The DC Times

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

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys’ Top 15 Best/Worst Draft Picks Since 2000

Jonathan Bales

The Cowboys have been been incredibly up and down in their drafting success since 2000.  The results of their draft classes have been extreme, from the ineptitude of the 2001 class (Quincy Carter, Tony Dixon, Willie Blade, Markus Steele, Matt Lehr, Daleroy Stewart, Colston Weatherington, John Nix and Char-ron Dorsey) to the sensational overall value of the 2008 class (Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins, Martellus Bennett, Tashard Choice, Orlando Scandrick and Erik Walden).

I’ve previously ranked the top 10 Dallas Cowboys draft classes of all-time.  Below, I have listed my choices for the 15 best and worst individual Cowboys draft picks since 2000.  Note that the round in which a player was drafted contributes heavily to his ranking.  Seventh round busts, for example, aren’t nearly as detrimental as those in the first round.

15 Worst Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks Since 2000

  • 15. S Tony Dixon (Second Round–2001)

Dixon had just one more career interception than me.

  • 14. C Al Johnson (Second Round–2003)

Johnson played until 2008, but his time in Dallas was marred by injury and, well, a lack of talent.

  • 13. DT Willie Blade (Third Round–2001)

From 2001-2005, Blade racked up 18 total tackles.

  • 12. LB Markus Steele (Fourth Round–2001)

I honestly don’t even know who this is.

  • 11. WR Isaiah Stanback (Fourth Round–2007)

As a college quarterback, everyone knew Stanback was a project.  His five career receptions justify that.

  • 10. CB Bruce Thornton (Fourth Round–2004)

Thornton played on a different team each of his four years in the league.

  • 9. CB Derek Ross (Third Round–2002)

Ross had a promising rookie season with five picks, but he recorded just one more the rest of his career. In 2005, he was arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

  • 8.  CB Kareem Larrimore (Fourth Round–2000)

Larrimore was drafted in 2000, and playing arena football by 2002.  He was reportedly fined at least 12 times during his two years in Dallas.

  • 7. CB Jamar Wall (Sixth Round–2010)

Wall, a pure Cover 2 cornerback, made no sense from the beginning last year.  He was cut before the regular season.

  • 6. LB Jason Williams (Third Round–2009)

Williams was the first pick for Dallas in 2009, but he simply never fit into the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme.

  • 5. CB Dwayne Goodrich (Second Round–2000)

Goodrich was in Dallas just three years.  In 2003, he was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison for vehicular manslaughter.

  • 4. OT James Marten (Third Round–2007)

Marten played just one season in Dallas before being released.

  • 3. OT Jacob Rogers (Second Round–2004)

At the time of Rogers’ release in 2006, he was the highest drafted player to be cut from the 2004 NFL Draft.

  • 2. QB Quincy Carter (Second Round–2001)

Not even getting into this one.

  • 1. LB Bobby Carpenter (First Round–2006)

Was Carpenter the worst player on this list?  Probably not, but his first round draft spot makes his horrible play tough to swallow.

15 Best Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks Since 2000

  • 15. CB Mike Jenkins (First Round–2008)

Jenkins regressed badly in 2010, but he should rebound in 2011 with a more potent pass-rush.

  • 14. LB Sean Lee (Second Round–2010)

I didn’t like the Lee pick at the time, but the Penn State product reminds me much of a young Keith Brooking.

  • 13. OLB Victor Butler (Fourth Round–2009)

Butler is one of my favorite players and I think Rob Ryan will give him an opportunity to flourish in 2011.

  • 12. RB Tashard Choice (Fourth Round–2008)

Choice’s value in the fourth round was outstanding, and he’d be higher on this list if Jason Garrett fed him the ball.

  • 11. RB Marion Barber (Fourth Round–2005)

Barber will probably be out of Dallas this season, but he had a few strong years as “The Barbarian.”

  • 10.  CB Orlando Scandrick (Fifth Round–2008)

Scandrick improved considerably in 2010 and, as a fifth-rounder, the value was superb.

  • 9.  WR Patrick Crayton (Seventh Round–2004)

Crayton’s explosiveness was always a concern, but his consistency never came into question.

  • 8.  WR Dez Bryant (First Round–2010)

The only person that can stop Bryant from becoming an All-Pro wide receiver is himself.

