Did Jerry Jones Intercept Claiborne From Intended Receiver, Buccaneers?

Lots of drama on Thursday night during the NFL draft as things were happening at a fast and furious pace like a 2 minute offense. After the first two obligatory no drama selections were made, things started happening.

The “fog of war” left Jerry Jones standing in between the Buccaneers and Claiborne in the number 6 spot. And just like Claiborne has often done in his career with the LSU Tigers, it appears Jerry picked off the intended receiver.

It was a series of events that created a perfect storm. First the Vikings and Browns swapped spots so the Browns could get the Alabama RB they wanted Trent Richardson, at number 3. Then as expected, the Vikings selected OT Matt Kalil number 4. Good move by the opportunistic Vikes who were able to get their guy and steal a few picks from the Browns in the process. That’s the way this game is played.

Suddenly the Jags ,who everyone and their brother knew wanted WR Blackmon, traded spots with the Buccaneers moving from 7 to 5. The Buccaneers picked up a 4th round pick for swapping with the Jags and moving down to #7. The Jags got their guy WR Blackmon and then it was the Rams pick at number 6.

This is when Jerry made his move. He worked out a deal with the Rams by giving them his pick at 14 and the Cowboys 2nd round pick so he could step in front of the Bucs and draft the top CB in the draft, Claiborne at #6.

The Bucs then took Safety Mark Baron at number 7 and seem happy to get Barron. Not a bad prospect for sure but Barron went higher than most mocks ever had him going and without debate, Claiborne is the superior pass defender.

Did the Bucs make a serious miscalculation by assuming the Rams were going to stay at #6 and draft a player other than Claiborne? Or did they assume that Dallas was going to select Barron at #6?

Naturally the Bucs are saying that Barron was higher on their board anyway, blah blah blah. What else are you going to tell your fan base? “We screwed up and let the best pass defender go by so we could get a LB disguised as a safety.”   That’s not going to go over.  Saying Barron was higher on their board only makes them look worse in a way, because it brings their ability to evaluate talent into question.

Evidence The Bucs were indeed Intercepted:

Jerry grins like a fox in the hen house after intercepting Claiborne.

  • The Bucs needed a good corner.
  • On 4/13 Ronde Barber tipped the Bucs’ hand when he said Claiborne was probably going to be their pick after visiting them. HERE
  • The Bucs had their eyes on Claiborne. They even talked to his HS coach.  I realize mocks are just mocks but prior to the draft, 8 experts had the Bucs selecting Claiborne. HERE
  • The Cowboys made no indication that they were targeting Claiborne therefore no team could have seen it coming. Claiborne was shocked and said Dallas had not talked to him at all. This was under the radar which means, the Bucs had no idea Dallas was interested in moving up to get Claiborne. Maybe Barron, but not Claiborne.
  • It wasn’t clear who the Rams would take at # 6 but they were not ever linked to Claiborne. Many mocks had them getting Blackmon but the Jags stepped in and grabbed him at #5. The Rams were thought to be interested in DL Fletcher Cox since Blackmon was gone.
  • We may never know if Claiborne would have been selected by the Bucs at #7. But if Dallas or Rams had not picked Claiborne at #6, I’m confident the Bucs would have then picked Claiborne at #7.
  • Most any scouting expert had Claiborne ranked higher than Barron.

You draw your on conclusion about what went down Thursday night when things were happening fast, but I think old Jerry may have picked one off.

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Dallas Cowboys 2012 NFL Draft Grades

Stephen Jones prays that Morris Claiborne falls out of top five.

The 2012 NFL draft is a wrap. Did the Dallas Cowboys improve their team in this draft? Time will tell naturally but let’s take a preliminary look at each of the seven picks to see how the Cowboys did.

First pick: Morris Claiborne CB, LSU  Grade A-

If you watched any of the several games where Dallas blew a 4th quarter lead to lose, then you realize they had to improve their secondary in the draft. Unexpectedly the Cowboys traded up from 14 to 6 in order to draft Claiborne the top CB in the draft. He will make their secondary better for certain. The only reason I place a minus beside the A is because they gave up a 2nd round pick in order to move up. That is a pretty stiff price.

