The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Should the Cowboys Make a Run at G Carl Nicks?

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Jonathan Bales

In the past week or so, I have written extensively on the Cowboys’ offensive line.  In my last post (a look at some interesting offensive statistics from 2011), I hit you with these numbers:

  • Montrae Holland checked in at 20th among all guards in terms of pass protection efficiency, allowing some sort of pressure on 2.5% of pass plays.  This confirms my thought that Holland was very underrated this year. Kyle Kosier was 33rd at 3.2%.  He was just a league-average guard in 2011.
  • Phil Costa was 29th in the NFL among centers with 2.7% pass protection efficiency.  He really shouldn’t start in 2012, although he probably will.

It is pretty clear the interior line is in disarray in Dallas, and something needs to be done to fix it.  I suggested moving Doug Free to right guard and drafting a right tackle in the first round (with Tyron Smith obviously kicking to the left side).  There are some pros and cons to that plan, but I like it because it instantly upgrades two spots.

Others have suggested the Cowboys might make a run at impending free agent guard Carl Nicks, though.  Although Jerry Jones has refrained from signing big-money free agents since Jason Garrett has taken over as head coach, this is one I actually believe the ‘Boys should jump all over.  Here’s why.

Nicks will command a hefty contract, but guards are continually underpaid in the NFL.  He won’t garner nearly as much money as an elite left tackle, but his impact (for Dallas, especially) isn’t that much less than his tackle counterpart.  We saw how much a weak interior line can affect an offense in 2011.  Don’t let it happen again in 2012.

Nicks was the No. 2 ranked guard by Pro Football Focus, yielding only eight pressures all season.  He had the second-highest pass blocking efficiency in the NFL, allowing a sack, hit or pressure on just 1.4% of pass plays.  Nicks is a dominant run blocker as well.  Saints running backs averaged a ridiculous 5.96 yards-per-carry when Nicks was at the point-of-attack this season.  Compare those numbers with the Cowboys’ interior linemen (above).  Dallas backs averaged less than four yards per carry when running behind Holland in 2011, and he’s a player whose run blocking I praised as solid.

Personally, I don’t think the acquisition of Nicks means the team should automatically forget about switching Free’s position.  A tackle-to-guard transition might not seem as appealing with Nicks in town, but an offensive line of Smith, Nicks, Kosier (who can play center), Free, and a rookie right tackle looks pretty damn good to me.  Throw in Holland and Phil Costa as backups, and you’re all set.

Either way, Nicks is a player who the Cowboys should seriously consider.  He will demand a pretty penny, but guards are repeatedly undervalued.  He’s a player on whom to break the bank this offseason.

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29 Responses to Should the Cowboys Make a Run at G Carl Nicks?

  1. valmont says:

    x + y = z

    and

    x = z – y

    here’s one more hint.

    z = $120M

  2. Rick says:

    defense

  3. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I’m of the opinion that moving Free to RT will still be a problem.

    For whatever reason, Dallas players have a knack for showing up for a year leading everyone (coaching staff and FO included) into believing they are some emerging talen then showing who they really are. Free is one example. Others include Austin, Jenkins, MBIII, FJ and even Dez to some degree.

    Make no mistake, elite players show up again and again regardless of circumstances, the personel around them, etc. There’s no questioning Ware or Wttten’s elite status – same for Larry Fitzgerald, Megatron, Polumalu, Patrick Willis, Brady, Brees, etc. Time and time again, the same guys prove they are superstars – elite players for more than 3 years.

    Moving Free doesn’t solve the problem because there are still a ton of great pass-rushing LOLBs like Kerrigan, Orakpo, Clay Matthews, Cushing, etc. Quite simply, Jonathan is right in that the Cowboys would be better served w/ moving Free to interior lineman (OG), sucking up the cost of paying him like a franchise LT (which never should’ve happened) and DRAFTING at RT. Drafting one vs. signing one in FA is cheaper and allows for the player to come into the franchise brand new, w/o previous NFL coaching and prior prejudices/scheme of play learned, etc.

    Doug Free is an OG. Tyron Smith is a T (be it RT or LT). It’s time to go out and get another T – paying $6 mil / yr for Carl Nicks will help but tie up financial resources that need to be spent elsewhere (like at CB).

  4. Vince_Grey says:

    Tyrone – How can you say unequivocally that Free is a guard when he’s NEVER played that position? OTOH, he HAS played RT and played at least at an above average level there. Bottom line, and no offense, but you’re just guessing and fantasy wishing more than anything else on this one.

    JB – Signing Nicks has a lot of advantages, like getting an All Pro guard who won’t turn 27 until this May. No question the O-line would get instantly upgraded, and you would still have your high picks for defense.

