Ellis: Draft An Injured Guy Every Year

IRVING, Texas -In the time it will take to read this, you could've downloaded an entire movie. That goes a long way toward explaining why our patience as a society seems to be slipping away these days.

But, assuming the Mayans were wrong, the 2013 season will go on as scheduled even if the Cowboys don't win the Super Bowl in 2012. And they're going to play football again in 2014 and 2015 and on and on and on. As we approach the NFL draft, just a little over two weeks away, instant gratification should not be this team's goal.

I like what they've done the last two years, drafting players who slipped into the second round because of injury concerns. Sean Lee had his share of knee issues at Penn State, and look how he's turned out. It's a stretch to assume Bruce Carter will be just as good, but nearly two years removed from his torn ACL at North Carolina, he ought to show a hint of what was seen as first-round talent before he was injured.

Jason Garrett joked at the owners meetings last month that the Cowboys' strategy is not to take injured linebackers in the second round, but I'm not trying to be funny at all right now. Would that really be such a bad idea?

When I was growing up, Mel Kiper always told me that the name of the game on draft weekend was "value." If the Cowboys had the patience to pick just one guy each year who was slipping in the draft because of injury concerns, they would be doing nothing other than stockpiling value.

Half a season or a full season later, the team could be getting first-round production out of a second-round investment. It doesn't have to happen in the second round. Use a fourth-rounder on a guy who graded as a second-round pick. Or a fifth-round pick on a third-round guy. 

In theory this works out great, because the previous year's injured value pick will take the place of this year's hurt player.

Carter, in essence, is a bonus. And rather than having to come in and play as a rookie, his head spinning because he's not totally adjusted to the NFL game, Carter will have a full year of life in the league under his belt, and be far more ready to produce in 2012.

The Cowboys have done this with great success in the past. Flozell Adams might've been a first-round pick if not for questions over his hearing. But the Cowboys got him in Round 2. Chris Canty wouldn't have slipped to the fourth round if not for a torn ACL and damage to his eye sustained during his pre-draft training.

In retrospect, both those players represented tremendous value. So does Lee. Carter, we'll see.

The Cowboys have a great medical team. The doctors will obviously have to do their homework. Occasionally they'll get something wrong, and a player won't be the same after his broken ankle or torn PCL. It's bound to happen.

But teams swing and miss in the draft all the time, anyway.

Drafting good players who slip because of injuries is a way to avoid some of those swings and misses, if the Cowboys and their fans just have some patience.

Here are some of the top players likely to fall in this year's draft due to injuries:

Ryan Broyles (knee), WR, OklahomaJosh Chapman (knee), NT, AlabamaDonte Paige-Moss (knee), OLB, North CarolinaMarkelle Martin (knee), S, Oklahoma StateJoe Looney (ankle), G, Wake Forest

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