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  • Michael

    McClay has spoken about the draft at the team’s website. On Taco:

    “I think going after Taco in the first round gives us a defensive end that we feel like has upside, that’s athletic but can also be multiple,” McClay said. “He played right end, left end, can play inside, can mismatch guys on the inside. He had four different positions at Michigan. The right kind of kid. He’s got size, he’s got length – that helps us there.

    When you go down from there, the pass rushers that fit our scheme, it started to diminish a little bit and you had to kind of compromise who we are as a defense. It fell the right way there, and then there were some quality corners that we felt like could help us improve and they fell that way.”

    On Awuzie:

    “First of all, he’s got length. He’s a smart player, he’s an instinctive player, he’s a physical player,” McClay said. “I think the key with him is that he’s a versatile player, so we can play him in the nickel, we can play him outside, we can play him at safety, and part this deal in the NFL now is you have to have versatile players because injuries happen, things happen and you want to have people who fit within your scheme and are instinctive enough and smart enough to be able to play at a high level no matter where their spot is.

    I know we don’t want to cross-train guys too much, but playing in the back end, it gives him the ability to do a lot of things, which adds to the versatility of our defense.”

    Multiple, versatile, these are new words for the Dallas defense.

  • Taylor

    The Woods pick has everyone excited, but Kavon Frazier had everyone excited last year. So, what’s up with Frazier? He’s bigger, a little faster and a thumper. Woods seems a clone.

  • McShrek

    Taco seemed to set the stage for the entire draft……….they had him rated as secod round pick, yet they pulled the trigger in the late first due to need; Tapper better be ready to contribute after his redshirt season……….which led to them passing on King who went to the Packers (who apparently did very well)….ended up with smallish corners which was/is not their preference, but selecting at 28 or below, one is at the mercy of 27 other teams….the most surprising pick was the Beasley look-alike, we need field stretching speed not another route runner….think Frank nailed it with his comment on replacing Lucky, who is a threat on the jet sweep, Switzer not so much……..maybe Brown in the 7th has upside, especially if they have a coach on the staff that is familiar with him………..not sure we picked up any legit day one starters, DBackfield will be tested repeatedly by divisional foes, Scandrick is not going very far, unless they trade for Sherman………Foster would have bolstered the LB corps immediately, but as many predicted, they did NOT draft any LBs this year, but surely the BPA when they selected?

    Hope they can all stay healthy and see what they bring to the table at the next level…..

    • Frank

      Great comment. Regarding the jet sweep, I have a question and you guys probably have a better memory than me to answer it. Did the team use the jet sweep significantly less last year as compared to 2015? My hunch has been that it was only a staple of the offense in 2015 because so little was working and that was a simple play to get some yards and catch teams by surprise the first few games they used it. I think it was used late in the game at Pittsburgh last year, but I don’t remember it being used all that much. What I’m wondering is whether that will be more than a few times a season regardless of who they have at WR. I do, however, think Switzer could be as good as Lucky was with it. He isn’t nearly as fast in a straight line, but he is much better at making people miss due to his phenomenal cutting ability.

      • McShrek

        My recollection is that they used it early in the season without the success they enjoyed with it in 2015; teams went to school on them on the 2015 tape and they ended up going away from it……….that play depends on the WR getting to the outside quickly, with the opposing wr/TEs (TW or Dez ) getting early/effective blocks to that side, not sure Switzer has that kind of speed (although his highlights on the bubble screens looked speedy), even if he is much more elusive.

  • Lee1936

    Thank you, Mr Frank B, for your extraordinarily informative and interesting DC draft summary. I’m convinced that you should be given a raise. I’ll mention this to Steven, the next time I see him.

    • Frank

      Thank you!

      • Lee1936

        Upon further review, Frank, it occurs to me that I probably have never seen Steven. But if I ever meet him, I will invite him to allow me to treat him to lunch to talk about Cowboys who are playing better than expected. When that happens, I promise to brag on your works.

  • jrcowboy49

    I would have preferred the Cowboys pick Kevin King CB in the first and pick a DE in round 2. I like King’s size, speed, and strength. Many DEs were available in round 2 or 3 that were close to Taco’s skills. The Cowboys went to the well too many times for players that in my opinion are too small for the NFL. I am pretty disgusted with the Cowboys draft!

    • Lee1936

      Disgust is pretty common in Dallas drafts. My experience long ago was that draft day was like Christmas. In Dallas, draft day is Halloween.