    OTOH, there’s the cost, not so much this season as later on. You would have two O-linemen signed to big contracts (Free & Nicks) but don’t forget in a few years you’ll have Tyron coming up for his second contract, and if you think Nicks and Free were/are expensive, what do you think a Pro Bowl/All Pro LT (Projecting here) who would still be, what, under 25… ?, will be worth on the open market? Hint: Mega-bucks, baby.

    The signing would also pretty much put the kibosh on signing any even-moderately priced defensive FA’s, limiting our defense upgrades to only the draft and lower-cost FA’s.

    It’s a bold move, but risky. I really like that the guy is only 27. Should have 5-7 prime years left at worst.

    Still on the fence here. Generally, I’m against signing high dollar FA’s. They never seem to be worth the price, but I guess it depends on exactly how pricey the signing would become.

  5. Tom H says:

    How are they going to pay for Nicks???? Plus why would the guy want to switch teams. The Saints will try like heck to re-sign him, and the home team will usually win. Especially when they are playoff contenders.

    This idea is just wishful thinking, sorry. I think it’s a waste of time to even discuss.

    Free to G and now Kosier to C??? The ideas batted around are just getting silly.

    Free is a T, not a G, and there is zero evidence to show me why people think he’s capable of playing that spot. He’s getting paid to be a T, he’s played well as a T, there is no reason to kick him inside.

    Kosier looks done to me. He’s a good teammate, was a smart, tough underrated G who exceeded expectations, but he’s lost a step and he’s never been strong at the point of attack. Again, these position changes are more fanciful than realistic.

    Smith to LT, Free to RT, and likely Holland starting at one of the G spots. Now Dallas can fill in at least one of the other 2 spots in the draft. (I like DeCastro a lot). I see 3 young guys who could fight for the C spot, already on the roster. Costa, Kowalski, and Nagy, or they could try to find a vet C. This seems like a more realistic plan for next season.

  6. Vince_Grey says:

    Tom – The Cowboys COULD afford Nicks. Stephen Jones said the other day that they could theoretically sign any free agent they wanted, if they wanted them badly enough. And, as great as Nicks is, JB’s correct in saying that guards don’t bring nearly what LT’s, pass rushers, top CB’s, and QB’s command.

    The best news in signing the guy is that you could stretch his contract out (IE: The Signing Bonus) out over 7-8 years and still have a really good player at the end, likely one with a 2-3 quality years left.

    As for Nicks preferring to stay in New Orleans, yes, that’s likely true, but we ARE the Dallas Cowboys and most football players tend to go where the money, and their earning potential, are the best. Nicks plays great here and he’s all but set for life. And the Saints have cap issues as well, with Brees and some others coming up for renewal.

    Plus, bottom line, when has Jerry NOT gotten who he really wanted?

    Again, I’m normally against high dollar free agents, but this one just might work out. I’m warming up to it more and more as I think about it.

  7. valmont says:

    I’ll flush that equation out

    z = salary cap
    x = money allocated to non-OL
    y = money allocated to OL

    this year it looked like

    Free/Nagy/Costa/Kosier/Smith
    $8M + $0.4M + $0.4M + $1M + $5M = $14.4M

    So far I’ve heard Dallas can move Free to guard bc it’s a ‘sunk cost’, they can sign Nicks, and they can draft Reiff. To show the extreme, that’s

    Reiff/Free/Costa/Nicks/Smith

    $5M +$8M +$0.4M + $7M + $5M = $25.4M

    therefore

    x = $120M – $25.4M

    x = $95M

    so what salaries do you cut without replacing?

    if you want to say cut Newman, save $8M, cool, but what’s the plan? Replace Newman with a veteran minimum player (e.g. Frank Walker)?

  8. Tom H says:

    I’d like Nicks, but after last season’s low ball FA signings, I wonder exactly how much is realistic to assume the Boys can pay. I really thought they would make a run at Cullen Jenkins, but they did not seem able to afford him. They did not even manage to re-sign Bowen (though maybe they felt WAS overpaid for him).

    At any rate I have read articles saying the Boys will have some cap room next season, and some articles saying they were up against the cap ceiling last year and will be close again in 2012. This is all surprising to me as I thought Stephen Jones had been managing the cap effectively.

    Bottom line, improve the OL. If that is through the draft, I’m on board and feel that’s the better way to go. But if they can afford a top quality young G like Nicks and manage to woo him away from the Saints I won’t complain. I just feel like it’s a cap issue unfortunately, that prevented Dallas from landing any big name FA’s last season (or even medium name FA’s), and will again next season.

  9. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG,

    I can understand your apprehension about moving Free to OG. It was the same apprehension everyone seemed to have when the suggestion of moving Larry Allen to OG (he started out as a LT and was a damn good one at that). Leonard Davis had prior history of playing OG either but he was solid in his prime.

    What makes a player better at one position vs. another is their STYLE of play. Jonathan had another post about moving Free inside and I posted my argument there. Hell, we could move Free to DT or TE (since he played both of those before) and he’d probably be fair at both. But, that doesn’t mean he’s cut out for those positions in the NFL…

    Does anyone really think Free’s play at LT this year (for the ENTIRE year) was a fluke?

