Dallas Cowboys 2015 Mock Draft

war cowboys

What an off season. DeMarco Murray the Cowboys NFL leading rusher went to the rival Eagles for the money. Do I blame him? In a way no, an NFL career can be short and these guys want to get paid while they can. I get it, but on the other hand, the Eagles? Really?

Do I blame Jerry Jones for not getting Murray signed? No actually I don’t and trust me I am one who calls out Jerry when he earns it. I don’t serve the Jerry Jones kool-aid on this site but in this case, I think old Jerry got it right. Murray has a past of injuries and no one knows if he can keep up that highly demanding pace that he did last season (average of 25 carries/game), during a contract year.

Also he fumbled at times a little too often and in the Packers game, it actually hurt his team. Just sayin’. Sure most fans would like to have seen Murray remain in Dallas but not at any cost. Signing Darren McFadden from the Raiders may prove to be a good pick up to help replace Murray.

Looking at the 2015 draft, clearly Dallas has lots of room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball making it likely a priority. Specifically, their pass rush and pass defense need to get better.
NFL KEY STATS 2014 Cowboys Defense:
28th in sacks
14th in yards allowed a game.
7th highest in pass yards allowed
8th in fewest yards rushing
18th in points allowed

In the off season, Dallas signed DE Greg Hardy from the Panthers which should give the defense some real help at pressuring QBs an obvious area of weakness in 2014. Still I think it makes sense for the Cowboys to add defensive linemen in the draft.

First Pick:
CB Kevin Johnson Wake Forest
It’s not clear yet if Dallas will keep Brandon Carr who just hasn’t been a good fit in the 4-3, while often injured Mo Claiborne has proven to be pretty much a bust as a top 10 pick. It’s an area that needs improvement, as their pass defense ranked 7th in most yards allowed last season.

In Johnson. they pick up a prospect who is projected to go late in the first round. He has good size, good cover skills, and at Wake Forest he never missed a game with injury making him the opposite of Claiborne, in reliability. Johnson may be flying a bit under the radar . He is capable of playing man or zone coverage and while perhaps not a flashy first round pick, a solid football player which seems to be what Dallas seeks in the first round now days.

YOUTUBE HIGHLIGHTS
Johnson is a willing tackler with excellent ability to break on the ball. In the ACC, he played against top completion in receivers from Florida State and Clemson. With Johnson, the Cowboys pass defense improves.

2nd Round: RB Jeremy Langford Michigan State
With the departure of Murray, drafting a RB becomes more likely and while McFadden should help, no one can be sure that he will be the answer. They have Dunbar and Randle but they don’t represent the work horse back that Murray did. Picking up a RB the caliber of Langford in the 2nd round, could pay off in a big way.

Langford is a proven “work horse” back similar to Murray. He has been described as getting stronger as the game goes along and solid when asked to pass protect. In 2014 he rushed for 1,522 yards and 22 TDs while posting 12 straight 100 yard games against BIG Ten teams. At 6-0, 208, Langford’s running style will remind you of Murray as he displays power along with good speed. With a 4.4 time in the 40, he is actually quicker than the top ranked RBs in the draft.

YOUTUBE Highlights
In the highlights, you see him run with power, speed, follow his blocks, and he can shake and bake it to make a tackler miss when required.

Having Langford run behind the Cowboys stellar line, could make fans move on from losing Murray.

3rd round: DT Graddy Jarrett Clemson
Defensive tackle is a position I expect Dallas to draft and while there are some ranked higher than Jarrett, many of the top ranked ones will be off the board when Dallas picks in the first. Jarrett a 3rd round projection, appears to be a good fit in Marinelli’s defense displaying a quick twitch they look for in linemen.

He is 6-1, 304 pounds of run stop in the middle with enough explosiveness out of his stance to blow up plays in the backfield. In 2013, he had 83 tackles with 11 for loss. Not likely to get a lot of sacks himself but he could help free up DEs to get to the QBs. Jarrett would be an immediate contributor in Marinelli’s line rotation.

YOUTUBE HIGHLIGHTS  (#50)
On video, Jarret appears athletic and light on his feet. Slips past blockers and does a nice job of finding the ball. Like his motor.

