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April 27, 2009

COWBOYS DRAFT GRADE - B+

The Dallas Dirty Dozen.

The 12 football players who were selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Draft today. From now until the first few days of training camp, these players will be negotiating terms, legal language, numbers and other fun contract stuff until they're signed and officially become part of the greatest sports franchise in the history of planet Earth.

After looking at all the players and evaluating where they might fit into the current roster...I have to say that I'm very optimistic about the 2009 class.

If there are two things you can say about Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones it's this: he spends a lot of money and he's usually a very good evaluator of talent or knows how to hire good talent evaluators which leads to pretty good drafts.

Way back in February, I said on this blog that we needed to target QB, OL, WR and LB.

Well, we went out and traded a better-than-average Safety for a QB which increased our need in the defensive backfield, let DE Chris Canty get away in free agency (understandably too expensive) and lost Kevin Burnett and Keith Davis - two guys who played a large role on third down and special teams.

So our needs changed just a little bit although we still went into the draft needing help on the O-line and at LB.

Here's how the picks went down by position in order of selection: OLB, OL (probably a guard), QB, DE, DE, CB, FS, K, LB, TE, CB and WR.

7 defensive positions, 4 offensive positions and one special teamer. And really many of the defensive selections will be used on special teams as well, so you could sort of say that 6 of the selections could play some role on special teams which was an area we needed BIGTIME improvements in...we didn't go out and get a new ST coach because everything was fine and dandy.

Our first pick was Jason Williams...yet another Jason Williams in professional sports, but I would take this Jason Williams over any of the others in a street fight. Big, fast kid from Chicago tied the all-time college football record with 14 forced fumbles in his career at Western Illinois. He's a ballhawk who will knock the snot out of you. I love this pick and hope he never has the chance to knock the snot out of me.

Ball State had a record-breaking offensive year in 2008 and a big reason for the big numbers was their big right tackle Robert Brewster who we took with our second pick (75th overall). Talk about a crazy story...this guy's wife died three days after giving birth to his son late last year. Just makes you want to reach out and hug the guy. I'm really pulling for him to make the team and do well. He'll end up being a guard in the NFL. 6-4, 300+ pounder.

We took A&M QB Stephen McGee with our third pick (4th round). McGee was disappointed he wasn't taken earlier. It didn't help that he was COMPLETELY mis-used during his entire career at A&M. If given the chance he could thrive as a pro-style QB. Maybe he'll develop and we can trade him for future draft picks in a few years.

Our 4th and 5th picks were used on defensive ends (much to the chagrin of Greg Ellis - who I'm sure we'll be hearing from soon). Oregon State's Victor Hunter and Texas Tech's Brandon Williams were both studs at their respective schools. Hunter had 22.5 sacks the last two years and Williams led the Big-12 in sacks last year. Williams' stock dropped after he ran a slow 4.9 40 at the combine...good news for Dallas because he's faster than that on the field. Great picks that will add invaluable depth to our defensive line.

A couple of Cincinnati defenders were taken with our 6th and 11th picks. Cornerbacks DeAngelo Smith and Mike Mickens. Both of these guys should contribute immediately on special teams and shouldn't see the field much this year other than that. Both solid athletes who put up good numbers with the Bearcats.

I've been enamored with Clemson FS Michael Hamlin for the last few years. A hard-hitting, playmaker, Hamlin started four years and ended up with 326 tackles and 14 picks in his fabulous career. We could have a Hamlin/Hamlin starting safety tandem.

Remember, I watch about 30 college football games every Saturday. He's been on my radar for a while .Come to think of it...I'd heard of every one of our selections. That's always a good sign.

USC kicker David Buehler was the 172nd overall pick and the Cowboys' 8th. He'll be used as a kickoff specialist but he's also a kicker in the mold of Colts' punter Hunter Smith, who was Notre Dame's third string quarterback, ran drills with the receivers and is probably one of the better pure athletes in the league. Buehler had a better bench press than a lot of lineman at the combine and is a big, fast kid. He may be used on kickoff coverage.