  10. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Valmont,

    I think what’s being tossed around is:

    Smith/Arkin/Costa/Free/Reiff.

    If you acquire Nicks, then you don’t get Reiff and vice versa – keeps costs down.

  11. valmont says:

    “If you acquire Nicks, then you don’t get Reiff and vice versa”

    supposedly Free is a ‘sunk cost’ and you don’t need to worry about where you play him.

    anyway, I’m being sarcastic and ragging on an obvious mistake, and obvious mistake that tends to pervade all these discussions. Non-OL allocation = Salary Cap – OL Allocation. The more you spend on OL, the less you can spend on everything else.

    Dallas just went from Colombo at $1M / yr to Free at $8M/ yr. That’s $7M / yr less for everything else. Signing Nicks at $7M / yr increases the OL allocation another $6.5M relative to 2011, which another $6.5M less for everything else.

    IMO, any suggestion that doesn’t say how the incremental $6.5M should be paid for, is a waste of time.

    You think Nicks is a good idea? Ok, like I said, where do you find the money (and cutting Newman isn’t an answer, Newman has to be replaced, cutting Newman’s $8M and identifying a replacement that only costs $1.5M / yr, net change $6.5M is an answer).

  12. Vince_Grey says:

    Tom – Couple of key differences between Cullen and Nicks. Cullen’s five years older, already over 30, and he’s never been an All-Pro or even a Pro Bowler. Nicks is 26 and is already been named All-Pro. Signing high dollar free agents who are already over 30 is very bad business IMO.

    Tyrone – Uh, Larry Allen was drafted to be a G all the time, he just wound up at T due to Eric Williams getting injured in that silly car crash, plus we lost some key free agent O-linemen as well. As soon as they could manage, there was no question LA was moving back to OG, though I agree he did a fine job at T that season. LA is a HoF lock. Multi time All-Pro at G and a Pro Bowler at T. That’s a whole different bird than moving Doug Free around. I’m not saying he can’t do it at all, but I wouldn’t want to go into the year counting on him at OG. For one thing, he’s not close to the right body type. Free is tall and not massive at all. No, just put Free back at RT and see if he develops into a solid starter there. If not, THEN go to plan C, I guess.

    Smith/Arkin/Costa/Free/Reiff – I don’t like this line-up AT ALL. You kidding me with this? Other than Smith, this whole line is a bad idea waiting to happen, at least this year. Arkin is no where near ready to start. Costa needs work and a lot of it. Free learning to play G, `nuff said on that. Reiff? Who really knows? This line would get Romo killed inside of 3-4 games. Brutal.

    Personally, as defense is more of a “young, spit & fire” position, I’d use draft picks for the D and let the O-line get handled by what we have and FA. There’s no question Hicks would cost a lot, but I see no downside to signing him to a long term deal, barring some crazy career threatening injury.

    If not Hicks, then some other, more moderately priced G. You can find a good G for decent money. Bottom line, use our (high) picks for DEFENSE.

    Valmont – Cutting Newman only saves us about 4 million. His remaining signing bonus would get dumped into this year if we cut him. IE: Lose 8 mil in salary but push the remaining 4 mil (SB) up. Assuming you go cheap and use, say, 2 mil to replace him, we only save about 2 mil net.

  13. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG,

    Perhaps you’re right about Free. My eyeball tells me his playing style better suits the position of guard. Footwork, arm length, etc. His lack of quick feet (as evidenced this past year) coupled with his great ability to turn his hips, pull outside the OT, find the first defensive guy that crosses his face and maul them (which isn’t all that easy to do given the shiftiness of the smaller, quicker defensive players) screams OG to me.Typical NFL tackles have 35-36″ arm lengths, Free’s is 34″ (may not seem like much but in the world of the NFL, it is).

    Much like in basketball a player’s height/body style doesn’t always mean their deemed to play one position only. Magic Johnson was 6’9″ but was a point guard. In football, LBs can be 5’11 (Zach Thomas) or 6’5″ (Urlacher) and play the same position. A 6’5″, 300 lb OG isn’t unheard of – in fact, Nicks is actually bigger. Players should be relegated to playing the position they’re best suited for, regardless of size (not doing so is why they struggle – they’re actually out of position). Free overachieved the times he played T – which was primarily coming in as an injury replacement; when you compare all of the snaps he played at LT, he’s average to below average and had numerous penalties. As we saw, playing LT a full season – sometimes dinged up or possibly injured – is difficult. It requires someone who possess nautral OT skills/footwork. Free may never play OG as long as he’s in the NFL but I’ll still contend that he is one. We’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    As far as that lineup, that was in response to Valmont’s mentioning of the salaries dedicated to the O line. I don’t think it’s a good idea for any team to pay their starting O line over 20% of the total payroll and that’s what would be the case w/ Nicks and Reiff. If you don’t like Reiff (which I’m wondering why when Smith proved that a rookie can start at RT), and you put Free there (and you used the 1st pick on defense), that still leaves Arkin/Nagy and Costa/Kowalski to play the other 2 positions. Either way, there will be weakness on the interior unless another vet is brought in. If you don’t like using the 1st round pick on DeCastro or Reiff, why assume a 2nd or later round pick would be ready to start?

