Well, who should appear in Wednesday's edition of The Ultimate 53, none other than DeMarcus Ware. OK kids, gather around, it's time for another round of Draft-Day Storytime with Uncle Bryan.
The 2005 NFL Draft was my last with the club. Jeff Ireland was taking over for my old boss, Larry Lacewell, so it was understandable that Jeff wanted to bring in his own guys for the department. It happens all over the league, so it's something you live with as part of this business. I still had a shot to stay, but Parcells pushed for Brian Gaine from the Jets, and so that started my path into radio, but let's get back to the story.
In the 2004 draft, we made a trade with the Bills for our first round selection that year, moving back in the draft to the second round and picking up the Bills' first in 2005. The Buffalo trade and what happened there is a different story for another day. When we made the trade in 2004, we believed that Buffalo would finish with an awful record and we had a chance to pick up a high pick for moving back a few spots.
The Buffalo pick ended up being 20th while we were the one's that struggled in 2004, finishing with a record of 6 - 10 and the 11th spot. It was nice to actually have two first-round picks after going through two drafts in 2000 and 2001 with no first-rounder. So, armed with those selections, we started our draft meetings.
This was to be the first season that we switched from playing in the 4-3 front to playing in what Parcells wanted, the 3-4. So, as a group, we were looking for outside linebackers and defensive ends. Parcells did nothing but hammer on us what it took to play in this front. We were all used to looking for players like La'Roi Glover and Dexter Coakley, and now it was Marcus Spears and Chris Canty. It took some getting used to, but as a group we were getting it, and so was Jerry Jones.
The thing I remember most about those meetings was how much Bill was in love with Spears. It was not that the scouts didn't like Spears, we just didn't understand why Bill was pushing for him so hard at 11 and not 20? Parcells knew he was losing the battle on Spears at 11, so he turned his attention to DeMarcus Ware and Shawne Merriman for that spot. The scouts were totally on board with Ware at 11, but Bill made a nice push to take Merriman in that spot instead.
We went around and around about who was the best player at that outside linebacker spot. It got to the point where both players had a grade of 1.00, which on the scale was a top-10 pick. Jerry and Stephen asked me to made some calls to other scouts around the league and ask about Ware and Merriman and where they might see him in this mix. The majority of the scouts that I spoke with said the one defensive player that teams were interested in trading up for was Ware. I heard too many teams with questions about Merriman. They did acknowledge that he was an outstanding player, but still, there was little question about what Ware could become. I typed up my notes and passed them along to my bosses.
Two hours before the draft, there was still some question as to what direction that we might go. Parcells was on board with Merriman or Spears at 11, but there still was a strong push for Ware at that spot, and then to grab Spears at 20. In a closed-door meeting with Jerry, Stephen and Parcells, the decision was made that we would draft Ware if he was there and work the board.
To be honest, I remember sitting there looking at Parcells the whole time wondering what was going through his mind? He showed no emotion as each selection went off the board. Finally, we got to our selection at 11 and Jerry announced the direction we were going, which brought smiles to everyone's face with the exception of the head coach, who was still silent. It didn't surprise me that Bill was upset. He was used to getting his way, but Jerry made the call for Ware. Merriman's career started off outstanding, but we all know where it has gone since.
Parcells' draft mood changed nine picks later when we were able to grab Spears with that 20th selection. We had to sweat Cincinnati and Minnesota taking two defensive ends ahead of us, but we got our guys. For my last draft, it was a heck of a show by Jerry and the scouts. Kevin Burnett, Marion Barber, Canty and Jay Ratliff all came to the program that weekend, but the biggest catch was a future Hall of Famer, DeMarcus Ware.