  • 7.  C Andre Gurode (Second Round–2002)

Gurode’s issues with snapping overshadowed his talent for awhile.  He’s still a productive player.

  • 6.  LB Bradie James (Fourth Round–2003)

James’ 582 career tackles are already fourth in team history.

  • 5.  OT Doug Free (Fourth Round–2007)

This ranking is based primarily on Free’s future.  He looks like he’ll be at left tackle in Dallas for awhile.

  • 4.  CB Terence Newman (First Round–2003)

Newman’s decline has been steep, but when healthy, he was one of the league’s top cornerbacks.

  • 3.  TE Jason Witten (Third Round–2003)

The future Hall of Famer is still the epitome of how a tight end should be put together.

  • 2.  NT Jay Ratliff (Seventh Round–2005)

Ratliff’s production from nose tackle, a position that doesn’t really suit him well, is astonishing.  He must be one of the better seventh round picks in NFL history.

  • 1.  OLB DeMarcus Ware (First Round–2005)

87.5 career sacks, five Pro Bowls, three-time All-Pro selection, and the NFL’s most feared pass-rusher.  He improves the Cowboys’ defense more than you can imagine.

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By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft: Five Potential First Round Picks

Jonathan Bales

With the Cowboys heading into Week 17 of the 2010 season, they are in position to acquire somewhere between (about) the sixth pick and 12th selection in the 2011 Draft.  In that area, they will undoubtedly be able to obtain a true impact player–someone who should start immediately.  Picking toward the latter portion of that range may actually be optimal for Dallas, as the requisite contract funds take a steep drop from the top of the round.

Predicting the Cowboys’ pick in 2011 will be far easier than it was this past draft due to their draft spot.  Further, the team’s primary needs (defensive end, inside linebacker, cornerback, safety, offensive line) weed out some of the prospects.

Without further ado, here are my initial picks for the Cowboys’ five most likely potential first round draft picks. . .

5.  Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal

Jordan is a bit smaller than the “prototypical” Cowboys defensive end (he’s 280 pounds), but the massive ends haven’t been working in Dallas anyway.  It’s time to acquire smaller, quicker playmakers across the board on defense, and that starts on the line.

Jordan has an incredible frame and strength, yet carries it well.  He is good in pursuit, able to shed blocks rather easily.  His experience in a 3-4 defense is always a plus.

With literally all of the team’s current defensive ends possibly on the way out (I predict they’ll retain only Jason Hatcher), Jordan would be an immediate starter for Dallas.

4.  Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

Clayborn is a 4-3 defensive end in college, but he possess enough size (6’4”, 285 pounds) that he could stay at that spot in the Cowboys’ 3-4 defense.  He’s a high-motor player with great athleticism for his size.  He actually appears to have a frame which could add some bulk, meaning he could transition into a run-stuffing 3-4 end or even eventually kick inside to nose tackle.

3.  Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

Peterson has it all.  He’s big (6’1”, 211 pounds), fast (probably a low 4.4 guy), and intelligent.  He has the skill set to fit into any system, excelling in both man and zone coverages.  He plays big in big games and possesses excellent ball skills–characteristics Dallas needs in a cornerback.

With Terence Newman getting old quickly and Mike Jenkins regressing in 2010, cornerback is a huge need for Dallas.  Orlando Scandrick played really well in the slot during the second half of the season, but it’s unclear if he could hold up outside as a starter.  Peterson’s presence would allow the Cowboys to possibly move Newman to free safety, giving the secondary a much-needed makeover.

2.  Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

The only reason I have Amukamara ranked ahead of Peterson is draftability:  I don’t see Peterson being available for Dallas no matter where they pick–he’s that good.  Amukamara is still an outstanding cornerback, excelling in press and zone coverages.  Despite being six pounds lighter than Peterson, he’s far more physical.  With the Cowboys likely to transition to more zone coverages in 2011, Amukamara could make sense.

1.  Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama

Dareus is an absolute stud.  At 6’3”, 306 pounds, he possesses incredible athleticism.  His size is tremendous, yet he carries it very well–so well, in fact, that when you look at him, you see “oversized linebacker.”

