Draft Central | 2022

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Mick Shots: At Long Last Bring On The NFL Draft

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FRISCO, Texas – Finally, it's here.

The NFL Draft, 7 p.m. Thursday, from Vegas, and can't wait.

Not with bated breath or anticipation anxiety minds you. But with relief.

Good gosh, seems like we've been talking draft, answering question and being asked for predictions ever since the evening of Jan. 16, that night immediately after the Cowboys were beaten 23-17 by San Francisco in that first-round playoff game when time ran out of their frantic comeback attempt.

No more mock drafts, that will be mocked (verb, not an adjective) significantly come Thursday evening. No more Top 50 or Top 100 lists. No more position rankings. No more predictions.

Just the real deal.

And maybe the most meaningful part of the Cowboys Tuesday annual pre-draft media conference was this coming out of the mouth of Cowboys COO Stephen Jones when he said this, in fact, twice within nearly the same breath:

"I don't think we have any _musts_ going into the draft."

In particular, in the first round with the 24th pick, if indeed the Cowboys remain at ease in the very spot they earned with that 12-5 record, finishing in a four-way tie for the third best regular-season record last year in the NFL, but also by painfully losing that first-round playoff game.

Meaning there is no _must_ to grab a guard at No. 24.

No must to take a wide receiver at 24.

No must to draft a defensive end at 24.

No must to draft a linebacker or cornerback or offensive tackle and for sure not a safety, not in the first round.

Whatever the Cowboys do, just give me a Day One walk-in starter in the first. Give me a talented player in the second round capable of competing for a Day One starting job. Give me a third-rounder talented enough to fit into a position rotation. And then, after the dust settles late Saturday afternoon, by then give me a kicker at least capable of hitting 85 percent of his field-goal attempts from 40-49 yards out, capable of nailing a few 50-yarders, and for goodness sakes, not one who will lead the league in missed 33-yard extra points.

Do at least all that, and we'll take a shot with this team's roster becoming the first in the NFC East to repeat as champions since 2004 and like winning a game or two in the playoffs.

So, let's go.

  • Position Flex: Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is big on position flex, a player with multiple talents, not a guy just solely this or that. That's what the Cowboys need to look for when drafting an offensive lineman, especially if in the first two or three rounds. Give me an offensive tackle capable of starting for a year or two at guard, then transitioning to like tackle, just like Flozell Adams did. Give me a guard or a center capable of playing center or guard, too. Give me a wide receiver capable of playing either outside spots plus in the slot, not just some munchkin like former slot guy Cole Beasley only capable of being productive in the slot, no, not in any of the first three rounds. Give me a defensive tackle capable of playing either the 1-technique or the 3-tech. And if it's a safety, how 'bout one capable of playing the slot.
  • New Pet Cat: Last year I'm proud to say mine was Penn State Lionbacker to-be Micah Parsons. This year, and likely not in the first round, but most likely at least in the second, is North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson. He is 6-4, 208. But here are the numbers catching the eye. First, 4.36. Not his grade point having already graduated with a degree in university studies but 40-yard dash time. Seriously, put those two numbers together, 6-4 going 4.36, and in high school he also ran the 200 and competed in the long jump. Second, 20.4. As in yards-per-catch over his four seasons at the FCS school, posting a 23.3 average his junior season playing with future first-round quarterback Trey Lance. This late developer can run jet sweeps and highly capable of returning kickoffs. Plus, his cousin is Grammy-winning singer Jordin Sparks, daughter of former Cowboys 2000 season cornerback Phillippi Sparks.
  • Buyer Beware: Many are mocking A&M versatile guard Kenyon Green to the Cowboys in the first round. But of late, keep reading reports citing knee problem concerns. Not immediate, but with longevity. And first-round expectations should be earning a second contract. Medicals could be a concern here.
  • Speaking of Must Knees: Be interesting to see what teams do with Alabama receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie III. Both are recovering from torn ACL surgeries, and as we know, returning good as new usually requires nine to 12 months, but possibly just 10 for smaller guys, like a receiver. There is the real chance neither will be ready for the start of training camp and logically could be placed even on PUP to start the season.
  • Same Boat: Speaking of knees, Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup continues his ACL rehab, along with linebacker Jabril Cox. Chances are, with Cox surgery in early December and Gallup in early February, common sense says they will spend nearly all of training camp continuing to rehab, most probably PUP candidates initially. Might be the only two Cowboys not ready to participate in the offseason workouts.
  • Pleading The Fifth: Of the 32 first-round picks in 2019, see where only seven teams so far have picked up their fifth-year options, with the May 2 deadline fast approaching. That would include San Francisco Nick Bosa, Jets Quinnen Williams, Tampa Bay Devin White, Detroit T.J. Hockenson, Buffalo Ed Oliver, Carolina Brian Burns and Denver through trade with Seattle inherited Noah Fant's fifth. As for the Cowboys, they spent their 2019 first-round pick trading for Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper during the 2018 season. And the Cowboys didn't get their five years' worth out of him, trading Cooper to Cleveland last month after just 3½ seasons luckily for at least a fifth.
  • Draft Daze: For what this is worth, the late money going into BetMGM's sportsbook on just who will be the NFL's No. 1 pick this year suddenly is landing on Georgia DE Travon Walker, overtaking Michigan DE Aiden Hutchinson . . . Jones insisted on Tuesday the Cowboys were not done in free agency, so if you are wondering might the Cowboys pick up a veteran guard, here are a few free agents still available: Ereck Flowers, Quinton Spain, Trey Hopkins, Trai Turner and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, nothing though that rattles your cage . . . Not that unusual for Jones to point out the Cowboys have first-round draft grade on just 14-16 players this year, since that mark is usually around 18, highlighting why drafting from 20-32 becomes difficult . . . And stepping into the ring once again for Shots, this from Mike Tyson made me laugh out loud, saying after he punched out the guy antagonizing him on a plane: "Social media made ya'll way too comfortable disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it."

And for a man of many words, the last few words go to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who couldn't have been more truthfully succinct Tuesday when asked about the possibility of making pre-draft phone calls discussing potential trades.

"We're always chumming," Jerry Jones said, a cute way of pointing out he's always throwing out some draft-day bait.

Go crazy watching over the next three days.

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