The depleted Dallas Cowboys host the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. It will be the first Cowboys-Steelers game since Dallas passed on T.J. Watt, one of the top defensive players in the NFL today, and took Taco Charlton in the 2017 NFL Draft. In a media session yesterday, Dallas Executive Vice President Stephen Jones expressed regret over that decision.
In his first years Watt has been to two Pro Bowls and was a 1st-Team All Pro in 2019. He is currently among the league leaders in sacks (6.5) halfway through the current season.
Meanwhile, Taco Charlton was discarded by the Cowboys just a few weeks into the 2019 season in at trade to the Dolphins. Miami waived him in April of this year, and Taco’s working as a backup in Kansas City.
So yeah, it’s no surprise that Jones wishes they’d taken Watt over Charlton three years ago. It’s also unsurprising that Stephen made sure to everyone know who contributed that to that blunder.
Stephen Jones tells @1053thefan that Rod Marinelli was concerned with how T.J. Watt would hold up against the run in a 4-3 scheme.He adds that if they had the chance to do it over, obviously they would. Especially now that they’re in a different scheme.
Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on @1053thefan said the hardest part of not drafting edge rusher T.J. Watt in 2017 is that he was in “serious contention” to be their 1st round pick. “I wish we would’ve done that.”
To be fair, Marinelli is hardly the first or last coach to make a mistake because he’s too consumed with his scheme. It’s one of the common errors in the NFL; finding players to fit a scheme rather than designing a scheme around talent (e.g. New England Patriots).
Still, the disparity between Taco Charlton and T.J. Watt’s NFL success makes this one particularly stinging for Dallas fans. It’s the closest thing to “Greg Ellis over Randy Moss” for the millennial members of Cowboys Nation.
At least in that case, Ellis still proved to be a quality 1st-round pick. While he’s never going to join Randy Moss in Canton one day, Greg still posted the 3rd-most sacks in Cowboys history during his 11-year run in Dallas.
And of course, Watt still has a long way to go before you could ever put him on the same tier as Randy Moss. But three-and-half years into their NFL careers, he’s way closer than Taco Charlton will ever be.
We’ll never know for sure who spoke loudest in 2017 to pick Charlton over Watt. It’s easy for Stephen to make Rod Marinelli the scapegoat now that he’s no longer here.
Whoever it was, that regret could get a stronger this Sunday if T.J. Watt has a monster game against the Cowboys.