I have been busy with my off season addiction of researching free agents and draft hopefuls again. Right now I am knee deep in mock drafts and have completed a few complete off seasons as well. I am also currently finishing up my defensive analysis, which I will post in a couple days before leaving for Florida to work for a bit. Here is the last off season mock I made and posted on my Facebook page a couple days ago. Keep in mind this is just fantasy, but I try to be as realistic as possible, keeping in mind salary CAP and position needs as well as player availability both in free agency and each round of the draft. I do this for fun and hopefully you all will have some fun reading this and coming up with your own ideas as well. It’s a long off season and we have to keep busy some how. Enjoy…
I want to preface this one by acknowledging the fact that there is no way to make everyone happy. The moves (or non-moves) in this one that people will complain about is not resigning Laurent Robinson and Tony Fiammetta. Also, not having better depth behind Victor Butler and Bruce Carter, so this one is a gamble. Then again, aren’t they all? Let me explain my thoughts before getting into free agents signed and the draft.
In this scenario, Laurent Robinson finds a much higher payday than Dallas is willing to shell out for it’s 4th option on offense, and decides it’s a much better idea to fortify other positions with that money. As for Fiammetta, his health concerns cause Jerry to wait until camp to see if he is an absolute need. There is no doubt, his blocking skills were directly related to Murray’s rookie success, so this one will be closely monitored. For now, the money is used to backup Romo, with the economical choice of Brady Quinn. Anthony Spencer finds a Chris Canty-like deal that is too rich for the Cowboys blood and Ryan decides he can roll with Victor Butler and a new young player from the draft. This decision also indirectly influences the first round pick in the draft.
Free Agents Signed:
Carl Nicks OG 7 years $57 million with $15 million signing bonus (contract comparable to former Saint’s teammate Jahri Evans)
This is the big move of the year. Nicks will pair with Tyron Smith to protect Romo’s blindside, giving him the time needed to make the critical reads.
Richard Marshall CB 6 years $28 million with $10 million guaranteed (contract similar to Scandrick’s)
Marshall was named defense MVP by Arizona Cardinal’s DC Ray Horton.He is a solid cover corner and tackles well. He was also used at safety last year when FS Kerry Rhodes was sidelined with a foot injury. Richard will come in and compete with Orlando Scandrick for a starting spot.
Thomas DeCoud FS 6 years $25 million with $8 million guaranteed (contract similar to Sensebaugh’s)
DeCoud became a solid starter in Atlanta, but became a CAP casualty with so many other priorities and William Moore as a fallback option. This is an upgrade for the Dallas secondary compared to resigning Elam to play SS and Sensebugh to stay at FS.
Brady Quinn QB 3 years $8 million with $4 million guaranteed
There are quite a few options here at this price, but Quinn is my flavor of the week. I could also see Chad Henne getting a look here.
2012 Dallas Cowboys Draft:
1. Devon Still DT/DE Penn State
Still is currently the 10th rated player and top rated DT in this years draft. I could also see Quinton Coples or Michael Brockers going here. The idea behind this pick is that I believe Courtney Upshaw will be gone by the 14th pick (probably to Buffalo at 10) and the dline has been ignored for years. If you watch today’s NFL QB’s against a 3-4 defense, most are aware of the edge rushers (OLB’s) and step up into the pocket to avoid pressure. If the pressure is also coming from the inside, it’s a different ballgame. Ratliff at NT and Hatcher and Still at DE, combined with Butler and Ware on the outside could be the upgrade in pressure that we’ve been lacking since the switch to a 3-4.
2. Ben Jones C/G Georgia
Jones is the second rated center in this year’s draft, but the perfect fir for Garrett’s offense. Ben is versatile, smart and strong. When asked what his greatest asset was at the senior bowl, his response was “My intelligence, I’m a smart guy. I can get the whole offensive line on the same page and I’m tough as hell.” One of our oline weaknesses for years was that the center doesn’t make the line adjustments. Kosier has been that guy and with age and injuries catching up to Kyle, Jones would be the perfect choice for the future at center.
3. Josh Norman CB Coastal Carolina
Norman caught the attention of scouts at the senior bowl. Although a small school player, his height, (6’2”) physicality, smoothness and great hands make him an intriguing prospect and worth the 3rd round grade he is currently receiving from most draft sights. Josh could be the steal of the draft and everyone knows Jerry likes to gamble on players with high upside to make him look like a genius.
4. T.Y. Hilton WR/PR Florida International
Hilton is another small school athlete with tremendous upside. He could potentially replace Laurent Robinson’s void as the 4th offensive option as well as provide a legitimate weapon on punt returns, finally keeping starting WR Dez Bryant off special teams. Although small in stature, (5’10” 185lbs.) T.Y.’s straight line speed, hands and elusiveness make him a weapon defenses must account for at all times.
4. (comp pick for Stephen Bowen) Tank Carder ILB TCU
Depth is needed on the inside after losing former starters Keith Brooking and Bradie James. Tank is a tough, physical player with great tackling technique. Carder was the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive year in 2011.
5. Jack Crawford DE/OLB Penn State
Crawford is the second Penn State player taken in this draft and would be the third Nitny Lion on the 2012 defense joining starter Sean Lee and first round pick Devon Still. I really like his size for the position. (6’5” 270 lbs.) Crawford has tremendous work-ethic and energy and could be counted on for significant contributions during his rookie season rotating with Victor Butler on the strong side.
6. Beau Reliford TE Florida State
If Jerry doesn’t get caught up in the en-vogue two-tight end receiver option, Beau could be the cheaper solid blocking tight end needed after losing head-case Martellus Bennett to free agency. Reliford is a former basketball all-star and has the size (6’5” 260 lbs.) and athletic ability (like Bennett) to excel in Garrett’s offense.
7. Emil Igwenagu FB Massachusetts
Choosing not to resign Fiammetta right away and the slow progress of last year’s draft pick, Sean Chapas, leaves a void in the lead blocking department, which is essential to the health of the running game in Garrett’s 90’s style offense. With few teams looking for traditional fullbacks in this new era of passing prominence, Igwenagu has the receiving skills to do damage on the perimeter when not blasting holes in the running game. He was also voted team captain in 2011, something JG holds to a high regard.