Dareus is versatile enough to play all three defensive line positions for Dallas.  That sort of versatility would be extremely valuable.  Because of his size, I think Dareus’ primary position would be nose tackle.  If that’s the case, current Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff could move back to defensive end–a position that seems more suitable for him at this point in his career.

So how could Dareus fall to the Cowboys’ pick?  Well, there are some off-field concerns.  If Dallas is willing to overlook them, they could secure incredible value in the first round.

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys-Related Post-Draft Thoughts


  • This draft was a roller coaster for us.  The selections of Dez Bryant and Akwasi Owusu-Ansah held tremendous value, while every other pick was ‘so-so.’  We particularly dislike yielding a second and fourth-rounder for Sean Lee.  Nonetheless, we like Bryant and AOA so much that we will probably provide the Cowboys with a respectable draft grade.
  • Speaking of draft grades, they will be coming tomorrow–round-by-round, in depth analysis of each selection.
  • We are shocked the Cowboys selected OT Sam Young in the sixth round.  The value isn’t terrible, but players such as West Virginia’s Selvish Capers and Abilene-Christian’s Tony Washington were still on the board and can probably play either tackle position.  Young is likely a right tackle only.  Washington went undrafted, though, so Dallas still has an opportunity to sign him.
  • The selection of Texas Tech CB Jamar Wall in the sixth round means Owusu-Ansah will be playing free safety for Dallas.  His ability to move to cornerback was still a likely factor in Dallas valuing him highly.  AOA’s return ability also contributed to his worth, even with Bryant being the first round pick.  Once Bryant takes over as a starter, the Cowboys will most likely take him off of returns.
  • In addition to Washington, LSU guard Ciron Black, Texas Tech guard Brandon Carter, Virginia Tech guard Sergio Render, East Carolina defensive tackle Jay Ross, and Fresno State cornerback A.J. Jefferson are all options for the Cowboys to sign as free agents.

By Jonathan Bales

Akwasi Owusu-Ansah: The Best Value Thus Far



Owusu-Ansah reminds us of Dominique Rodgers-Cromatie. Both were small-school prospects with a big game.

After trading back slightly in the fourth round (and picking up an early sixth-rounder from Miami), the Dallas Cowboys have drafted Indiana of Pennsylvania cornerback Akwasi Owusu-Ansah.  We have been touting AOA for awhile and really love his game.  I personally have seen him play live multiple times and thus know quite a bit about him.

It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys envision AOA as a cornerback or a candidate to move to free safety.  He has the requisite size to move into the back of the secondary (6’0”, 207 pounds) and good speed to boot (4.47 Combine forty).

Below is our original scouting report on Owusu-Ansah and the Cowboys’ current cornerbacks.  As you can see, we thought Owusu-Ansah was a second round talent, meaning his selection in the middle of the fourth round once again represents incredible value.

Original Owusu-Ansah Article

We recently detailed the 2009 success of the Cowboys’ cornerbacks in our Grading the ‘Boys segment. Leading the pack was Mike Jenkins, who really took tremendous strides last season. The second-year player led the team in interceptions, pass deflections, completion percentage against, and yards-per-attempt against.

Surprising to some was how highly we graded Terence Newman (B+). Newman has been underrated for years, though, and last season he was finally healthy enough to perform well over the course of an entire 16-game schedule. Newman was thrown at on just 9.49 percent of plays, making him the least targeted cornerback on the team.

The success of Jenkins and Newman was not matched by nickel CB Orlando Scandrick. Scandrick, who began the season as a rotational starter, regressed in his second season in Dallas. He was actually one of the most targeted players in the league and yielded a pedestrian 62.9 percent of passes his way to be completed.

The difference between Jenkins and Scandrick doesn’t appear to be in their skill sets as much as it is in their minds. Jenkins gained confidence at a seemingly exponential rate as the 2009 season progressed. Scandrick, who was often in position to make a play, often displayed a bit of hesitation which ended up costing him by year’s end.

We believe Scandrick has the adequate physical tools and mindset to rebound nicely in 2010. Still, a team can never have enough talented cornerbacks. Thus, the Cowboys may be looking to bolster the position during the draft, perhaps even in the early rounds.

Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is a small-school cornerback out of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He is a personal favorite of ours not only because of his coverage, but also due to his electrifying return ability. The latter of these skills is the primary reason we view him as a target for Dallas (we rated a dominant return man as the team’s #1 draft need).

