Jerry’s Draft Board Leaked: Does it Matter?

Jerryjonesstephenjones

Jerry Jones’ draft board was leaked….again.  STORY

It’s the kind of blunder that would get a GM fired but when the GM owns the team, that’s not happening.

Some want to make a big deal about this happening but does it really matter? It’s not like Jerry goes by his own board anyway. He could have handed out copies of his board before the draft and it wouldn’t be much help to other teams because Jerry can be impulsive during the draft, not staying close to his own flawed board.

Call Outs:

1. Shariff Floyd– The biggest call out on his board is the fact that DT Shariff Floyd was ranked 5th overall on their board but Jerry passed on picking Floyd who was available at #18 before Dallas traded down. When asked about it, Jerry said Floyd wasn’t a good fit for their new 4-3 defense although the experts agree he could play in either the 3-4 or 4-3. Was Jerry right and the scout experts wrong? (Consider it a rhetorical question).    

Well the obvious question is, if you weren’t going to pick Floyd, then why was he ranked so high on your board? It just doesn’t add up.

2. Travis Frederick–  The Cowboys pick at #31 was actually ranked on their board as a 2nd round pick. Many considered that pick a reach as other teams had Frederick more as a 3rd or 4th round selection. If the Cowboys had him as a 2nd round pick, then why didn’t they just wait until the second round to select him? It’s highly likely Frederick would have been available when they picked in the second round. It was a reach even according to their board!

Why not pick a safety at #31?

I really thought Dallas was going to draft a safety with their first pick. Both Matt Elam and Johnathan Cyprien were available at #31. So what happened?  

Matt Elam– Safety Elam was one of the players missing from their board entirely. He was available at #31 and was taken by the Ravens with the very next pick at #32. Speculation is that Elam had some character question marks and wouldn’t be considered the right kind of guy, as head coach Jason Garrett likes to point out. But what do the Ravens see in Elam that Dallas did not?

Safety Johnathan Cyprien was also available at #31 but the Cowboys had him as a third round pick and passed on him. Cyprien was the first player chosen in the 2nd round.  The Cowboys did have Cyprien ranked slightly higher than JJ Wilcox, the safety they drafted.

Defensive lineman :

Surprisingly the Cowboys didn’t draft a defensive lineman but I found it interesting that they had DT Everett Dawkins listed as a third round pick. In my mock draft, I had Dawkins going to Dallas in the 5th round and thought he would have been an excellent fit for their 4-3 defense. While they weren’t able to draft him, they evidently considered him a good fit too. Dawkins was drafted in the 7th round by the Vikings so picking him in the third would have qualified as a reach for sure.

My Take: Seeing Jerry’s draft board is about as useful as getting a clear view of the paper of the worst student in the class, while taking a test.

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Recap: Dallas Cowboys First Week of OTAs

This week the Cowboys held their voluntary (but expected to attend) team workouts. Based on observations I have read from twitter and various sites, a recap of players that stood out for their good play and not so good play too. Analyst Bryan Broaddus has provided excellent coverage of OTAs on the Cowboy’s site.  

Injuries: Last year a big part of the Cowboys struggles were related to injured players and they have players sitting out of OTAs already.

Romo– The big story this week is that Romo had a cyst removed from his back which by the way, he suddenly discovered right after signing his phat contract. Just saying. He is expected to return in about 3 weeks. While it’s not necessarily critical Romo be active in OTAs,  with rookies Escobar and Williams learning the offense, they would sure benefit from it.

Murray– DeMarco Murray who has already establish a reputation for being fragile, sat out of workouts with a “tweaked” hamstring. No word on how it occurred since up to now, there have been no practices. I do believe Murray could tweak a ham playing on the wii. He is expected to participate next week.

Joseph Randle– The Cowboys rookie RB who was brought in to replace the often injured Felix Jones, is well….injured. Randle had surgery on the thumb that he injured playing at OK St. last season. He is able to participate in some activities but certainly not catching passes out of the back field which he will be expected to do in the Cowboys offense.

OK enough on the stationary bike squad, on to the guys on the field.

Veterans:

Barry Church– Church was off to a great start last year when his season was ended with a ruptured right Achilles tendon injury. It was really good to hear that he was out on the field this week and ready to get his starting safety position back. Church was missed last year and will be needed this season.