    Furthermore, the NFL has a lot of talent but few elite players. Guys like Brady, Manning, Lawrence Taylor, Deion, etc. only come along every so often. Andrew Luck is supposed to be another one of those types. Only time will tell. The one other player in this draft that has the same label is DeCastro. Comparisons to Steve Hutchinson and Larry Allen abound on multiple websites. Nicks would be an upgrade but DeCastro I don’t think DeCastro’s play in the next 3-4 years would be much less (might be even better) at half the cost. I mean, is there really a debate about NOT trying to get him – someone who just might be one of the best at the postion of OG to play the game and he fills one of the biggest bonafide needs of the team? Really? Is there a defensive player that’s within reach of pick 14 w/ the same elite expectancy? If DeCastro’s a bust (which is highly unlikely), he’d still probably be better than any OG on the roster right now (including Holland).

  14. valmont says:

    “I don’t think it’s a good idea for any team to pay their starting O line over 20% of the total payroll”

    there’s some sanity.

  15. Vince_Grey says:

    TJ – Well first, I agree that if DeCastro is far and away the best player when our time comes, don’t reach down for a significantly lesser defensive player. In THAT case, I’d likely attempt to trade down several slots and pick up an extra 2nd and/or 3rd or even a future 1st, and then go for the best value defensive player (Much preferably a DL or rush LB) still on the board.

    The reasons I’d avoid taking a OL at 14 is that:

    A. We desperately need defensive help, particularly pass rushing help.

    B. There’s a sure fire Pro Bowl OG available out there with ZERO downside, other than the money it will take to sign him, of course. (Nicks) No such animal exists on the defensive side of the ball.

    C. Don’t want to shell out major cheese on a G, even a 26-year-old All Pro? No prob, there’s always several good, solid OG’s available at moderate rates.

    D. Even halfway decent FA pass rushers and DB’s come at severely jacked up prices. G’s are relatively cheap in comparison.

    See what I’m saying? We definitely need to upgrade the interior OL AND the defense, but it’s cheaper to shore up the OL in FA than the defense, plus youth is served far better on D than on O.

    Besides, we need more than just one pick on defense. Out of top 5 rounds, I say try to go defense on at least 3-4 of those if the people are there (Meaning good value for the slot. Don’t reach. Never reach.)

    We also need to start looking for Witten’s eventual replacement (It ain’t MB, that’s just about a lock), and a speedy/quick 3rd down RB/slot guy would be nice, but of course, unless you really hit the jackpot you aren’t going to solve all your issues with one draft. Sure wouldn’t mind spending a 3rd on the next Jimmy Graham/Rob Gronkowski though. Witten was a 3rd rounder as well, so landing a super-stud TE in that area seems very doable.

    JMO, but I think between Arkin, Nagy and Costa there’s at least one good NFL starter there. Eventually.

  16. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    VG,

    I like your thinking I really do. And, normally, I’d be on the bandwagon of defense 1st as well.

    But, this year (of all years is different) for one reason only. I thik DeCastro is a “special” talent. He’s one of those guys that might just be a superstar. Multiple pro bowler, multiple all pro, one of the best to ever play the position. Kinda like the guys on Madden with the 99 score. I’m a true believer that if you had a choice of drafting two guys for your team and you had a chance at drafting a potential beyond elite ( talent > 97) player and that meant your next pick would be a significant drop off (say around 83)

    OR

    two players who are both rated at about 90, that the former scenario is better (even though the combined average of the talent in both scenarios is 90).

    Why? Because ELITE talent almost always makes average guys around them better. Brady makes Gronkowski, Hernandez, Branch and Welker look like superstars. His leadership is better. He challenges them to make plays in a way a guy who’s just good can’t. Branch was a no one in Seattle and Welker was average while in Miami. Randy Moss was considered “done” by the Raiders, who traded him to the Pats for a 4th round pick. A year later, he’s questionably the MVP of the league (only to be beat out by Brady). No one would have ever heard of Pierre Garcon or Anthony Gonzalez or Chris Cooley unless Manning was making them better. And, it’s no wonder guys who possess these beyond elite talents – regardless of the position they play – eventually end up winning the Superbowl. Dan Marino is well known for not winning one (he did get there and lose) but there aren’t many others. In the end, that player rated 83 actually turns out to be much better (because of the direction of the elite talent).

