The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Class: What if the team had a redo?

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Jonathan Bales

**Note:  I have been busy traveling so I apologize I haven’t gotten to your comments in the last couple of days.  I read through them and there are a lot of great thoughts, so I will be responding as soon as possible.

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If given the opportunity to look back upon the draft, it is unlikely any NFL team would select the exact same players.  By knowing who is left at certain spots, teams would be able to potentially bypass a position of need in order to secure value later, knowing a player they covet will still be available.  In my opinion, this is actually the strongest evidence for my argument that teams should not actually always take the best player available on their board.  Given perfect knowledge, a team could obtain optimal overall value by selecting something other than the top player on their board at each spot (although sometimes need, value and position scarcity intersect perfectly, as I believe they did with the selection of Tyron Smith).

One might argue that a change in one team’s pick would have a domino effect that would result in a drastically different draft outcome–that is, each selection is dependent on the ones before it in such a way that no team’s pick can be isolated from the others.  The strength of this domino effect is debatable, but the key point is that, at least in theory, NFL teams would generally select different players if given perfect knowledge of how a draft will turn out (or even percentages of how each scenario might play out).

Below, I have given you the “perfect” selections for the Cowboys in each spot.  This may not be totally fair to our analysis of the Cowboys’ actual draft–no team can come close to completely uncovering the selections behind them–but it is still fun.

The Perfect Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft

Round 1- Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Yup, I’m keeping the same guy here.  Many of you will disagree, perhaps preferring players like Nick Fairley or JJ Watt, but I think the ‘Boys hit a home run with this selection.  In my 2011 Cowboys Draft Grades, I gave the selection an “A” because of the combination of Smith’s current skill level and his future upside.

I personally hate the idea of people labeling Smith a “risky” draft pick.  The idea is completely erroneous and, ironically, it stems from his upside.  For some reason, the media likes to label high upside picks as risky players.  Similarly, a player with less skill is often called a “safe” pick.  If you asked 100 media types before the draft if Smith or Wisonsin’s Gabe Carimi was the safer pick, 99 would have said Carimi.  Why?  Because he is worse?  Because he is more limited in his game?  The idea is ridiculous.  High upside does not necessitate high risk.

Smith is an extremely safe pick.  He is very intelligent, possesses great character, and works harder than just about anyone.  Add this to his versatility and current overall ability, and you have one of the safest picks in the draft.  His incredible upside is a bonus that should do nothing to determine the depths of his downside.

Round 2- Ben Ijalana, OT/OG, Villanova

The highest player left on my Big Board after the first round was Gerogia’s Justin Houston, but I am bypassing him for another offensive lineman.  The selection of Smith should have done nothing to dissuade Dallas from selecting Ijalana in the second round because he has the versatility to move to guard.  The Cowboys clearly coveted interior linemen with their selections of David Arkin and Bill Nagy in the fourth and seventh rounds, respectively.  Ijalana was the 11th rated player on my board.

Miami cornerback Brandon Harris would have also been fine by me.

Round 3- Martez Wilson, ILB/OLB, Illinois

There is no way Wilson should have dropped to the third round.  He has the versatility to play inside or outside in a 3-4 scheme–a trait the Cowboys probably valued in second-round pick Bruce Carter.  It would be interesting to see if the team would have passed on Carter in the second if they knew Wilson was available in the third.  I had him rated as my No. 21 overall player, and the fourth-best available after the first round.

Round 4- Buster Skrine, CB, Tennessee-Chattanooga

Skrine went to the Browns in the fifth round, and I loved the pick (and their entire draft).  He can flat out fly and, although I generally place little value in the 40-yard dash, it does mean something for cornerbacks.  They need to be able to let a receiver get even with them before flipping their hips and chasing them down in the event that the receiver goes deep.  Skrine, like other late-round/undrafted cornerbacks Orlando Scandrick and Bryan McCann, possesses that ability.  He had a ridiculous 3.9-second short shuttle time.

Round 5- Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh

The Cowboys reportedly had DeMarco Murray so high on their board that they couldn’t pass on him.  It would be interesting to see how highly they rated Lewis and what they may have done if they knew Lewis would drop to the fifth round.  Jason Garrett clearly wanted a running back who can catch the football, and Lewis can do just that.  He was No. 5 in my pre-draft running back rankings.

Round 6- Jerrell Powe, NT, Ole Miss

I was shocked that Powe lasted until nearly the seventh round.  At 335 pounds, he’s a pure nose tackle who I thought could easily go in the third round.  It appears that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is content with Jay Ratliff in the middle, but I really thought the Cowboys could have upgraded two positions by selecting a nose tackle.

