10 tips for Jerry Jones so he doesn’t screw up the draft
Now that we’ve had some time to let it sink in, it’s time to update our 10 do’s and don’ts for Jerry Jones as the Cowboys try to put all this back together again
1. Sign Olivier Vernon to a long term deal Pro Football Focus ranked the Dolphins’ unrestricted free agent the second best edge rusher in the league last year. And he’ll just be 26 this fall. Miami gave him the transition tag, meaning they can match a contract. But if they had the cap space, they’d have already done a new deal. Vernon is a true 4 3 end, he’s a better pass rusher than anyone in this draft, and he’s a young player just entering his prime. It’ll eat up all the Cowboys’ cap space and then some, requiring them to restructure Tyron Smith’s deal and probably one more. But he’d be worth it.
2. Draft a quarterback In a quarter century as owner, Jerry has taken only one quarterback in the first round: Troy Aikman. He doesn’t like drafting them so high, or at all, because he’s usually had a good one (Aikman, Tony Romo) and he hates spending premium picks on a guy who’s just going to sit on his fat contract and wait. Unless it’s Johnny Manziel, whose jerseys sell no matter what.
The question is, will he spend the fourth pick on a quarterback? If Jared Goff is there, he might be tempted. Carson Wentz? If they like him that much, they’re doing a good job of hiding it.Cheap Jerseys china Cleveland will take one of them. San Diego ought to take the other. If the Cowboys don’t grade a quarterback this high, they should trade down a handful of spots or take a quarterback in the fourth round. Dak Prescott should be there.
3. Hello, Rolando McClain; goodbye, Greg Hardy Both are good players who missed time this season because of suspensions, a constant concern. Both could probably be re signed to reasonable contracts. But players with high risk/reward factors should be limited on any roster. The deciding factor between these two? McClain is cheaper, lacks a ready replacement and is far more popular with his teammates. And if the Cowboys sign Vernon, it’s a moot point about Hardy. Also softens the sting of Randy Gregory’s four game suspension.
The more I think about it, the more I like Tip No. 1.
4. Draft a guy named Henry in the second Trust me, this is one suggestion Jerry might actually take. Arkansas’ tight end, Hunter Henry, No. 1 at his position, is a Jason Witten starter kit, which is good, because the original is just about worn out. And don’t tell me Gavin Escobar is the heir apparent. Without his buddy throwing him the football, Witten’s production dropped steeply this season. According to Football Outsiders, his DYAR, sort of football’s answer to Wins Above Replacement, fell from fifth among tight ends to 24th this year. When Romo’s around, Witten’s still pretty good because of their chemistry. But how much will Romo be around next season? Better point: The Cowboys need all the explosive plays they can get from a receiving corps that, behind Dez Bryant, isn’t very dynamic.
Might be a moot point if Henry goes in the first round as expected. If so, then how about Derrick Henry, the Heisman hammer from Alabamer. If they take a defensive player in the first round, they could do a lot worse than a big, fast, punishing running back who fits their zone blocking offensive scheme so well. Of course, they can only do this if they draft a defensive player in the first round.
5. Sign Matt Hasselbeck as your back up quarterback and allow the draft pick time to develop He’s 40 and may retire, but Hasselbeck went 5 3 in Andrew Luck’s place this season. Went 4 0 when healthy. Teammates broke Twitter after he said goodbye, gushing about what a great teammate and leader he was. Might want $3 million, which is what he made this season and is nearly twice what Matt Cassel made. And if the Cowboys sign Vernon, they probably don’t have enough cap space left. Did I mention Hasselbeck went 5 3? Find a way to pay the man.
6. Don’t sign RG3 or Johnny Manziel Both have already failed in their short careers, both have made too many headlines for reasons other than their play and neither fits Jason Garrett’s style of offense. Plus, Garrett has already intimated he’d like a veteran in the mold of Kyle Orton or Jon Kitna to back up Romo and a young guy to develop.
How does RG3 or Manziel fit either of those descriptions?
7. Draft a legitimate No. 2 receiver If both Henrys are gone in the second round, Josh Doctson would be a nice alternative if available. The TCU receiver was the best of the wide receivers at the combine, displaying remarkable ball skills. He isn’t necessarily the deep threat the Cowboys need, but, like Dez, he’s great on jump balls. He’ll fight for the ball, anyway, a concept lost on Terrance Williams.
8. If Doctson is gone, a speed option Oregon’s Bralon Addison, out of Missouri City, near Houston. A smallish playmaker in the mold of New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks. Oklahoma’s Sterling Shepard is another player who fits this mold. A little undersized at 5 10, but he can still play outside. And in a couple of years, when taking a cap hit on Beasley wouldn’t be so awful, he could also play the slot.
9. Keep either Brandon Carr or Morris Claiborne They can’t afford to let both go, so they should go with the cheapest option. They’ve asked Carr to take a pay cut and will ask again. Good luck with that. Can’t imagine Claiborne will get much interest, but he played fairly well this year when healthy. And he’d be cheaper than Carr. The good news is Orlando Scandrick returns. Just don’t count on Byron Jones, who needs to play safety full time.
10. Draft Jalen Ramsey Some of you may remember that the previous edition of this column advocated the signing of Pacman Jones. That was before he helped hasten the end of Cincinnati’s season. While it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad idea, it’s no longer possible if the Cowboys sign Vernon. So that means they need to fill the need at cornerback with maybe the best talent in this draft. Ramsey’s got the same kind of athletic ability Jones exhibited in the combine last year and in his rookie season. Pairing them up at cornerback and safety, and maybe one day making them both safeties, would go a long ways toward fixing the Cowboys’ defense.