Point: Drafting Talented Players With Baggage Not Always Worth The Risk

IRVING, Texas -- The Cowboys have been here before. Come Thursday night, there's a chance it could happen once again.

When the 27th pick rolls around, assuming the Cowboys don't trade back, there could be a couple of players available who are considered talented, but haven't been drafted for reasons other than football.

Ironically enough, just five years ago the Cowboys were in the same boat with the 27th pick and watched one of the more exciting players in the draft drop all the way down to No. 24 before they traded up to take him. Dez Bryant was worth the risk of drafting a player with some off-the-field issues.

And that's the question some teams, including the Cowboys, might have to answer this week for a couple of defensive ends – Shane Ray and Randy Gregory. Both have had some drug-related issues that have surfaced during this draft process, which is sure to hurt their draft stock.

Both of them at some point were expected to be top-10 picks and maybe that will still happen. But, there's a better chance they start to fall because of the risk factors, and that's when a team like the Cowboys will have to get interested.

At No. 27, you're looking for value. Just like with Dez, the Cowboys might have a chance to get a player much better than 27th overall, if they're willing to handle the risks.

Now here recently, the Cowboys have signed Greg Hardy, so on the one hand, it's easy to say they have no problem at all taking a guy that has failed a couple of drug tests, or been caught with drugs in his car.

But it's not about the crime. It's about the risk.

Getting Hardy for a one-year, incentive-laced deal isn't as damaging as drafting a player who has made bad decisions during the most important months of his life.

Selecting a player in the first round is at least a four-year commitment, maybe five. If you take a player who can't make smart decisions off the field, it could certainly hurt his chances of ever playing on the field.

Again, every case is different. There are some people that will argue and say, "It's not a big deal." But for a guy like Gregory, maybe he's got a problem that can't be fixed. There's a talented receiver in Cleveland that could be the best in the NFL, but we'll probably never see his full potential.

And while Ray doesn't seem to have the same issues, here's a guy who had drugs in his car a few days before the draft.

It's not about the crime. It's his decisions.

The Cowboys had a player a few years back who never cared to get his driver's license renewed. He was eventually pulled over and taken to jail for it. Not a huge deal in the scope of life, but it's about decisions and feeling invincible. I always say, if you're not going to take care of the minor things in life that all of us have to do, then are you really going to take two hours out of your day to watch more game tape on Wednesday night to be fully prepared for this upcoming Giants game?

The Cowboys have a good team, and they have a chance to get better on Thursday night. And, a player like Ray or Gregory could be available.

But, this team has to be fully convinced that they're going to be available on Sunday's this season and for the next four to five years as well.

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