As we continue to concentrate on the upcoming draft, everyone has an opinion on how their team should approach the best method for talent acquisition. The first problem for a team like the Cowboys is there are more needs than can be filled in one draft. In fact, it is unreasonable to expect to pull more than two first year starters from any single draft (without multiple 1st round picks) for even the best drafting teams. It could happen, but itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just as likely, if not more, to only hit on one or no first year starters. With that in mind, we are starting a new series here at YDDCF: Ã¢â‚¬Å“He Said, She Said.”
Who to take with thatÃ‚Â first round pick? That is the million dollar question that canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t truly be answered until the Cowboys are on the clock. But since waiting till then is no fun, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look at a head to head for two players that are being linked to the CowboysÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ first round pick: Aaron Donald-DT, Pitt and Calvin Pryor-S, Louisville.
When dealing with limited resources (7 draft picks plus any compensatory picks), the areas of strength & weakness of the current roster will impact these decisions as will the number of viable alternatives available at any given position in the draft. In reviewing the current roster, the need for pass-rushing help at both DE and DT is both pervasive and overwhelming. Because of this, many draft observers are focusing all their attention on shoring up that obvious area of weakness and Aaron Donald has become a very popular choice to start that process. In todayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s pass happy NFL; the Cowboys also have a need for the centerfielder FS type which they are sorely lacking. The Cowboys have some talent (Church) & recently acquired assets (Wilcox, Heath) at the safety position. Barry Church is listed as the FS but any reasonable Cowboys observer can see he plays more like an in the box SS. The skill sets of both Wilcox and Heath lead me to believe that they are both best suited for that same SS role. That means I would eliminate taking another SS type at this pick and I believe that HaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Sean Clinton-Dix is precisely that. That leaves me with Calvin Pryor as the best safety to meet this need.
If both are available at the Cowboys pick I would take Calvin Pryor. This is where we get back the number of options available at each need. In this draft, the consensus is that potential 1st year contributing quality DL and depth OL will be available throughout the 1st two days of May’s draft while there are very few quality options for a center fielder type FS. This would make drafting the FS (Pryor) a better use of limited resources at 16 or 17 than any but the absolute best pass rushing prospect (i.e. Clowney).
Another reason I would select the FS over the pass rusher is made apparent when you look at how each position is utilized in the Cowboys current system. Rod MarinelliÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s preferred method of deploying his Ã¢â‚¬Å“rushmenÃ¢â‚¬Â is to bring them in waves at the opposing QB. Not unlike what we have seen with the RB position, this platooning inherently reduces the absolute value of any single Ã¢â‚¬Å“rushmanÃ¢â‚¬Â as they will be on the field in a rotation when used. If the optimal usage of a pass rushing draft pick is that they play under 75% of the plays, it would stand to reason that not having one great one can be overcome with multiple good ones (see Seattle).
This is the opposite of the way the centerfielder (FS) is used in this scheme, especially as the scheme has morphed into more single-high than true 2-deep alignments. The center fielder will be on the field EVERY play and will be tasked as the last line of defense for a bend-donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t-break system. The ability to Ã¢â‚¬Å“Keep the Top onÃ¢â‚¬Â the defense against vertical receivers and jump balls at an above average level is as important to the success of the defense as speeding up the QBÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s progressions up front. Couple that with the fact that this player would be on the field for every play and the FS (Calvin Pryor) would constitute the most efficient use of the Cowboys first round pick. But don’t take my word for it, check out PryorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s draft profile page on NFL.com and see which current player to whom it says he is comparable: http://www.nfl.com/draft/2014/profiles/calvin-pryor?id=2543469
I’m sold. I just hope no one drafting Ã‚Â ahead of the Cowboys feels the same.