Sunday, April 25, 2010
Cowboys couldn't pass on Bryant
By Calvin Watkins
Welcome to our first postdraft mailbag. Some of you are concerned about Dez Bryant and whether Roy Williams and Patrick Crayton will stay on the team. We'll try to answer our first letter regarding the offensive line and safety spots, and we'll educate a guy from Fort Worth who thinks Tony Romo is the problem.
Q: Dez Bryant is a great wide receiver prospect. However, why would the Cowboys not select a highly regarded offensive tackle or cornerback/safety in the first round? The wide receiver position was already filled with very good players and was the lowest need after running back. -- JJ (Parts Unknown)
A: Well, JJ, the easy answer is Bryant was the eighth-ranked player on the Cowboys' draft board and the best wide receiver in the draft. Dallas has enough confidence in Doug Free being the left tackle of the future to not spend a first-round pick on a left tackle. As for safety, the two top safeties in the draft, as far as the Cowboys were concerned, were gone by the time they picked. So, seeing Bryant's availability pushed them to get him.
Q: How do you think the Cowboys' draft went? Do you think we have a shot to make it to the Super Bowl? -- Damian (Richmond, Va.)
A: Great draft. Mel Kiper gave the Cowboys a B-minus for two simple reasons: The Cowboys got the best wide receiver in the draft, Dez Bryant, and a highly regarded inside linebacker, Sean Lee, in the first two rounds. You can say the team is reaching with seventh-round pick Sean Lissemore as a defensive end, and you could also say that sixth-round pick Sam Young might not crack the starting lineup at tackle, but Bryant and Lee will make an impact. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, the fourth-round pick, should help on special teams and could challenge for the starting free safety spot in the future. Dallas should be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl this season, but with the third-hardest schedule in the league, it won't be easy. Dallas has some difficult road games this year, and that will play a role in its future.
Q: Do you think Dallas should/can sign Darren Sharper to fill the need at safety as a temporary solution? Or do you think they could pull a trade for an elite safety this year? -- Marty (Ramstein, Germany)
A: Jerry Jones said the team might fill the safety spot with a veteran player, such as Darren Sharper or maybe O.J. Atogwe. I've always thought Sharper would stay with the Saints, and Atogwe, while a restricted free agent, could command big money. However, Alan Ball is the projected starter at that position, at least for now, and Jones said he would like to see how Michael Hamlin plays, injury free. Patrick Watkins is another player on the roster who could challenge for that spot, but it appears doubtful.
Q: Do you think there is reporting bias concerning athletes of color? -- Ed (Arlington, Texas)
A: Interesting question. If you're referring to the Dez Bryant situation, there was plenty of misinformation out there. Jerry Jones even said it. People talked about Bryant's inability to make games and meetings on time. Well, that was his freshman year. There were all these reports that Bryant was a diva, but nobody came out with any specifics. Sometimes we as reporters have to do more reporting instead of just assuming things about any type of athlete. If we start doing that more, we provide you, the reader, with a more balanced, enjoyable story.
Q: Are the Cowboys pursuing or going to pursue Jammal Brown? Thanks. -- Mitch (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: I doubt it. Before the Cowboys would get after Brown hot and heavy, they might make a play to re-sign Flozell Adams, who was cut a few weeks ago. Dallas wants a veteran left tackle, but mainly as insurance in case Doug Free struggles in training camp.
Q: Ok, they have more than enough talent, so when are they going to get a real quarterback. You can have all the best receivers in the world and nobody to deliver the ball, so you're still at square one. -- Ron Campbell (Fort Worth)
A: Ron, I don't know who your health care provider is, but I think you should talk to someone. Ron, there is nothing wrong with Tony Romo. He's the franchise. The man. The ace. The top dog. Or is it top dawg? Whichever, Romo got better last year. He threw a career-low nine interceptions, set career highs in completions (347), attempts (550), yards (4,483) and quarterback rating (97.6). I'm not sure who you want at quarterback, but Romo isn't going anywhere.
Q: Do you think Patrick Crayton gets traded? If they don't trade either Roy Williams or Patrick, will they bench them and go with Dez Bryant or is Dez the third receiver? -- Barry (Arlington, Texas)
A: The Cowboys are shopping Crayton but aren't getting any nibbles. If Dallas had shopped him before the draft, teams were willing to deal. For now, I think Crayton will remain on the team unless he's cut. Williams isn't going anywhere, much like Tony Romo, because of the amount of money invested in him. He got $9.5 million in guaranteed money in the offseason. Bryant will challenge Crayton for the No. 3 spot and should win out. At some point, Bryant is the projected starter at wide receiver alongside Miles Austin.
Q: Ed Werder on ESPN just said that the Cowboys want to make sure Dez "gets the right mentoring. They want him talking to Michael Irvin, not Deion Sanders." Ed said that with a straight face. Was he kidding? Do the Cowboys value Michael's mentoring skills that much and not Deion's? -- Alven (Tulsa, Okla.)
A: Jerry Jones said he has no problems with Dez Bryant being associated with Deion Sanders or Michael Irvin. Bryant said Sanders has done nothing to hurt him.
Q: Who is going to be the field goal kicker for the Cowboys next year? -- Terry (Harrisburg, Pa.)
A: David Buehler and Connor Hughes are the kickers coming into training camp. The team expects Buehler to win the job because he has a stronger leg and is also the kickoff specialist. The Cowboys have drafted kickers in two of the last four drafts. But Nick Folk is gone now, thanks to his inability to make big kicks last year, and it's Buehler's turn to take over. If he struggles, Jerry Jones said there are replacements out there.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.