Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

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Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by lgkehoe on Tue Sep 27, 2016 12:59 pm

I know this topic was beat to death this off-season, but I am curious to see the takes from the members here.

Running with the offensive line takes chemistry. Without much of time in camp, now that Zeke had a few actual weeks of football with his line, we're starting to see the potential that warranted a top draft spot to acquire his talents. He has shown enough to even draw comparisons to #22. I can see it. But is that much better, does he offer that much more than the second-best running back in the draft...whoever that is? (Derrick Henry would get my vote) Could the Cowboys have fared better with a similar upside from a position more difficult to fill (DeForest Buckner)?

Is the drop-off from Zeke to ________ big enough to pass up on __________?

It's taken them four to five years to build this offensive line to a point where just about any decent back can succeed behind it. Heck, it revitalized DMac's career. The defensive line currently has no clear cut keystone. I worry that if it taken them long to build the defensive line, the Running back's peak will have already happened.

I do not think the pay-off, in concert with the timeline to put the remaining pieces in place, warranted a fourth overall pick.
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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by Cowboy1959 on Wed Sep 28, 2016 3:14 pm


I'm not inclined to second-guess the Elliott pick. I think it was a credible move at the time, and I think it's proving to have been a smart move now.

Yes, the Cowboys could have gone defense at the top of the draft, and then doubled back for a RB in the second round, but they clearly had offense on their minds, as they not only took Elliott but also tried to trade up for Paxton Lynch. This front office clearly skews offensively when it comes time to spend the big bucks on players, so while this might not have been the smartest draft strategy, it's entirely consistent with their "philosophy".

Is the dropoff from Zeke to Derrick Henry big enough to have passed on DeForest Buckner, Joey Bosa, or some of the LB and DB candidates that were at the top of the board? I don't know. Zeke has 274 yards so far, or 91 per game, while Henry has 88 yards, or 29 yards per game. Their per-carry average also favors Zeke, at 3.9 to 3.7, though Henry is also running behind DeMarco Murray, who's getting the lion's share of the carries.

Maybe the smart move would have been to give Murray that extra $2 million per year in 2015. After all, he's averaging 6.0 yards per carry in Tennessee of all places.

A lot of the what-if here depends on what happens with Jaylon Smith. If Smith recovers fully and goes on to have a stellar career, then the Zeke pick looks great, because the Cowboys will have gotten two potential perennial Pro Bowlers at relatively low cost.

Even if Smith never regains his health or his college form, I still like the Zeke pick because it's exciting to see our rookie backfield learning, growing, and producing together. It gives us both a vision of the future and a hope for better days ahead. Sure, Darren McFadden was one of only seven 1000-yard runners last year, but there was an 800-yard dropoff from Murray to McFadden that was never quite made up by the other RBs on the roster. That's a lot of yards.

I don't think that the combination of Alfred Morris and McFadden would produce at the level Zeke is capable of producing this season. His upside is bigger. And considering their respective ages, Dak is going to need (and deserve) some elite quality in the backfield with him. I loved the pickup of Morris, because I saw how good he was in Washington for the past 4 years, and I think he will be an important element to our attack for the next two seasons, but Zeke is (or has the potential to be) at an entirely different level.

Would I have liked to have seen the Cowboys take defense more seriously in the offseason? Yes. But, to be fair, they did go defense in the second and third rounds, and the pickups of Anthony Brown and Kavon Frazier in the latter rounds look like good choices for the moment. Besides, the Cowboys had no idea that they were going to lose two of their players to suspension, and they did pick up Cedric Thornton in free agency. They also got some bad luck with Tapper, so what efforts they did make on D were somewhat thwarted by events.

So I don't second-guess the Zeke pick. I'm just fine with it, and if the Cowboys can get their injured and suspended guys back they may be able to cobble together a decent defense this year. And then next they should think seriously about going DL, DL, LB, DB, DL, LB, DB in the draft. They're almost certainly going to get a good/very good compensatory pick for Ron Leary, so they're going to have some opportunities to do on the defensive side of the ball what they've been doing on the offensive side.

