IRVING, Texas - Two of the best pass-rushers in Cowboys history have worn No. 94. And now, they're hoping Randy Gregory can someday follow in those footsteps.
Big shoes to fill? Of course. Was it the right move to do this? Of course.
Some might scoff at the Cowboys' decision to hand their second-round pick the same jersey number of not only a Hall of Fame player in Charles Haley, who is credited with helping the 1990s team reach the next level, but also a Hall of Famer-to-be in DeMarcus Ware, who is the Cowboys' all-time leader in sacks and is still playing and making Pro Bowls in Denver.
Personally, I think it was a wise decision to do that.
The Cowboys are not saying Gregory is going to be the same as Haley and/or Ware. What they're saying is that Gregory has the potential to be that good.
Let's not forget where he was pegged to go before his off-the-field issues surfaced. Gregory was a top-10 player on many draft boards and there are some teams that called him the best defensive player in this draft.
He might be a bit undersized right now in this scheme, but when it comes to rushing the quarterback, Gregory looks like a player who won't need a big transition.
Obviously, the drug concerns can't be ignored. And clearly, all 32 teams didn't ignore it, with most of them deciding to pass not once, but twice on the talented Gregory.
But the Cowboys just couldn't pass a second time. His talent, his ability and his potential was just too good.
And it's that potential that probably led to the decision to give him No. 94.
Think about it, the guy was slotted to go in the top half of the first round. And he's at the NFL Draft in Chicago and had to sit through 59 picks before finally getting the call from the Cowboys' War Room.
I would like to think that would be a humbling experience that could affect one's confidence.
What better way to give a confidence boost than to tell a rookie that he has the potential to be as good as two Hall-of-Fame rushers. If nothing else, the Cowboys are telling Gregory what they think about him just by the number he wears.
Really, it's no different than what they did for Dez Bryant. The standard was set by Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin and then by giving Bryant No. 88. And Dez was like Gregory in that he was a top-10 talent who had off-the-field concerns and ended up falling in the Cowboys' lap. But right away, the team gave Bryant confidence by showing him just how good they thought he would be.
Dez showed he was good enough to live up to the standard. And that's what the Cowboys are trying to do with Gregory.
If he's not ready for it, then he won't be ready. It probably will have nothing to do with the number he wears.
But this is about confidence and a morale boost with the Cowboys giving him some indication as to just how good they think this kid can be.