One of my favorite movies of all time is “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. I think it is a fantastic adventure film starring the great Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones and his quest to find the ark of the covenant. There is a particular scene when they are trying to pinpoint the exact location of the ark that he is worried that his rival, Belloq, has the same secret coordinates to find the treasure. However, the head piece that is supposed to be placed on a staff with a specific length to let the sun reveal the location of the ark in the hidden map room (I really hope you saw the movie or this might be confusing) is discovered to be the wrong length, Indiana celebrates.
“They are digging in the wrong place!” Indiana and his trusty assistant Sallah exclaim with delight, knowing that Belloq only had 1 part of the information and not the vital details on the 2nd side of the head piece. Without full and complete information, the conclusions are dead wrong.
I think of that scene when I follow the NFL Draft. Loud voices scream from the mountain tops with great conviction despite the fact that we are often digging in the wrong place. We don’t have complete information and without it, we speak with certainty despite having none.
It is great that we have such passion for the NFL Draft. But, that passion should make us guarded when we want to praise or humiliate a decision maker for what they just did – despite the fact that most in the audience is scrambling to “know” a player in the moments before the microphone is turned on again.
The Cowboys do not have an environment where they enjoy a benefit of the doubt these days. They haven’t in years and there is a very strong likelihood that until there are new faces making decisions for the franchise, this will not reverse. There are just too many examples of poor evaluations, conclusions, and decisions to ever “expect the best possible outcome” when the Cowboys defy conventional wisdom anymore.
But, that doesn’t make for good analysis. Good analysis should be done only when enough information is available and that does not include making a list of all offensive linemen from Wisconsin, all trade down results from the past, and averaging out the best 5 mock drafts that you have read this week.
They decided to trade out of pick #18 to get #31 and #74 in return. It seems, without knowing what else was available, that they took a net loss on that transaction. It seems that they should have received a return of #31 and #61 (1st and 2nd) to trade back, but the 49ers obviously were not willing to do that. Logically, once you try to get #31 and #61 and they refuse, then you are left with 2 options (we assume): 1) take the player at #18 and play the conventional wisdom of trusting your board and your 4 month process or 2) trying to flip that opportunity for 2 quality players over 1.
The idea of trading back is one that I actually preferred before the draft started. I think we suspected that the bins might be rather picked over of premium players by the time they got on the clock. If they had 18 or 19 players graded in the 1st round, then they might get the least attractive of that grouping. However, if they could stack the deck with multiple solid players from the Top 2 or 3 rounds, then that might be the more efficient play.
This leads us to the Sharrif Floyd discussion. Floyd, the Florida DT, was believed to be their favorite DT of the position grouping. I didn’t care for his work nearly that much (productivity concerns) and actually preferred UNC’s Sylvester Williams tape to his, but with the 3 year age difference, I can certainly see the idea that the 20-year old Floyd might have more upside potential.
But, when they picked, they had their choice of Floyd or Williams. Both would be an absolutely welcomed upgrade to the new 4-3 defense – but, I should tell you that I see the defensive line that needs help fast. Jerry Jones argued last night that it is actually a strength of the team. And we both might be right. From Jerry’s perspective, which usually is only worried about the next game (not a great position for a GM to take), he sees a front four of Anthony Spencer, Jason Hatcher, Jay Ratliff, and DeMarcus Ware. Honestly, that does look pretty strong. But, when you consider that Spencer and Hatcher will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season and that Ware and Ratliff are both on the wrong side of 30 with Ratliff already looking like he is breaking down physically and might even face league discipline for his drunk driving incident of January, you could easily make the case that they require help quickly to replace and replenish.
Instead of going that route of either player they trade out to add a 2nd relatively high pick (Top 3 rounds). That gives them 4 picks in the top 100 selections in a draft thought to be deep enough to give strong players for 3 rounds.
So far, they have taken Travis Frederick from Wisconsin at pick #31. This selection even surprised Frederick from what we can gather as he said as much in interviews that he expected to go in round 2. Round 2 was only 2 picks away, but there are many that ranked him as a Top 75 player, but not a Top 50 or even a 1st round player. The rankings of Frederick and Floyd lead us back to Raiders of the Lost Ark. People want to know what caused Floyd to slide and what caused the Cowboys to disagree with Mike Mayock (who has not been hired by anyone to run their draft room at the moment I write this).
Why do I think of that movie when discussing Sharrif Floyd? Because, of the comedy of media types explaining what happened with him. They say that he slid because of “short arms” on draft night. Hold on. He is measured at the Combine. We all knew about his arm length (31 3/4) back in February and then “experts” said he could go #3 for 2 months. Then, on draft night, he falls because of that? Did the teams really like the player or didn’t they? Did the media mostly collectively copy each-others notes? Did anyone look at his measurements in February when they were taken and distributed?
Same thing with the #1 pick. If you hear draft people talk, the Chiefs changed their mind yesterday from Luke Joeckel to Eric Fisher. I don’t believe that at all. The truth is the we found out yesterday. They knew a long time ago that they preferred Fisher. But, to make us all feel better about our information, we blame the teams for changing their minds at the last minute. Then, Jacksonville, who was going to take Dion Jordan (right?) changes their mind and grabs Joeckel at the last minute. Bologna.