      • Michael

        Usually I am pessimistic about the drafts in Dallas but I am optimistic about this one. The Cowboys did not do anything flashy this year and instead focused on healthy players from big schools who can step in and contribute. That is an improvement in itself.

        The other encouraging sign from this draft is that the Cowboys seem to growing more multiple on defense. The strongly defined position types have given way to a more flexible matchup based scheme. Today, being multiple on defense is the only way to win in the NFL. Good on Marinelli for finally reading the memo.

    • Taylor

      King 1st, Willis 2nd, rest is fine. Willis was highly rated on SPARQ, non-stop, would have been a fine situational edge rusher, might learn to play the run, set an edge.

  • R.L.B.

    After last years “Big Bang” draft I’d call this the “No Drama” draft. They followed a plan that in all appearances looks sane. They didn’t make the crazy trade. In fact flipping their 2018 5th rounder for Xavier Woods is what you’d call very reasonable trade if not a potential steal. They didn’t reach for the injured player or one that had two surgeries, (one on each knee TJ Watt), nor did they attempt to get one who’s rehabbing recent shoulder surgery (Takkarist McKinley). They had a plan and stuck to it mainly filling holes on the D side. Looks like the front office is marginalizing Jerry which is a good thing. McClay, Garrett and Stephen, et al are able to do their jobs, or at least allowed to sans that meddling “GM”.

  • joey2zs

    Good stuff. Thanks for the write up.

  • Kevin Black

    I’m tired of hearing the T.J. Watt is ‘slight’ or can’t hold up on the line. He’s heavier than Randy Gregory ever was. He played all the defensive snaps and was on the line, just in a 2-point stance instead of a 3-point stance. He faced the same OTs that Taco did. So, if T.J. is so bad as a DE, how did he get two more sacks than the experienced Taco did? Watt’s learning curve was much tougher, yet by the end of the year he was better than Taco. Watt is one inch taller than Demarcus Lawrence and weighs the same. He’s the exact measurables that Dallas has used in the past. He also has something Taco never will… a quick first step. That has been the defining feature of EVERY defensive lineman for Dallas since Marinelli came here. Both Dallas and Seattle have preferred the tweener for their RDE.

    Taco represents a departure from the blueprint for their RDE. The question is: Who will have the better career?

    One thing to note: on two sister sites, one for Dallas and one for Pittsburgh, both have surveys to grade the pick. Dallas had just over 1100 ‘A’ votes for Taco. Pittsburgh had over 3300 ‘A’ votes for Watt. The Steeler fans were so sure that Dallas was going to get Watt. When we passed on him, their draft boards went nuts.

    • Michael

      Apples and oranges. Watt played in a 3-4 at Wisconsin and Taco played in a 4-3. Those are different positions.

      The Cowboys already have Lawrence and Mayowa (and maybe Gregory) who fit the RDE profile. What is Watt going to give you that those two do not? They clearly are going to be 3rd down players. And with the Cowboys showing a 3 man DL last season in nickel and dime, just how many snaps do you think exist for the RDE? Fewer and fewer.

      • Kevin Black

        Watt fits that exact profile. Seattle, Dallas and even Atlanta use the same defense. They use tweeners for their RDEs. The primary thing they look for is quick-twitch or a quick burst off the snap. Watt has that. Taco does not.

        Oh, and the reason they did a 3 man DL? They had to give Mayowa rest from time to time and no one else on the team could play the position the way it was designed.

        • Michael

          The 3-2-6 predates Mayowa’s time with the team. They have used a variety of guys in that front, mixing and matching against the OL.

          Seattle and Atlanta do things slightly differently than Dallas. They use a LEO, not a pure DE, much of the time, and so their base defense is slightly weirder than Dallas’ base defense. Most of what is interesting about the Dallas defense is happening in that 3-2-6 dime.

          If there is a place for a light weight edge guy on the Dallas defense I think it should be at strongside LB where guys like Vic Beasley and Von Miller have remade the position. Right now, strongside LB in the Dallas defense is a lost position. My favorite player in the draft was Haason Reddick.

          • Kevin Black

            I’m so glad you responded. Mainly due to the information that’s come out of the Star regarding the Taco pick.

            The scouts preferred Watt. The coaches preferred Taco. The scouts kept to their specs for what is required to succeed as a RDE in our scheme. The coaches wanted Taco due to his height and arm length and were willing to violate their primary requirement of being quick off the snap (aka quick twitch), which Taco is not.

            So, it’s clear a decision was made to go against their preferred model.

