Cowboys Post-Draft Brunch: Looking for Tasty Leftovers

Random post-draft notes

Who’s the Next Undrafted Star?

If history is any guide, several undrafted free agents will make the final roster.  The Cowboys have struck it right with undrafted free agents in recent years, pulling Tony Romo and Miles Austin from the NFL remainders pile.  Last year Dan Bailey, Kevin Kowalski, Phillip Tanner, Alex Albright, Raymond Radway, and Chris Jones all earned playing ’11 playing time, despite going undrafted.

Here are names of interest:

G Ronald Leary, Memphis — Was considered a later round pick and got a private workout with OL coach Bill Callahan and a Valley Ranch visit.  Jerry Jones mentioned Leary as a priority free agent whose knee condition pushed him down the board.  He’ll be in the mix for one of the backup guard spots.  Who knows, with right guard looking fuzzy, a good camp could see Leary in the mix for a starting role.

OLB Adrian Hamilton — He was put on the CN radar by Wes Bunting back in December.  He’s one of the few collegians to record 20 or more sacks at any level.  His bowl game performance was not distinguished, but he’s nonetheless an intriguing player for a team that can always use more edge pressure.

OLB/DE Aston Whiteside — A small-school guy who did get some recognition in the bowl game and who got some ink as an intriguing UDFA.

TE George Bryan, N.C. State — a classic, in-line Y, Bryan got high marks for his blocking.  He’ll challenge John Phillips for a roster spot, if things break right for him.

Other names

CB Isaac Madison, Arkansas
FS Eddie Whitley, Virginia Tech
OT Jeff Adams, Colombia
RB Lance Dunbar, North Texas
CB Lionel Smith, Texas A&M
RB Darrell Scott, South Florida
FS Troy Woolfolk, Michigan
WR Cole Beasley, SMU
TE Andrew Szcrerba, Penn State

You Give Grades When the Class is Over

No grades in this shop.  Sorry if you’re looking for one, but I’ve taught for a long, long time.  I have never given final grades before the first lecture.  And that’s where we are.  This weekend, NFL teams chose their fall courses.  Next week, the rookies will attend their first lectures.  In June they’ll take more.  In August, they’ll take their mid-terms.

Then, we can get a feel for who’s likely to pass and who’s likely to fail.  Today, you’re trying to guess how they’ll do based on how attentive and serious they look.  That never works.

Rafael Vela

Rafael Vela

Senior Analyst Cowboys at Sports Talk Line
Started covering Dallas Cowboys @ in '95 and '96. Two more stops along the way and here I am. Senior Analyst for
Rafael Vela

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  • Cosby Sweater

    Good calls Raf. Almost 100%.

  • Pmkaram

    Sam, read between the lines. They did NOT draft a center or sign one in free agency. Does that not tell you anything about their thinking?

    • Lee1936

      True, their actions speak louder than any excuses they might offer.  It makes me wonder why, after being a DC fan for half a century, I am still cursed with loyalty to this team, in spite of  its deranged owner and GM.

  • Ekimsnevets

    The good news regarding the Cowboys offensive line is that all the rookies from last year are no longer rookies. I have to believe that after 16 games of experience and an entire offseason with strength coach Mike Woicik they have to be much improved. Arkin’s biggest problem was he was too weak. If Woicik is the strength coach that he’s claimed to be I expect Arkin to be much stronger this year. In spite of how poor some of the offensive linemen played at times last season they were not the reason the Cowboys blew 4 or 5 fourth quarter leads and failed to make the playoffs. That Giants offensive line of Dave Diehl, Chris Snee and Shaun Ohara were horrible their first yeasr together (2004) but a year later they jelled into a pretty decent line. Obviously I am trying to be optimistic but I think there is reason to believe it can’t be anything but better this year even before you factor in the two free agents guards they brought in.

  • Lee1936

    I’ve never seen so much kool aid in this blog before the past two days.  Here are the dominant themes:  1. We’ll be fine with Costa’s blocking.
    2. Costa is no danger to Romo.
    3. We’re just fine on 3rd down and short.
    4. Never waste a draft pick higher than round 4 on an interior OL.
    5. We don’t need OL upgrades because we have a new OL coach.
    6. After a summer under Mike Woicik, all our OLs who sucked last year will return as Incredible Hulks. 

