Cowboys take chance on another elite pass rusher with baggage

The Land of Second Chances seems to favor men who can sack the quarterback. That’s why the Dallas Cowboys were there to catch the free-falling Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory with the 60th pick in the draft Friday.

Landing an elite pass-rusher late in the second round seems too good to be true. And for good reason. Gregory arrives with plenty of baggage that scared a lot of teams away. We know for sure that he tested positive for marijuana during the NFL combine. And he basically confirmed reports that he failed to show up for at least three meetings with NFL teams leading up to the draft. 

Gregory did show up for his meeting with the Cowboys and he was quite candid regarding the type of support he would need. In a conference call with reporters Friday, he shared some of those thoughts.

"It was something I mentioned and something I felt like I needed," Gregory said. "It kind of worked out because they felt the same way about it. I’m glad I’m finally here, I’m glad I finally got picked and it’s a great spot for me."

The reports on Hardy have been so vague in the aftermath of his failed drug test that one reporter asked if he had issues with depression. The player said that wasn’t the case, adding that he had "the same anxieties" as a lot of players. 

Asked if he thought he could stop using marijuana, Hardy said, "I’m going to have to. In order for me to be successful and in order for me to help this team out I’m going to have to. 

"That’s something I had to shut down and promise myself I would get under control. It’s not so much about that, it’s about bad decisions."

I heard experts say Friday the Cowboys needed to have a plan in place for Hardy off-the-field. Jerry Jones seems to believe the Cowboys operate on a higher level than most teams in this area. It’s hard to know if that’s true because so much of this stuff goes on privately. Jones seems to take great pride in working with players such as Gregory personally. But this isn’t some sort of halfway house for down-on-their-luck players. The Cowboys are only taking risks on Greg Hardy and Gregory because they have elite talent at a key position.

Hardy’s name came up in Friday’s news conference because he made an idiotic/inappropriate joke about 9/11 on Twitter. He later issued a half-hearted apology before going back to retweet more of the supportive messages coming his way. 

Hardy is likely a one-and-done player for the Cowboys, but they need Gregory to be something more. Only time will tell if he’s up to the task.

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