Witten– Jason Witten had to play through a serious injury last season but by all accounts, he is looking good in OTAs. Witten appears ready to have another big season. That’s good to hear.

Spencer- Anthony Spencer had his best season last year and Dallas brought him back to play DE in their new 4-3 defense. So far Spencer has looked very good at the position he hasn’t played since Purdue. His ability to play DE effectively will be a key to the 4-3 and so far it’s going well.

LBs Bruce/Lee- Both Bruce Carter and Sean Lee are coming off injuries last season which really hurt the Cowboys defense. This week they looked great running around to the ball. And both look ready to thrive in the 4-3 defense too. A healthy Carter and Lee will make the defense much better this season.

WR Dewayne Harris– Last season Harris stepped up and became the Cowboys third WR and with Ogletree departed, it appears Harris is picking up where he left off last season. This week his route running looks solid and each year he seems to have improved his game. Could be a big year for Harris.

Guard Ron Leary-While he was on the practice squad last year, hopes are that Leary can step up and man one of the guard spots this year. Reports from OTAs have been mixed. At the rookie mini camp he stood out as better than last year however this week Broaddus commented he looks “a year away”. I think Leary will be given every opportunity to improve one of the weakest areas of the team but he needs to get going soon.

CB Morris Claiborne– The Cowboys top pick last year showed up in OTAs with an additional 5 pounds or so. They are looking for him to be more physical but so far in OTAs, I get the impression he still has a lot of developing to do. The Cowboys need a good year from Claiborne in the 4-3 defense.  

Rookies: So how are the rookies looking in OTAs and how does it appear they will contribute at this early time?

Center Travis Frederick: This week the Cowboys number one draft pick is finding out the NFL game is fast and unfortunately he is not.  It has been challenging for him to get to the next level and block LBs like Carter and Lee. No easy assignment for sure, but Frederick will need to get better at doing it. Frederick is sharing first team reps at center with Costa and it’s too early to say who will start. Frederick needs to step it up.

My take: I think Frederick will win the starting center spot but if Costa does hold on to it, then look for them to try Frederick at guard.  Frederick does bring intelligence to the center position which will serve the team well in recognizing defenses and making the calls.

TE Gavin Escobar:  The Cowboys second pick has impressed with his ability to catch. It has been noted that he doesn’t bring the speed that Hanna does to the position and Escobar has a long way to go to become an effective blocker.

Witten and Hanna will be the starting TEs when they have two in the formation. However Jason has been putting Escobar in a “Big” 12 formation (1 RB and 2 TEs) along with Witten.

My take: I think Escobar could be featured in the redzone as a tall target at 6’6″. He will certainly be difficult to defend in a jump ball situation as a former basketball player, and he does catch the ball well. While not a starter, I believe they find a way to get him involved in the offense.

Safety JJ Wilcox– The third round pick has had his moments in OTAs including picking off a pass. Observers often comment about his linebacker like size combined with good speed too. But the reality is, Wilcox has just one year of playing safety and he will need time to develop. 

My take: Secondary coach Jerome Henderson indicated that Wilcox has a long way to go to see action.  Unless injuries force Wilcox into  action early, I get the impression they plan to bring him along slowly as far as safety goes. He can contribute on special teams right away.

WR Terrance Williams– Williams had a tough rookie mini camp with missed routes and dropped passes. In a nut shell, he has looked like a rookie and that continued into OTAs as well.

My take: I believe Williams will be fine and develop into a good WR but for now, Harris has shined as the third WR and it looks like it will be later when Williams gets his chance. For now Williams will develop and provide depth.

CB B.W. Webb– The Cowboys 4th round pick out of William & Mary was praised for his play in the rookie mini camp. He certainly looked smooth out there in the secondary. In OTAs he has had mixed reviews as he still shows potential but it’s clear he needs development too.

My take: Webb appears to be the 4th CB and he excels in zone defenses but will need work in man coverage. That actually was my assessment in my post draft analysis and my opinion remains the same.  I look for Webb to contribute on special teams and in the secondary some. Thoughts of him replacing Scandrick should be kept in check for now.

LB DeVonte Holloman– The Cowboys last pick is growing on Broaddus. Broaddus has pointed out that his cover skills are better than expected and he is actually staying on the field during passing situations.