4th round: FS Gerod Holliman Louisville
The Cowboys just don’t have a ball hawk safety on their roster which is a critical piece missing from Marinelli’s Tampa 2 defense. In Holliman, they may find the missing piece. He set an FBS record with 14 interceptions. How’s that for a ball hawk safety? When the ball is in the air, Holliman always thinks he is the intended receiver.

YOUTUBE HIGHLIGHTS
Holliman could be a real difference maker in the Cowboys secondary.

5th round: WR Ty Montgomery Stanford
One move I actually didn’t like in the off season was allowing Dwayne Harris to sign with the Giants. Harris was one of my favorite players on the team because he “emptied his bucket” every game. He was one of the best special teams players in the NFL and in my view, under used on offense. I think he could make an impact with the Giants.

In the 2015 draft, I’m looking for a replacement for Harris and Montgomery represents a really talented kick returner. Montgomery is from Dallas and brings nice size 6-0, 221, and is very athletic. 2013 was a productive season for Montgomery as he earned consensus All-American honors as a kick returner, averaging 30.3 yards per opportunity. He also led Stanford with 61 catches for 958 yards and 10 TDs but in 2014, injuries limited his success.

Immediately Montgomery can help the Cowboys special teams as their best option at improving a lack luster Dallas kick off return game in 2014 (ranked 13th in KO returns last season). He could contribute to the offense as a receiver down the road perhaps.

(Two 7th round picks)
WR Jamarcus Nelson UAB
What Nelson brings can be summed up in one word, “speed”. He ran a sick 4.28 time in the 40 and that’s one thing a coach can’t teach, so why not see if this 7th round pick can help special teams? Nelson can bring explosiveness to the kick return game and could stretch a secondary deep to make them play honest.

Nelson is small and needs development as a receiver, but my interest in this pick would be what he can bring in the return game.

QB Shane Carden East Carolina
It seems I always have Dallas picking a QB late but they seem to never pick one at all. Weeden didn’t workout last season as Romo’s backup so the position could use depth. Carden leaves ECU after setting a whole bunch of passing records. Carden is from Houston and does a nice job of running the offense and finding the open receivers. Good leader who moves his team right down the field often.

Carden’s natural abilities may not impress that much but at this point in the draft, Dallas could find some decent depth and possibly a future contributor. This guy is worth a look and could at least make preseason games more interesting.

HIGHLIGHTS

RECAP: Seven picks that address several areas. A better pass rush and a better secondary for the defense. On offense a possible future replacement for Murray at running back and a back up QB possibly for Romo. Then a couple guys who could improve the Cowboys return game a great deal on special teams while adding depth at receiver.

A Look Back at a classic. The “Ice Bowl” in 1967 Between the Packers and Cowboys.

Ice Bowl

Ice Bowl

When Dallas plays the Packers Sunday in a divisional playoff game at Green Bay, the game time temperatures is expected to be about 21 degrees. Whoever you give credit for being in charge of the weather, evidently likes the Cowboys because it could have been much colder. Just days ago the high temperature was around 0 degrees but that’s actually not bad compared to the 1967 title game between the teams known as the “Ice Bowl”.

The NFC championship game between the Cowboys and Packers played on the last day of the year in 1967, was played at a game temperature of minus 15 degrees and that does not include a very sharp wind chill. At that time, the NFC Championship was actually viewed as a bigger game than the Super Bowl that followed against a lesser AFC opponent.

“Frozen Tundra”
The term “frozen tundra” was a quite accurate description of the playing field since a $80,000 underground coil electric heating system by GE, malfunctioned that day. Many may think it was called the Ice Bowl because of the frigid temperature on that day but the ground was actually frozen ice. The field had been covered with a tarp but when it was removed, the condensation froze immediately without the heated coils. They were literally playing on a layer of ice.

Cowboy fullback Walt Garrison described the frozen playing surface as, “harder than Chinese arithmetic.” Well that sounds pretty dang hard to me.

Some have speculated that Packers coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the super bowl trophy has its name, may have wanted the heat to malfunction to negate the Cowboys clear speed advantage since Dallas had a sprinter turned wide receiver, known as “Bullet” Bob Hayes. Conspiracy theories popped up with one Cowboy player saying after the game on the long flight home, “That (blank) Lombardi — he turned off the machine.”