Another Texas product was taken next by Dallas, TCU safety Stephen Hodge. He is a big, bruising safety who will most likely play inside LB for Dallas.

Virginia TE John Phillips will be given a chance to fight for the third TE roster spot behind Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. He's a good player.

Our last pick was a player I watched help beat the Snyder Tigers in the state semi-finals a few years ago at Texas Stadium, Gilmer product Manuel Johnson who played WR at OU.

He was a stud at Gilmer but didn't quite live up to his hype. Don't get me wrong...he was good at OU and I think will have a chance to make the roster, but he struggled with inconsistency and injuries as a Sooner.

Overall, I was very pleased with the draft. This B+ is a very, very high B+ and the only reason I didn't give it an A was because I thought we could have addressed the OL issue a bit more...but who knows, maybe we'll make some trades and get the help we need up front.

GO COWBOYS!!!

I know my posts have been heavy on Cowboys lately. Now that the draft is over, I'll start focusing more on college and high school. First college game is September 3.

 


April 19, 2009

2009 COWBOYS PREDICTION: 12-4

After taking an in-depth look at who the Cowboys lost, who they added, who they're playing and when they're playing...I've decided that the 2009 edition of America's Team will finish the season 12-4.

A couple of experts that cover the team year-round have predicted 8-8 and 9-7 seasons. I think they're just being pessimists.

Here's how it breaks down...

Sunday, September 13 @ Tampa Bay (1-0): Dallas beat this team last year with Brad Johnson as the QB. The Bucs will most likely be starting Byron Leftwich in his first game with the team. Dallas should win this game.

Sunday, September 20 vs. New York Giants (2-0): The first game at Jerry World. The place will be absolutely electric. All other storylines (Chris Canty's return, defending NFC East champs in town, etc...) will be overshadowed by the attention given the new stadium. The home crowd alone will power Dallas to a win. Kind of like how Central Florida almost beat Texas a couple of years ago when they played the Longhorns in a brand new stadium.

Monday, September 28 vs. Carolina (3-0): Coming off a huge win against the Giants in the new stadium, it'll take more than what Carolina will be able to muster to beat Dallas on an early roll...especially on another national television stage.

Sunday, October 4 @ Denver (4-0): The thin air won't make much difference to our three-headed rushing attack. First year head coach Josh McDaniels will still be trying to get his team in a groove with a new quarterback.

Sunday, October 11 @ Kansas City (5-0): Former Cowboys' assistant Todd Haley is the head coach of the Chiefs. This will be the revival of a long-time rivalry between Dallas and the team that used to reside in Dallas before Lamar Hunt took his franchise to KC. I'd give KC a win here but there's one thing to consider...the Chiefs play the Giants and Eagles in the two weeks leading up to this game. They'll be worn out.

Sunday, October 18, BYE

Sunday, October 25 vs. Atlanta (6-0): With two weeks to prepare for the surprise team of the NFL last year, Dallas will keep the early season momentum going with yet another win.

Sunday, November 1 vs. Seattle (7-0): It'll be one of the best starts in franchise history. 7-0 after first year coach Jim Mora and the Seahawks leave town. I think Seattle would have a chance to win if the game was in Seattle.

Sunday, November 8 @ Philadelphia (7-1): You know the Eagles will just LOVE to be the team that gets to end the Cowboys' winning streak...especially in Philadelphia. It's the first game in Philly since the 2008 season-ending disaster. We can't win 'em all.

Sunday, November 15 @ Green Bay (7-2): Another loss after seven wins to start the year. Coming off a tough loss in  Philly, it'll be tough to play in the cold and unwelcome atmosphere of Lambeau Field. Tony Romo has struggled in cold weather.

Sunday, November 22 vs. Washington (8-2): Back home and back in the win column against the hated Redskins.

Thursday, November 26 vs. Oakland (9-2): Things will be turning around after the two-game losing streak. There will be much to be thankful for on Thanksgiving as Dallas stomps all over Oakland.

Sunday, December 6 @ New York Giants (9-3): Dallas is known for tanking in December over the last few years. This month is especially brutal - the NFL didn't do us any favors. After taking care of the Giants in dramatic fashion to open up Jerry World, the Giants will get their revenge and tighten up the NFC East division race.