Scouting Report

Owusu-Ansah is eerily similar to Cardinals’ CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. At 6’0”, 207 pounds, Owusu-Ansah has the requisite size to be solid in run support. He does not have the blazing speed of DRC (AOA ran a 4.47 at the Combine), but he may actually be a more versatile player.

Owusu-Ansah was highly productive in college, albeit against DII talent. The major knock on him coming out is that he has not faced elite competition. How will he react when he gets beat? That basically never happened at IUP, so his ability to respond to adversity is a question mark at this point.

For Dallas, Owusu-Ansah would be an upgrade at both punt and kickoff returner. He displays great vision and has the strength to break tackles. His biggest weakness on returns is his propensity to use his superior athleticism to dance around before getting up-field. That will obviously not work in the NFL.

A possible concerning issue for Dallas is the fact that Owusu-Ansah is probably better suited to play outside than in the slot. If the team is interested in bringing someone in to compete with Scandrick, they may want to look elsewhere. However, this concern could easily be alleviated by playing Newman in the slot and Owusu-Ansah outside in nickel situations (assuming AOA beats out Scandrick).

Projection

AOA is steadily climbing draft boards just as Rodgers-Cromartie did two seasons ago. While he won’t be a first round selection, AOA figures to go somewhere in round two. In our opinion, he represents great value if he falls to Dallas at pick #59. We would rate the odds of this happening at about 50/50.

By Jonathan Bales

Why Cowboys Trading Up To 49ers 13th Pick Would Be Mistake

Matt Maiocco of the Press Democrat just reported that the Cowboys are interested in trading up to the San Francisco 49ers’ 13th overall selection to draft Texas safety Earl Thomas–a player we have rated No. 5 overall on our Big Board.  This information should be taken with a grain of salt, as Maiocco is perhaps not a completely unbiased observer and no other similar claims have been made.

Nonetheless, we wanted to take a look at the possibility of this trade and how it would affect the Cowboys.  According to the NFL’s Draft Trade Value Chart, Dallas would have to surrender its first, second, and third round selections to move up to the 49ers’ 13th pick. Is Thomas really worth that much?

Looking at it another way, imagine the players the Cowboys could acquire with those picks.  USF safety Nate Allen, UMass guard/tackle Vladimir Ducasse, and Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley are all realistic options for Dallas in the first, second, and third round, respectively.  Would you rather have Thomas alone, or Allen, Ducasse, and Shipley?  We know what we’d prefer.

Of course, the Cowboys could yield a player as part of the deal. Defensive end Marcus Spears, who is reportedly on the trading block, might interest the 49ers since they run a 3-4 defense.  However, it is unlikely Spears is worth more than about a third round pick due to his restricted free agent status.

Whether the deal includes the Cowboys’ first, second, and third or first, second, and Spears, the value is simply not apparent. Yes, Thomas is an impact player and one Dallas would love to acquire, but he is not worth the top half of the team’s draft.

There are other more likely scenarios that could get Thomas in a Cowboys uniform, however.  If the 49ers are interested in trading with Dallas, their 17th overall pick is likely up for grabs as well. According to the chart, trading up to the Niners’ second pick in the first round would cost the Cowboys less than their first and second-rounders.  Their first, third, and fourth round picks might do the job.

Is Thomas worth a first, a third, and a fourth?  Maybe, maybe not–but we are getting closer.  If San Fran does have interest in Spears, perhaps the Cowboys could substitute him for their third-rounder.  Now the deal would cost the ‘Boys just their fourth round selection and a player who will likely be on another team in 2011 whether he is traded this season or not.

Ultimately, we cannot see the Cowboys trading up to the 13th overall selection.  The price of admission is simply too great.  If Earl Thomas happens to fall to the 49ers 17th pick, however, a deal becomes a lot more likely.  If Dallas could score that pick for their first, fourth, and Marcus Spears, we say go for it.

By Jonathan Bales

2010 NFL Draft Live Cowboys Blog

We (Justin and I) will be in New York for the Draft.  We will be posting analysis, pictures, and smart-ass comments on our  Twitter account.  Most importantly, we will (hopefully) be able to provide you with instant updates on the Cowboys’ draft selections (and everyone else’s) before they are announced on television.