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by lgkehoe on Wed Sep 28, 2016 4:01 pm

For the record, this was just a little devil's advocate on my part - as soon as Bosa went, Elliot was my pick. I hope that post did not read as a downplay on Elliot's capabilities or potential. It's an ROI question and one of need. I love the player, and I don't even mind the price.

But I do have to ask about the opportunity cost. I've even seen a similar argument made for the offensive line. Look how the line of 2007 was built. Leonard Davis (FA), Flozell (38th), Kozier (FA), Columbo (FA), Gurode (pick 37). And now, we got a great guards in UDFAd, Collins and Leary.

Speaking of Leary...now that his depth is providing ferocious piece of mind, any chance they try and sign him?

I do not think they should have resigned Murray. I've gone back and forth on that one, and I have rested where I began. It was simply too much money for the age, position, and injury history, along with a smidgen of reputation as a fumbler. As a sooner fan, I love me some Murray and wish the best for him, but the team did what Chip in Philly forced them to do, and it's worked out just fine. And good point about growing together in the backfield with the new QB...an opportunity missed with Murray. I'm more settled on that then ever. That will go down as one of those counterpoints for those who have nothing but criticisms for the General Management.

The defense was addressed to some extent this off-season. But one correction, '59, the team did know about Lawrence's violation before the draft, as well as they knew already about Gregory's suspension. I suppose they had reason to hope for only a two-game suspension, but hope is only hope when it comes to building a team.

I suppose I would have liked to have seen more of a move for a FA like Suh. Thorton was not that great of a signing - at least I can say I didn't see it. The last time I remember a big FA on the defense line was Glover. Maybe I am forgetting someone? They're going to have to eventually open that check book for an impact player on the line. The draft will be a slow, slow process unless they can get lucky, like with Leary and Collins.

Again, I really like Zeke. If he has a fraction of Emmitt's heart, I may once again have a favorite player. Witten has been great, but no one from this era has ever captured me the way Emmitt did. Every once and awhile, when I see Zeke bounce outside and turn the corner with command, I can't help but think of #22.
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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by caddy4bp on Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:33 pm

I loved the pick the minute his name was called! You have a guy who will touch the ball 20+ times a game with some exceptional and special results. I would have loved to see what the season would bring had Romo been healthy. Teams couldn't crowd the box or he'd make them pay dearly. His ability with play action to Dez on crossing routes could have been special to this point. Dak's been terrific, beyond most if not all expectations, but a healthy Romo would have made this offense so stinking dangerous. No crowding the line without paying for it. Double Dez, get whacked with Elliott! Pick your poison. Its a bit subtle of a difference but that's the years of experience that Romo has versus Dak. We appear to be lucky at this point to finally have someone to fill in and take over when the time does hit to replace Romo.

Zeke was a great pick and we'll be enjoying that for a long time if he can stay healthy. He can take a hole and hit it for big yards and won't be looking for the sidelines. Wait until he starts popping those if Romo comes back and is in good form. Defenses won't have a clue who to stop. Romo will make them pay one way or the other. The chunk plays will happen more frequently and a whole lot of fun to watch. Zeke is special and we haven't started even using him properly in the passing game. He can be as good as Marshall was if they opt to use him like that. He's devastating on screens and I'd love to see him get 2 or 3 per game. Another weapon rarely used but effective when called on. Zeke is so smooth getting into position for a screen, a coach's dream. He glides then plants that foot and bam!

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by Cowboy1959 on Sun Oct 09, 2016 12:02 pm


caddy, I'm really not sure how much better this team could be playing with Romo, considering that they've won 3 of 4. Perhaps his experience would have helped pull out the Giants game, but at this point in his career it's legitimate--and perhaps wise--to ask whether his physical limitations will defeat his experience. Sure, he KNOWS what reads and throws to make, but can he still make them?

What's gotten lost in the analysis of the 2015 season is that the Cowboys weren't playing particularly well in the two games before Romo got injured against the Eagles, nor did they seem to spark when he returned for the 6 quarters he managed before getting injured again. That's not to say that he was entirely responsible for the team's woes (his passing stats were generally OK), but it does suggest that he is no longer the catalyst for this team's success.