    I’m always been a fan of acquiring those freakishly good talents whenever they come along because they come along so infrequently and are often hard to recognize. But when you think you DO, you go after them. Dallas just might be in the position to do so and I think it would be unwise to defer to someone lesser just because you can get 2 (or more) solid but lesser guys for the price.

    Just my humble opinion – but I do get your point.

  17. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Not Chris Cooley – Dallas Clark (my bad).

  18. Mont Seventeen says:

    You can tell by this conversation, the fan base has zero faith in Jerry drafting a player with a day 2 pick that can fill a role and be reliable. It appears no one has faith the 2010 Oline draft is nothing more than the 09 special teams draft.

    The re-occurring OG nightmare goes back to the Marco Rivera days, why cant this team draft the easiest position in football? Don’t get me wrong I like Nicks as well but that’s a pipedream, with the dead money and the sting Jerry has to be feeling after the Bigg contract. Funny, no one has mentioned Lenard Davis’ contract and play in this exchange. That’s the delusions of spending other ppls money…

    But you NEVE KNOW… I’m sure not one of you would have predicted the Roy trade if you recall what happen after Joey trade. Oh the joyous memories of Jerrys Team continue with the same mistakes different decade .

    Anyway… What if Free is just a better version of Rob Petitti? Or a player on a team desperate to prove its GM can draft talent on the line let alone a hidden gem. This is why Free will move to RT not OG (pride), and his problems will follow him and Jerry will give some vague excuse 11 months and 2 weeks from now ab how “he didn’t see it coming”.

    And this is the guy that ppl give credit for building the 90s oline… But I digress.

    Ppl really forgot, Free never played until he was forced into the lineup by Columbo’s injury… Wasn’t like he beat anyone out, he rode the pine while every fan with a TV was crying ab the oline protecting Romo. He was given the LT spot and maybe his woes can be attributed to he opponents having an in depth scouting report on him, which explains the sudden increase in penalties.

    Some of you ppl act like this is the first offseaon the oline is a priority. LOL! Did you forget how Romo got his job? Do you think this oline is worse than the 06 line? Let’s just ignore those facts and throw more resources at the problem till Romo is too old to play… I guess if it doesn’t work the first 6 years what’s another season, right?

    But back to Free, forget the money, everyone just assumes he can play… Ever cross ur mind he may not be able to play OG, let alone RT… But that’s just coming from a fan that has watched this team brag ab a 3rd round pick, Robert Brewster “changing his body”. James Marten telling the team to take a hike and Jacob Rogers crying.

    Drafting a OG in round one would be laughable, but since this is not a legitimate front office… I could see drafting Decastro working out in a reverse jinx kinda way for Jerry. If this were the Ravens or the Pats drafting Decastro would be a waste if he didn’t show he could play center, why? Decastro is not Hutch he is Danny Watkins, most of his hype comes from playing with Luck. The Prince Amukamara freaks (no he is not one step behind Patrick Peterson, not even close) from last years will be reminded of this as dcast slips on draft day.

    Decastro is a mock draft darling for those that wanna talk draft by just putting 2 and 2 together after paying to see a mock draft. Give a game or a play that impressed you! I watched his bowl game and he whiffed on many blocks and was man handled at times, but I will say this, he has pretty good balance. The OKST DT went to throw his ass but Decast kept his balance…

    If it were me, I would want him to play some center b4 I used a #1 on him.

    But like I said, he could work in Dallas as a “blind squirrel” selection.

    Speaking of Center, Costa main weakness is his lollipop snaps that innately come out consistently erratic in key situations… His blocking should improve just like Kosier did from his 7th round rookie days, or like Stephen Peterman. But his snapping, not good for a team with a QB that is not as effective in “progression” offense.

    Brings me to my next point… No, its not that Jerry and the Romo fan base lacks the patients needed for developing players like Nagy, Arkin, Costa into a Nicks bc the “I toldja so” period is closing fast with Romo pushing 32.

    The problem, Romo is not effective as high caliber QBs when he has time in the pocket. Sure someone will retort with Romos QB rating when allotted significant time in the pocket or some cut rate QB that relies on his D in comparison. But unless you think Romo-friendly all of a sudden means Defense, you know Romo is useless when the passing game has evolved to taking advantage of time in the pocket with back breaking plays by the QB… Romo is more of a Fiametta or Witten check down when he has that time.

    Romos big play comes when he moves the launch point and extends the play…yes he has an occasional cover 2 buster down the sideline but generally that doesn’t take an inordinate amount of time to develop.

    In short what’s the point in having a mobile QB? (Not that Romo is that much more mobile than many QBs in the league). if you have to spend 20 million and first round picks on the Oline. Might as well get someone with a better arm.

    Solution… As usual this time of year Jerry puts out the feelers they will be big players in FA. After last years charade with the Nnamdi high fives, I will believe it when I see it and until then, I will just be satisfied the big FA signing each of the last 3 offseasons, is a video board suspended over a turf I would let my dog play fetch on .