To check out the blog, simply click on the Twitter icon in the bottom right corner of this page (on the black toolbar). Feel free to ask us questions during the Draft, although I can tell you now we will not be able to respond to each question.

Again, I can’t stress enough the multitude of smart-ass comments that will be posted.  The Oakland Raiders are now on the clock.

By Jonathan Bales

Cowboys Poll: Brandon Marshall

By Jonathan Bales

2010 NFL Draft: 10 Bold Predictions

Every year we make a list of somewhat bold predictions concerning the NFL Draft.  Below are this year’s forecasts–five general NFL predictions, and five dealing solely with the Cowboys.

Non-Cowboys Predictions

1. Florida QB Tim Tebow will be drafted in the first round.

Is Tebow a first round talent?  We think so, but obviously a handful of teams do not (Jerry Jones, do you have any thoughts on Tebow?).

Nonetheless, someone will covet Tebow’s leadership and willingness to work as hard as possible to become a winner.  Expect a team in the early second round to jump up to the late first to grab him.

2. Oklahoma’s Trent Williams, not Oklahoma State’s Russell Okung, will be the first offensive tackle off of the board.

This prediction is based on draft order.  In all likelihood, the Redskins will have their choice of offensive tackles at the 4th overall selection.  Okung is the consensus #1 LT, but Williams seems to better fit their offense.  Coach Shanahan loves zone-blocking–a scheme that emphasizes athleticism among linemen.  They don’t come much more athletic than Williams.

3.  Texas QB Colt McCoy will get picked no later than the 38th overall selection.

Who selects at that spot?  The Cleveland Browns.  Expect the new head honcho Mike Holmgren to select McCoy–perhaps the most accurate quarterback in this class–to run his West Coast offense. . .but only if no one trades up ahead of the Browns to snatch McCoy.

4.  Virginia Tech DE Jason Worilds will go to a 3-4 team in the mid-second round.

Worilds is so under-the-radar it is unreal.  We assume many of you have never heard of the V-Tech product, but he had the fastest 10-yard split of any defensive end at the Combine.  With all of the talk of Michigan’s Brandon Graham and TCU’s Jerry Hughes, Worilds is in a perfect position to be the first “Who the **** is he?” player drafted this year.

5.  No tight end will be selected in the entire first round.

Oklahoma’s Jermaine Gresham and Arizona’s Rob Gronkowski are the only tight ends with a legitimate shot to go in the first round.  The Cincinnati Bengals have been linked to Gresham, while a recent report calls Gronkowski a “darkhorse” selection for the Baltimore Ravens.

However, both teams have more pressing needs and with such a deep class tight end class, other squads may prefer to hold off on selecting one as well.

Dallas Cowboys Predictions

1.  Dallas will trade at least one player on the current roster on draft day.

The front-runner?  Martellus Bennett.  The darkhorse?  Marcus Spears.  An early second-rounder would probably suffice for both players (although it is more realistic for Spears).  This would allow the ‘Boys to acquire two first round-quality impact players.

2.  The Cowboys will not select at pick#27–they will either move up or back.

If the Cowboys do trade a player on draft day, don’t rule out the team using that player as trade bait to move up in the first round.  If a stud offensive tackle or safety drops into the mid-first round, they may be inclined to package their first round pick and a player like Spears to go get him.

If no quality offensive tackles or safeties drop (which we see as more likely), the Cowboys could move back into the early second round.  This would allow them to acquire both an extra pick and a player like USF FS Nate Allen.

Also, read our article on why the new draft format might make Dallas more inclined to move out of the first round.

3.  Dallas will make an inordinate number of trades–even more than last season.

We already detailed why the new draft format will cause more trades.  The extra time between rounds gives organizations all day (literally) to dangle picks.  Expect the Cowboys to make multiple moves just within the first two days of the draft.

4.  R. Okung, B. Bulaga, T. Williams, A. Davis, B. Campbell, C. Brown, E. Berry, E. Thomas, M. Iupati, and M. Pouncey will all be selected before the 27th pick.

Many people are assuming that a run on offensive tackles will force other players at positions of need down to the 27th pick.  Not so.  Of the players listed above, only Campbell, Brown, Iupati, and Pouncey have a realistic chance of falling to the Cowboys’ selection.  We still don’t think any of them will.