The Refs:
It was so cold that when an official tried to blow his whistle to start the game his lips froze instantly to the whistle and his lip was cut when he removed it. Eventually the officials abandoned the use of whistles that game, and had to use voice commands.

The Most Famous QB Sneak in the history of football:
The Packers trailed late in the game and put together a late drive that gave them a first and goal at the one. On the first two run attempts, the Packer running back Donnie Anderson slipped on the field for no gain.

Facing third down, the Packers called a time out and QB Bart Starr went over to discuss the play call with coach Lombardi. Many may think the legendary coach was the one who called the play however it was Starr who suggested he push it in on a QB sneak since the surface was so slick.

As the temperature fell to -20, Starr says that a frigid Lombardi simply replied, “”Run it, and let’s get the hell out of here!” Starr has said that he was laughing as he returned to the huddle.

Starr sneaked the ball over the goal line as Cowboy defensive linemen like Jethro Pugh, struggled in vain to gain any footing. A championship decided by what may be the most mundane play in all of football, the QB sneak.

The Packers went on to win another super bowl after that game.

So while it will be cold Sunday when these two teams play, conditions will not quite live up to the title of “Ice Bowl II”. After that tough 1967 loss, Cowboys owner Clint Murchison stated, “The day wasn’t too cold if you won.” That may be the case on Sunday too.

This Dallas Cowboys Team Has Each Other’s Back

redskinsThere are two plays that stand out in my mind after the Redskins game that tell me this 2014 Cowboys team is quite different from the 2013 team. And the plays weren’t plays where the Cowboys scored in fact, one of them was actually when the Redskins scored.

First allow me to point to the team last year. Last season against the Saints, there was a kick return where Dwayne Harris was clearly shoved late out of bounds by Kevin Reddick which resulted in Harris being injured on the Saints sideline. The play surprisingly didn’t draw a flag but did result in a fine from the NFL after the play was reviewed. It was disappointing that none of Harris’ teammates showed up to let the Saints know that kind of play wouldn’t be tolerated. They went on to lose that game.

After the game, I called out Harris’s teammates in a blog, for not coming to his defense after a dirty shot from the other team and I interpreted it as disturbing sign this team was not united. I keep it real here and sometimes tell fans things they don’t want to hear but need to hear.

It may be old school, but I believe that when teammates care about each other and are willing to fight for each other, you have a team that is ready to accomplish something big. I did not see that in 2013 but I sure did see it on display in the final game of the 2014 regular season against the Redskins Sunday.

Here are the two stars of the game as far as I’m concerned:
1. WR Terrance Williams:
After catching a pass, wide receiver Cole Beasley was tackled by the face mask and I do mean the defender completely dragged him down. VIDEO A play that could have easily resulted in injury but fortunately didn’t.

The play did draw a 15 yard penalty on Redskin CB E.J. Biggers but for WR Terrance Williams, a clear statement in team unity needed to be made as he came over ready to go to battle and defend his teammate Beasley. I loved it.

2. CB Orlando Scandrick:
Late in the game, QB Robert Griffin ran a TD for the Redskins but in the endzone a late and unnecessary blind side block was thrown by Redskin receiver Pierre Garcon on Cowboy LB Kyle Wilber. Dallas CB Orlando Scandrick stepped up for his teammate and it resulted in a bit of a shoving match between the two teams. VIDEO

Again I was proud of Scandrick for letting the Redskins and any other NFL team know for that matter, these Cowboys are together.

Some will criticize the actions of Williams and especially Scandrick but for me, it’s what I would expect from teammates that are going into battle together. Two plays that may easily be over looked as insignificant but it’s a sign that these Cowboys are a united team and that could make them dangerous in the post season.

A clear message was sent to the Redskins but perhaps also to playoff opponent Detroit Lions and their dirty player poster child N-DAM-U KONG Suh, don’t bring that garbage to Dallas because these Cowboys have each other’s backs!

FINAL 2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS: Ravens and Panthers in the Tournament

NFLTeams

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

This week the top 8 teams consist of the four NFC and four AFC teams that I expect to still be standing after the first round of playoffs next week. Teams 9-12 are the teams that I think will lose in the wildcard round.

