With the draft in the bag, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel, and the roster has turned a corner for the best. Coach Garrett has methodically jettisoned players that do not fit his philosophy, and is plugging-in his type of players.
Drafting Morris Claiborne was a major statement pick, and set everyone on the team on notice, the Cowboys have no problems upgrading positions even if there is a relatively incumbent starting player there ala Mike Jenkins.
With moves in free agency, and this weekend’s draft the Cowboys are revamped, and upgraded across the board. We’ve added depth and competition at every position. Who wants to play? strap up the pads and show us something or you’re outta here. I think Garrett is taking this approach from Jimmy Johnson.
Lets look at the players we drafted and their impact on the 2012 roster:
1st round: Morris Claiborne, CB
Claiborne will be the starter opposite Carr, which bumps Mike Jenkins out of a starting role, and perhaps off the team all-together. Jenkins has had the proverbial roller coaster career in Dallas, with one Pro Bowl season, a decent season here, and a horrid season there, mixed with nagging injuries and then the questionable play on the field. Who can forget the well documented whiffed tackles and pull backs on contact. All of this doomed Jenkins, and made his position a target for an upgrade this weekend. Ryan doesn’t want players who won’t tackle, and Garrett wants his own guy at the end of the day.
Round 3: Tyrone Crawford, DE
The Cowboys needed to add depth at DE, and Crawford will be an instant impact player, there’s no doubt he will get his snaps this season. Crawford will basically be Marcus Spears replacement and upgrade. Spears was a first round drafted player and his production never translated and he was more of a run stuffing type and thats it. Crawford brings a more polished skill set, and will bring pressure up the pocket in addition to playing the run. His motor reminds me of Jason Hatcher, a player Ryan really loves, and the type of guy Garrett wants on defense.
Round 4: Kyle Wilber, OLB
Yet again, another player who will compete and likely end the Anthony Spencer era in Dallas. Wilber is a pass rushing OLB, and will look to get in his snaps immediately. Spencer has been an inconsistent player in Dallas, and his work ethic has been questionable. Who can forget that episode of Hard Knocks when he was fined for being late to meetings, I think this behavior continued under Phillips and he never snapped out of it, well, under Garrett this isn’t going to fly, so his position was targeted this weekend and upgraded with Wilber. Hopefully Spencer will play well for a big contract for another team, it won’t be in Dallas.
Round 4: Matt Johnson, Safety
Watching the live war room feed this weekend showed me the Cowboys really wanted to nab this player, and will definitely compete for a role this season. We have Brodney Pool and Gerald Sensabaugh, but Johnson will give us depth there, and he could push for starting position. His collegiate career was impressive and he has a knack for going after the ball. Safety was a need, and the Cowboys got their target.
Round 5: Danny Coale, WR
The Cowboys are setting themselves up to be in good shape in regards to finding that ever elusive #3 WR, and adding Coale will make the competition that much better. Coale has a solid frame, great hands, and is being described as one of the best route runners coming out of college. The Packers have a similar player in Jordy Nelson, but Coale has better hands. I’m excited about this pick and I think with Coale and Radway, we’re going to be fine.
Round 6: James Hannah, TE
Its no secret the Cowboys needed to add another TE to the mix with the departure of 2nd round bust Martellus Bennett. Hannah will give us depth behind Witten and Phillips, he’ll push Phillips as well. This is going to be a key year for Phillips, with Bennett gone, his number will be called upon, and Hannah could see playing time too.
Round 7: Caleb McSurdy, ILB
Caleb McSurdy will have the opportunity to make the team on special teams, and compete for a depth spot at LB. Some have already written him off, but I think he has a great opportunity here in Dallas. He’s a tackling machine, and if you’re going to expand and learn from other guys on the team look no further than two tackling monsters in Sean Lee and Dan Connor. McSurdy has the build of a Zach Thomas and his speed is about the same, but the production can come with opportunity. We’ll see how he picks up the schemes.