5.  The Cowboys will not address either left tackle or safety with their first selection.

This prediction goes hand-in-hand with #4.  With all of the top-tier players at both tackle and safety off the board, the Cowboys will either 1. select a player at a “non-need” position, 2.  move out of the first round, or 3. reach for a player at left tackle or free safety.

The Cowboys have done an admirable job in recent years of not reaching for players in the first round.  So what does this mean?  Probably that the majority of Cowboys fans will be unhappy come April 22.


By Jonathan Bales

Interview With Clemson DE Ricky Sapp: The Most “Boring” Prospect in the 2010 NFL Draft

It is Saturday night and Clemson defensive end Ricky Sapp is home hanging out with his family.  He receives a call from a teammate. “Ricky, there’s a new club opening up downtown.  Let’s hit it up.”

“No thanks,” Ricky says softly.  “I’m spending time with my family tonight.”

“Whatever Ricky,” responds the teammate. “You’re so boring.”

And you know what?  He’s right.  Ricky Sapp is ‘boring.’  He’s boring in the same way as Demarcus Ware.  In the same way as Jason Witten.  In the same way as Felix Jones.

In the NFL, it is good to be boring.  Of course we aren’t talking about ‘boring’ as in being uninteresting.  No, Ware, Witten, Jones and Ricky Sapp are all far from uninteresting.

‘Boring’ in the NFL means doing your job the right way.  Not talking a lot.  Being focused.  Being driven.  That is this league’s version of ‘boring.’

Ricky Sapp fits the bill.  We featured his on-field play in a recent edition of “Cowboys Potential Draft Picks.” There, we mentioned how some teams are scared of Sapp’s injury history (he tore his ACL in 2008) and lack of elite strength (by what standard Sapp’s 23 bench press reps are not ‘elite’ is beyond me).  Sapp acknowledged this, telling me “I know some teams think that (I can’t stop the run) but at the end of the day I know I can be an every-down player.”

The significance of these knocks on Sapp’s game are dampened by his work ethic and determination.  He played the 2009 season on a knee he described as “60 percent” so that he could be on the field to fight with his teammates.  After the season, he trained like a monster so he could regain full strength in the knee and prove to NFL teams he is 100 percent healthy.

Said Sapp, “My main goal (for the Combine) was to let everyone know I am 100 percent healthy.  I worked on getting stronger and making sure my speed was top-notch by training twice a day, six days a week.”

When I asked him if teams were satisfied with his health, Sapp responded, “Yes sir.  I definitely think the teams were pleased with my knee.”

“Yes sir.”  How many young men do you know who respond with such politeness?  By my count, Sapp tallied nine “yes, sir” responses throughout our 15-minute conversation.

Now, does politeness win football games?  Not directly, but being polite takes discipline.  Football is 100 percent a game of discipline.  The same discipline that goes into being polite is also the backbone of hard work and motivation.  Disciplined players will work hard to improve themselves, both on the football field and in life.

Those are the sort of football players you want on your team.  Ricky Sapp is undoubtedly one of them.

Sapp would be a good fit in Dallas.  At 6’4”, 252 pounds, he ran a 4.61 at the Combine.  He also told me he has experience playing in a scheme similar to the 3-4 defense which the Cowboys run.  He said, “Over my career at Clemson I had a good bit of experience playing from a standing position and really enjoyed it.”  Still, Sapp says he simply wants to play in “whichever system a team wants me in.”

However, he said he has had no contact with the Cowboys.  Could the team be playing coy?  Sapp sure hopes so, as he grew up (in South Carolina) as a die-hard ‘Boys fan.  Said the Clemson Tiger, “Believe it or not, I grew up loving the Cowboys.   My father is a die-hard fan of America’s Team and I just followed him.  I loved them.  Playing for the Cowboys would be a dream come true.”

At the end of the interview, I asked Ricky what he likes to do outside of football and he reiterated his non-flashy lifestyle. “Well don’t laugh at me but I’m probably the most boring guy you will ever meet,” he said with a laugh. “I’m really just a laid back guy.  I like to hang out with my teammates and just enjoy life.  I’m not really the party type.  My friends give me a hard time about not going out, but I’ve never been like that.”

