By Will Martin
What used to be an 18 hour day with multiple picks and pans is about to take us to center stage for Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft. For weeks now there are those who go the mock draft route and try to gauge who is going to go where.
Before the lock0ut of 2011 if a player were projected to be one of the first picks in the first round that usually meant that a highly sought player (with the help of an agent) would be given a fat contract with a good part of that guaranteed long before potential was realized or came to fruition.
Everybody likes to play psychic and see how the drafts and picks shall play themselves out in the course of seven rounds. With all due respect to my cohort Zach Walker I know he has delved deeply and diligently into what he believes will happen in Round 1 on May 8th at Radio City Music Hall before a national audience and coverage across the board.
The old school in me refuses to believe in the hype. Especially where the Dallas Cowboys are concerned. Note for example how during a ‘pre draft presser’ at Valley Ranch May 6th you saw and heard Stephen Jones, Jerry Jones, and Coach Jason Garrett proceed to discuss what routes might be taken beginning with pick #16.
“We would not speculate specifically about any player. I will go as far – it is not our primary goal in the first round to be looking at a quarterback,” Jones said. “We’ve got a good one, I want to say better than that. …That’s not a primary need for us.” (on the prospect of going after Johnny Manziel if available).
“I’m not that gunned up at what a rookie quarterback could do for us this year …that takes time,” Jones said. “This isn’t rebuilding time. As a look down the future? Yes. As for coming in here and helping us win games right now, those odds are too far for me to get excited about. We need Tony’s good health to get there, but in my view, he’s our best shot.”
“I’m not going to go into what we’re going to do in the first round, period,” Jones said. “It’s logical that your position of strength on your team would certainly not qualify for the most need for the first or second early rounds. It does not qualify for the biggest needs.”
“We’d like to have all of our players here,” Garrett said. “Every coach in this league will tell you the same thing. Understanding the nature of the offseason program is we can’t mandate that to anybody. Some players choose not to be here. We anticipate him being here for the mandatory portion of the minicamp and him being back with our football team.” (On Kyle Orton not having participated in any of the offseason workouts which are not mandatory).
“He’s built up from not being able to do much, to walking around, to doing cardio, to being out on the field,” Garrett said. “We had our first on-the-field session today, we’re in Phase 2 of our offseason program, our teaching sessions. He was on the field for 45 minutes with the other guys – he threw the ball, he dropped back.” (on Tony Romo turning 34 and recovering from back surgery and working out with the team).
“I see it as a great opportunity for us to pick six players that can help our football team,” said executive vice president Stephen Jones. (on having six of 11 draft picks in the seventh round)
“Seventh-round picks, historically, are throw-ins,” Jones said. “I don’t know that our league’s caught up to what the value of a seventh-round pick is, in terms of the ‘charts’ that are out there.
“If you look at what a seventh-round pick can bring you, you start to say that the player of that seventh-round pick is more valuable than boosting a bottom of the sixth to five picks, 10 picks up to the middle of the sixth, when a lot of times that player will fall to you anyway,” Jones said. “A lot of times you see them as throw-ins.” (0n the notion of packaging picks to trade up).
Now you start to wonder about the possibilities of trade talks among other teams as Draft Day gets nearer.
“We haven’t heard a lot from other clubs,” Jones said. “We haven’t found that to be particularly productive…I would be surprised if there weren’t trade opportunities by the time you get to where we’re going to be picking. Again, those opportunities you don’t usually create them or set them up. You use your logic. You say this club may be a candidate for a trade, if that’s what you want to think about at that particular time.”
Last year I sat in on the first round of Draft Day at Valley Ranch and saw all the movements and machinations prior to Dallas making their 1st pick of 2013. One where they traded down and got Travis Frederick from Wisconsin. A pick where many felt he was better suited for the third round. Frederick in turn produced very well in his rookie year.
This year Dallas has 1 draft pick in each of the first five rounds, none in the 6th and 6 in the 7th for a total of 11 picks. My guess is that the Cowboys will go after defensemen to offset what was a rough year statistically in injuries and points and yardages allowed in an 8-8 season, their third in three consecutive years.
Dallas had picks at 16, 47 (2nd), 78 (3rd), 119 (4th), 158th (5th), 229th from the Bears (7th), 231st, 238th from the Chiefs, 248th, 251st and 254th. The final three all compensatory.
In trying to regroup for the departures of Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware and knowing how Jerry Jones likes to jump the gun up or down on draft day I am record to say that on Day 1 Dallas at 16 (If Manziel is unavailable) will either trade down or jump at Safety Daniel Jeremiah (if available).
(If “Johnny Football” is available) The Cowboys will bite on the 21 year old phenom from College Station. The rest of the weekend look for Dallas to draft two safeties, two defensive ends, one wide receiver, two defensive ends, one fullback, one guard, and one wide receiver.
I won’t buy into the Blake Bortles talk either. Its always fun to watch how mock drafts are reported from many outlets and then how the Draft actually goes down. My gut tells me that with that November 9th game in London, one of the two participants will bring Manziel with them to help promote the brand outside of the United States.
Aside from that, expect the unexpected. Players that I can see coming to Dallas: Anthony Barr, Stephon Tuitt, Marcus Smith, Jimmie Ward.