    • Dannydeever

      I’m a little disappointed, too, that we haven’t addressed the center spot, but it’s been repeatedly mentioned this was a pretty poor center class. Jones isn’t right for our system, and Konz would have cost us possibly next year’s first round pick. The rest aren’t necessarily upgrades. It was probably unrealistic to think we’d address every trouble spot this off-season. We shored up the secondary/inside backer coverage and added some additional rushers. Gotta be happy with that.

      I’m not sure why we didn’t pursue through free agency. I wish someone would have asked Jerry/Steven/Garrett in the post draft press conference specifically about the center position.

    • Leswung

      yeah, shut out the other teams with our brilliant coordinators and draft choices and pray and hope Romo still breathing … and maybe our defense can score touchdowns instead of our offense…

  • Kjd811

    Overall I’m happy with the draft. While I didnt like giving up the 2nd round pick, we got the best corner in the draft and one of the 6 blue chippers this year. Combined with Carr we went from having a poor secondary to having a potentially very good one.

    I like Crawford, Wilber and the VA Tech receiver. The later picks are projections just as they are for other teams. I’m impressed with the high quality people we are bringing in, no more knuckleheads. Under Garrett we’re getting Team Captains-better people-better team.

  • Pmkaram

    Chris and Sam, an identity is being forged and will work,just give it another year or two.You are right about the Parcells core of this team,but he also missed on so many players. The Cowboys will bring in a FA rookie or veteran at center if they feel that someone on the roster now, cannot handle the job. Otherwise look for Bernadau,Arkin,Nagy,Kowalik and Costa to fight it out. Remember the young guys from last year were rookies or inexperienced. This year they have a full off-season of strength and conditioning and last year’s experience. I am sure one of them will pan out. That is not just wishful thinking! Ask yourself why the brain trust hasn’t signed anyone as of yet for the center spot.

    • Sam

      They haven’t brought in a center because they were too busy signing castoff mediocre guards that no one else wanted:)  Don’t you think a better strategy would have been for them to sign one of the top veteran centers in free agency and then draft a guard at the top of the draft.  The money they used on Bernadau and Vickers could have been used on a center and we would have had 4 of the 5 pieces of the line set.  The last spot could go to one of the young guys.  No one on this site can tell me who the five starting linemen are on this team and that’s pretty bad. 

      I hate to sound so negative, but I just don’t see how we have improved from last year. 

      • Leswung

        “I hate to sound so negative, but I just don’t see how we have improved from last year.”

        absolutely completely definitely AGREE!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Workingtonian

    Whilst there is no reason for wild optimism, I do like how things are going. Last year we had the lock-out and that impacted all aspects of training and coaching. Plus we had a new DC and new take on the 3-4. This year everything should be as normal as possible. The coaches will have time to get their plans in place and coach ’em up. 
    I liked what we did in FA, would have liked bigger named players for G, but I can only guess these are guys that RR wanted. Would have liked a name at C, but I guess they feel it’s covered. We went into the draft with few real holes and the ability to pick players we liked rather than needed.
    The draft itself provided few big names once past Claiborne, but when I got to reading about them they appear to be solid picks, in fact I like the look of them (can’t say I found much on the 7th rounder).
    I’ve no doubt that in the process leading up to the first game there will be some changes, maybe we pick up that C we all feel we need. I’d be surprised if we don’t add a couple of free agent vets. No wild optimism, but I certainly feel we are in a better state than last year. The new OL coach and the whole D having time to sort things out helps there. We have on paper a good secondary which will allow RR to fully implement his attacking defense and get after the quarterback a bit more, I feel good about how things are going.

  • Jon B.

    I am pretty sure we weren’t the only landing spot for Rob Ryan.   He is well thought of in defensive circles by even the likes of Belicheck and Mangini.     I think he moaned about the corner play and perhaps the corner coaching……….as we bid farewell to both Newman and his coach.

    He got Carr and now Cliaborne.    THAT IS AN INSTANT IMPROVEMENT.     We also got Poole which I am less familiar with.     Nonetheless we got a coach that wants to run press coverage and we now we got two corners that can play it.     Jenkins could be the answer at FS or the 3rd or 4th corner.     Who knows maybe he plays lights out this year……… is a contract year.    Maybe we trade him for 2nd rounder when somebody comes up gimpy……….maybe we keep him if it is our somebody that is gimpy.    