Sapp calls his personality ‘boring.’  I call it being polite.  Honest.  Hard-working.  I call it being a good person.

Yes, I like boring.  Boring is good.

Let’s hope the Cowboys have the most “boring” draft possible in 2010.  Ricky Sapp would be a tremendous start.

————————–

Fast forward to the Cowboys’ draft “war room” later this month, and Jerry Jones is on the phone with the young South Carolina native.  “Ricky, we just wanted to let you know we are going to go ahead and pick you right here.”

Sapp’s family sees a huge grin come upon his face.  His dream is finally going to come true.  Ricky Sapp is going to be a Dallas Cowboy.

“Thank you, sir,” he responds.

Want to hear more of what Ricky had to say?  You can see more here.

By Jonathan Bales

Mailbag: 4/12/10 (Doug Free, Alan Ball, Marion Barber, Draft)

Q:  Who do you think will be the Cowboys’ opening day starters at left tackle and free safety?  We didn’t  really cut Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin for Doug Free and Alan Ball, did we?

Ryan Warren, Washington, D.C.

A: If pressed to answer today, we would say the Cowboys’ opening day left tackle starter will be Doug Free, but the starting free safety is not yet on the roster.  The Cowboys apparently love what they have in Free and are unconcerned about his transition to left tackle.  He is extremely athletic and should at least be an upgrade in pass protection (we gave Adams a ‘D+’ in pass protection in 2009).

At safety, we simply cannot see the team starting either Alan Ball or Michael Hamlin.  Ball played decent last season against the pass, but was atrocious against the run (we gave him a ‘C+’ overall grade).  The organization really likes the potential of the “new Hamlin,” but he is of course an unproven commodity.  If the Cowboys don’t add a free safety, Ball and Hamlin will battle in camp for the starting job.

The Cowboys will probably select a free safety in the early rounds of this year’s draft.  The problem is that the top-tier guys at the position will be gone by the Cowboys’ 27th overall selection, so they will likely have to settle on a player like USF’s Nate Allen or Georgia Tech’s Morgan Burnett.  Are these players immediate upgrades over Ball and Hamlin?  We may soon find out.

So, our final answer:  starting left tackle–Doug Free, starting free safety–a rookie.

Q:  I heard you guys have a free Mock Draft Challenge.  Where is that?  How do I sign up?

Charles Franklin via Twitter

A: No sign up necessary.  Simply follow this link, read the rules, and submit your Mock Draft in the comments section.  The winner receives a Cowboys mini helmet signed by Tony Romo.

Trading Marion Barber wouldn't bring the Cowboys good value.

Q:  Why don’t the Cowboys trade Marion Barber for a mid-round pick and draft a rookie to eventually take over for him?  His job isn’t that difficult to replace.

Lisa Taylor, Myrtle Beach, SC

A: Barber has been injured of late and, along with Roy Williams, is the player we hear fans asking to trade the most often.  Trading Barber now for a mid-round pick would be analogous to selling a stock when it is at its lowest point–it just isn’t business-savvy.

Despite his recent decline, Barber is still a very talented running back.  He is still only 26 years old.  Yes, he has a bunch of “wear and tear,” but not so much that his career is over.

Barber should really benefit greatly from Felix Jones starting in 2010.  This will allow him to return to the job of “closer” –a role in which he flourished while Julius Jones was in Dallas.

Further, the Cowboys are set up to win right now.  Of course teams always want to do what is best for their future, but at a certain point you just have to lay it on the line.  Even if trading Barber for a mid-rounder is ultimately a better long-term decision, do you really think a third or fourth round pick can come in and effectively replace Barber in 2010?

We don’t.

Q:  The Steelers just traded WR Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a fifth-rounder.  Why didn’t the Cowboys give up theirs for Holmes?  He would be an upgrade over Roy Williams.

James Stroud, Memphis, TN

A: Outside of the fact that the Cowboys don’t have a fifth round pick in this year’s draft, the move wouldn’t make sense.  We know you all want to see Roy Williams gone, but he isn’t going anywhere in 2010.

Further, the Cowboys have obviously placed an emphasis on player conduct in recent seasons.  There is no way Jerry Jones could justify releasing T.O., a player who never gets in trouble, for Holmes, a less-talented wide out who is already facing a league-imposed four game suspension for failing multiple drug tests.

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