Sunday, December 13 vs. San Diego (10-3): This will be a tough win because San Diego usually plays its best football late in the year. But we'd better win this one since it's at home and three out of four December games are on the road.

Saturday, December 19 @ New Orleans (11-3): A Saturday night road game against yet another former Cowboys assistant, Sean Payton. This should be a shoot-out, but Dallas must win this game to get the "always play terrible in December" monkey off its back.

Sunday, December 27 @ Washington (11-4): We'll beat Washington at home, but as usual, we'll lose in Washington.

Sunday, January 3 vs. Philadelphia (12-4): This will complete the trend of beating every division foe at home and losing to them all on the road. We'll win this one to end the year winning three of four and take some momentum heading into the post-season...a post-season which will see Dallas win a playoff game for the first time in more than a decade.


April 11, 2009

WHAT'S NEW WITH THE LONGHORNS...

Not much besides the fact that former super-highly touted QB ("the next Vince Young") John Chiles has moved to WR and is preparing himself to be a main contributor on the receiving corps.

As much talent as he has, it wouldn't be surprising if he up and left for a smaller school or another big time program with a QB need. But Chiles wants none of that. He's into football because he loves the game and loves where he plays. Always wanted to be a Longhorn, and he'll remain a Longhorn no matter what position he's playing.

Speaking of QB, backup Sherrod Harris is having surgery on his knee soon. He probably could've had it operated on sooner but knew how important the spring reps were going to be with Chiles moving to WR.

Also speaking of QB, super-highly-touted incoming freshman Garrett Gilbert drove about an hour a day just to sit in on the offensive meetings during the spring. He's not labeled as "The next..." anyone because he may be the most hyped QB EVER to come into the 40 acres.

And speaking of highly-touted prospects...Texas already has 21 junior commits for 2010. To put that in perspective? Tech has five.

Texas plays Lousiana-Monroe on September 5 to start the season before another non-conference tune-up against Wyoming (on the road) on the 12th. Then it's time for Big 12 play and a huge one against Tech in Austin on September 19. The last non-conference game is a week later at DKR against UTEP.

After an off week it's a crossover game against Colorado on October 10th followed by the Red River Rivalry in Dallas against OU. The only true road game in the first six weeks is Wyoming.

The Horns finish the year with Missouri, Oklahoma State, Central Florida, Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M. Four of six of those games are on the road at Mizzou, at OSU, at Baylor and at A&M.

A very favorable schedule that should see them in the top 3 in the AP pre-season rankings.

The stage is set for Colt McCoy to make a run at the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship.

Standing in his way? USC. LSU, Florida and the Big 12.

  • mark rogers
  • April 11, 2009 9:46 PM

POTTS IS A GAMER...WHO CARES ABOUT PRACTICE

A recent online publication briefly mentioned that Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts isn't as precise or impressive in practice as Graham Harrell was...that he makes mistakes and does some things that "make you scratch your head"...you know what I say to that??

Who cares.

It doesn't matter how "great" you are in practice. The only thing that matters in practice is that you show up, work hard, get better, learn from mistakes and fine tune plays, technique and conditioning.

Practice is where you try some things that you may not do in games just to see if you can pull them off. That's why it's called practice. You're allowed to screw up and it doesn't cost your team.

Practice is when offensive lineman try new pass blocking techniques. It's when receivers work on getting off the line of scrimmage and escaping press coverage. It's when kickers kick onside kicks over and over and over. It's when coaches try out different sequences during the two minute drill.

And anyone who has seen Potts play throughout his career knows that he's a gamer. During the regular season his junior year, Potts threw 24 touchdowns against just two interceptions. That's ridiculous. He led the team to the third round of the playoffs and was ten yards away from knocking off Chase Daniels and the Southlake Carroll Dragons.

The next year all he did was lead the Abilene High Eagles to another 10-0 record and a run three rounds deep into the playoffs.

So anyone can say anything they want about Potts not being a great practice quarterback. All that matters is what you do when it matters. And when it matters? Potts delivers.

