Jerry and Stephen Jones, or “Dumb and Dumber” if you prefer, can’t afford to go into the 2014 NFL draft looking to draft the “best available” player in each round while pretending to address glaring needs in free agency. They have played that card before but the salary cap rule bending and restructured contracts are all catching up to them now.
But I warn Cowboy fans, they are approaching it this year just as they have in the past, by addressing needs prior to the draft so that Jerry and Stephen can impulsively indulge in their fantasy football league approach to drafting. By “addressing needs”, I mean they are signing players that would be considered NFL journey men or “camp bodies” to fill the roster at positions of need prior to the draft. See, it’s not actually addressing needs at all and we have seen them do it before.
Recently Stephen said, “To me, that’s what free agency is about. You certainly can’t build a football team around free agency, and I think you’re going in the wrong direction if you look at it that way,” he said. “What it hopefully does is fill glaring needs so that you can take the best player available. I think when you start reaching for a particular position you start to make mistakes.”
So far to fill glaring needs left by the departures of Ware and Hatcher, they signed defensive linemen Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain who have a combined 2 sacks in the past two NFL seasons. Both of those were Mincey’s.
Their big splash free agency signing was Henry Melton who is coming off a short 2013 season with the Bears after tearing his ACL. Melton (a pro bowler in 2012) appears to be a good pick up and figures to be an excellent fit in Rod Marinelli’s defense however, the fact is no one knows how he will play after that serious injury.
Jerry and Stephen may view it as all buttoned up at defensive tackle heading into the draft but I think it’s actually a little more fragile than they would have us believe. What if Melton isn’t really all healed up from his serious ACL injury? Jerry and Stephen may have covered themselves with a contract they can get out of easily but who will help that terrible defense then? Don’t fall for it again.
Last Year They were Counting on Rat
Last season Jerry told us DT Jay Ratliff would be ready to go and Jerry went on to not draft a single defensive lineman. We soon found out that Rat was not ready to go at all at least not for Dallas, as Rat (now known as Jeremiah) eventually went to the Bears and actually played against the Cowboys.
And there were plenty of red flags to suspect they shouldn’t put all of their eggs on Jeremiah Ratliff since he was over 30, coming off an injury, had an off field DUI issue, and basically stood toe to toe with Jerry in the locker room. Why couldn’t Jerry and Stephen see how it may go wrong?
Instead of drafting a defensive lineman, Jerry and Stephen made a “best available” pick of a TE in the 2nd round of the 2013 draft (Gavin Escobar) and went on to use him very little (only 9 catches, 134 yards in 2013) while being forced out of desperation, to sign defensive linemen off the couch during the season.
It’s not to say Escobar is not a talented TE but to say the two Jones failed to address major needs during the draft because they felt they had it all covered on the defensive line when they actually didn’t. And they are headed that same direction again based on those comments Stephen made.
Reality is, Jerry and Stephen didn’t have enough salary cap room in 2014, to fully address all their needs through free agency. So they must do it through the draft, to avoid scrambling to sign guys during the season who thought their NFL careers were over.
Last year it was 36 year old guard Brian Waters who Jerry was forced to sign after failing to address their need for depth at guard, during the draft. Waters, once an outstanding guard, would only last for about 5 games as he is simply at the end of his career. As a team GM, sorry but that’s not proactively addressing needs, that’s just reacting by plugging bodies into a spot.
Jerry and Stephen like to convince themselves, and unfortunately the fan base too, that all needs have been addressed so they are free to draft players that don’t really fill a particular need. But entering the 2014 draft in an era of salary cap restrictions, they simply don’t have that luxury any longer. While signing Melton was a start, there is still a need to pick up defensive tackles in the draft who can get into their rotation immediately.
They also need to draft a 4-3 DE to replace Ware but don’t be surprised if Jerry and Stephen tell us they already have Ware’s replacement on the roster. “Got it covered” we have heard them indicate before. Or even worse, announce they are going to resign 30 year old DE Anthony Spencer on the cheap, after his major knee surgery.
And don’t be shocked if they come out of the draft with yet another offensive toy for Jason Garrett that rarely gets used. When Jerry and Stephen get in the draft, they like to go with their instincts instead of addressing needs and that should be a concern for all Cowboy fans.
In the NFL draft, Jerry is like Floyd in “Dumb and Dumber’, “We don’t usually pick up hitchhikers. But I’m-a gonna go with my instincts on this one. Saddle up, partner!”