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by Mike Fisher    Mon, Apr 28, 2008, 10:06 am

I know this is The Greatest Draft The Cowboys Have Ever Had; I mean, aren’t they all? But allow me a contrarian point of view: Aren’t all three of Dallas’ big-name first-day picks slated to be backups?

Are these the presents you buy for somebody who has everything? Depth providers?

Maybe I’m just haunted by the mid-1990’s, when Jerry and Lacewell and Switzer oversaw drafts that featured the intentional acquisition of second-teamers; in the minds of the braintrust, the three-time Super Bowl champs were so loaded that adding third defensive ends like Shante Carver was all that was needed.

And here we go again, with the 2008 Dallas Cowboys, coming off a 13-3 season, so loaded that Saturday’s premier rounds of NFL Draft were all about dazzling talents. ... none of whom figure to start


This is not meant as a diss of Arkansas running back Felix Jones, South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins and Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett. It can be argued that all three will step right into voids, Felix replacing Julius, Jenkins adding depth and Bennett taking the spot of Miami-bound Anthony Fasano.

It can also be argued that Felix is a special talent, his speed making him a kick-return threat, that Jenkins is a special talent, his brilliance an almost single-handed reason unheralded South Florida spent much of last season as a national title contender, and that Bennett “adds another dimension,’’ as coach Wade Phillips said. (Though I believe Wade said that about all three acqusitions.)

A series of arguments for another day:

Will time prove that Felix is a superior running back to Rashard Mendenhall? Some think Mendenhall, who Dallas passed on, is not the ideal complement to Marion Barber because he’s “too much like’’ MB3. Me? I thought it weird that Jerry wouldn’t say whether Felix or Rashard was higher on Dallas’ board. I mean, Felix better be higher, right? Meanwhile, I’m not quite certain how being like Barber can in any way be construed as a negative.

So Felix is a speedster, an unselfish guy accustomed to splitting time by virtue of his Razorback partnership with Darren McFadden, a versatile kid who can line up wide, a pass-catcher out of the backfield, a home-run hitter. He’s “the perfect complement’’ to MB3. ... but “complement’’ does mean “backup,’’ right?

Will time prove that the move up to cornerback Jenkins was worth it because he was coveted elsewhere? The Cowboys apparently had Jenkins in a four-man bunch of cornerbacks they viewed as premier, but guaranteed their acquisition of him with a vault ahead. Is Jenkins so clearly better than, say, Antoine Cason that Dallas needed to surrender two late picks to get a top DB?

Will time prove that pick No. 61, for second-round A&M tight end Martellus Bennett, was represents anything more than a “need pick’’? Or is it even that? Even with Fasano bound for the Dolphins, couldn’t Tony Curtis serve adequately as Jason Witten’s caddie? Was there really not a wide receiver who projects to be a more impactful pro than the Aggies’ bullish tight end?

Again, those three issues with these three players will be addressed in time. More immediately, let’s reflect again: Are the Cowboys so brilliantly gifted, so incomparably deep, so need-free, that they’re greatest desires are a second running back, a third or fourth cornerback and a second or third tight end?

Felix will be the understudy of MB3, whose value to the Cowboys is about to be reflected in big-money negotiations. Jenkins will, if all goes according to plan, learn from projected starters (and stars) Terence Newman and Pacman Jones, and had an uphill battle being in the class of Anthony Henry. Bennett would be doing well to get the same sort of burn as Fasano, who made only token appearances as Witten carried a Pro Bowl-level load.

I don’t mean to be negative. I guess this is the gift you get for the men – Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips – who have everything: darn good backup prospects.


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Comments (3)add comment
written by Heyman , April 28, 2008

Coming into this draft all I heard was how weak a class it was going to be. I am probably an apologist myself; but could that also be part of the reason they got players who are backups? I would say the accumulation of additional picks for next year was a key to this draft. As Jimmy Genius liked to say, he wanted more picks. And as it turned out, he needed them to coronate himself as the genius in his own mind.

written by Dallasite1 , April 28, 2008

Great starters will get you to 13-3. Great starters and depth will bring you championships (or at least a first round playoff victory).

written by Mike Fisher , May 01, 2008

I'm just a broken-down ol' sportswriter. So what do I know? But it's odd to run through an entire draft and not select even ONE guy who has a chance to start.
Hmmm. Maybe the first 24 Cowboys are really that loaded?

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