Second Pick: Tyrone Crawford DE, Boise State  Grade B

Without question the Cowboys also need to improve their pass rush. Ware provided their pass rush last year but more is needed up front. Crawford is raw and will need some development to become a starter but he plays with a very good motor and will provide some much needed energy on the defensive line. I like the pick.

Third Pick: Kyle Wilber OLB, Wake Forest Grade C-

Wilber could help the Cowboys on special teams but he will need work as a pass rusher which is exactly what Dallas needs the most. Nothing against Wilber, but I just think the Cowboys could have done better with this pick in the 4th round. There were players available with higher grades. Not impressed with this selection.

Fourth Pick: Matt Johnson SS, Eastern Washington Grade D

Johnson was picked by Dallas in the 4th however I can’t find where he was projected to be drafted at all. His grade was a dismal 49 and there were many players available with grades over 70. A small school safety drafted in the 4th? Why does that sound familiar? Oh ye,  Akwasi who never panned out for Dallas.  Not good. But at least I can pronounce his name better. The Cowboys decided to stock their practice squad in the 4th round for some reason. Not impressed.

Fifth Pick: Danny Coale WR, Va. Tech Grade B

The slot WR position is open after not signing Robinson so drafting a WR was a need. Seems the Cowboys run short of WRs every year. Coale was very productive at Va. Tech as a wide receiver and is ready to play the slot. He has drawn comparisons to Wes Welker of the Patriots. I find this pick intriguing.

Sixth Pick: James Hanna TE, Oklahoma Grade A

I like this pick and it is not only because I had Dallas drafting him in my Cowboys mock either. BLOG HERE

Texas native, Hanna, is an impressive athlete that could offer some real match up problems for defenses. The Cowboys needed depth at TE and this was about as good of a TE as they could get at this point in the draft. Look forward to watching this guy in Jason’s offense.

Seventh Pick: Caleb McSurdy ILB/(FB?) Montana Grade D

It seems in every recent draft, the Cowboys select a fullback late that never ends up making the team. In a passing era it just seems like you can get one in free agency so why draft a guy that will not even get drafted? Don’t get it. The only reason the Cowboys don’t get an F here is because he is listed as an ILB although scouts indicate he may be a FB actually at the next level.

Not sure what Jason has in mind with Caleb (offense or defense) but if it turns out to be FB, then I am changing this grade to an F.  Instead of a small school FB in the 7th, I think they should have drafted CB Dennard, Nebraska which is who the Patriots took just a pick later. Yes Dennard has character red flags but 2nd round talent in the 7th round? I will take my chances.

OVERALL B-

Overall this wasn’t a bad draft for Dallas and there certainly is reason for optimism. Their grade for the total draft would probably average out to be about a B-.  Like how they addressed CB, DE, depth at TE and drafted a slot WR. The two 4th round picks however were forgettable and the last pick was a waste.

UPDATE 4/29: Mel Kiper gives Dallas Cowboys draft C+.                                   Jason Henry evaluates each pick.

Jared Sherman CSN Philly C+

Matarazzo gives B

Sporting News NFL.com CBSSports FoxSports Rotoworld ESPN
Cowboys A+ A B+ B+ B C+
Eagles A B- B B B+ A
Giants B+ B B+ B A C+
Redskins B B B- A- A- C+

Chad Reuter B

CZAR B+

Jason Cole YAHOO  B

NFL DRAFT: 1st Round Superlatives

There was "talent" on display at the NFL Draft Thursday night.

A fast and furious first round of the NFL draft produced surprises and drama.

Here are the superlatives:

Biggest Reach: Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks picked DE Bruce Irvin at #15 in the first round of the draft…..about 32 picks sooner than they needed to pick him. Irvin has very good speed but he needs to add size and he was projected to go in the 2nd round. Not to mention off the field baggage including an arrest the day after his Pro Day. That would pretty much be a red flag for most teams. Just sayin’. At the time OLB/DE Melvin Ingram was available representing better value. Come on man!

