By Mac Engel, McClatchy Newspapers –
FORT WORTH, Texas — In two weeks, the Dallas Cowboys will select a guard, or a safety, maybe a defensive lineman or another linebacker in the first round of the NFL Draft and hail that pick as the “best player available.”
Call it a convenient truth.
As many needs as this franchise has, any of those positions can be passed off as best on the board.
And with the 14th overall selection in the first round, the Cowboys will be selecting a legitimate first-round-caliber player. Conventional cynicism says they’ll blow it. That’s what we have come to expect from a crew that has genuinely tried so hard yet done so little for so long.
Fans’ hopes will soar with a collection of new faces who will be the leaders and the “guts” of a new Dallas Cowboys team.
Like Andy said in “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies.”
Try as the Cowboys may to crush such thoughts, we cling to the hope that this time they might select correctly.
Just know that for every Tyron Smith, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff or Jason Witten, there are these warnings from drafts of yesteryear:
Jerry Jones said the day after the first round of this draft: “We are really pleased with not only the way we were able to trade down, but also with the players that we had pinpointed. We could, in this draft, really make a difference on our football team in 1995.”
The Cowboys selected Sherman Williams, Kendell Watkins, Shane Hannah and a slew of other guys you never heard of.
The Cowboys selected defensive end Kavika Pittman with the 37th overall pick.
He said, “I wasn’t surprised by being picked by the Cowboys. It was just how high I was picked.”
Cowboys tight ends coach Robert Ford said of their first-round pick, tight end David LaFleur: “I just want a guy to come in here, contribute and help us go to the Super Bowl and win it. I believe that we were one tight end away last year from doing that.”
With their first selection, 49th overall, in the second round, the Cowboys chose Tennessee defensive back Dwayne Goodrich.
Then-head coach Dave Campo said: “In my wildest dreams, I didn’t think he would drop down to us. We never wavered on (picking) him. You’re talking about a 5-foot-11, 198-pound corner who has been timed in a 4.38-second 40 and who played in the Southeastern Conference week in and week out against quality players.”
My personal favorite.
Jerry said after selecting Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter with their first pick, 53rd overall: “We didn’t want to live with missing (Carter) if we bet wrong in the third round.” Jones also said The Q was “a player we may not see the likes again for a couple of years — if even then.”
Then-coach Bill Parcells said after trading out of the first round: “In my heart, I have to approach this from the long-range view if I am going to be honest and forthright. I have to look at the best interest of the franchise. The best way to rejuvenate a team is with multiple picks on the (draft’s) first day.”
This draft netted Julius Jones, Jacob Rogers, Stephen Peterman and Sean Ryan in rounds two through five. In fairness, the next year’s class included DeMarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Marion Barber, Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff.
The Cowboys selected linebacker Bobby Carpenter with their first pick in a class where only Jason Hatcher became much of anything. Curiously, Parcells elected not to speak to the media after this draft. Always aware of distancing himself from any dud personnel moves, perhaps he knew what was coming.
Jerry, however, stepped up to the mic.
“(Carpenter) has a great upside through osmosis with his dad (a former NFL player),” Jones said. “He has a high motor. He practices hard. He plays hard. He will complement what we are doing with Ware and be an immediate contributor.”
One of the very worst; the Cowboys traded out of seemingly everything. They drafted no one on the first day, but 12 players between rounds three and seven. Only Victor Butler and John Phillips remain.
“We had a very serious off-season priority, beginning with the hiring of our special teams coach,” Jerry said. “Special-teams play is an important part of what we could do in this draft, because when you’re drafting at this level, you can put some emphasis on that. Nearly every one of our selections was there to give us an opportunity to make an immediate improvement.”