    Either way watching Eli torch our secondary for the last few years……even under pressure which was often times right in his face or nearby.     I like the Claiborne move.   I like the Carr move.      This is a LT, QB, CB, OLB-DE driven league in terms of the pass happy league it has become.     I agree our line ain’t perfect but Callahan is here now and I expect Smith at LT and Free at RT.   Thats a pretty good pair of Tackles, now C play was atrocious G play wasnt great.    So sure we got some work to do but I do think a fresh pair of eyes……….very good eyes from Bill Callahan and a pair of FAs we signed along with whatever we pick up in UFA.     Give Rob Ryan a full offseason to implement his Defense……….hopefully Bruce Lee in the the middle and we can stop hemorrhaging on D.   

    The teams that compete every year…………draft well.   I agree with that.   But the teams that compete every year also have good CBs.    Even the Eagles who draft well paid Notgonnaworkfordaraiders Anymore.    

    Dez Bryant needs to develop into a mature third year guy that he should be.   Witten is Witten………..Murray and Jones are a great pair of backs that both offer homerun potential.     Health is another matter.   But it always is.   

    The Dallas Cowboys were a different team after Demarco Murray got injured.   Did the line block better for Murray?   Or is Murray just that much better than Felix?    Either way we should start the year with both healthy…………a healthy Bryant, Witten, and Austin…………thats pretty tough to stop.    

    I aint excited about the picks starting at 4 down but hey…………we all go so much info and our pet cats…………hopefully the staff hit on the other D and the WR and TE pan out.     A blocking TE can be found on the street or you can put your rotational guard out there if you have too……a TE that does what Witten did for us…………..we seem to get one every 15 years………..Cosby, Novacek, Witten………

  • Lissyyyyy

    Clifton Geathers was drafted by the Browns in the 6th round…

  • Sam

    While draft grades certainly don’t make sense the day after the draft, I think it’s OK to comment on the draft philosophy.  On that front I’d give the Cowboys a poor grade.  I don’t think anyone would take exception to Claiborne the player or the high character guys the Cowboys drafted, I just think they failed in terms of building a team that is going to compete in ’12.  The players they selected all look like guys that may one day be able to contribute, but not in ’12.  The core of this team are the Parcells era guys (Romo, Ware, Witten, Austin, Ratliff) and time is running out for them to get to the Super Bowl; the Cowboys should have drafted with more urgency.  Sure Claiborne is going to be a star (all Cowboy fans should have Ed Reed expectations for him given the price paid and draft board grade), but none of the other holes really got filled with the exception of maybe backup TE.  Holes going into the draft:

    –interior OL–addressed with rookie FA.
    –DL–addressed with a 3rd round project.
    –OLB–addressed with a Victor Butler clone
    –S–addressed with a 4th rounder
    –WR–addressed with a 5th rounder
    –TE–maybe we have something between the 6th rounder and Bryan.

    All we were able to do was upgrade our CB corp and grab some depth.  I feel we would have been way better off staying at #14 and taking DeCastro and then taking a higher rated DL in the second and a corner in the third round.  Better yet, trade down a bit at #14 for an extra 3rd and done even more damage.

    As I was watching this draft I came to the conclusion that there are two types of teams: those that have an identity and are capable of building a football team (Pats, Giants, Eagles, Steelers, and Ravens) and those teams that provide entertainment by making a splash (Redskins, Raiders, Cowboys).  That may be a little harsh, but we’ve had way to many mediocre seasons for anyone to argue to the contrary.

    It does not appear that this team has any more talent going into this season than they had at the end of last season.  The way the team went about restocking the OL was a joke…is it really better than what we had last year?  How is Robinson’s production going to be replaced?  Where are the extra pass rushers?  This team got better at CB and maybe ILB IF Carter isn’t a bust and that’s about it.   I was really hoping for more.

    • BVandy

      I think it is ironic you brought up the models of the Pats, Giants, Eagles, Steelers and Ravens.  If you look at any of their drafts, nobody picked more than 2 starters, with the possible exception of NE, who had 2 first round picks.  In fact, the Giants picked exactly about 0 starters.

      Of course, this brings up the question about the draft, which is, “what is its purpose?”  Do you want to draft 7 starters each year?  Hope not, or you end up looking like the Los Angeles Clippers from 10 years ago.  No, the above referenced teams use the draft to pick 1 or maybe 2 starters and develop depth with their picks who can become starters some day.

      • Sam

        Those teams don’t need to draft immediate starters with their first several picks.  They are consistently good teams that can afford to groom their draft picks.  If your team just won the Super Bowl, you obviously don’t have as many holes therefore you can afford to be patient with the development of players.

