Lessons Learned from Dallas Cowboys', Jerry Jones' 2012 Draft Strategy
Is there any owner more entertaining around draft time than Jerry Jones? Jones has calmed down since Jason Garrett took over, but he is still an owner who can't sit still or keep his nose out of the war room on draft day.
Lately, the Cowboys always have a tantalizing amount of talent, but can't seem to seal the deal in the regular season to assume a regular spot atop the always tough NFC East. What can we discern about the strategy of Jones and company to win the all-out wars they wage against the Eagles, Redskins and Giants every year?
Jerry Jones isn't tinkering as much with the Cowboys' drafts, but his aggressiveness is still present
Last year, Jones sat on his hands for the entire draft and made zero trades for the first time in the Tony Romo era. The result was the Cowboys strongest draft class in the Romo era, including long-term starters at left tackle and running back.
This year Jones couldn't help himself when Morris Claiborne fell to the sixth pick, giving up the team's second-round pick to move up from 14 to snag him. Claiborne was considered the elite cornerback prospect of the draft by many draftniks, and the addition gives them the firepower in the secondary to hang in a division with Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III.
As opposed to other recent drafts, when Jones seemed to be flailing at times during his numerous trades before and during the draft, the Claiborne deal matches the clarity the team has shown in the early parts of the Garrett administration.
The Cowboys aren't that worried about their wide receiver or guard depth
A quick survey of the Cowboys roster before the draft showed that guard and wide receiver were the team's biggest positions of need. The team is relying on young players and recent middling free agent additions at guard, and the wide receiver corps is completely devoid of quality experience after the very talented top two.
So, what did they do?
They spent a fifth-round pick on wide receiver Danny Coale (who is underrated and could be a Jordy Nelson type for them), and guaranteed a little over half of undrafted free agent Ronald Leary's 2012 salary to get a player outside of the draft that they think could start at guard.
Perhaps Coale, Kevin Ogletree and Andre Holmes will provide quality snaps at wide receiver. Maybe Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau really can hold down the guard positions. If they don't, the Cowboys will be vulnerable for not addressing these positions earlier in the draft.
Anthony Spencer could be playing his last year in Dallas
What were the Cowboys doing when they weren't drafting guards or wide receivers? For one, they added an outside linebacker prospect in the fourth round, Wake Forest's Kyle Wilber. Wilber is the kind of high motor, high character player the team is focusing on in the Garrett era, and he was drawing rave reviews before breaking his finger this offseason.
Anthony Spencer doesn't exactly fit the bill of "franchise tag" talent, even though the team used the tag on him this year. If Wilber can develop well this year, look for him to start for the Cowboys in 2013. Spencer will likely start too, but not in Dallas.
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