I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I would be quite happy and satisfied if my football team drafted nothing but offensive and defensive linemen with each and every pick in any respective NFL Draft.
The Cowboys didn’t quite do that, but it was the first draft in franchise history in which the team did not draft either a quarterback, a wide receiver or a running back.
Ah, yes, a running back. Many, if not most, Cowboy fans were expecting Jerry Jones to draft one at some point during the draft. The 60th overall pick in the second round had runners Tevin Coleman, Duke Johnson and Jay Ajayi sitting there for the taking. But also sitting there was Randy Gregory, who had been slotted as high as the top-10 of many mock drafts prior to the combine and a marijuana possession charge.
See, Randy, there’s this popular kids game called Chutes and Ladders, and versions of it are played in the football world each spring around the NFL Draft. You found a long chute that happened to land at the feet of Jerry Jones. And I do not blame him for taking you.
Yes, Gregory has some red flags. Yes, that’s not ideal with any player you are adding to the roster. There are some reports that Gregory actually suffers from bipolar disorder. Whatever the case, the Cowboys seem confident that their support system can take care of him. And for what it’s worth, the last pass rusher with bipolar disorder that played for the Cowboys did pretty well for himself as the only man with five Super Bowl rings and a date with the Hall of Fame this August.
But back to our main topic – taking linemen over skill players in the draft. Sure, the Cowboys could have taken any of those name running back instead of Gregory, but the main thing they did was stay true to themselves, didn’t succumb to the urge to trade up and grab a player (or position) they liked and instead let the draft come to them. And when it did, they took the highest player, regardless of position, on their board.
Want another reason why I love this philosophy? I’ll give you two – the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Both teams have historically stayed put and not traded in or around their picks, simply trusting their scouting and taking the best players on their draft board. Both are contenders most years in this league and are prime examples in this league of how to run a franchise.
So in the end, the Cowboys’ draft haul ended up being a corner (Byron Jones) who could start on day one (and possibly play safety), two D-linemen known for their pass rushing ability (Gregory and Ryan Russell), a depth linebacker (Damien Wilson), two offensive linemen who help stem the loss of Jermey Parnell and add more horses to the stable (Chaz Green and Laurence Gibson), and a blocking tight end (Geoff Swaim).
Seven new players drafted that all make the Cowboys a better team today than they were last week. Jerry may have not made all of his picks offensive or defensive linemen, but five of the seven are. Yes, the position of running back remains a hole on this roster, but Jerry has time and options to figure that one out. You cannot approach the draft as a way to fill holes on your current squad. You must draft the best players that fall your way to avoid holes in the future.