Cowboys need to do hit on late-rounders and undrafted players
My two latest posts at NBC have been 1) a look at the Cowboys’ poor recent history selecting mid and late-round picks and 2) the team’s success with undrafted free agents. On mid and late-rounders:
Whether or not the Cowboys are currently capable of making a postseason run, the team is filled with really talented players. From Dez Bryant to Sean Lee to Morris Claiborne, there are a number of young building blocks on the roster. They might not have the most gifted group of players in the league, but we all remember the squads from the early parts of the millennium; this team is a far cry from your Quincy Carter-led Cowboys.
The problem is that the roster is top-heavy, composed of a bunch of Pro Bowl-caliber players and not enough quality depth. Teams like the Green Bay Packers thrive by finding eventual starters in the third, fourth, and fifth rounds, while the ‘Boys have struggled mightily when trying to fill out their roster in the middle rounds.
On undrafted free agents:
When Tony Romo finds Miles Austin for the duo’s first touchdown of the 2013 season, it will be Romo’s 178th career touchdown pass and the 35th career score for Austin. Those numbers are both pretty remarkable when you consider that most of the players’ peers—undrafted free agents from their respective draft classes—are long gone from the NFL. Romo and Austin have been able to overcome long odds to become successful despite being passed over 250-plus times.
Romo and Austin are the cream of the undrafted crop, but the Cowboys have managed to find other gems after the draft. Although the team’s recent mid and late-round picks have been poor, they’ve added depth and even starters with undrafted players such as center Phil Costa, safety Barry Church, and wide receiver Kevin Ogletree. The Cowboys hit on two other undrafted free agents that they let slip away in recent years—quarterback Matt Moore and wide receiver Danny Amendola. Statistically, the ‘Boys are an above-average team when it comes to finding undrafted talent. Since 2000, they rank in the top 10 in starts from undrafted free agents.