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Mailbag: How Close Are Cowboys To Contending? 'Can't-Miss QB' In Draft?

CHRIS KEATINGMASON, TX

I see lots of analysts saying the Cowboys have weaknesses that need to be addressed in the draft and offseason. But, in this age of salary caps, isn't that true of all teams? Shouldn't the real measure be how they compare to other teams instead of a mythical 'perfect' team? In terms of comparison to other teams, warts and all, how do the Cowboys measure up?

Bryan: Well they were 4-12 and they didn't handle adversity well. Offensively they didn't score enough points with the players that were available to them. Defensively they managed to hang in there for the most part but they couldn't turn opponents over or get that critical stop to finish a game. On special teams the kicker and punter were outstanding but they lost the New York Giants game because they couldn't cover a simple kickoff. On paper they should have been better but as you know, the paper is something you read on Sunday morning. There are some talented players on this roster but not nearly enough to compete with the teams that are still in the playoffs like Carolina and New England. Until you fix that – you are what you are.  

Rob: You make a valid point that all teams have depth issues in the salary cap era. Ultimately I still believe when you lose one of the league's best quarterbacks for 12 of 16 games on top of some other key injuries, most teams would not be playing in January, either. The issue, though, is not finding a way to win more than one game out of 12 without Tony Romo. That's unacceptable in their view, and the challenge now is finding out why. When they're fully healthy, I think this roster can win the division again. But full health is rarely the case, so you must take a hard look at the entire team this offseason and see what must improve beyond the backup quarterback position.

JIM SIMONDSKINGSTON, ONTARIO

I sort of remember Aikman being drafted as a "can't miss prospect". I'm sure he had flaws. I definitely remember Madden saying that he had all the tools even when he was losing. Is there a "can't-miss QB prospect" in this draft. One that you could say, 'Yeah he's got flaws but he has all the tools (i.e. arm, vision, football smarts, played in a pro-style system, reads the defense well)?

Bryan: If the front office thought that Aikman was can't miss, why did they draft Steve Walsh in the first round with a supplemental pick? There are starting to be questions about Andrew Luck who was called "Can't Miss". These quarterbacks are like any other position you draft – as you mentioned, you look for those traits that make them unique and you honestly just hope they develop. Morris Claiborne was just as good of a cornerback as Patrick Peterson at LSU – similar traits and ability but there is no question who is now the better player. It sounds harsh, but "Can't Miss" it is not reality – you can only make your best judgment and hope for the best. Jared Goff, Paxton Lynch and Kevin Hogan will be no different.

Rob: I'll mostly defer to our draft expert above, but no, there doesn't appear to be an Aikman-type prospect in this draft. Those guys come along once every five or more years. That doesn't mean by April one won't prove himself worthy of a top-five pick who could develop into a long-term starter. As quarterback-starved as many teams are, I can certainly envision a couple guys getting drafted in the top dozen picks. As much as some fans are calling for a quarterback at No. 4, the Cowboys aren't desperate at the position. They do need to start thinking about Romo's heir apparent for down the road, and they need to upgrade backup quarterback now. But they can't force a pick on a quarterback that high if it doesn't fit their evaluations.

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