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Nice Article on Dallas' #18 Pick (1 Viewer)


I just came across this article and it largely sums up what I think Dallas' thought process will be. I might argue with some of his projections, but the end result fits well.


IRVING, Texas - So who are the Cowboys going to take?

So Who Are The Cowboys Going To Take?


Man, if only I had a dollar for every time I've been asked that question just over the past two weeks - heck, over the past three days. I mean over and over and over again: Who are the Cowboys going to take.

So here are my two standard, but most honest responses:

How should I know, they don't even know, and not trying to be a wise guy here, but they don't, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even saying recently on a webcast, "It's still to be determined . . . there is not one name."

Or this one: Well, tell me the first 17 players going off the board, and I'll give you the Cowboys' pick at No. 18.

Hard, isn't it? Nearly impossible, isn't it? Even for the Cowboys officials, and they spend umpteen hours and probably a cool mil preparing for this exercise known as the NFL Draft come Saturday and Sunday.

I mean, do you even know what Houston is going to do? New Orleans? Heck, you can't tell me for certain what the Packers are going to do at No. 5, and you sure as hell have no idea what Miami is going to do at 16.

See, unless you have a top-five pick, there is no way you can answer the who you going to take question with any amount of certainty. There are too many variables. Some team might trade up to take an unusual suspect. Some team might trade down to take someone no one suspected. Some team staying put might just fool everyone with a pick out of left field.

And who knows, some player projected to be a top-10 pick might have failed his drug test at the combine, something no one is supposed to know but team officials, and he goes tumbling down into the teens or further abyss.

Plus, going into the draft when you're at No. 18, like the Cowboys are, with a definite player in mind is dangerous business. First, you can get your heart broken to pieces. Second, you might foolishly trade up, failing to get the proper value for the pick. And third, with your heart set on one player, you might not be ready with an alternative pick.

Well, you say, simply trade up. We've been over that going-up exercise here and the expense, and as Jones says, the Cowboys might consider since "three or four players have a chance to slip," but that unless they did, a move up would be "unlikely." Meaning, moving down just a couple of spots would seem more likely for the Cowboys so they could recoup the fourth they used last year to acquire Chris Canty.

Worse, you don't go in with a definitive position in mind. Do that, and you might end up with Shante Carver.

So let's do this, shall we. Let's try to project the players who will be off the board before the Cowboys pick at 18. You know, sure things. And by my estimation, there is probably a consensus on like a baker's dozen worth of players who most certainly will be gone before the Cowboys go on the clock at, well, probably around 2:30 or 3 p.m. (CDT) if you figure almost 15 minutes for each of the first 17 selections.

OK, Reggie Bush, be first or second or third, is gone. Agreed? So will the three quarterbacks, Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler. That's four. I think we can also feel fairly certain that somewhere in that top 10 goes Mario Williams, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, A.J. Hawk and Vernon Davis. That's eight.

Now, what do you say we assume Michael Huff, Jimmy Williams, Haloti Ngata and Chad Greenway are gone, too. We are to 11.

This is when it starts getting bumpy. OK, how 'bout Ernie Sims and Jonathan Joseph? Now we're at 13. Winston Justice would get us to 14. And this Brodrick Bunkley would get us to 15, with Demeco Ryans to 16.

But even at that, those last two to four would seem to be pretty much conjecture, you know, eye-of-the-pick-beholder. There is no telling when you get down that far in the first round what some team might do, like Jacksonville last year taking Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones at 21 for receiver purposes or Washington deciding at 25 quarterback Jason Campbell was their guy.

That is why you have to be light on your feet come Saturday, married to nothing but willing to love the one you're with, er, available.

OK, so say we are at least in the ballpark with these 15 or 16 guys, give or take two or three. That would leave, by most estimations, and in no particular order, this list of players likely available for the Cowboys to choose from two picks later:

Florida State defensive end Kamerion Wimbley, projected to be an outside linebacker.

North Carolina State defensive end Manny Lawson, projected to be an outside linebacker.

Ohio State wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Florida wide receiver Chad Jackson.

Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter.

Southern Cal running back LenDale White.

Ohio State center Nick Mangold.

