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Eatman: Five Reasons Taking WR Early Can't Be Dismissed


The Cowboys saw Dez Bryant have a breakthrough season in 2012. Miles Austin wasn't always consistent but had a season-finale ankle injury short of getting 1,000 receiving yards. And there are some youngsters like Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley who have some promise.

Yet, with all that being said, don't be surprised if the Cowboys get a wide receiver early in this draft. Maybe it's at No. 18, maybe they trade back and get one later in the first. Or maybe it's in the second round.

Many out there think this team's needs are on the offensive line, safety and defensive line, and none of that is false. But there are reasons to believe the Cowboys could end up with another pass-catcher.

5. Dez is Dez:As great as he was last year, Bryant always has some uncertainty around him. Sure, he was a dynamic player in the last eight games – maybe one of the two or three best receivers in football. But you always hold your breath with him, not just off the field but also when it comes to injuries. Just think about the last eight games when he was off the charts. He still had a finger injury that required surgery and then had back spasms that took him out of the game when the Cowboys needed him most. He's always had injury concerns, mainly because of how he plays and his aggressive nature. So you really don't want that to change, but you just take him for what he is. While he became a legit No. 1 last year, that doesn't mean you can't surround him with help.

4. Pick location: As much as the Cowboys have needs at guard and safety, it's probably not going to make sense to draft them. The best guards will likely be gone. The best safety probably will be off the board, too. At that point, it's not a position to reach on at 18. As it shapes up, the receivers in this draft aren't dynamic, as there might not be one in the Top 10, but by the time the Cowboys pick, that's right in the wheelhouse for this crop of receivers. If they truly stick to their board, then wide receiver will be available.

3. Morris Claiborne: How shocked were we last year when they took Claiborne after trading up to No. 6. No one saw that coming. And to be honest, no one saw it because it didn't seem like a need. Mike Jenkins was here. Orlando Scandrick just got paid. And Brandon Carr signed a big-time free-agent deal. Fast forward a year and now cornerback isn't a need at all. Claiborne and Carr have the position in good shape. So sometimes you're not exactly drafting for these next 16 games and how the depth chart might look. 

2. Miles Austin: There were reports this year that Austin would be released for financial reasons. Usually when that happens, it's not too far from being correct. Austin will likely play this campaign out, but unless he has another 2009-like blowup season (and who knows, the Cowboys do play in Kansas City again), there's a chance Austin could be released next year. Along the lines of the Morris Claiborne reasoning above, drafting a receiver in this draft likely means he would be the No. 2 guy next year.

1. Jerry Jones:Let's face it, these are the guys he likes to take. He likes "wow" players and always has. When someone showed me a stat on how it has been 27 years since two guards went in the top 18, and how there is a chance one of them could fall to the Cowboys, my point is simple: If you're saying there are owners and GMs around the league that are hesitant in taking interior linemen and will pass them up by taking sexier picks … then that's Jerry. That's the type of guy that would do that very thing. So even if guards or safeties slide to 18, there's no guarantee they won't slide on by. 

Those are my reasons why it could happen. I guess at this point, I should mention some actual names and possibilities. I do think Tavon Austin is the "wow" player Jerry has always coveted. It sounds like he will probably be off the board before the Cowboys pick, though.

Clemson's De'Andre Hopkins is an intriguing player and could be around at No. 18. Don't forget Tennessee has two top receivers: Cordarrelle Patterson and Justin Hunter. The Cowboys' new receiving coach Derek Dooley was the head coach of the Vols the last three seasons.

And don't rule out Baylor's Terrance Williams in the mix, maybe in the second round. Here's a guy that is all over the map. Two mock drafts from the same publication had him going 29th overall and the other was in the early fourth round. So that'll come down to preference and word is, the Cowboys are closer to the first-round projection on him.

Personally, I don't think the Cowboys need a receiver. I liked what I saw from Harris, enough to see if he can be your No. 3 next year. If they get one, that's fine. But they could also get through the entire draft and not take one at all.

But something tells me that's not going to happen this weekend.

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