Another Cowboys year is upon us and the same issues appear to be as well. The offensive line is once again the biggest question mark going into the 2013 season, followed closely by depth throughout the roster. These problems can be directly attributed to the poor draft record over the past few off-seasons.
Now, to be fair, this is a very talented team at the top of the roster. Lee, Carter, Carr Claiborne and Ware are all potentially all-pro level players on defense. And, assuming health (never a given), Spencer, Ratliff and Church should all be solid contributors. On offense, Romo has numerous weapons to attack with, beginning with the emergence of Dez as well as Murray, Austin, Witten and a couple of other tight end prospects.
However, behind this top layer of greatness is . . . not much. Add to that mix a very suspect set of guards on the O-Line and a defensive line with a bunch of "just guys" who are being counted on to be the lynchpin of a new defensive scheme and the childish words of Emmitt Smith in regards to the late 90's Cowboys teams very fitting:
"We had some diamonds. And we had some cow poo-poo. And the diamonds mixed with the poo-poo, it just all look like poo-poo"
We often talk on The Sports Narrative Radio Show about "what might have been" with the CB Mo Claiborne trade in 2011, taking G David DeCastro and C Peter Konz instead with those picks. But I went back to the infamous 2009 draft and found that had that year not been completely failed, they could have made the Mo Claiborne deal and still had a very solid O-line. Here's my findings of players that were available where they selected in 2009 to bolster an aging line that would soon need to be replaced.
2009 Draft Class:
1st Round: traded for WR Roy Williams (Ugh)
2nd Round: RT Phil Loadholt (Currently anchoring the right side of the VIkings line in front of Adrian Peterson)
or G Andy Levitre (Buffalo traded with Dallas to take him with their pick)
3rd Round: G Louis Vasquez (All-Pro that just got a paid to play RG in front of Peyton in Denver)
By cutting high-priced veteran contracts and replacing them with rookies, Dallas would not be in the salary-cap hell they find themselves today and could spend that money in other spots. Assuming Doug Free would have been discovered the following year, you could possibly have moved Loadholt to guard or put Free at LT (or maybe not) and then drafted DE JJ Watt in 2011(Defensive MVP last year) over LT Tyron Smith.
Other players proper scouting could have yielded in the past few drafts:
4th round: DE/DT Henry Melton over QB Stephen McGee
4th Round: DT Geno Atkins over S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah
4th Round: WR Cecil Shorts over G David Arkin
4th Round: CB Brandon Boykin over LB Kyle Wilbur
4th Round: S Phillip Thomas over CB BW Webb
Do you see a theme here? Over the past few years, The Cowboys have done pretty well with their Day 1 (Dez, Tyron Smith, Frederick) and some Day 2 picks (Lee, Carter, Crawford, etc.) over the past few seasons. But Day 3 has proven to be an absolute nightmare. Now, they have made up for some of it with their undrafted FAs (Church, Leary, Albright, Bass, Parnell, Dunbar, etc.) but you just can't give away draft picks. It's why we beat down our listeners with draft talk every year and why the Cowboys truly need a full-time GM. Anyone can make selections of guys you watch on Saturdays in college football. It's the no-name guys who can develop into starters or contributors that make teams Super Bowl contenders.
The point of this rant: Mr. Jerry Jones, I am available for hire. And I work cheap! And you can have all the credit!