My point is that Floyd is the latest on a list of guys who slide because they weren’t widely loved as much as other options. That is the truth. I didn’t like him that much, then didn’t understand when everyone had him at #3, and last night saw he was picked about where everyone thought he might be picked 4 months ago. But, to hear it retold in the media, he was nice, then great, then regressed, and then the Vikings got great value at #23. LOL.
Without enough information, the media can either admit they were wrong or they can act like the teams changed their mind. This preserves the media’s facade of perfection and puts the blame on the usual suspects. And locally, we all know who that is.
They are digging in the wrong place!
Meanwhile, Frederick looks like a real position of need being filled. If this was pick #47 I would be very pleased. It does appear that they took him before they had to, but that is wild speculation and we really have no idea if he would have still been there at #47. The fact is that the pocket collapses and the ball cannot be run in Dallas for a few years (since Gurode left) and now, with a sturdy and powerful man being put at center right away, I think they will not lack for strength in the middle of their line anymore. He plays strong and won’t often get pushed around. That is a big upgrade from Phil Costa and Ryan Cook, I believe. However, I do want to study more on him when the draft is over before I get carried away.
But, Dallas has already done their homework on him and if you could just judge him in a vacuum, we might all feel better. It just doesn’t work that way. We have Floyd and Frederick married forever like Greg Ellis and Randy Moss. Ellis was a very solid player, but every time Moss scored a touchdown, we got mad at Ellis. Frederick must be good, but if Floyd is the next Tommie Harris or Warren Sapp, the bearded man from Wisconsin will always have to carry that around.
But as we know, this draft still has plenty of spots to be filled for the Cowboys. Here is what the picture looks like now:
Travis Frederick, C, Wisconsin
Traded to Miami for Ryan Cook
The spots that still need to be addressed are plentiful. I really do like the depth at safety that remains as Jonathan Cyprien, Phillip Thomas, DJ Swearinger, and JJ Wilcox are all worthy of Round 2 or 3 in my opinion.
Offensive line is rather picked over at the top, but Menelik Watson, Terron Armstead, Ricky Wagner (hey, another Wisconsin guy!), Brian Winters, Larry Warford, and others still remain. They can always use more help there, but they are in better shape now. Defensive line needs help quickly today. Tank Carradine, Sam Montgomery, Alex Okafor, William Gholston, and Damontre Moore are defensive ends I like to some extent in the first 3 rounds, and defensive tackles like Kawaan Short, Jesse Williams, Bennie Logan, and Jordan Hill all jump out at me. Beyond those positions of need, we should not be surprised if that extra pick turns into a RB: Eddie Lacy, Montee Ball, Giovani Bernard, Stepfan Taylor, and Jonathan Franklin all look the part. Or, WR: Justin Hunter, Terrance Willams, Ryan Swope, or Quinton Patton all are on my radar. If, by tonight, they have 3 players from these pools then I will feel pretty good about things. Here is another valuable tool that WalterFootball.com provides. It is a list of all the players the Cowboys have visited with. They don’t always take players from their visits, but they often do:
Terron Armstead, OL, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (PRI)Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State (VINT) (PRI) Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina (PRI) Josh Boyce, WR, TCU (PRI) Jonathan Cyprien, DB, Florida International (PRI) Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas (PRI) Will Davis, DB, Utah State (COM) Marquise Goodwin, WR, Texas (PRO) Jakar Hamilton, DB, South Carolina State (PRI) Jordan Hill, DL, Penn State (PRI) Gerald Hodges, LB, Penn State (PRI) Margus Hunt, DL, SMU (PRI) Mike James, RB, Miami (COM) Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado (INT) Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati (COM) Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (COM) Bennie Logan, DT, LSU (PRI) Brandon Magee, LB, Arizona State (PRI) Stansly Maponga, LB, TCU (PRI) Damontre Moore, DL, Texas AM (PRO) Sio Moore, LB, Connecticut (PRI) Ryan Otten, TE, San Jose State (INT) Sean Porter, LB, Texas A&M (PRI) David Quessenberry, OL, San Jose State (VINT) Joseph Randle, RB, Oklahoma State (PRI) Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State (PRI) Jonathan Stewart, LB, Texas A&M (COM) Ryan Swope, WR, Texas AM (INT) Lane Taylor, OL, Oklahoma State (PRO) Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford (INT) Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State (PRI) Conner Vernon, WR, Duke (COM) B.W. Webb, DB, William Mary (PRI) Markus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State (PRI) J.J. Wilcox, S, Georgia Southern (PRI)
SR – Senior Bowl meeting. EW – East-West Shrine meeting. COM – Combine meeting. INT – Interested. VINT – Very Interested. PRO – Pro Day meeting. PRI – Private Workout.
It is another vital day. The Cowboys don’t have the public’s benefit of the doubt, but that won’t win games, anyway. When Jon Daniels makes a move, we assume it is the right one. When Jerry Jones makes a move, we tend to assume it is wrong. They both built their reputations, but in the end, past performance does not promise future results.
They have 3 picks today and that will go a long way to making you feel better about last night. The great debate will be Sharrif Floyd versus Travis Frederick and #74. For those who have already rendered a verdict before they know who #74 is, I applaud their speed but question their accuracy. It is only halftime in this deal and we should at least give them the chance to name names. But, for a team with multiple holes and not enough picks to fill them, this might not be the worst idea ever. Let’s find out.