Jones And Hyde: Jerry's Dark Side Returns
If you ask most followers of the Dallas Cowboys, the team actually has two GMs. There is Good Jerry: the general manager who either stays put in the draft or even trades up to get quality players — Good Jerry moved up in 2010 to draft Dez Bryant and again in 2012 to nab Morris Claiborne. Then there is Bad Jerry: the general manager who trades down out of the first round — and sometimes even out of the first two rounds — and winds up with drafts like 2009, when 12 players are taken and none of them are on the roster four seasons later.
Unfortunately for the Cowboys, Bad Jerry showed up for the 2013 NFL Draft. To be fair, the Cowboys did a very good job with their five picks on Saturday, and nearly filled all of the team’s apparent needs — both Jones’ and Monte Kiffin’s claims that the defensive line is “a position of strength” to the contrary. However, the damage Bad Jerry did on Thursday and Friday doomed what could have been an A-graded draft class to a C-graded draft class at best — and that is even if both Travis Frederick and Gavin Escobar turn out to be long-time starters for Dallas.
The problem isn’t so much as who Bad Jerry drafted as it is where he drafted them, and it starts with the very first move Bad Jerry made in the first round: trading down from No. 18 to No. 31. LSU S Eric Reid was on the board, and would have been an excellent pick at No. 18. Dallas needed a safety in this draft, and essentially traded him to San Francisco, who eagerly took him to replace Dashon Goldson — this may come back to haunt Dallas for years to come.
Getting a seventh pick in the draft was not all that bad, but only getting a third-rounder in the deal merely compounded Dallas’ error. The 49ers first pick in the second round at No. 34 was probably not a possibility, but their second pick at No. 61 would have been better than what Dallas settled for. Then Dallas turned their error into a catastrophe when they went on the clock at 31. They selected Frederick, who, at best, was a third-rounder. After Frederick, the next center would not be taken until the fourth round, so it isn’t like there was a big run on the position that dictated Dallas reaching so much.
Friday’s second round was little better as Dallas again reached by taking Escobar at No. 47. He’s probably going to be a decent tight end, and may even replace Jason Witten as the starter down the road. But he, like Frederick, was a third-rounder at best.
As mentioned before, Dallas recovered nicely on Saturday, but the damage had already been done. And while this class does not look like it will be as much of a bust as Dallas’ “Worthless Dozen” of 2009 turned out to be, there is no doubt that this could have turned out so much better had Dallas been a little smarter on Thursday.
Even if Frederick and Escobar were must haves for Dallas — and from post draft comments by Jones it appears they were — Bad Jerry had to understand that these players weren’t as high on the boards of the other 31 teams. We’ll even give Dallas the benefit of the doubt that picking up that seventh pick was also a must.
So here is how Dallas could have walked away from the draft with seven players and the top two players on their board.
First, the trade with the 49ers should have been for picks No. 31 and No. 61 in exchange for the 18th. When No. 31 went on the clock, the Cowboys should have drafted Florida S Matt Elam — a much better safety than J.J. Wilcox, who Dallas eventually selected on Saturday.
With the 47th pick, Dallas could have gone ahead and taken Escobar and then grabbed Frederick at 61. The pair would still have been a reach, but not as much as they were the way Dallas actually picked, and at least Dallas would have addressed two major needs while getting the two players they most coveted.
Terrance Williams was taken at 74, and would still have been on the board at 80 where Dallas grabbed Wilcox, who would not have been needed with Elam already in the fold.
After that, the way Dallas drafted, B.W. Webb in the fourth, Joseph Randle in the fifth and DeVonte Holloman in the sixth was very solid. I would have liked to have seen Dallas grab Jonathan Franklin in the fourth round and take Webb in the fifth, but that is a very minor issue. Randle should turn out just fine.
The Cowboys can still overcome another draft by Bad Jerry if the offense comes together and cuts down on turnovers and penalties, while the defensive tackles on the roster step up and perform better than expected. But they are clearly not starting the 2013 season as well as they could have, and it’s all because of one bad decision on Thursday night.