    Real solution… As a Jerry Team realist,

    Luck!

  19. David says:

    I don’t understand how we got to Doug Free being unworthy of the RT spot after one year of lackluster performance at LT. Didn’t we have two years of good to outstanding tackle play from this guy that convinced us he was a winner? He isn’t a failure, he isn’t freaking Robert Gallery, he just had a down year and was overshadowed by an all pro rookie. If we spend a first round pick on the OL again there’s no reason in the world it shouldn’t be Decastro. At our spot in the draft taking some no name RT would be unconscionable. Free will be a very good RT for years to come, I’ve come to except this blog to be less hysterical when it comes to one year of disappointing play from a franchise player.

  20. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Mont,

    Very interesting take. I like that. It never occurred to me that Free just might not be able to play – period. I do think he has value and could easily be the 2nd best O lineman on the team (that’s not saying much) next year. It seems as if he’ll either stay at LT or be moved to RT eventually and time will tell what he ends up being.

    As far as the O line in general and DeCastro’s potential contribution, the last o lineman to be drafted in the 1st 2 rounds by Dallas (besides Tyron) was Jacob Rogers in 2004. After multiple knee surgeries (including microfracture), he was released. Ok – he was a bust. The guy before him, Al Johnson in 2003. Another bust. Gurode was a 2nd rounder the year prior and was a 5 time pro bowler and 2 time all pro (all while he was w/ Dallas). During that time, Dallas also acquired Leonard Davis – a #2 overall pick – who ended up being a 3 time pro bowler and all pro one year (again, all occurred while wearing the star).

    So, if you believe that Tyron will make at least 1 pro bowl in his career, that’d be 3 pro bowl lineman acquired by JJ that have been earned a bid to the pro-bowl while in a Cowboys uniform. By comparison, the Boys have drafted/acquired 7 linebackers during the same time and only 1 so far (Ware) has been to a pro bowl. If you think Lee will someday make it, that’d be 2; still less than the O line.

    Now, as far as Romo goes, I will be the 1st to admit I’ve never really been a Romo fan. But, objectively I would have to admit that he’s a SOLID QB. He will win the team more games than he will lose for the team – but make no mistake, he will lose some. Romo isn’t the problem, neither are the receivers, running game or tight ends. In fact, the offense is pretty good in SPITE of the below average O line play.

    The problem is the defense – specifically, the defensive line. Not the LBs, not the secondary (although they’re a close second) and certainly not the scheme. The 5 guys that play the 3 or sometimes 4 down linemen positions of NT, 5 tech DE (3-4 scheme) or 1 tech DT, 3 tech DT and 7 tech DE (4-3 scheme sometimes used) are the largest problem with this team. If the Boys had a JJ Watt or Cullen Jenkins or a Justin Smith or a Wallace Gilberry, then this season would have ended drastically differently.

    Secondary is, as I mentioned, the 2nd largest problem on the team. But to me, that problem comprised of 2 people – Newman and Elam. Neither of them are playmakers and although they had better games on a few days, their overall play for the entire season was probably some of the worst in the league at their position. Newman used to be a shutdown corner – but he no longer possesses the skill to do so. Elam has NEVER been any better than average.

    Last problem on this team is DeCalmus. Yes, the special teams coach. While having one of the best placekickers in the league, he did have a crucial FG blocked. Plus, he was the guy asking JG to call the timeout prior to Bailey’s miss. Also, the Boys were 31st in punt coverage. There were several times ST had 10 players on the field and it seemed as if the punt returners (Bryant, Ogletree, Harris) never knew who was supposed to play when. Lastly, they had 2 punts blocked. We all give the coach a pass because he was injured in that tragic accident to the practice facility but that aside – this guy sucks.

  21. Vince_Grey says:

    Tyrone – While I see YOUR point, you have to take into consideration the position too. Brady’s a QB. He touches the ball on every play. No way can you compare the worth of even an elite guard to a really good QB, WR, TE, or RB.

    For example, would you be of the same opinion if that player was a blocking FB? Or, a punter? Even if you had a guy who seemed like the greatest punter of all time, by no small margin, would you honestly use the 14th pick in the 1st round on him?

    I don’t think so.

    Let’s be real here. No guard, no matter how good, is ever going to put a team in a SB. Larry Allen was All World in the late 90′s to early 2000′s and yet Dallas didn’t win anything major in that span. Was he an major asset? No question, but not a game changer like a ball handler, great DB, or top pass rusher. Not hardly.

  22. Vince_Grey says:

    Mont – I don’t think it’s so much lack of faith in our late round drafting as it is the knowledge that those kinds of linemen tend to take a lot of seasoning before they’re any good. And not having a real off season and no camp pushed them back even farther. We may well have a couple of solid starters there, but they’re also most likely another 2 years away from being a player you feel good about as a starter.