He won't have much time to get into the swing of things this coming fall though...Tech plays Texas in week 3 on September 19.

  • mark rogers
  • April 11, 2009 9:22 PM

April 2, 2009

COMPREHENSIVE COWBOYS' CATCH-UP

For all of you out there who can't spend your days keeping up with Dallas Cowboys' offseason news...here's the happenings in a nutshell:

In an offseason that will see America's Team transition from Texas Stadium to JerryWorld, the new stadium has been the least newsworthy story in the last few months.

It all started with Anthony Spencer being arrested in Indianapolis for public intoxication and disorderly conduct. That was January. He was cleared of the charges in late March. No one else notable was arrested but former Cowboy Terry Glenn did have a mug shot taken.

Mike Shanahan was close to signing some sort of deal with Dallas, but it fell through at the last minute. Dan Reeves was also at Valley Ranch for a few days and the rumor was he was to be some sort of glorified consultant, but a deal fell through apparently involving Reeves and a time card.

Zach Thomas isn't coming back. Neither is Kevin Burnett who signed a free agent deal with San Diego. Coming in to try and replace them are former Atlanta linebackers Keith Brooking and Matt Stewart. Brooking is a well-known player although a little older. Stewart hasn't played since 2006. Both played under Cowboys' coach Wade Phillips in Atlanta.

Adam Jones was released...no surprise there although many of his teammates were caught off-guard. Much like they were when just days after Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones hinted that Terrell Owens would remain in Dallas, he was released...the SAME day long-time safety Roy Williams was released.

We let Brad Johnson go (thank goodness gracious), Jerry and Company were talking to former California star Kyle Boller but ended up having to give up play-making corner/safety Anthony Henry to get a washed up, chubby Jon Kitna from Detroit. This all before rumors swirled around saying that Jerry wanted unhappy QB Jay Cutler - who ended up being traded to Chicago today.

Speaking of Detroit, Jason Garrett was once again rumored to be involved in many head coaching searches including Detroit, Denver and St. Louis. He's staying in Dallas.

But his counterpart, defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, was fired. His replacement? Already on the payroll...head coach Wade Phillips.

We also have a new special teams coach in Joe DeCamillis.

Replacing Roy Williams will be Jacksonville safety Gerard Sensabaugh. A good move in my opinion.

Emerging superstar Chris Canty proved to be worth more than the Cowboys could give. He ended up getting a 6-year, 42 MILLION dollar deal to join the hated Giants. But not all was lost on that deal because the Cowboys signed free agent, pass-rushing specialist Igor Olshansky from San Diego...another player familiar with Phillips' system. And he's only costing us 18 million over four years.

On the injury front Terrence Newman and Patrick Crayton both had ankle surgery early in the offseason and are expected to fully recover. Both players also had some things to say to the media that garnered quite a bit of negative attention...Newman talked about Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson - Crayton talked about Romo and Jason Garrett.

Speaking of talking to the media, head coach Wade Phillips was under a rumored "gag order" at the end of the season which was apparently lifted last month when Phillips finally began talking to the media. He denied the "gag order" rumors.

Several big name free agents said publicly that they'd like to play in Dallas: Ray Lewis, Julius Peppers and Larry Johnson. None will be in Dallas next year.

The Cowboys have 11 draft picks. One in the second and third rounds, two in the fourth, three in the fifth, two in the sixth and two in the seventh. WR and safety seem to be the big targets.

And it wouldn't be a typical Cowboy offseason without DE Greg Ellis whining about his future with the club. He's at it again.

The Cowboys' first preseason game in JerryWorld will be August 21 against Tennessee. The regular season schedule will be released very soon.

Those are the big things.

Now that you're all caught up, you can rest easy and wait for training camp to begin. The good news? TO, Roy Williams, Pacman Jones, Brad Johnson and Brian Stewart are gone. The bad news? Cowboys' fans can't help but anticipate another season full of high hopes and huge expectations that leave us frustrated and demoralized in December.

Maybe this will be the year we return to true greatness...maybe...please...for the love of Tom Landry.