If this season can't end in a Super Bowl, I'm just as happy letting Dak keep on learning on the job and take our lumps this year so we don't mortgage 2017. I no longer feel that Romo is the best QB to lead this team, and our rookie backfield of Dak and Zeke has energized this offense.

You seem to be forgetting the fact that Dez is injured, and would be unavailable to Romo just as he's unavailable to Dak. And here's where I think Dak has the advantage on Romo: Dak spent all summer throwing to the likes of Cole Beasley, Geoff Swaim, and Brice Butler. He's developed a rapport with those guys that Romo doesn't seem to have. As a result, Dak is more willing to throw to them, increasing the potency of our offensive weapons. Romo tends to get locked in on particular receivers, especially Witten, a limitation Dak doesn't seem to have. He'll throw to whoever's open, with productive results.

I've also noticed a difference in the way Dak reacts when a play breaks down. Romo has a career-long tendency of speeding up when he's pressured, which at times has caused him to move faster than is safe for him. It's led to turnovers that have killed this team. In contrast, Dak never seems rattled, even when he has a guy bearing down on him, and his decisions and actions in those cases always seem smoother and more effective. There's something about this guy that projects calm leadership in crisis, and it has an effect on the entire team.

I'm not ready to start throwing dirt on Romo's grave, but I can definitely see the sun setting on his career. Perhaps he's earned the right to reclaim his job when he returns, but the Cowboys need to start winding him down. There's no reason to drag this out into 2017 or beyond. It's time to turn the page and turn the team over to the young guns. If the Elliott pick serves any purpose at all, it has to be that.

Whether we knew it or not back in the Spring, a new era is emerging in Dallas. The longer the Cowboys delay it, the more they risk wasting the Elliott pick.



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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by caddy4bp on Sun Oct 09, 2016 3:05 pm

Good points 59'! I see things being more effective if we have Romo at or near his best. If he comes back and moves like he did against Carolina last year, then its over. He looked 14ish in the preseason, so I was encouraged. I do worry about teams with a serious pass rush, like the Eagles for one. However, I don't see this being a SB level team with Romo or Dak because of our defense. You have to have an upper tier defense to contend and we just don't. That doesn't mean that the offense can't carry us, but to me its show me your defense and I'll know how far you can go. t have my concerns with Dak, but the snaps are great for his development. I'm waiting for a DC taking away things from him and how he and Linehan adjust to that. He wasn't rated all that high due to his lack of accuracy. Hard to get away with that in the NFL. A QB can't miss legit opportunities and get away with it too often. I love the fact of having a QB after Romo and by all accounts Dak looks great. I've always been one to believe young/rookie QB's need time on the bench, but he appears to be one of the rare one's that contradict that opinion. I'm maybe just trying to be overly protective of his development.

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by caddy4bp on Sun Oct 09, 2016 6:30 pm

I think we're all seeing how special this #4 pick was today! Granted he went untouched, but once he puts that foot in the ground he's off to the races. That ability has to change how defenses play us. They've been playing straight up with 7 in the box and getting hammered. Loading the box here late in the 3rd.

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by Cowboy1959 on Sun Oct 09, 2016 7:22 pm


I was extremely impressed by how fast he gets into and through the hole. Those runs on the first drive were things of beauty. He may be a one-cut runner, but he sure makes it quickly and decisively.

Jim Nantz said he had the power of Emmitt and the speed of Dorsett. I agree. And that's a wonderful combination to have.

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by caddy4bp on Sun Oct 09, 2016 11:00 pm

While many things were impressive, realize what Zeke did today in the running game. He scored twice beyond the 10 yard line. Doing that inside the red zone, shows you don't have to pass your way in to the end zone. The 60 yard dash shows that playing only 7 in the box won't work out too well. Throw in Dak's run and we had 3 rushing TD's and have now had more running TD's in 5 games than in 16 games last year. Just sayin! This type of attack really opens the play book and places a ton of pressure on the defense. I'm just waiting for when they'll go for a 3rd and 3 and do it on the ground.