        Don’t misunderstand what I wrote, the players that the Cowboys drafted may well turn out to be great football players, it’s just not a draft that is going to make them better for the ’12 season.  Time is running out for the core guys and the Cowboys need to adopt a different strategy than those other teams I mentioned.  They can’t afford to blow their wad on one superstar and then draft projects the rest of the way.  They need solid players that can contribute now before the Parcells guys retire.  In a few years, this team won’t have a Romo, Ware, Witten, etc. and you’ll have missed your opportunity.

        • DW94

          “Those teams don’t need to draft immediate starters with their first several picks.”

          Are you sure? The Patriots have had a poor pass defense two straight years (all while Belichick repeatedly whiffs on early round defensive backs).  The Ravens don’t need any starters on offense — except to replace Grubbs, the AARP Birk, and their mediocre receivers.

          I understand your point, but you’d be better served sticking to the Cowboys.

          • DW94

             And I really could’ve broadened it to early round defensive players with regard to Belichick — Cunningham and Brace have done basically nothing either.

          • GoodbyeNewman

             And the Giants wouldn’t have even made the playoffs if we could have just beaten the Cardinals…

      • Leswung

        glad to brought up Giants, how many superbowls they have won vs the Cowboys and you “mentioned” the Giants picked 0 starters? They are very obviously doing something unlike the Cowboys. They know what they are doing while JJ not. Sign………………………

    • cowick22

      Sorry to come off as mean but it sounds like you just wanted a draft full of big names. And most of the big names outside ofvrounds one and two from the draft gurus got pushed way down from where they were projected. Have a little faith that the new regime is not the same as the old regime.

      • kameleon_o

        The problem is that the scouts are the same. So although Jason is a different coach, and has different ideas as to what type of players he wants, he’s still beholden to the scouts giving him the information he needs. And I’m not sure they can be trusted but we’ll see….

  • Starmesh23

    Not a question about grades but what do think about Garrett’s draft template? It seems he has emphasized hard working, high character guys who are athletic and have high ceilings. Garrett is churning the roster with competition at OL, WR, LB, S, and QB. It’s good to see the team with a plan and it looks like Jerry has lived up to him saying “There will not be a player on the roster that Jason does not approve of.”

    • Michael

       This is a really good point. Slowly over the last few seasons the Cowboys have been moving towards the Pats, Steelers, Ravens, Packers model of player acquisition. Know your scheme, know which players can make plays within that scheme and do not be afraid to find them at any point in the process.

      The scouting department found a running game and a 3rd WR on the fly last season. Hopefully they can do the same for Ryan’s defense this season. Ryan needs a top flight secondary and the rest he can do without elite talent.

      I feel pretty confident about the direction the franchise is heading. It has been a long 15 years in the wilderness, but there is cause for hope.

      • Yeah, I am really, really liking the direction this team is going with the “Garrett draft template.” LOVE that we are going for the high motor, relentless, smart, great work ethic, no-character-issue guys. SO sick of knuckleheads.

        Garrett is building a team that has HEART. I will take that any day over a talented but lazy player/team. If nothing else, at least our drafts/team are finally getting an IDENTITY!

        • BVandy

          I think this is a great point, Vince.  JG has been picking players who have “high-motors,” which I think is code for “don’t quit.”  If I am a coach, I am certainly embarrassed by losing, but it is even worse if my team loses and my players quit. 

          • Tim

            I will add football-smart to that description.

            We’ve needed that for a while on this team.

    • Dannydeever

      I tend to agree. One can question the team’s drafting philosophy and whether it’s the right way to build a team, but at least it’s a philosophy and that’s been defined for the public. Did we really have one before Garrett took over? 

    • Ridgelake

      This trend will take effect in time.  It may take several years, but there will be a tipping point where the hard working, no quit, football guys will become the norm and the team will have that mentality.  Maybe this year, maybe next, but it will happen with repeated infusions of those guys.

  • Raf do you think this team really believes it can go into next year with Costa or Nagy as the starting C???

  • Peter T

    You should put that memo out about no grades throughout all news channels and fans.  I’m so sick of people and there guesses at grades.  We truly can’t grade for awhile.  Your a wise man Raf.  As Banion said to Jerry (Seinfeld) talking about Oviltine ” That’s gold Raf, I tell ya gold!