Eight of the teams that I had in the top 12 for week one this season, made it into the post season. Biggest surprises for me were how far the Saints fell and I must admit the Steelers and Cowboys were better than I expected.

Week 18 Change
1. Patriots (12-4) 0
2. Seahawks (12-4) 0
3. Broncos (12-4) 0
4. Packers (12-4) 0
5. Cowboys (12-4) +1
6. Steelers (11-5) +1
7. Colts (11-5) +1
8. Panthers (7-8-1) +12
9. Lions (11-5) -4
10. Cardinals (11-5) -1
11. Bengals (10-5-1) -1
12. Ravens (10-6) +1
13. Eagles (10-6) +1
14. Texans (9-7) +1
15. Chiefs (9-7) +1
16 Chargers (9-7) -5
17. Bills (9-7) +1
18. 49ers (8-8) +1
19. Dolphins (8-8) -2
20. Saints (7-9) -4
21. Vikings (7-9) +4
22. Browns (7-9) -1
23. Falcons (6-10) -11
24. Rams (6-10) -1
25 Giants (6-10) -3
26. Bears (5-11) 0
27. Jets (4-12) +1
28. Redskins (4-12) -1
29. Jaguars (3-13) 0
30. Raiders (3-13) 0
31. Titans (2-14) +1
32. Bucs (2-14) -1

2014 NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Seahawks With Late Surge

NFLTeams
The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

12 in The “Tournament”
Coach Parcells referred to the playoffs as a tournament and I think it’s a good description. All 12 teams haven’t all been determined yet so there is a lot at stake in some of the games next week.

The Lions hold the edge in the NFC north however, I believe the Packers will win at home against the Lions Sunday to take the division and gain a first round bye. My rankings reflect that prediction.

The Falcons play the Panthers for a winner take the division game and while the Panthers have a slight edge, I think the Falcons who have already defeated the Panthers, will win at home. That’s why I have the Falcons at 12 and in the tournament.

The defending champs Seahawks are currently one of the hottest teams in the NFL winning 5 straight and the road to the super bowl is looking like it will go through Seattle once again. That’s not good news for the other NFC teams.

No play in game for Dallas this year as they clinch the division title by rolling up a Colts team who didn’t appear to be into it at all.

With a loss to the Texans, the Ravens fell from the top 12 and allowed the Chargers back in the picture.

Week 17 Change
1. Patriots (12-3) 0
2. Seahawks (11-4) +2
3. Broncos (11-4) 0
4. Packers (11-4) +1
5. Lions (11-4) +1
6. Cowboys (11-4) +2
7. Steelers (10-5) +2
8. Colts (10-5) -1
9. Cardinals (11-4) -7
10. Bengals (10-4-1) 0
11. Chargers (9-6) +4
12. Falcons (6-9) +13
13. Ravens (9-6) -2
14. Eagles (9-6) -1
15. Texans (8-7) +3
16 Chiefs (8-7) -2
17. Dolphins (8-7) -2
18. Bills (8-7) -2
19. 49ers (7-8) -2
20. Panthers (6-8-1) +4
21. Browns (7-8) -1
22. Giants (6-9) +4
23. Rams (6-9) -2
24. Saints (6-9) -12
25 Vikings (6-9) -3
26. Bears (5-10) -3
27. Redskins (4-11) +4
28. Jets (3-12) -1
29. Jaguars (3-12) -1
30. Raiders (3-12) 0
31. Bucs (2-13) -2
32. Titans (2-13) 0

The Dallas Cowboys Home Field Disadvantage Analyzed

DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray

In 2014, the Dallas Cowboys have been road warriors with a perfect 7-0 record. Sporting the best road record in the NFL but in home games, Dallas is a humbling 3-4. They have yet to defeat a team with a winning record at home this season. It took overtime to defeat the 7-7 Texans.

It kind of defies any logical explanation really, but with an important home game with the Colts approaching Sunday, it wouldn’t surprise me if Jerry Jones doesn’t have a big blue horse shoe painted at midfield to make the Cowboys feel like it’s a road game. Or maybe call the Colts owner and see if he would like to play an additional home game this season?