Best Value: San Diego Chargers

The Chargers were able to get OLB Melvin Ingram at #18. Most had Ingram ranked as a top 10 prospect before the draft. Chargers had to be pleasantly surprised to find him available. Another good value was the Steelers getting guard DeCastro with the 24th pick. Nice pick up late in the round.

Best Trade Up: Philadelphia Eagles Fletcher Cox

Tough call here and I considered the Cowboys pick of Claiborne heavily but got to go with the Eagles who moved up just enough to get the best defensive lineman in the draft. The Cowboys dealt away their second pick while the Eagles only dealt a more reasonable 4th and 6th pick. Picks in the 4th and 6th often don’t make the roster anyway but 2nd rounders often are starters. Cox is an Eagles type player and I think he will be a difference maker.

Biggest Winner on Thursday: Minnesota Vikings

I was impressed with the two players that the Patriots added but overall I have to say the Vikings helped themselves the most on Thursday. They traded down but still got the OT they wanted, Matt Kalil and were able to pick up safety Harrison Smith too.  They aren’t done yet either because they accumulated picks from the Browns in the 4th, 5th and 7th rounds. That’s not a bad day.

Best Handshake: Melvin Ingram and Roger Goodell.

There were many during the night but this was the most creative. VIDEO.

Hottest Wife/GF: Lauren Tannehill

There was “talent” in the crowd at the draft and Ryan’s wife Lauren wins the hottie award.

Best Punk of a Prospect: WR Mohamed Sanu Rutgers

Received a prank phone call saying the Bengals were about to pick him but after a celebration realized he had been punked. Now that is just wrong.  STORY 

Biggest Surprise Slide First Round Pick: David DeCastro

Not long ago most predicted the draft’s highest rated Guard, DeCastro, to be gone by the middle of the round however he managed to slide down to 24 when the Steelers picked him. I thought he would go well before that time.

Biggest Surprise Player Drafted in the 1st 10 Picks: Stephon Gilmore

The Bills picked Gilmore in the 10 spot which qualifies as a big surprise to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Gilmore will be a very good CB in the NFL eventually but I didn’t think he was worthy of a top 10 pick. He has excellent size and speed but his coverage skills are not as impressive as his run support. Not a shut down type corner by any stretch.

Most Emotional Moment: Morris Claiborne

When the Cowboys surprisingly traded up to select the top CB in the draft, Morris Claiborne, he became very emotional. I will assume those were tears of joy and not sadness to be going to Dallas.

Best Quote: Morris Claiborne regarding  his very low Wonderlic score.  (Blog on 4/19 about Wonderlic)

“All the talk I was hearing was the Wonderlic test is really not that important. Everybody I talked to, coaches and all, were like, ‘That test don’t mean nothing. It’s not going to declare where you’ll go in the draft.’ I’m here for football.”

Just a tip Morris, if you are trying to convince people you could have done better on the test but weren’t really trying, avoid the use of double negatives. Poor grammar makes it appear you may have actually been really trying hard.

Go out and play like a shut down corner and everyone will forget your Wonderlic score.

Jerry Jones Shocks the world and Picks LSU CB Morris Claiborne with 6th pick in draft

Morris was just as shocked as the rest of us. Welcome to Dallas Morris we have a secondary that could use your cover skills.

WOW Not even Morris Claiborne saw this one coming. Shocked.

With all the combines, pro days, visits and mock drafts you think there can’t be any surprises on the first day of the draft but boy were there. We knew the Cowboys wanted to improve their secondary and they did just that when they spent $50 million to sign CB Brandon Carr in free agency.

At that point things looked better back there in the secondary so no one predicted they would move up (lost their 2nd rd. pick) to get the highest rated CB in the draft. So where does that leave Jenkins and Scandrick? Jerry didn’t reach up to grab Claiborne so he can back up one of those two CBs. No way.

Jenkins has one more year on his contract and Scandick was just signed to a big contract before the 2012 season. Carr is coming in to replace Newman and start at one corner so where does Claiborne fit and what happens to either Jenkins or Scandrick? That will be a story to watch unfold.