Ohio State safety Donte Whitner.

Florida State cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Clemson cornerback Tye Hill.

That's 10 guys to choose from. Bet you feel like a kid in a candy store. And if you're like most tots, you'd like one of each. But here is the problem. You get only one.

Now let me help. Let me give you a few clues. When asked if the Cowboys were more inclined to use the first pick on a defensive player rather than an offensive player, just as they have in six of the last eight drafts - see RB Julius Jones in 2004 and QB Quincy Carter in 2001 as the exceptions - Jerry Jones said, "Given that pick, unless two or three of the top offensive players drop down, that's a pretty good bet."

Clue No. 2: When asked how the signing of Terrell Owens will affect this draft, Jones said, "We don't have to in any way get some juice in our offense," meaning they have such players at key positions as Drew Bledsoe, Owens, Terry Glenn, Julius Jones and Jason Witten. Anything else would be first-round excess.

So let's throw out Holmes, Jackson and White.

That leaves seven defensive players left. Jones previously has said that if one of the top two corners fell, that would cause the Cowboys to scratch their heads. But in this projection, they haven't, Williams and Joseph already gone. So let's assume Jones is not throwing down a smokescreen, and eliminate Cromartie and Hill.

With me so far?

OK, continuing. Safety has seemed to be on everyone's mind, but unless the best one falls, Huff - and he's even a tad small for NFL purposes - let's assume the Cowboys don't go there in the first round since they just signed Marcus Coleman and matched Keith Davis' offer sheet. Mark off Whitner, and while you're at it if you are looking for the most bang for your buck in the first round, no way you take a center. Mangold, you're gone.

Well, what have we left?

Wimbley, Lawson and Carpenter, come on down.

The Cowboys might wet their pants if those three were left after 16 picks came off the board, because if they are going to play this 3-4 defense, and they want an upgrade at left outside linebacker over Al Singleton, going on 31, and over . . . uh, over . . . (By the way, who else is playing over there?) they need a run-stopping, pass-rushing, tight end-covering dude over there - and in that order.

Wimbley and Lawson played defensive end in college. But both are projected to be outside linebackers, preferably in a 3-4 in the NFL. But both seem to be those hybrid rush-linebacker types, and the Cowboys just got one of those. DeMarcus Ware. Not sure you can get by with two of those guys, one on each side, in the NFL. Ware had enough problems playing the run while making the conversion from a down defensive end in college to a standup, 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. Imagine playing with two of them out there.

As I've been saying, this 3-4 needs a beast on the left side to complement what Ware does on the right side. Just think of, if all are healthy, having Ware lining up next to Canty, with the needed beast lining up next to Marcus Spears, and on top of all that, having veteran sack leader Greg Ellis at your disposal, especially when the Cowboys go to four down linemen in their nickel alignment.

Who you gonna block? Who you gonna run at?

Getting the run-stopping, pass-rushing, tight end-covering beast to the left is the key.

Now Wimbley and Lawson would seem to have a chance to grow into that guy. Wimbley is 6-3, 248. Lawson is 6-5, 241. Budding Willie McGinests? (By the way, McGinest was listed last year at 6-5, 270.)

Then there is Carpenter. He's 6-2½, 256. Ran a 4.61 in the 40. Maybe a tad short for the NFL out there. But thick enough. Should have no problem getting to 265 in a year or two. Plays the run well. Covers well. And can get to the quarterback. Probably could play outside or inside in a 3-4. Standout special teams player in college. Son of former Bill Parcells' Giants running back Rob Carpenter. Ready made.

Intriguing, no?

But then if you look at all this, Jones is right when he says, "I think we're going to have some options" with that first pick, and that's the safest way to prepare for Saturday:

Have options will travel on draft day. Because, hey, who knows, someone unexpectedly might fall at a position you never dreamed of, causing you to focus on the left outside linebacker in the second round or maybe even the third.

But nobody knows. I don't. You don't. They don't. And that's the way it should be on Tuesday, April 25, 2006, when you have but the 18th pick in four days.

So don't ask again - at least not until about, oh, like 2:47 p.m. on Saturday. You dig?



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