NFL Draft 2011: Should the Cowboys Pick Mike Pouncey or Cam Newton in Round 1?

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NFL Draft 2011: Should the Cowboys Pick Mike Pouncey or Cam Newton in Round 1?
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Aug. 4, 2007: Michael Irvin and Jerry Jones attend Hall of Fame festivities in Canton, Ohio. Jones is festive about the draft.

How long has it been since the Cowboys drafted an offensive lineman in the first round?  The answer to this question—and many more—are coming up in the friendly confines of this here entertaining column.

There’s been much discussion in Texas during the NFL offseason.  The talk is centered on the issue of the ninth overall pick in the upcoming draft. 

Whether or not the Cowboys should draft an offensive lineman with the pick—this is the million dollar question.  There have been perhaps one million answers, but only Jerry Jones and his crew know what will actually occur.

Looking through the fields and thickets and seeing what’s left of the offensive line, it reminds me of a rebuilding team.  The Cowboys have the look and feel of reloading. 

Considering this, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jerry used the pick to get more for his money. 

As owner and general manager of the Cowboys, at the NFL Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Jones said he’d received offers from two different teams interested in acquiring the ninth pick from him:

“I’ve already had the opportunity to discuss and been approached by two separate clubs,” Jones told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Here’s my own telegram sent to my readers.  Don’t believe anything Jerry Jones says concerning this year’s draft.  In fact, don’t believe any NFL coach or executive from now until round seven is over on Sat., April 30.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
January 10, 2011: Newton loosens up at the BCS National Championship Game. He could be in Cowboys blue soon.

In the Star-Telegram report, Jones went on to say he’s not in the market for a quarterback but might consider the position as his draft staff gets into the evaluation process. 

It wouldn’t surprise me if the Cowboys selected a quarterback this year.  Trust me, if the opportunity to pick Cam Newton arises, then Jones will insist on it—offensive line be damned.

Last season, though, it was the damned offensive line which was one of the most lackadaisical and eyesore things on the team—and there were many.  NFL draft experts and analysts basically all agree the Cowboys need help on both lines.

I’m sure the Cowboys and Jerry Jones know it.  They’re probably thinking, though, that they can build the offensive line through other means rather than by wasting precious high first-round draft picks.

This is the reasoning they do on the rivers of North Texas behind the philosophy in Dallas since 1960.  Offensive linemen are to be passed on in the draft in favor of the star power athlete—especially if the star power hails from the Lone Star State. 

Since the days of Terrell Owens in Dallas, though, analysts and experts such as Michael "The Play Maker" Irvin have been imploring the offensive line to get into shape and start blocking better.  

First round offensive linemen don’t put bodies in the standing room-only section and especially don’t have their jerseys flying off the shelves.  A Cowboy-like pick would be Cam Newton.

Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images
January 8, 2009: Mike Pouncey exhorts his defense in the BCS National Championship Game. He could be on Jerry Jones' draft radar.

Let’s face it, next season Dallas isn’t going anywhere—like a Chevy Camaro without wheels.  Not as long as the offensive line is loose, the defensive backs continues to get torched and the running backs can’t find holes to gouge.  Without a valid running game, Tony Romo is a prime target for defenses.

Being the starting quarterback, like all players in his position, he’s the center of the defense’s attention by default anyway.  Injuries become likely for him with the offensive line letting people jail break every other pass play. 

The Cowboys already have Romo, John Kitna and Stephen McGee at quarterback, but only Romo has the jersey power and Kitna could be moved.  Newton has the jersey power.

Knocking people powerfully off the line of scrimmage lets the running backs loose, and the passing game becomes much easier for Jerry’s team.  To help with this, though, the Cowboys need an influx of enthusiasm, youth, power and nastiness. 

One man who would be perfect for the job is center/guard Mike Pouncey from the University of Florida Gators.  His twin brother Maurkice starred at center for the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. 

The Pouncey family originally hails from Ardmore, Oklahoma—close enough to Texas for Jerry.  The Steelers would like nothing more than to draft Mike, and I’m guessing they were one of the teams Jerry was speaking about in the Star-Telegram report.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
February 6, 2011: Mike Tomlin communicates with his coaches in the Super Bowl in Dallas. He'd love to have two Pounceys in Pittsburgh.

Jerry will never tell, of course, even if he’s telling the truth. 

The Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Tennessee Titans could be in the market for a versatile young lineman.  They all draft before the Cowboys this year.

At 6’5” and 305 pounds, Mike replaced his twin brother Maurkice as Florida’s starting center under coach Urban Myer in Gainesville.  Maurkice entered the draft after the 2009 BCS National Championship Game victory over Oklahoma and got drafted by Pittsburgh. 

He started all 16 games and became a Pro Bowl player last season as a rookie.  Going into his sophomore season, he’s probably the best center in the NFL.

Another Steeler, Flozell Adams, was the center of the official’s attention as a Dallas Cowboy.  But in Pittsburgh, he was somewhat of a model citizen.  He started much of the season at tackle for the Steelers.

As mentioned, it’s a Cowboys tradition not to draft an offensive lineman in the first round.  Since the franchise was born in 1960, Dallas has done it only three times.

Road graters Mark Stepnoski and Erik Williams were drafted in third rounds; Larry Allen, Adams and Andre Gurode all came in the second.

The last time the Cowboys drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, the Iran hostage crisis was the big news of the year with Ronald Reagan taking over for Jimmy Carter in 1981. 

Rob Carr/Getty Images
March 2, 2011: Jerry Jones attends an NFL labor meeting in Washington. Jones is now more focused on the draft.

It was offensive tackle Howard Richards from the University of Missouri.  Tom Landry drafted him in the first round with the 26th overall pick.  Big Howard was injured, though, for a lot of his six seasons in Dallas.  He ended up retiring in 1987.

If Jerry is serious about using the ninth pick to help turn things around, then he could make good on the supposed offers from other teams.  I believe, however, he should use the pick to draft Pouncey.  Steelers fans would probably disagree.

I believe Jerry will buck the trend and take an offensive lineman in the first round, and that lineman will be Mike Pouncey.

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