardless of what any subjective grading system may say.
Below is the full article with all 32 offseason grades.