The Dallas Cowboys will have six selections (1,2,3,4,6,and7) at their disposal this year, what they do with those selections will determine their future for years to come. While they are most certainly not a bottom dwelling team in need of drastic improvements, the franchises future may be hinging on this draft just as if they were.
The 2010 draft will be the first step for the Cowboys to continue “to improve, and get better” as Tony Romo has repeatedly stated this season.
Part of the current NFL collective bargaining agreement is that, the teams left in the playoffs after wild card weekend are excluded from negotiating rights to any free agents other than their own. That is correct only players who were under contract with the Cowboys in 2009 are available for them to negotiate with, all others are off limits.
In 2009 the Cowboys were able to solidify one very crucial position on their team via free agency, with the signing of Gerald Sensabaugh, this year that will not be an option.
The Cowboys in 2010 will need to upgrade at a few key positions, and that list could grow significantly if they are unable to retain the services of a few key components.
In our opening draft post we discussed what the probable areas of need would be, or could be. So let’s not waste anymore time and dive right into our 2010 draft coverage.
The first item I would like to take a look at is an area that was greatly upgraded in 2009, but may become an issue again. In 2009 the Dallas Cowboys brought in one Gerald Sensabaugh to become the Center Fielder they had so desperately craved. Gerald has been an outstanding presence on this resurgent Cowboys defense, his coverage skills have allowed Wade Phillips to open up the playbook this year. The 2009 Dallas Cowboy defense is what we all envisioned when Wade was hired, and a large amount of credit goes to Sensabaugh.
Gerald Sensabaugh was brought in on a one year deal, he had better offers than that of Dallas, but a one year deal is what he was in search of. That is correct a one year contract was what the player wanted. Sensabaugh wanted the opportunity to play for a top notch defense on a top notch team, to allow himself to cash in on a much bigger payday. After the way he has played this year he may have just played himself into a contract that Dallas simply cannot afford. If that is the case, How does this team fill that void?
In this scenario Dallas has two options. First, roll with what they have (Alan Ball, Pat Watkins, Michael Hamlin) hoping that one of these guys can step up and play the position with the same effectiveness.
Use one of their first two selections in this year’s draft on a Safety with abilities at least comparable to those of Sensabaugh.
Obviously resigning Sensabaugh would be the best option, but if that simply does not happen, preparations must be made, and they better be correct with their decision.
Alan Ball and Pat Watkins are both very solid bench players, as well as special teams players, but neither of these has the ability (on a consistent basis) to give this team what it needs as a starting safety.
Michael Hamlin is the wild card, we simply do not know enough about him, to feel confident that he can take over those duties. He was a stellar coverage safety at Clemson University, but earlier this year, there were opportunities for us to see him in regular season action, and the coaching staff chose to roll with Ball and Watkins. That told me that the coaching staff views him as a project player, and that at that point of the season he was not close enough, in his understanding of the game to give the team anything.
I think we can all agree that the “Roll with what they have” option is not going to be a very successful solution for this team. The safety position is one of the highest priorities for the Dallas Cowboys heading to the draft. Who is available you ask?
Here are seven of College footballs finest:
Eric Berry: Junior Free Safety from the University of Tennessee, 5’11″ 203 lbs.
First and foremost let’s get this straight, Mr. Berry will be long gone bye the time the Cowboys make their first selection. Eric Berry is the best Safety in the draft, and while normally Safety’s are not top 5 selections, Berry possesses very special talents and abilities. Many compare Berry to Ed Reed, like Reed, Berry has that rare combination of speed and power. Eric Berry is excellent in coverage, has a nose for the football, and when he gets his hands on it he knows what to do with it. The NCAA career leader in interception return yards is a quarterbacks nightmare. If you think you can take him out of the game by running the football, well you are going to be in for a rude awakening. Eric can absolutely lower the boom, and is not shy about doing so. In both the run game and pass game Berry contains all the tools to become the NFL’s next great Safety. Unfortunately for us he will not wear a Cowboy uniform his rookie season without some sort of draft day trade.
Earl Thomas: Sophmore Strong Safety from the University of Texas, 5’10″ 197 lbs.
While his frame is not prototypical of that of an NFL Safety, his skill set fits what the Cowboys and many other teams in the NFL are looking for in a Safety. Earl plays the game with an attitude, and a fierceness that would lead you to believe he is bigger than he his. To go along with his physical nature, he has exceptional coverage skills. For two years in a row Earl has led the Longhorns in pass break ups and interceptions. Some around the NFL believe that he will be best suited as a corner at the next level. If Earl Thomas is still on the board when Dallas goes to the podium, He should be the selection. Earl Thomas is one of only two Safeties that meet and exceed the Cowboys criteria, unfortunately for Dallas though there are several other teams that are need of the same criteria. Jerry has been known to make moves on draft day, and a move like this would most certainly be costly. The Cowboys would likely need to move from 28 up 14 spots to #14, as the Giants will surely take Earl Thomas at 15. However if it becomes apparent that the Giants would choose to go in another direction, the jump the Boys would have to make becomes much more feasible. The next team they would have to jump would be the Houston Texans at #20.
Taylor Mays: Senior Free Safety from USC, 6’3″ 230 lbs.
Mostly known for his bone crushing hits, is a superb run stuffing safety. Reminds me a lot of a former Dallas Safety… please do not make me say his name.
Nate Allen: Senior Free Safety from University of South Florida 6’2″ 205 lbs.
Solid skill set, has a nose for the ball, if the Boys fail to nab the guy they want in the first round this could be our guy late in the second.
Darrell Stuckey: Senior Strong Safety from Kansas 6’1″ 205 lbs.
Solid coverage safety, very good at getting in the backfield and causing disruption in the running game. Another guy that will be available late second to fourth round.
Chad Jones: Junior Safety from LSU 6’3″ 230 lbs.
An exceptional athlete that has not even come close to reaching his full potential, can also contribute on special teams.
Morgan Burnett: Junior Free Safety from Georgia Tech 6’1″ 210 lbs.
Had a rough 2009 campaign but his versatility and athleticism will make it hard to look past him. Could be a late round steal.
One of the first three will probably be available when Dallas makes their first selection, more than likely the one that will be available will be Taylor Mays. He is not what this team needs, he is an outstanding player, but he simply does not fit the Cowboys scheme. It is my thought that if Eric Berry and Earl Thomas are gone when the Cowboys turn comes, the team will wait until the middle rounds to address this area.
Make sure to check back with us over the coming weeks as we will continue with Dallas Cowboy 2010 Draft Coverage.