The Cowboys last home game was a 33-10 beat down on Thanksgiving at the hands of the Eagles but in Philadelphia, it was a different story with Dallas winning 38-27. What a difference a change in venues made.

I drilled down in some stats to look for answers and discovered some interesting trends.

OFFENSE:
One thing that jumps out is that the Cowboys offense averages just 21.4 points a game at home but on the road they average 33 a game which is huge difference! But why there is such a difference isn’t so obvious. Stay with me.

Looking at their QB Tony Romo, his QB rating is very close to the same in away and home games. At home his rating is 111 and away it’s 112. Pretty much the same.

However Looking at RB DeMarco Murray who has played an enormous role in the Cowboys offense this season, does show a difference. In away games, Murray has carried the ball for 27 times a game but in home games he has just 23 carries per game. May not sound like a big difference but it is also interesting that Murray carries the ball for an average of 25 times a game but in the Cowboys four home losses, he only carried it 22, 19, 19, and 20 times. A solid 20% below his average carries.

DEFENSE:
As far as points allowed goes, the Cowboys defense appears very consistent no matter where they play. They have allowed 23.4 points a game away and 23.4 points a game at home.

However what is interesting is they have a total of 24 takeaways this season but most of those have come in away games. The Cowboys defense has only 9 takeaways in 7 home games but they have 15 takeaways in 7 away games. That represents a huge difference.

In fact in the Cowboys four home losses, the defense only managed a total of 3 turnovers. That means they produced 21 takeaways in the 10 games they have won. That’s about 2 per game when they win.

That may help explain the offense scoring 12 more points on the road. The defense taking the ball away would help set them up. Does the Dallas defense play more conservatively in home games? Do they rely more on the offense or come out playing flat at home but more fired up on the road?

Final Take:
For the Cowboys to pick up a very important home win against the Colts Sunday, I think they need to give the ball to Murray at least 25 times, his average. At this point, it appears Murray is going to try to play with his injured hand.

On defense, I’m convinced the Cowboys will have to come up with at least 2 or 3 turnovers to win the game. Remember the turnaround in the second meeting with the Eagles? The Dallas defense had 3 takeaways in that one compared to one in Dallas. The defense will need to play with more intensity and more aggressively than typical home games.

And the 12th man. The Cowboy fan base can help by bringing the noise when the Colts have the ball and creating a true home field advantage.

NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Patriots Back on Top with Two Games Left

NFLTeamsThe Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

TOP 12:
The Packers offense was grounded in Buffalo and it drops the Packers out of the top spot. If the Packers can play at home throughout the post season, they will be fine but if they go on the road, it may not go well.

By winning in Philadelphia, the Dallas Cowboys move into the top 12 teams and in first place in the NFC East. The game with the Colts this week is a must win for them to win the East. The Eagles lurk at #13 ready to pounce if the Cowboys should stumble.

A win by the Ravens combined with a loss by the Chargers, moves the Ravens into the top 12 teams and bumps the Chargers out.

Week 16 Change
1. Patriots (11-3) +1
2. Cardinals (11-3) +2
3. Broncos (11-3) 0
4. Seahawks (10-4) +1
5. Packers (10-4) -4
6. Lions (10-4) 0
7. Colts (10-4) +1
8. Cowboys (10-4) +5
9. Steelers (9-5) 0
10. Bengals (9-4-1) 0
11. Ravens (9-5) +3
12. Saints (6-8) +13
13. Eagles (9-5) -6
14. Chiefs (8-6) +4
15. Chargers (8-6) -4
16 Bills (8-6) +3
17. 49ers (7-7) 0
18. Texans (7-7) -3
19. Dolphins (7-7) -3
20. Browns (7-7) 0
21. Rams (6-8) 0
22. Vikings (6-8) 0
23. Bears (5-9) 0
24. Panthers (5-8-1) 0
25 Falcons (5-9) -13
26. Giants (5-9) 0
27. Jets (3-11) +4
28. Jaguars (2-12) -1
29. Bucs (2-12) -1
30. Raiders (2-12) 0
31. Redskins (3-11) -2
32. Titans (2-12) 0