Scooping Cowboys in draft a good thing

May, 21, 2014
5/21/14
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Remember when it was a good thing when an NFL team was compared to the Dallas Cowboys? You know, back in the mid-1990s when the Cowboys won three out of four Super Bowls and were perennial participants in the playoffs?

Not so much lately.

Dallas hasn't been to the playoffs or had a winning record since 2009. It has had nine seasons of 8-8 or worse in the last 15 years.

So was it a good thing for the Carolina Panthers when Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said last week the Cowboys would have taken Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy in the second round and LSU guard Trai Turner in the third had they not traded the Nos. 47 and 78 picks to move up and draft Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence at No. 34?

Carolina, in case you forgot, selected Ealy at No. 60 and Turner at No. 92.

"Did I hear him?'' Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman said of Stephen Jones' comment. "Yeah. That's him.''

And yeah, it was a good thing for the Panthers to select two players the Cowboys were considering.

Ealy, as Gettleman noted during a weekend rookie camp, has a chance to move into the rotation right away despite the presence of Pro Bowler Greg Hardy and veteran sack specialist Charles Johnson.

Turner has a chance to start at right guard as the Panthers restructure their entire offensive line.

Both players will make Carolina, trying to record consecutive winning seasons for the first time in team history, better just as they would have made Dallas better.

While Jones said Dallas had Lawrence rated ahead of Ealy -- in his words "much better'' to step in at right end -- the Cowboys wouldn't have hesitated to pick the Missouri end had it not traded.

The Cowboys had Turner as a potential to move into the starting rotation with first-round pick Zack Martin, a guard/tackle out of Notre Dame.

Fortunately for the Panthers, Dallas made the trade. That allowed them to get two players they believe will have an immediate impact.

The Panthers had a first-round grade on Ealy. Turner in particular could be a steal. He helped LSU rush for a school-record 37 touchdowns and is coming from an offense that had similar terminology to Carolina's.

And he's young, not turning 21 until June after foregoing his final two years at LSU to enter the draft.

"I had forgotten he was only 20 years old,'' Gettleman said. "When they reminded me I said, 'Holy smokes!' With the younger guys, the guys that are 20 and 21, the first thing you have to ask yourself is it going to be too big.''

Gettleman then rolled off a list of reasons why starting as a rookie shouldn't be too big for Turner, from how he handled playing in the SEC to the "leg up'' it gives him to have played in a similar system.

"I say to myself, if we hit on the guy, we may have a 15-year guy instead of a 13-year guy,'' Gettleman said.

Maybe at some point during that time it will be a good thing for teams to compare themselves to the Panthers.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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