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The Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft: Madness Has a Method

Tyron Smith (OT), Bruce Carter (LB), Demarco Murray (RB), David Arkin (OG), Josh Thomas (CB), Dwayne Harris (WR), Shaun Chapas (FB), Bill Nagy (C)

Buried behind the measurables, 40 times, 225 bench presses and 3 cone drills are the true intentions of the 2011 Dallas Cowboys led by Jason Garrett with a big assist from Rob Ryan.

To understand the philosophy of this draft, you have to consider the roster at the end of this past season. The Cowboys approached this offseason knowing they needed to upgrade the team’s physicality, athleticism and quickness. If a player is not quick (footed), physical, or athletic, he probably has no use to this team (and yes, I am wondering why Igor Olshansky still has a job as a Cowboy). I have to assume the Cowboys did their due diligence on each of these players relative to the skills they possess because I am not in the talent meetings the Cowboys conduct.

Tyron Smith replaces a slow and terribly broken down Colombo. Smith possesses the quickness and strength Colombo lacks but I do think it was a mistake to let Colombo go. He has a nastiness that the Cowboys lack and would force Smith to beat him out of the right tackle starting position. I won’t be overly critical, however, because I support any effort this team extends to integrate its youth into the starting lineup.

Bruce Carter is a no-brainer. See my explanation for Colombo. The Cowboys need a more physical and athletic solution to Brooking. I am certain Brooking is on the Cowboys mind as they evaluate roster cuts. Carter could stand to be more physical but few linebackers are more athletic coming out of this draft. His quickness along with enough size for the ILB in the 3-4 makes this a smart pick. Sean Lee is probably already the week one starter opposite James but Carter gives the Cowboys insurance against another Lee injury and a potential replacement as James ages in this defense.

Demarco Murray was a great pickup. He is in the top 2-3 RBs in the draft at picking up the blitz which is the only quality Marion Barber had over the rest of the Cowboy running back committee. What also is critical in this pick is the flexibility it gives Dallas with Tashard Choice. He is ideal trade bait and should already have been offered to Miami as they moved on from Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams this offseason. Choice was very good out of the backfield and decent between the tackles but Murray offers the same and more. Murray and Felix Jones will both provide a constant threat to opposing defenses with home run hitting ability but also particularly with the screen game the Cowboys will emphasize this season. If the Cowboys can get a level of comfort with Tanner or Miller as the 3rd back, Choice could easily be on the move.

David Arkin was a solid selection and I knew instantly that this was a pick to replace big Davis and not Kosier as some on ESPN’s draft coverage hypothesized. Davis was dead weight in general and with his cap number, he was impossible to keep. You don’t go into a new season trying to get more athletic, quicker and more physical and keep the most passive player on the team. He could still be a bargain at the league minimum if the Cowboys sustain an injury but most likely, they will look elsewhere. Arkin is very physical and mean as well. He has decent feet and ironically could prove to be another Kosier. The key is he represents a change in mentality.

(Cowboys360 nugget alert). This is why there should not be panic in finding a short yardage back to replace Barber. You don’t need a short yardage back; you need a short yardage mentality which starts up front.

Josh Thomas is from the University of Buffalo. Enough said. Any analysis I have would be from YouTube and/or the experts out there at Scouts Inc. or comparables. Again, I trust the Dallas Cowboys talent staff to ferret out the skills. One things seems consistent in his grades is that he is a willing tackler though he unfortunately has stone hands. Of the Cowboys top 4 corners, their 2nd and 4th corners (Jenkins and Ball) are horrible tacklers even though one of them played safety last year. How embarrassing. Their best corner has a track record of injuries and is currently…you guessed it…injured. With Scandrick being the only CB on the roster who can tackle consistently and stay healthy, this kind of pick seems not only logical but mandatory.

Dwayne Harris is a good pick and he is the type of player this team has been screaming for. Cutting Roy Williams was a gutsy move because Jones was admitting a failed experiment. Roy Williams has zero quickness and is one dimensional in his routes. With Dez and Miles securing starting spots, and Williams being a misfit to play the slot, the only logical direction was to bring in competition at WR for the slot position and cut Roy. The slot role for this team should help to free up Bryant and Austin from LB bracketing and over the top coverage. Witten, a good slot, and pass catching RBs mean that Dez and Miles should have some great opportunities particularly beyond 10 yards. This is not a pick to pay immediate dividends but it should ratchet up the talent and competition for that slot role. Ogletree is often spoken of as the leader in the clubhouse for the 3rd receiver role and this may be true. However, that role could be as a backup for Austin or Bryant. Harris could still be the slot starter at some point this season when they go heavy wides. 

Shaun Chapas and Bill Nagy are roll the dice picks. These picks are competition generators. Last year’s fullback got the QBs collarbone broken so the Cowboys can’t be blamed for heating up the competition for starting fullback. Finding one from the SEC Conference is not a bad play either. Nagy with his versatility on the interior and the Wisconsin pedigree means he is well coached and physical. Making the roster with picks this low often are a challenge in and of itself but the picks do make sense when you are trying to give the team a much needed blood transfusion and brain transplant.

The 2011 Dallas Cowboy’s draft’s success will be evaluated out over the next 2-3 years. The players, their production and number of starts are typically what define success and failure in a draft choice. I completely disagree. The goal for the Cowboys was to replace the immobile, inflexible or lazy players with athleticism and quickness. I think they accomplished that mission and therefore had a great draft. Whether or not these players make the team and end up having success depends largely on how well Garrett and Ryan weave them into the overall team. As far as a draft assessment, Cowboys360 says job well done. 

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