My take: It appears that Holloman will provide depth at LB to start the season but I expect him to be featured more during the season in pass cover packages. When tackling begins, Holloman will shine even more. In my view, the Cowboys have a better defender in Holloman than they realize.

 Next week the Cowboys have another 3 days of OTAs.

Hargrove Looks to Pull Himself up Again with the Cowboys

 

Anthony Hargrove

Anthony Hargrove

 

In order to add depth on the defensive line, the Cowboys signed 9 year veteran Anthony Hargrove. The Cowboys will be the 5th team he has played with in his nine years in the NFL. Exactly who is Hargrove, how did he end up in Dallas, and can he help the Cowboys defensive line in 2013?

Anthony is an enthusiastic type player that likes to fire up his teammates prior to the game. As you may recall, like former Cowboy Keith Brooking did for Dallas a few years ago. Brooking was a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket which Hargrove is too. Anthony gets so worked up he once landed on his backside while firing up the team which served to crack them up more than anything. That was featured on ESPN’s “Come on man” segment. HERE

That fall and him getting back up is how Hargrove’s life and career have gone.

Childhood in Brooklyn NY: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” –Winston Churchill
Anthony’s start in life was a tough one as he was raised in foster care in Brooklyn from age 6 until age 9 when his mother passed away, and an aunt adopted him in Port Charlotte, Florida. As a child, he witnessed things in his tough neighborhood that would kill the hope of many kids.

At Port Charlotte H.S., Hargrove played QB and safety. He converted to defensive end in college at Georgia Tech.

In 2004, Hargrove was drafted in the third round by the Rams. In 2005, he became the Rams starting DE and recorded an impressive 51 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

Suspended By the NFL for substance abuse:
In 2006 after an unexplained absence from the team, the Rams traded Anthony to the Bills and in 2007, he was suspended by the NFL for substance abuse. He failed another drug test in 2008. Anthony had an addiction and the drug of choice was cocaine.

“Look up, get up, and don’t ever give up.” –Michael Irvin
Hargrove addressed his addiction by attending a treatment center in North Miami where he worked to put his life back together.

Hargrove becomes a Saint:
In 2009, Hargrove joined the Saints where he was moved to defensive tackle and flourished as the Saints won the super bowl. His Saint teammates voted for him to receive the Ed Block Courage Award because of his courageous come back from addiction to the NFL again. He now speaks with troubled youth in a community and shares his challenges to succeed.

Saints Bounty Scandal:
While a member of the Packers in 2012, the NFL suspended Hargrove for the first 8 games of the season for his part in the Saints bounty system. The Packers released him in August of 2012 and he hasn’t played in the NFL since then.

My Take and Anthony Hargove’s role with the Cowboys:
First of all there is a need on the Cowboys for depth on the defensive line. Ware and Spencer will convert to DE but they have not played DE in the NFL. After those two, are inexperienced players who have not played DE at this level either.

Many thought Dallas would draft a defensive tackle but they didn’t. Hargrove can play both DE or DT at the NFL level. While some experts like Brian Broaddus, see Hargrove helping Dallas as a DE, I think he will see action at both positions and in my view, he played his best football in N.O. as a DT.

Video of Hargrove getting a safety against the Giants. Now that’s the kind of defensive line play the Cowboys could use.

Hargrove has the experience to not only add depth but also teach the inexperienced DEs of the Cowboys about playing in the 4-3. I like it that Hargrove has played on a team that won a super bowl and I think that experience will be a positive influence for the Cowboys players.

With his inspiring story of over coming addiction, I also think Anthony can be a positive influence in the Cowboys locker room as well as the Dallas community. It’s no secret that the Cowboys defensive linemen have had incidents with substance abuse and perhaps Anthony can help point those guys in the right direction to fix their lives and careers.

In 2013, the Cowboys represent an opportunty for Hargrove to pull himself up off the ground once again and demonstrate a unique resilience that has kept him in the NFL. He will also get the opportunity to help others who have fallen.

Anthony just needs to stay on his feet during those pregame pump ups.

Cowboy Doug Free and Jerry Jones Engaged in a Stand Off

Will Doug Free be on the Cowboys offensive line in 2013? That’s a big question for Cowboy fans these days and based on his play the last couple seasons, I imagine many of them would like to see the team free of Free.

