The 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and the first question is how would you grade the Cowboys selections? Yesterday, at first glance, they had a terrific draft, considering they were sitting in the 28th slot and were without a 5th round pick. My grade for their work thru three rounds yesterday is a solid A! But that jumped to an A+ by the time the 6th round was completed.
First of all, the teams draft hierarchy changed from Tom Siskowski to Will McClay and the last few years since Will took over, they’ve struck gold on any number of picks and better finds deeper into the draft than years past. The stability at HC, OC, DC has reaped huge rewards and simplifies the draft process. That doesn’t mean I agree with all that has been done by the HC. I’m intending to do a write up on our playoff loss and there will be a few darts going in his direction. That stability means we’re not switching defensive fronts every few years for example or installing a new style of offense. They’re no longer taking guys that are a big reach or one of desperation. How many times in years past did you say, “you’ve got to be kidding me” or “who’s that”? The stability of having a coach and his staff in place leads to greater success in the Draft War Room.
The entire NFL world knew that the Cowboys needed big time help on defense, particularly in the secondary, where they lost three starters to free agency and at DE where they lack that big time player hunting down opposing QB’s at RDE. They weren’t getting Myles Garrett nor Marshon Lattimore at 28, but they needed to reel in a DE or CB with a late 1st to 2nd round grade. Enter Taco! Then they addressed the CB position in both the 2nd & 3rd rounds, with two players who had straight 2nd round grades. That’s a key notation, that they got solid value for their 3rd round selection in Jourdan Lewis, who is considered one of the best slot CB’s available this year. That’s how the first two days concluded and gave us the essential new toys to retool the defense.
After losing key defensive starters in free agency the Cowboys took steps to retool the defense in the #NFLDraft.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) April 30, 2017
Shortly after the Boys selected Lewis on day two, The Draft Show team were starting to “bang the table” for a safety out of Louisiana Tech who Bryan Broaddus was touting for three months as a great mid round pick. Remembering him talking about this player as one who’d earn snaps early on. One who had good ball skills (we need that desperately) and can play down or back in space. The third day started with a bit of a shocker when the Cowboys 4th round selection wasn’t another defensively player. I could live with another CB, or filling out any position on defense. Watching the war room, Jerry had Scott Linehan in for a rather lengthy pow wow so it became obvious that it was an offensive player. First thought was it might be a guard to develop as this is the last year for La’ell Collins. They agreed not to use make him a RFA next year so either a new deal or he goes out as a free agent. The other thought was a WR in seeking an upgrade over Brice Butler. I’m not sold on Brice, so doubting they are too. Didn’t see them taking a Beasley like clone, but it does provide a back up to Cole in case of injury. The kicker in this pick is that he may be one of the better punt returners in this years draft, he says he’s the best. Switzer had 7 punt returns for TD’s at North Carolina and it would be great to flip field position from time to time. When this pick was announced the air went out of any number of fans? Those hopes were dashed for that particular safety. What made it worse was that without a 5th round pick, we had to wait well over an hour until the end of the 6th round for another shot at a player.
The 6th round is rolling along and the crew on The Draft Show is assessing who’s left and likely to be available when it’s the Boys pick at 211. That safety is still on the board but no way he’ll make it to us is their assessment. All of a sudden, the producer alerts the on air team that something is happening in the War Room! Stephan’s getting high fives all around. The room is jacked up, people with their arms in the air, clapping, hugging with smiles a mile wide. They traded with the Jets and jumped up 20 spots to pick #191 and grabbed that safety, Xavier Woods, that Broaddus was clamoring for! The beauty of it was they only gave up a 5th round pick for 2018. Given they have a chance at up to 4 compensatory picks, it doesn’t hurt to lose a pick. They got a safety with a 4th round grade on him. After all this he’ll be my pet cat to watch this year and see if he can get in the mix on the back end. Watching some highlights on him, he flies to the ball or ball carrier and isn’t afraid to hit. Smaller than Wilcox but just as intent. Pulling off this trade was a great surprise and gave them 5 players who were in their top 70 on their board. Very significant in itself and Carolina who was up at 192 has said they were taking Woods, given the chance. This was a great move to go up and swap a 5th round future pick for a player they get now. Thus the rating jumps to an A+ with this single move.
Now how do these guys perform is yet to be determined. You can only select players with the talent and traits you’re looking for. There are no health issues, no one coming off surgery’s. The team traded their pick at 211 with the Pats and moved back 5 spots and picked up an extra pick in the 7th round. For me, the 7th round selections are more to grab guys that you don’t want to fall into the “undrafted” pool.
The tweeted video below shows the three days of excitement for one, Rod Marinelli, when another “rush man” was selected. Poor guy was given limited toys since he’s been here and should be very excited to finally be remembered during the draft in more than one or two rounds. Their failures in the draft on defense during the Romo years prevented them from being legit contenders for the title. I’m not interested in simply making the playoffs and knowing deep down the defense had no shot of getting the team any further. No D, No trophies!
This year in a real quest to improve the team particularly on defense, they went with 7 of their 9 picks on the that side of the ball. First year for all of these rookies, you’d love them to contribute and push for starting or significant roles, especially the first three selections. Ideally two of them start!
— Kent Garrison (@KentGarrison) April 30, 2017