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by lgkehoe on Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:39 pm

Thanks for the great analysis, caddy. Its great having your football background around the forums.

I still see so much Emmitt in #4, it's uncanny. I get flashbacks and I don't know what decade it is.

As for the Dak/Romo situation, I lean more towards '59's position that we should really be moving on and focused on development, especially if this defense is not ready for a championship run. But for now, it's one week at a time, and Dak will head on over to cheesetown.

Caddy, you mentioned you had concerns with Dak...was it just his accuracy or was there more to it? I'd am interested to know your full take. FWIW, I did hear (Gruden's QB Camp) Dak talk about his throwing deficiencies, so he worked on that this entire off-season. Vs. Cincy, he has hitting the receivers' breadbaskets.
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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by caddy4bp on Tue Oct 11, 2016 3:37 pm

Hi LG, my concerns were two fold and he's proving them wrong to this point. First, that his accuracy was lacking. I'll post Dane Brugler's draft analysis on him. You'll enjoy the read. I'd watch and listen also to the dallascowboys.com shows and they would cringe in discussing his lack of accuracy. He was all over the place. So too, they said it reminded them of Tony when he was in first in camp. All they were saying and my going along with, was that he was in a great spot to develop. Item two for me is mostly experience and how D coordinators would dissect him and start to give him more than he could adapt to. That's what I'd do and lick my chops doing it. Then maybe cringe too!

He's played fantastic so please don't misunderstand that. He's made us all see we're not skipping a beat. He's at the stage where he's putting on tape what he can do, what he likes to do, what he favors. He's in a great situation with this O line. I remember going back in time in 2014, I heard Broaddus say that with this line the beauty of the post Romo era would be that a young player is behind this line and would have the luxury of staying in manageable 2nd & 3rd downs with our running game. Then we go and add Zeke! Wow! For me, it's my offensive mind that says I feel Romo can optimize the offense more. More chunk plays that go for big yards at a clip, both in the running game and passing game. But I've got concerns that there are plays Romo can't make that Dak can with his mobility. Can't do that option run for a TD, no way can Romo do that.

Yes, I still am like the coaches in whom do I trust the most in the toughest games to win. Who gives me the best chance to win? Frankly, we've only seen Dak play anywhere from solid to fantastic. He can continue that into February and make us all happy. The game I worry about is Philly. They have a tough D and one that has literally broken Romo's back on a few occasions.

I worry about that 2nd time around in the batting order type of thing where the coordinators get a guy figured out. First time, you'll fool many as RGIII did in his rookie season. The following years were not kind to him, but I see way more in Dak, then the latter years of RGIII. Little things, like watching how he throws to his left. Hi, low, wide, etc. He doesn't go left of center very often. I recall one QB out of ND who coordinators realized can't throw to his left. So I watch that stuff. Can't think of his name, but he was a 1st round pick and bounced around for awhile and washed out. So I'm one to be a little more cautious in spreading the holy water on him just yet. But he has all the tools to be very good from what I've seen. If this is his most inaccurate, we're in for a real treat 3-4 years down the road.

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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by lgkehoe on Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:02 pm

Awesome, thanks! Its great knowing other things to watch in his development. I'll start paying more attention to that left of center thing. 

One thing I believe in Dak...if he knows he has a weakness, he is going to work on it until its a a strength - continuously.

Good stuff, caddy!
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Re: Second-guessing the #4 overall pick...

Post by caddy4bp on Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:38 pm

Against Green Bay last week he was behind or high with 3 passes to the left. Opening one to Witten (tough pass as he moved left), the next throw to Beasley was high, which slowed down the play and then the one to Twill coming across the middle. He was behind on a pass to the right to Butler who was isolated 1 on 1 on the right. He completed 3 of the 4, so nothing wrong with that, but one errant pass did cost a potential TD. Top or elite QB's don't miss those. He's a rook, so we'll give him some time. But those are the types of plays albeit executed that 2nd and 3rd tier QB's throw.

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