Dallas Cowboys Stick To Plan, But Did They Succeed?

Dallas Cowboys Stick To Plan, But Did They Succeed?

7

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

  • 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.

  • http://acowboynation.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 compete\play 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.

  • http://www.brysontreece.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!