Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Five Wonders: All in play for NFL draft
By Todd Archer
IRVING, Texas -- With the NFL draft five weeks away, it seems like a perfect time to bring back Five Wonders.
On to the wonders:
• Some of you might wonder if the acquisition of Henry Melton takes the Dallas Cowboys out of the loop for Aaron Donald at No. 16 overall, considering both players would handle the three-technique role in Rod Marinelli’s scheme. Here’s why you shouldn’t wonder. You have to look at the Melton contract as a one-year deal. If he doesn’t play to the level where the Cowboys want to exercise their three-year option on him next year, then they would be back in the same situation they were in before signing Melton. The bigger question might be whether Donald makes it to No. 16 overall, but the Cowboys must be prepared to take him if he’s there. He is scheduled to visit the Cowboys before the draft. He piqued their interest at the Senior Bowl and did more of it at the NFL scouting combine. There is nothing wrong with taking a player at a position of strength (OK, if they took a tight end in the first round, then that might be overkill but more on that later). Injuries happen and you can never have enough good players.
• I wonder if this is the year the Cowboys look at a quarterback in the middle rounds, even with the signing of Brandon Weeden. The last time the Cowboys drafted a quarterback was in 2009 when they took Stephen McGee in the fourth round. The Cowboys loved his makeup but he did not develop. It should be noted that Wade Wilson is scheduled to attend the pro day of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. He tore his anterior cruciate ligament in November but is expected to do most of the drills at the pro day. Murray is a second- or third-day selection and a player the Cowboys can have some patience with. He holds Georgia’s records in passing yards (13,166) and touchdown passes (121) and has a moxie to his game. With Tony Romo, Kyle Orton and Weeden, you can argue there won’t be enough snaps to go around, but just as was mentioned with Donald, the draft is not just about the current year. It is about future years as well. The Cowboys will go with Romo as long as they can, but Orton is in the final year of his deal, and Weeden’s contract did not include any signing bonus.
• I wonder if one of the reasons why the Cowboys say they don’t need a veteran wide receiver is in part because of tight end Gavin Escobar. The Cowboys can like Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley all they want, but there are limitations to their games. But if you add Escobar to that mix, then the Cowboys would be able to roll three players through the snaps if something happened to Dez Bryant or Terrance Williams. If it were me, I’d still look at a receiver, but the Cowboys are intrigued by the mismatches Escobar can create and are banking on new tight ends coach Mike Pope to develop him. And remember this about new passing game coordinator Scott Linehan. He had Joseph Fauria with the Detroit Lions last year. He caught just 18 passes for 207 yards, but seven went for touchdowns. Fauria is 6-7 and 255 pounds. Escobar is 6-6 and 249 pounds.
• And now on to the promised talk of a tight end. I wonder if the Cowboys need to find more of a blocking type of tight end? It’s not a sign of giving up on Escobar as a hand-in-the-ground tight end, but there are limitations and there will be limitations in the future. James Hanna filled in well enough as the No. 2 tight end most of the time to Jason Witten, but blocking is not his strong suit and the coaches were not able to design a way to use his speed. The Cowboys kept Andre Smith around for a spell last year because of his blocking, but his lack of special teams’ play hurt his chances of making the game-day roster. If the Cowboys are to look for more of a blocking tight end, then they will have to live with the fact the player might not help much on special teams.
• I wonder if the Cowboys believe Martez Wilson will be able to help them out at defensive end. He signed with the Cowboys last November and was on the field almost immediately, but he did not make much of an impact. He has the physical skills necessary to become a player at 6-4, 252 pounds. He runs well. He has some pop to him. Maybe he just needs more time with Marinelli to develop. He is just 25 and put up three sacks with the New Orleans Saints in 2012. The Cowboys liked him in 2011 but not so much as a fit for their 3-4 scheme at the time. It would be a long shot for Wilson to become an every-down player but he could be a situational pass-rusher. Given the state of their defensive line, the Cowboys have to take a look at everybody.