I have mixed feelings on this move.

  • On one hand you picked up a really good press coverage shut down type CB for sure.
  • On the other hand you gave up a second round pick where you can get a player that can help your team right away
  • Also there were good defensive players that can fill needs available at 14 where Dallas was before. (Brockers and Ingram for example).

It’s early but this pick feels impulsive to me.

NFL Considering No Pro Bowl

After the last Pro Bowl in February, I posted a blog that they should just go ahead and end the darn thing. In the blog I make suggestions to have in place of the bogus game.  Here is that blog:

“Hey Pro Bowl, Washington Generals just text me”….  

Here we are in April and the NFL/Players union are considering canceling the Pro Bowl after this year’s version which was a shameful display of non competition and a complete joke.

ARTICLE  

While the meaningless game is still on the NFL schedule, ESPN reports that no venue for the game has been named indicating that it just may not happen in 2013.

Watching NFL players work together in a playful way to make sure no one gets hurt was a little disturbing to watch for me, and evidently I was not the only one.  In a way it was the opposite of Bounty Gate but just as counterfeit.  As I watched, it made me wonder what else are they capable of cooperating with each other to accomplish? Could there be a game late in the season where one team needs a win and the other doesn’t so they just go through the motions so the team wins that has something at stake? I’m not aware of that happening and I am not saying it has but in light of “Bounty Gate”, this is not a good time for the NFL to put a game on display that has players pretending to compete with each other.

There is already a big enough black eye on America’s favorite sport with the things that are being uncovered in New Orleans currently, which ironically, is where the Super Bowl will be played in 2013.

Barron, Buffalo Bills, Chargers, and the Coach in the Hoodie: Draft Plot Thickens

What a difference a few weeks can make. Early in the draft process it appeared that picking Safety Mark Barron at #14 was going to be a bit of a reach for the Cowboys. But now Barron appears to be one of the hottest prospect in the draft. Perhaps even moving into the top 10 players taken.

On the day before the draft, the Bills at pick #10 seem very interested in Barron. LINK  Also the Chargers seem interested in moving up to take him and even Bilichick and the Patriots have been rumored interested in moving up to take Barron, considered the best safety in the draft. PATS

Are the Bills bluffing their interest in Barron in order to orchestrate a trade down? The Bills have expressed an interest in trading down to add picks but to do that, you need a partner. If a team is locked in on Barron, like the Chargers or Cowboys, they just might dance with the Bills to make a deal.

It’s not clear how sincere the Bills’ interest in Barron may be, but most mocks have had the Bills taking a WR or an offensive lineman. Two areas of need for sure. The Bills may actually have their eyes on a WR or OG later in the first round and are willing to trade down.

Will the Cowboys be willing to trade up to get Barron?

I don’t think so. From the start, coach Jason Garrett has made it clear that his approach is to get the best available with their pick. In fact he addressed many of their needs in the off season in order to keep their options open on draft day. So Dallas is not in a position where they must pick a safety, guard or any other position in the first round for that matter.

It’s also not for certain that Barron is the guy Dallas wants to draft the most. They have had several top players visit Valley Ranch before the draft so I don’t get the impression that they are locked in on Barron in the first. I do think they like him a lot but may not be willing to trade up to get him.

If the Cowboys sit tight at 14, it is pretty likely that Barron will come to them but if he doesn’t, there are several prospects in the first round that could impact the Cowboys immediately. In fact, if Barron goes off the board before 14, that means that some pretty darn good players are going to drop farther down than expected.

Locking in on a specific player in the draft can often lead to paying too much to get that guy. Teams will take advantage of that “man crush”. It’s just the way the game is played. I think back to last year when the Falcons were fixated on WR Julio Jones and mortgaged their future in order to move up in the draft to select him.

Jones has been a good WR for sure but I just think the Falcons are going to see the day they wished they had all those picks back. Look how Dallas discovered Laurent Robinson in free agency and he was a highly productive wide receiver that cost them little.

Buckle up Cowboy fan because Thursday night may be a bumpy ride with lots of prime time drama. It may not be for the faint of heart.