The draft is in the bag, and fans are still getting over the disappointment of the Cowboys not drafting their guy, but this happens every year. The weeks leading up to the draft, rumors swirl and mock drafts make for fun entertainment. What we do know is that the Cowboys drafted 12 players, and the theme was defense, special teams, and competition. Let’s break down the 12 players and project their impact on the 2009 roster.
3rd (#69): Jason Williams,LB, Western Illinois - When I saw this pick it screamed Kevin Burnett’s replacement for the nickel, and special teamer. Williams is an immediate upgrade in all areas. He brings the speed and motor missing from a much injury nagged Burnett. This was a good pick, and will be an immediate contributor on defense.
3rd (#75): Robert Brewster, OT, Ball State – Brewster is another mountain of a man who will hopefully do something our other past offensive lineman have failed to do, push for a starting job. Brewster is a projected LG, and is going to be looked at to make a run at Kosier’s LG spot, the weakest link on the offensive line.
4th (#101): Stephen McGee, QB, Texas A&M – we knew quarterback was probably going to be addressed somewhere in this draft, and McGee will likely make the team as the #3 QB and play understudy to Kitna and Romo.
4th (#110): Victor Butler, DE, Oregon State – an aggressive defensive lineman, who will be moved to OLB, he has a pass rushing motor and physique that will be disruptive. Look for Butler to be in the rotation at OLB.
4th (#120): Brandon Williams, DE, Texas Tech – another aggressive defensive lineman who will be moved to OLB, he will also play a role in rotation, either behind Spencer and/or Ware
5th (#143): DeAngelo Smith, CB, Cincinnati - one of two swagger driven defensive backs from Cincinnati will play a role on special teams, and is already being looked at as a tweener back, like Scandrick; where in, he can be plugged in at safety or cornerback.
5th (#166): Mike Hamlin, S, Clemson – a safety was a target and the Cowboys have a good one here, with height, and ballhawking skills. Hamlin will likely make a push to be a backup this year to Sensabaugh, and could be the guy in 2010 if he becomes what the Cowboys want him to be.
5th (#172): David Buehler, K, USC – versatility gives value in a player like Buehler. He’ll be looked at as a special teamers ace. He can tackle, pass the ball, catch, and kick the deep ball. His position title may be changed sometime in training camp, maybe to safety.
6th (#197): Stephen Hodge, SS, TCU – another special teamers ace will be added with Stephen Hodge, and depth at the safety position. I see Hodge providing some solid coverage skills in the return game.
6th (#208): John Phillips, TE, Virginia – the Cowboys like to carry 4 tight ends, Phillips will likely be a practice squad candidate unless he beats out Rodney Hannah. We’ll see
7th (#227): Mike Mickens, CB, Cincinnati – next to DeAngelo Smith, Mickens was very productive and good at snatching the ball out of the air, this duo could play with alot of confidence on the field and bring those playmaking highlights to Dallas.
7th (#229): Manuel Johnson, WR, Oklahoma - practice squad candidate, it’ll be a hard sale for Johnson to have any impact on a full stable of receivers, but you never know.
Going into training camp, these pack of players come in hungry and ready to make the roster, so look for the new rookie crop to push and possibly replace some status-quo players still on the roster. Competition will bring out the best in the rookies and veterans; moreover, the best players will make the starting lineup.
Veterans in trouble
Greg Ellis leads the list of vets in trouble based on what we drafted. Butler and Williams are linebackers of a similar mold to Ellis, so Ellis is likely to be a June cut, simple as that. Of course nothing will be said in public, but the writing is on the wall.
Pat Watkins is a Parcells relic and not in the mold of a Phillips defensive back, so last season’s injury riddled year may have been his swan song with Dallas, but we’ll see. Neck injuries can linger and stop him from being effective.
Alan Ball barely made this team in 2007 and saw limited playing time outside special teams, and didn’t look that impressive in coverage when given the chance, he could lose his spot.
Deon Anderson will make or lose his spot based on what he does in camp, any of these new rookies could replace him, we could see Buehler or Phillips move to a HB/FB spot and just snatch his spot, especially if they perform better in both spots. Anderson is ok as FB, and good in special teams. I could easily see Anderson make the team, but we’ll see what the coaches think about his value at FB/ST