I am about a fortnight late and a few bucks short, but let’s talk Dallas Cowboys 2011 draft, shall we?
I know. Old news.
What else do you have to do? Until NFL commish Roger Goodell and the NFLPA— which is just a trade union, remember, since they decertified in order to take to the courts (a thing that should only happen in basketball, since the court is where the game is played, but I digress)— get their act together and resolve this lockout, the draft and its aftermath are all we have to talk about. Well, that and Dez Bryant.
As much as I delight in shooting fish in a barrel, I am actually going to go against my better judgment and call the 2011 NFL draft a success for your Dallas Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones. I am torn, really, between doubting everything Jerry Jones does and believing my own eyes. What Jones does is prove over and over that he has no clue how to run a football team without Jimmy Johnson holding his hand. What my eyes tell me is that he finally got something right on draft day.
Let’s briefly consider the draft round by round.
Round One: Tyron Smith, OT, USC
All indications are that Smith, barring injury or some other unforeseen travesty, is a hall of famer-in-waiting. He is a sculpted specimen with a high football IQ and a fine resume. This is not a fat man huffing and puffing and watching speed rushers blow by him. Between Smith and Doug Free, the tackle position ought to be good for years to come.
Kudos to Jerry Jones for resisting the urge to be the horse trader his nature tells him to be, staying put at the number nine pick and bringing home a can’t-miss player at a position of need.
Round Two: Bruce Carter, Linebacker, North Carolina
Look, I know Carter comes in hurt. He has a partial tear in his knee. A partial tear.
The critics say Carter is a speculative pick for the future, while the Cowboys need help now. I am not so sure Carter is a down-the-road player for this team. He is an incredible athlete with huge upside and as soon as he is given a clean bill of health, he will push the aging Keith Brooking and the never-much-more-than-average Bradie James for playing time at inside linebacker.
The Cowboys were weak up the middle in 2010. Real weak. Carter and last year’s second round pick Sean Lee may well be the future inside.
Round Three: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
Excuse me for going against conventional wisdom and loving this pick. Running back for the Cowboys is a position in disarray.
Marion Barber was never built to be a feature back and has a diminishing skill set. Felix Jones, like Barber, was not a feature back in college and is not cut out to be one in the NFL, either. He is a change-of-pace, all-or-nothing, swing-for-the-fences homerun hitter. (How is that for a mouthful of cliches in one sentence?) Tashard Choice only looks good by comparison to the Cowboys’ other choices at running back.
DeMarco Murray could be an Emmitt Smith starter kit: Underrated on draft day, thought to be less than dynamic, but with a good pedigree and a running motor.
Look for Murray to start in 2011.
Round Four: David Arkin, OG, Missouri State
Now, I watched every game this kid played in college, and I am telling you…a lie.
I never heard of him before draft day. But he plays on the offensive line and we all know how important that is.
Besides, I can Google as well as the next guy. Here is the CBSSports.com report on Arkin’s upside:
Has NFL size. Excellent hustle, plays through the whistle on every snap. Sustains blocks as well as any player in this class, gets his strong hands up quickly and keeps his arms extended to manhandle his defender once engaged. Very good anchor in pass protection despite his height and athletic frame. Nice fit in a zone-blocking system, and will be able to pull and trap effectively behind the line with nimble feet. Competition at the East-West Shrine Game was not too much for him.
Round Five: Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo
The report card on this guy looks pretty good…
Thomas has the upside to potentially turn into a starting corner with some improved awareness and overall refinement to his game. At this stage, has the size, coverage skills, and hands to provide quality depth as a backup. Can hold up in man, will press effectively and has the athleticism to stick with and trail receivers. Zone coverage instincts are still developing, but can locate his man and make open field tackles in the flats. Hands are good and can extend away from his body for an interception. Has the right mentality against the run, just needs some more consistency. -NFL.com
Round Six: Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina
Jerry Jones does love him some Carolina, doesn’t he?
Well, I think all Cowboys fans may end up loving them some Dwayne Harris. The Cowboys have to get an answer at slot receiver. Harris may provide that answer.
Again, we turn to NFL.com for analysis on this player: Harris has enough ability and a polished skill set needed to succeed as a slot receiver in the NFL who can also contribute as a returner. Hard-working player who was productive in college. He can beat man coverage underneath and find openings in zones but doesn’t possess the pure explosion to beat tight coverage. Not a threat to beat you deep but can create some big plays evading the first defender. His willingness to go over the middle and his effort while run blocking demonstrate his great toughness.
Round Seven: Shaun Chapas, RB
The Cowboys are looking for help at fullback here. The best thing people say about Chapas is his work ethic and relentless motor. I don’t look for him to be the next “Moose” Johnston, but you never know.
Round Seven: Bill Nagy, C, Wisconsin
This is a compensatory pick, an extra shot at finding gold after the river has been panned for three days. Still, you have to like that the guy plays on the offensive line and that he was a Badger, where the name of the game is smack-mouth football.
Maybe it is the Jason Garrett effect. Maybe it is Jerry Jones finally wising up and listening to football people rather than donning his bow tie and trying to take center stage as the circus ringmaster.
Or, maybe it is just me being the eternal optimist. (Nah. That cannot be it.)
Whatever it is, I am ready to declare that three or four years hence we will all declare the Dallas Cowboys 2011 draft a success.