    Davis was overpaid, but he did make several Pro Bowls and was a good player for us for 3-4 years before getting old. Rivera was no one’s fault. Just bad luck.

    The Roy Williams deal was really bad. One of major likes about Jerry is that, while he makes some mistakes, he normally doesn’t repeat them. He did here however. Good news is I really think THIS time, he’s learned his lesson.

    You sure are hard on Jones. I don’t see many of us as “Pro Jerry” so much as realists who see that (a) He ain’t going anywhere, and (b) He’s not THAT bad a GM.

    You seem to forget the gawd-awful drafting Dallas had going on from `78 until Irvin. Those drafts made most of Jerry’s look super in comparison. Even before that, it was really the utter stupidity of many other NFL teams that allowed the Cowboys to draft so well:

    Too Tall Jones was the 1st pick in the `74 draft. How did Dallas get that pick? By convincing the idiot Oilers to trade the pick for Cowboy 1st round bust DE Tody Smith (`71). BTW, Dallas had 17 picks in that draft, including their own 1st, two 3rd’s and 2 4th rounders. Other than Jones, the only player who wasn’t a bust was Danny White, taken in the 3rd round. That’s right. 17 picks, two “hits”, 15 busts.

    The `75 draft was admittedly awesome top to bottom, but their first pick, the second selection overall, was Randy White, taken with a pick they got from the Giants in return for sore-armed, slug-footed, Craig Morton, who was rotting on the bench behind Staubach by this point. As I said, great draft overall but White was far and away the best pick and we got him because the Giants were stupid.

    In `77, Dallas traded up and landed HoFer Tony Dorsett with a pick they got from Seattle. Know what the Cowboys gave up for that pick? Their 1st, the 24th pick, and three 2nd round picks. That’s it.

    Go ahead, call up the Rams, offer them our 1st (14th) and three 2nd rounders for their #2 pick. Then listen as they roll on the floor in laughter at that ridiculous offer.

    My point? Dallas had a rep in the 70′s of being genius drafters, but what they REALLY were more than anything else was great at snookering other teams into dumb deals, and also locating great rookie free agents more than anything else.

    Jerry pulled the ultimate con with the Vikings, but now teams just aren’t that stupid anymore, so it’s a lot tougher now.

  23. Omar says:

    David DeCastro. That is all.

  24. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    DeCastro certainly doesn’t play QB but Romo does. Having an all pro OG block for a solid / possibly elite QB would be a greater improvement than adding another so so OLB.

    What I’m trying to say is Romo + current O line = 85.
    Romo + current O line (+ DeCastro) = 92.
    Total improvement = 7.

    Defense w/ Spencer (resigned) at OLB = 78.
    Defense w/ 1st round pick OLB – 82.
    Total improvement = 4.

    Defense w/ Scandrick and Jenkins at CB = 73.
    Defense w/ Jenkins and 1st round CB = 76.
    Total improvement = 3.

    The improvement that DeCastro makes to the team in its entirety is greater than the improvement any other player could make if they were drafted at 14.
    It’s smarter to add the greatest overall improvement to the team.

  25. Vince_Grey says:

    Tyrone – Where the heck do you come up with all these numbers? You can’t know that DeCastro is going to be a stud. You HOPE and maybe the scouts say he’s a “can’t miss” but they also said that about Mandarich and Robert Gallery.

    In fact, you know how many true guards have been taken in the top 14 since 2000?

    Zero. Zilch. Nada. In 2009, the Chiefs took Branden Albert at 15. That’s the only one even close, and how’s he turned out? Not exactly a great player by any stretch. Meanwhile, you look at all the “can’t miss” OL taken in the top TEN. 2009: Jason Smith, Andre Smith, Eugene Monroe. Yuck. 2010: Trent Williams, Russell Okung. Yawn.

    In fact, no one’s taken a true guard in the top 14 since the Saints did it in 1997, taking can’t miss” Chris Naeole at #10. Solid guard, played a long time, but no better than a guy you could have gotten in the 4th round.

    So, (a) you don’t take a guard in the top half of the draft, PERIOD, and (b) if you do take one, anywhere, know there’s no such thing as a can’t miss guy.

    If Dallas just hates all the DL available at #14, they need to TRADE DOWN and then maybe take a guard, but I still say go to free agency for the guard and draft defense – defense – defense.

  26. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    My numbers aren’t scientific by any means – but to me, I think from the information provided thus far (and that’s all you, me or the Boys’ FO has to go on) shows DeCastro will provide the greatest increase in value of all the top 15 rated people that might be avail at 14.

    Trading down makes less sense as you’re obtaining a less talented prospect. You think taking DeCastro is a bad idea because there’s no guarantee that he’ll be that good so you want to trade DOWN and get someone who’s projected to be even worse?