Round 7A- Lawrence Guy, DT/DE, Arizona State

The Cowboys’ defensive line is awfully weak to not even address it throughout the entire draft.  Hopefully Dallas has plans to do so in free agency, but I personally would have done so in the draft.  Guy is a prototypical 3-4 end who could potentially benefit from the move to a five-technique position.

Round 7B- Deunta Williams, FS, UNC

I am in disbelief that Williams did not get drafted, thinking he would go as early as the third round.  He’s a highly athletic free safety with great upside–exactly what you should seek in the seventh round.  He should be at the top of the Cowboys’ undrafted free agent wish list. . .whenever teams are allowed to sign undrafted players.

Which draft do you prefer. . .the Cowboys’ actual 2011 class, or my “dream” draft?

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11 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Class: What if the team had a redo?

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    This “redo” draft is ROCKIN!

    Only truly sad thing about it is that it was COMPLETELY possible. The Colts actually moved UP to get Ijalana in the mid 40s after we passed on him. Martez Wilson was the next pick after Demarco Murray.

  2. JJ says:

    JB

    I’m making up for lack of posts during draft speculation as I am far from a pre draft expert. I can say, however, that at this point, all I care about is winning. How these players factor in the equation. How Free Agency, both for vets and rookie FAs, comes through. How 2nd year players improve this year. The impact of new coaching from Ryan, Wocik, etc help the team.

    I will continue my mantra that we are very weak at DE relative to championship need. I’m ASSUMING we’ll get some DBs in FA but hope miracles occur on the DLine.

  3. Jonny Danger says:

    Makes me sad to see this thanks a lot man. Haha I’m starting to like our draft and going to believe in Demarco and once Carter gets into the mix I may end up buying his jersey. Sean Lee and Carter duo might be fun to see. Quickness, intelligence and power Bruce Lee baby. I love that Arkin has a mean streak and how he finishes plays. Finally got a true slot receiver as well I never cared for ogletree at all. I remember folks on DC.com screaming for him back in 09 I believe it was. I just laughed at them. Haven’t taken the time to look up on the others but I laughed when I saw our new FB’s hair poor fella. He may be a very solid pick however. Just win Dallas. Be smart,strong,quick and just win.

  4. I will be buying Tyron Smith’s ASAP haha. I think he’ll be here for awhile and he’s a favorite of mine. And I agree Harris is going to surprise some people in the slot, primarily in 2012 and beyond.

  5. Mark Watkins says:

    I’d take your ‘dream’ draft hands down. Martez Wilson may very well end up being better than Bruce Carter. I’m worried about Carter’s durability. And they would have two solid O-linemen, two possibly solid D-linemen, a good CB and a running back who could be as good or better as Murray. I am kind of excited about the receiver and corner they they drafted, but we’ll see how they pan out. I just thought that Carter and Murray were reaches, largely because of durability concerns, and that the last two picks were really questionable, considering the limited impact they could have. I was watching when Nagy was drafted and the Wisconsin head coach was on the set. He seemed kind of surprised that Nagy was drafted- he asked who was drafted- and didn’t really have great things to say, other than commenting on his versatility.

  6. chris stallcup says:

    Wow…..johnny danger you made me laugh so freaking hard haha I hope it works out just for the fun of screaming.bruce lee at a football game hahahaha

  7. moses says:

    Great list. Get rid of the Cowboy Scouting dept and use your website!

    I would have traded down and tried to get Smith plus additional picks.
    But I really love the idea of getting Ijalana in the 2nd.
    I hated the Murray RB pick. We had too many needs and there was a lot of good value in the 3rd like Wilson ( and he isn’t coming off of season ending injury like Carter)

  8. Ian says:

    I like this version better with the exception of the 3rd and 4th round picks. I would have taken Kendrick Ellis in the 3rd and Brandon Burton in the 4th. Would look for a ILB in free agency.

  9. Knowbody says:

    Bruce Carter is the guy weve been looking for on third down. They are hard to find and we got a guy who can play ALL THREE DOWNS…

  10. Starmesh says:

    Anybody can criticize a team about their picks in hindsight. If Jason Garrett had a do over I’m sure some picks late in the draft would be different, but he didn’t. So lets move on and embrace what we have. Garrett had a plan and we did well taking the BPA instead of falling victim to reaching for needs.

  11. Starmesh..I wasn’t criticizing JG at all. Of course picks would be different with hindsight. This was just for fun.

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