Tampa Bay is on the clock. As this years scouting combine comes to an end, more and more attention is being put on just who they will select with the number one overall pick. Marcus Mariota is a tremendous athlete with great size and speed. Jameis Winston has great size as well. A solid arm that can make all NFL throws. He has been lauded by his football IQ. Who will Tampa Bay go with?
This is huge for their franchise. General Managers and coaches get fired for not picking the right player or not getting said player to reach expectations. The immediate success of your team evolves around your franchise QB. Great teams seem to have great quarterbacks. Millions of dollars are wrapped up in this player who you believe will learn your system and be the missing piece to restore glory and prestige to your team. There can only be one overall pick. The other player will be thrown back into the pool, just a name on a card until a team puts their hope and future into his hands.
How ironic that it will be ten years since the 2005 NFL draft when San Francisco had this same dilemma. Interesting that Aaron Rodgers was slotted to go number one overall, but Alex Smith ended up being the 49ers pick. Do you remember what happened to Rogders? He slid all the way down to Green Bay at the 24th pick. Green Bay already had Brett Farve, but picked up Rodgers anyway. We all know how that worked out.
Part of the combine is getting medical evaluations of these prospects. Players are given physicals and past/previous injuries are made known. The Dallas Cowboys made headlines when they requested an electromyography (EMG) of Jameis Winston’s shoulder. Not unusual until you see where the Cowboys are selecting from, the 27th pick. Winston just might be the first name called on April 30th. Why would the Cowboys waste time getting an EMG (use of electrodes to analyze problems in muscles or nerves. A graph is charted and then doctors interpret results) to look at the health of a player’s muscles and nerves when he is more likely to be gone? They are certainly being thorough. If Winston or Mariota are available, they want to be prepared. Yes, fully prepared just in case the Aaron Rodgers rule is in play.
When San Francisco chose Smith, it gave 22 other teams the chance to draft their franchise quarterback. Out of the 22, 15 could have used an upgrade at QB. All 15 teams passed on him. Dallas and Minnesota passed on him twice. (Dallas went on to select All-Pro LB DeMarcus Ware and 3-4 end Marcus Spears. The Vikings selected Troy Williamson and Erasmus James. James only played three seasons, marred by injuries while Williamson struggled through 5 seasons. He never caught more than 40 passes, gained over 500 yards or scored three touchdowns in any of those seasons.) Out of those 15 teams, only 8 picked a pro-bowler.
Bottom of the basement teams sent out players like Marques Tuiasosopo (Oakland), Gus Ferrotte (Miami), Chris Simms (Tampa Bay) and Trent Dilfer (Cleveland) in 2015. The old saying rings true that hindsight is only 20/20.
The Cowboys don’t want to make that mistake, especially with an aging quarterback. One that has several back surgeries on his list of injuries. Another tidbit of news from Combine was that Jerry Jones believes this soon to be 35-year-old QB with Chronic back problems has up to five more years left in the tank. Will Romo’s body hold up that long? Who knows, but look favors the prepared. We saw what happened last year. Do the Cowboys want to start grooming its future QB now or put it off for later? What do they see in Weeden that we haven’t seen? Is Dustin Vaughn going to continue to develop? Fortunately, it’s not my decision, nor my money.
Jerry did say something that I agree with. The last two years they were in need of some defensive help but chose to go in a different route in the first round. They followed their draft sheets and picked a player on the offensive side of ball. Not bad picks as they turned out to be All Pros- Zach Martin and Travis Frederick. In years past, the Cowboys have abandoned their draft shhets and reached on some players or let their impulse drive their decision. To their credit, and certainly Assistant Scouting Director Will McClay’s, they have done a better job drafting players that not only fit their scheme but at a good value. What about this year?If their targeted prospects for defensive end and defensive tackle who they graded out as first rounders are gone, what do they do?
Best player available is usually the smartest move. The Cowboys could pick an offensive tackle, a defensive back or whatever player they graded out as a first rounder. Even a QB like Winston or Mariota if they slide down that far. This is highly unlikely, but the Cowboys would be wise to learn from the past.