    I still contend this leauge is structured behind elite players. Drew Brees wouldn’t be Drew Brees if he had the Dallas O line blocking for him. Neither would Brady, Newton or Rogers. O lines don’t get a lot of credit but they are far more important than having a good QB, TE, WR or RB. Shaun Alexander set a TD rushing record behind the best Oline in the league. Once that line no longer produced like it had, SA was a nobody.

    Nicks would be good but too expensive. None of the projected defense prospects that will be available at 14 (Upshaw, Ingram, Jenkins, DreKirk or Barron) are projected to be as great a benefit to the Boys as DeCastro. You mention OGs have never been drafted that high – that wasn’t due to talent. They weren’t drafted that high in the past due to FOs not wanting to pay several milion to interior lineman. The position itself didn’t warrant the pay – regardless of how good the player was. Same w/ FBs, Ps and Ks. A HoF fullback is a 5th round pick but MOST FBs are 7th or later. You pick a FB who is projected to be eliter earlier. This is the case w/ DeCastro.

  27. Vince_Grey says:

    Tyrone – Brady and Brees don’t operate behind lines made up of interior linemen drafted high in the 1st round.

    The bottom line is, you can’t show me in recent memory where a team took an interior O-lineman high and got value for the pick.

    Also, you’re not factoring in the extra pick(s) that trading down would get you.

    Nicks would indeed be expensive, but not much more costly, if any, than a top rated defensive player would cost, and if you use that number one on a guard, you’ll have to go the FA route to help fix the defense, unless you want more of what we’ve gotten the past two seasons, and I certainly do not.

    Moose Johnston (FB) was a 2nd round pick, BTW.

  28. Jim C says:

    Sign Carl Nicks/g, Michael Huff/safety,Laurent Robinson/wr, Anthony Spencer/lb…then
    Draft Dre Kirkpatrick/cb with 1st rd. pick, Peter Konz/center with 2nd rd. pick, Alameda Ta’amu/dt with 3rd rd. pick…cut T. Newman
    then you look like this in 2012

    QB Romo/McGee
    RB Murray/Jones
    FB Fiametta
    WR Bryant/Austin/Robinson
    TE Witten/Phillips
    C Konz/CostaKowalski
    G Nicks/Kosier/Holland/Arkin
    T Smith/Free/Parnell
    …oline of Smith/Nicks/Konz/Kosier/Free…able to run on left side all day and pass pro should be solid with Free back to natural position

    ILB Carter/Lee
    OLB Ware/Spencer/Butler
    DE Spears/Hatcher/Coleman
    DT Ratliff/Ta’amu/Lissemore
    CB Kirkpatrick/Ball
    CB Jenkins/Scandrick
    SS Sensabaugh/McCray
    FS Huff/Elam
    …Ratliff to DT on obvious passing downs,rotation of
    Spears/LE..Ratliff/DT..Jason Hatcher/RE
    …Ratliff to RE on regular downs, rotation of
    Spears/Coleman/LE..Ta’amu/Ratliff/DT..Ratliff/Hatcher/LE
    …with rotation and Ratliff and Ware sliding around pass rush should be stronger as Kirkpatrick/Huff help out on backend.

  29. Jim C says:

    or

    Sign Brandon Carr/cb, Michael Huff/safety,Laurent Robinson/wr, Anthony Spencer/lb…then
    Draft David DeCastro/g with 1st rd. pick, Peter Konz/center with 2nd rd. pick, Alameda Ta’amu/dt with 3rd rd. pick…cut T. Newman
    then you look like this in 2012

    QB Romo/McGee
    RB Murray/Jones
    FB Fiametta
    WR Bryant/Austin/Robinson
    TE Witten/Phillips
    C Konz/Costa/Kowalski
    G DeCastro/Kosier/Holland/Arkin
    T Smith/Free/Parnell
    …oline of Smith/Kosier/Konz/DeCastro/Free…able to run on right side all day and pass pro should be solid with Free back to natural position

    ILB Carter/Lee
    OLB Ware/Spencer/Butler
    DE Spears/Hatcher/Coleman
    DT Ratliff/Ta’amu/Lissemore
    CB Carr/Ball
    CB Jenkins/Scandrick
    SS Sensabaugh/McCray
    FS Huff/Elam
    …Ratliff to DT on obvious passing downs,rotation of
    Spears/LE..Ratliff/DT..Jason Hatcher/RE
    …Ratliff to RE on regular downs, rotation of
    Spears/Coleman/LE..Ta’amu/Ratliff/DT..Ratliff/Hatcher/LE
    …with rotation and Ratliff and Ware sliding around pass rush should be stronger as Carr/Huff help out on backend.

    I like first scenario better as Kirkpatrick is that rare CB that will hit and has exceptional playmaking ability coming off of zone coverage and Nicks is already as good as DeCastro is going to be…only upside to 2nd scenario is that DeCastro/Free would be dominate on right side, BUT looking at Smith/Nicks on right side all day would destroy the Giants psyche by the 4th quarter and the Boys could then close games by simply running the ball.

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