FRISCO, Texas –With the NFL Draft closing in, the excitement building for the epicenter at AT&T Stadium this year, those draft tidbits are flying.
Who might take this guy? How many quarterbacks are projected to go in the first round? What's the meaning of the Cowboys visiting with this guy or that guy? The Top 30 visits of last week here at Ford Center. Dallas Day, too.
Well, here is one of those Shots I will biggie-size for today:
Beware the first-round wide receiver of late.
Ran across that one on SI.com. The note pertained to why rookie wide receivers struggle to transition from college into the NFL game. Pointed out that in the past three drafts, 13 wide receivers have been selected in the first round, but only Amari Cooper, taken by the Oakland Raiders in 2015, has played well enough to earn Pro Bowl honors. Twice. But that's it.
And that first-round list also includes Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Breshad Perriman, Nelson Agholor, Phillip Dorsett, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross.
Now, some of this has to do with injuries. Some with just taking time to make the transition from college to the NFL. Some maybe with weak wide-receiver crops.
But it's just worth noting as a cautionary tale, since there is a school of thought out there that if the Cowboys decide to move on from Dez Bryant they can simply replace his production with a first-round draft choice, the likes of Calvin Ridley or D.J. Moore or maybe Christian Kirk or James Washington.
Yet history tells us, not so fast.
Plus, decided to expand this little survey. Dez was selected in the first round of 2010. Bryant and Demaryius Thomas were the only two wide receivers taken in the first round that year. They have combined for eight Pro Bowl appearances, Dez three and Thomas five.
The next year A.J. Green, Julio Jones and Jon Baldwin were the first-round selections. Green has logged seven Pro Bowls, Jones five. So combining those two years, four of the five first-rounders have made 20 Pro Bowl appearances.
But since then, from 2012-2017, there have been 25 receivers drafted in the first round. They have combined for seven Pro Bowls: Cooper's two, Odell Beckham Jr. (2014) two, DeAndre Hopkins (2013) two and Mike Evans (2014) one. That means of those last 25 first-round wide receivers over the past six drafts, only four guys have turned into Pro Bowlers.
Give you pause?
- Novel Idea? Since we're on the subject of Dez Bryant, with the Cowboys beginning official offseason conditioning workouts on Monday and reports of the Dez-Jerry summit meeting finally coming down this Friday, see where this receiver-whisperer named David Robinson – not that David Robinson – is going to work with Dez on his "route-running" during some upcoming private lessons. Really? Look, since the Cowboys traded up in that 2010 draft to 24 to take a shot on the Oklahoma State receiver, guess what we've heard from receiver assistants Ray Sherman, Jimmy Robinson and Derek Dooley, yearly: Dez needs to work on running his routes. Man, during the offseason(s) I stood right there one day while Dooley gave me a lecture on how Dez needs to improve getting off jams on the line of scrimmage. How, if he gets engaged with a corner hand-fighting, and if he doesn't get a clean release "in one-two," the quarterback reads him covered and goes on to his next option. For the sake of the 29-year-old wide receiver, hope that sinks in, along with staying healthy. Stay tuned.
- Kony Appeal:Defensive end Kony Ealy – a favorite of mine, I must admit, when at the University of Missouri – basically signed by the Cowboys to a one-year, $1 million deal ($800,000 base, $200,000 signing bonus) with incentives, is being given a chance to resurrect his career. And the Cowboys had some inside info on the fifth-year player. Carolina's now defensive coordinator Eric Washington was a Rod Marinelli understudy in Chicago who went on to coach Ealy as the Panthers defensive line coach. Over his first three years in Carolina, Ealy, a second-round pick, recorded 14 sacks. Not too many Cowboys defensive ends not named DeMarcus Lawrence have recorded 14 sacks over the past three seasons. Ealy was then traded to New England last year, cut before the season began and claimed off waivers ahead of the Cowboys by the Jets, who played him as a 3-4 defensive end, some standup LB, too, Marinelli says. He struggled, getting just one sack in 15 games, having beefed up some to play inside instead of on the edge. Now Ealy needs to "beef" down to man the right side Marinelli envisions in the Cowboys 4-3. Says head coach Jason Garrett, "We're fortunate that Kony has played in a system similar to ours." He has, in Carolina, and Ealy says Washington gave him a heads-up on Marinelli's tough ways. No surprises then on either side.
- Great Fit: Former Cowboys four-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover (2002-05), my vote for the Cowboys absolute best free agent in the 16-player bracket, considering production and cost, has moved from the playing field to eight years with the Rams as director of player programs to now an assistant defensive line coach with the New York Jets. Not only a really good player with the Cowboys during his four seasons, he was an astute student of the game, and certainly Jets defensive line coach Kacy Rodgers realized that as the Cowboys defensive line coach for three of those seasons. So must have Jets head coach Todd Bowles when secondary coach with the Cowboys in Glover's final season. The NFL becomes a better league when players like Glover hang around to coach.