Deadline: If Free is cut after June 1, he saves the team $ 7 million against the salary cap and in Jerry’s world, that’s paramount.

Recently Jerry said of Free,

“I’d like to keep him,” “We think that Doug Free can be an important part of the team. He’s been here. We know him. We think that with what we’re doing in other parts of our offense, certainly in the offensive line, that this will bode well for him. So we think he can really be an asset to us.”

My Jerry Jones translation: Doug Free better take that pay cut I offered him or he will be cut on June 2nd faster than a defensive end can fly around Free to sack Romo. It’s not like any sane GM out there is going to over pay Free as much money as I did. He’s lucky I’m offering him anything.

But Jerry didn’t want it to sound so much like an ultimatum by adding,

“It’s no secret that we’re trying to renegotiate the contract,” Jones said. “But I think it’s a wrong assessment to say that anybody’s saying ‘take it or leave it’ or we’re at our wit’s end or those kinds of things. That’s just not the way I see it going.”

My Jerry Jones Translation: Free agent tackle Eric Winston is on my speed dial and my finger is on the number. It’s your call Doug. Sign or pack.

My Final Take: With free agent tackle Eric Winston still available, and the fact that Jerry can remove $7 million of valuable salary cap, I can’t see how Doug Free is holding the cards here. Would any other NFL team pay Free the amount of money he is getting now?

Free better take that reduced contract PDQ or Jerry will move on June 2nd.
UPDATE 5/16Free signs for less money

Undrafted Rookie Turning Heads at Cowboys Rookie Mini Camp

The Cowboys rookie mini camp got under way this weekend and there were some undrafted rookies who have already gained attention by spectators. Safety Jakar Hamilton was one of the names who impressed as I read his name over and over again from the Cowboys writers.

It was expected Dallas would draft a safety and they did draft JJ Wilcox in the 3rd round. Wilcox has impressive size and athletic ability but reality is he has played just one year at safety at Georgia Southern of the Division 1AA level. While Wilcox has demonstrated some skills at camp, it’s a fair assessment to say, he is not ready to start in the NFL just yet.

In fact when you look down the Cowboys roster, there really isn’t a true centerfield coverage type safety. In Church they have an in the box type safety and in Matt Johnson they, well don’t really know what they have. The door is open for a ball hawk safety to excel in the Kiffin Tampa 2. It’s early in rookie camp, but Hamilton may be a good fit for this defense.

Georgia then to SC State
Hamilton started his college career with the Georgia Bulldogs in 2010 when he had 27 tackles and an INT for a TD. Pick 6 video. He has 4.5 speed in the 40 and a ridiculous 40 inch vertical which makes him worth taking a look.

Hamilton transferred to S.C. State where he struggled to become academically eligible again. In 2012, Hamilton returned 7 kickoffs for 218 yards and 40 tackles on defense for SC State. Hamilton has experience at both CB and safety. He is an intriguing NFL prospect as his athletic ability is undeniable while on the other hand, there are a lot of questions about him since he didn’t play that much football at the college level.

His situation reminds me of Georgia safety Baccari Rambo who was considered by some analyst to possess first round talent but due to off field issues, fell down to the 6th round when drafted by the Redskins. Hamilton certainly demonstrates talent worthy of being drafted but he went undrafted because of the academic issues and an ankle injury in 2011, that kept him off the field.

Blood Line:
Hamilton’s father was a guard on the basketball team at Pitt in 1987 and his mother was a track star at Strom Thurmond HS in Johnson, SC. He also had a half brother who played tailback at Texas A & M and drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2009. Hamilton scored 20 TDs in helping Strom Thurmond HS to a AAA state championship. But since he moved frequently as a kid, he wasn’t qualified to go to a Division 1 school out of H.S. So Hamilton went the JUCO route where he excelled at Georgia Military and was rated the 2nd highest JUCO prospect behind Cam Newton. That’s when he went to Georgia of the SEC.

My Take:
It really doesn’t matter what path you take to get to Valley Ranch. Some were drafted high, some drafted low and some not drafted at all. But they are all on the same level field now. Hamilton’s path certainly wasn’t typical or pretty but now that he is here, he has an opportunity to show he can help this football team. So far, he is getting noticed.