          • Michael

            At Michigan, Taco played RDE, LDE, and 3T DT in a 4-3 alignment and 4T DT in a 3-4. To say that Taco has changed the specifications for RDE is a bit of a stretch. The most likely scenario is that he will play multiple positions on the line and force Crawford (along with his contract) out in 2018.

            Say what you will about Watt, but every 4-3 team had a chance at him in the 1st round and they all passed. Your argument requires not just the Dallas coaching staff making a mistake but every 4-3 staff in the league.

          • Kevin Black

            Yes, they did. But Pittsburgh and their fans are stating how thrilled they are that Watt fell to them and they thought Dallas was going to take him. There appears to be a consensus on Watt to Dallas. Clearly Dallas went away from their model. The coaches lobbied hard to take Taco even though the scouts preferred Watt.

            Now we get to watch the next four years to see which player ends up being better. Hopefully it will be a dead heat. I’d hate to think Dallas picked the wrong player.

          • Steven Van Over

            rather than which player is “better” I would think … “”which player is more valuable to their team.” … if they end up playing diff roles stats can easily skew. I believe Mike nailed it. Versatility, can set the edge, stop the run (been the trend last few as they get beefier) going to be fun watching!

          • Kevin Black

            T.J. did it also and is as versatile as Lawrence or Mayowa. He was in a two-point stance, but right on the line. He just never went in a three point stance. It’s to confuse the offense so they don’t know if he’s rushing or dropping back, but rushing the passer is the same in either stance.

            Look, the scouts wanted Watt. The coaches went against their preferred model player for the RDE and choose Taco, who is much like David Irving. In four years we will see that we drafted Greg Ellis and Pittsburgh got DeMarcus Ware. I know that’s not your opinion, but it is mine. Nothing you can say will change my mind. Only time and the results. I believe Watt will be equal or slightly behind Taco in year one, mainly due to how Pittsburgh refuses to play rookie OLBs because their scheme is too complex. In year two, both will be significantly better, but it will be a dead heat or Watt will start to pull away at the end of the year. In year three, Watt will be a pro-bowler and in year four, Watt will be an all-pro. Taco will struggle to get double-digit sacks each. year, just like DeMarcus Lawrence, but he will be able to stay healthy.

            That’s my opinion and it won’t change.

            I don’t expect you to change your opinion either. It’s just bothersome that people want to ignore what T.J. did. When I first looked at T.J., I was against him completely. I thought any hype he had was due to J.J. Switching positions, two knee injuries and playing defense on the fly without having played the position were all marks against him. Then I actually watched some video of him. In the beginning of the year, there were plays he took himself out of it with bad decisions and not playing the position with proper leverage. By the middle of the year, those things were gone. He still lacked technique to beat some of the better OTs, but he was getting better, game by game. By the end of the year, he was clearly better than any other edge rusher in the Big 10. I was still worried about his knees until I found out that less than 4% of ACL repairs ever re-injure and it was more likely someone with a uninjured knee would suffer a ACL injury. HIs coaches raved about his work ethinc and his smarts, being able to start out as raw as he was to where he knew where everyone needed to be by the end of the season. He’s Sean Lee-like in that area. He studies… all the time. And one more item of note: He’s the most athletic brother of all the Watts. J.J. said it, Derek (FB in LA Chargers) said it, his mother said it and his father said it. He broke all of J.J.’s and Derek’s records in High School. He played QB in HS, something J.J. never did.

            I don’t really have much of a problem with Taco and I hope he has a great career. I hope he proves me wrong and Watt falls on his face in Pittsburgh. I don’t mind being wrong if it helps the Cowboys. However, every draft guy I follow is scratching their head over Dallas passing on Watt for the same reasons I mentioned above.

            Again, that’s my opinion and it won’t change. Period.

          • Steven Van Over

            Not certain where my comment about “value to the team” led to the above. I was positing about wondering which player will prove more valuable to their defense. I like TJ … I like Taco as well. You nailed it. Time will tell. Both seem to be quality players.

          • Taylor

            If Taco can replace the overpaid, overhyped, underperforming TCraw, he will be a good pick.

          • Frank

            Just a point of clarification that maybe I should have included in the article…the Rationale for the Pick section was intended to indicate why the team made the pick, not that I necessarily agreed with the pick. With respect to the first pick, I wasn’t thrilled with Charlton. However, I also wasn’t enthralled with TJ Watt. While he does have good upside and is about the same weight as Randy Gregory, I feel that Gregory was much more stout at the point of attack. Gregory was impressive in that regard for his weight.

            If I had to make a decision, and that was my opinion on draft night, I would have traded down. Using the actual trades made, Dallas could have gotten Atlanta’s 3rd and 7th round picks. Since Dallas’ pick was lower than Seattle’s, maybe they would have only gotten Atlanta’s 3rd. Then they could have traded that pick to San Fran for the 2nd pick in the 2nd round plus SF’s 4th round pick. So Dallas could have netted a late 3rd and early 4th just to drop from 28 to 34. At 34, Dallas could have picked from Tyus Bowser or Jordan Willis at DE. Alternatively, Dallas likely had a firm offer from Cleveland for the first picks in round 2 and 4 for pick 28. Then they could have shopped pick 33 the next morning.

            Dallas could have used one of the picks they added to nab Carl Lawson. I’d take Bowser or Willis plus Lawson over either Charlton or Watt.

            That is interesting that the scouts wanted Watt and the coaches wanted Charlton. Marinelli usually lobbies for the burst, and I would have expected the opposite.

          • Kevin Black

            The main thing that was pointed out about Lawson was his short arms. They kept mentioning how Taco had very long arms and was able to keep most tackles from getting to his body with his arms. Lawson is a better technician at this point in my opinion, but add his arms to his injury history and I think that scared off the Cowboys.

            They did mention they had offers, but they didn’t get one they liked enough to change their minds from drafting Taco.

          • Frank

            I actually wasn’t a fan of Lawson when he was mentioned as a 1st or 2nd rounder. He just didn’t seem special when I watched him. But in the fourth, maybe, but we don’t know what the Cowboys thought of him.

            If we could have made the deal with Seattle, we could have gotten Shaquille Griffin, who was one of their visits. Getting Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Shaquille Griffen would have really fixed the CB position. And we would have still had another early 4th round pick that could have been used on Lawson or another player.

            I had the impression that the scouts targeted quick twitch defensive lineman primarily because that is what Rod Marinelli wanted – remember the Sharrif Floyd debate while on the clock in 2013. Scouts look for what the GM and coaches say they want. Like I mentioned above, it seems odd that the coaches didn’t want Watt. Watt’s knee injuries may have also scared the coaches as you speculated with Lawson. Or maybe they wanted to play it safe thinking that while Charlton has a lower ceiling, he also has a higher floor.

          • Kevin Black

            The quick twitch is why most of us targeted Watt at 28. There was no way Garrett or Barnett was dropping to us and Watt was the tallest and heaviest of the quick twitch guys left. Bowser has it also, but is much smaller. Watt was the only one I considered big enough to handle the DE duties.

    • George

      It’s interesting that you mentioned Seattle because, according to Marcus Mosher, they were ready to pick Taco and traded back after Dallas took him. If that is true, both Dallas and Seattle preferred Taco to Watt despite those teams usually looking for the quick first step defensive lineman.

      • Kevin Black

        That’s fine. Taco still does not have the quick twitch that Dallas prefers. Watt has it. Clearly Dallas has changed their profile for their RDE.

        • daledoe

          I personally like Willis more than Watt because of injury history but I have to trust that our coaches and scouts have a better grasp of what they want to do with this defense and have done their due diligence.

          • Kevin Black

            If you trust the scouts, know that they wanted Watt. The coaches wanted Taco. Scouts said Watt has a higher ceiling. Coaches like the higher floor of Taco. Scouts said the floor wasn’t the much lower for Watt. Coaches still wanted Taco. We drafted Taco.

    • daledoe

      But he’s slight and can’t hold up on the line!😎

      • Kevin Black

        Wrong.

    • Taylor

      DLaw weighs 270, TJ around 250 on a taller frame. I’m not crazy about the Taco, but these smaller guys (yes, TJ is a smaller guy) get beat on too much. TJ is a better fit in Pittsburgh due to the defense they play.

      • Kevin Black

        TLaw was 249 when drafted. TLaw is 6′ 3″ and T.J. Is 6′ 4″.

        • Taylor

          He may have been 250 when drafted, but he is now 270.

          • Kevin Black

            And Watt can get to 270. His frame can handle it. Just like Lawrence could.

  • BigD

    I’d grade this draft an A- Im not a big fan of the Taco pick, he seems to be another guy like we already have on our roster. The DB overhaul was fantastic and I really like what Switzer brings to the team, especially on STs. Our D is younger and more talented, if we can get a rush with our front 4 we will be very hard to beat.