The safety position is in need of help and Hamilton comes in with the kind of athletic ability that got the attention of Georgia in the highly competitive SEC. He has yet to put it all together but now is his opportunity to show that he can play with any of the guys whose names were called last month in the NFL draft and he seems determined to do just that. He said,

“The goal at the end of the day whether I get drafted in the first round or the sixth or seventh round or free agent, it’s my job to go out and make an impression on the coaches. I’m going to go out there and show to the world and the coaches that I belong in the NFL.”

These Four Dallas Cowboy Veterans Need to Step it Up with Rookies Coming In

This is the kind of missed tackle by Scandrick that will make his team draft a CB.

This is the kind of missed tackle by Scandrick that will make his team draft a CB.


Now that the NFL draft is behind us, it becomes more clear which veteran players will be facing added competition in camp. The Dallas Cowboys rookies will have their mini camp May 10-12 with the veterans arriving June 11-13.

Here is a list of player that I think need to step it up because their replacement may have just been drafted recently,

1. WR Miles Austin: Austin had a breakout season in 2009, with 81 catches and 1,320 yards. After signing a big contract, Austin’s productivity has been in decline as he suffers from a reoccurring hamstring injury.
The cure for that ham injury may arrive in the form of third round pick WR Terrance Williams. Williams brings a combination of good size (6-2, 205) and speed and appears to be able to step in and play soon.

I was a little surprised to see Dallas draft a WR and while Austin didn’t have a bad year least season with 6 TDs, if he can’t stay healthy, the door may open for Williams. And he looks capable of not letting someone have their job back.
Better step up your game next season Austin.

2. CB Orlando Scandrick: Last year Scandrick had a bad season by any way you can measure it for a defensive back. He played in only 11 games with only 16 tackles and “0.0 INTs.” (Said like Dean Wormer from the movie “Animal House” referring to Belushi’s GPA.) Speaking of grades, his scores from Pro Football Focus have been low for the last two years. And during that game winning drive by the Falcons last year, it was Scandrick’s missed tackles that allowed the Cowboys to lose a game they could have won.

Enter a guy who can cover the slot WR in the form of drafted rookie CB B. W. Webb. Webb is very athletic and displayed excellent quickness at the combine in the cone drills. He played at a smaller school William & Mary, but held his own at the Senior Bowl in many scouts eyes. Even new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said of BW Webb, “remember that name.” Perhaps he was talking to Scandrick. I get the feeling that Kiffin has watched film of last season while taking inventory of the defensive personnel, and may have decided that Scandrick may not fit into his plans. Especially if he watched the Falcons game.

I’m not yet convinced that Webb is ready to step in and replace Scandrick but given Scandrick’s poor play and injury last season, BW may stand for “Be Ware” because BW Webb was drafted early for a reason. Better step it up Scandrick.

3. Center Phil Costa: Costa had a poor season in 2011 and he missed most of 2012 with an injury. He did play in the Ravens game which was one of the best rushing performances of the season for Dallas. Costa is very far from locking down the center position and Dallas signed him to a short contract before the season.
Enter the Cowboys new center in their first round pick, center Travis Frederick. Centers aren’t often taken in the first round so I would say Dallas means business here. Frederick is capable of playing guard so perhaps Costa has a chance to hold on to the center spot but I would say his chances are slim and none at this point. It may be too late now, but Costa needs to play well in camp.

4. RB DeMarco Murray: Some may be surprised to see the Cowboy’s starting RB on this list. The problem with Murray hasn’t been his play which has been very good when he can play, but his inability to stay healthy enough to stay on the field. Murray has played in 23 of 32 games in his two year career.

The Cowboys seem so certain they will need a solid backup that they drafted RB Joseph Randle in the 5th round. What is interesting to me is that they deliberately drafted a RB with very similar size and skills as Murray in Randle. A Murray clone if you will. Murray is the starter going into 2013, but if he goes out again, Randle will have a opporunity to replace Murray and he is capable of becoming the featured back once he gets in there. This is not an old banged up Felix Jones here. Better stay healthy some how this season Murray.

RECAP: Scandrick and Austin were signed to big contracts but Jerry Jones would like nothing better than replacing those hefty contracts with a couple talented rookies and their more modest contracts. He may just be looking to do that after this season.

All four of these currently on the roster veterans, have talented rookies coming in to challenge them for playing time. It’s time for them to prove their worth.