Certainly, the most memorable moment of the 2017 NFL draft – for any Cowboys’ fan – will be when Drew Pearson got on stage and told the entire city of Philadelphia that he would see them in hell. Mainly, because it was more like something you’d see in the WWE than the NFL. Like a well-trained wrestling heel, Pearson stood behind the podium and proceeded to ether the Eagles’ fan base for 90 straight seconds – then announced he would wrestle Ron Jaworski inside a metal cage. No, I made up that last part. But, the whole thing was so over-the-top, it felt like Pearson needed a manager standing behind him while he screamed.
The incident marked the city’s worst public shellacking since Bill Burr told a stadium full of Philadelphians they weren’t important enough to be killed by terrorists. (Among many, many other things in his 13-minute, expletive-laden rant.)
Burr cursed a lot more than Pearson did, but Drew’s sentiment was pretty much the same. “I didn’t come out here to get yelled at by this GED-having, piece-of-shit crowd.” Watching it again, you can almost see him registering how ridiculous the boos are, and then thinking to himself “fuck it”. I’m just going to lean into the skid and start calling Jerry Jones a “hall of famer”. That will enrage them. As a reluctant fan of America’s team, I enjoyed it.
I’m glad something memorable happened, because there wasn’t much else of note when it came to the picks that the ‘Boys actually made. They were boring – and I don’t say that in bad way. Trust me, I much prefer Stephen Jones’ safe and sturdy drafts to the days when Jerry had to be tackled to the ground to keep him from drafting Johnny Football.
Boring is good, but exciting and good could’ve been better. And, it seemed almost as if Drew Pearson’s fever-dream of a second round selection was coming from an alternate reality where the Cowboys had done something far more thrilling than draft a cornerback from Colorado. I think his energy might’ve been channeled from a reality where Dallas already had the only CB they’d ever need. It was a reality where Jalen Ramsey was already a Cowboy.
The ‘Boys ended up taking 3 CBs in this draft (one that was deep in corner talent) – and snagging two of the better ones with smart picks (if you don’t care about domestic violence charges). That said, they most likely did not get the kind of shutdown cover guy that makes everything easier on defense. And why would they? Those guys aren’t just sitting around. Except, last year, Jalen Ramsey was just sitting around and they passed. Just so he could become one of “those guys” for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
After getting off to a slow start because of a minor injury, Ramsey finished his rookie season already looking like one of the top-10 corners in the NFL. And, toward the end of the year, he was putting together stretches that projected him to be one of the 2-3 best by 2017.
Now, that’s a cornerback worthy of a Drew Pearson selection. (And, not bad defense for a guy named Jalen.)
Obviously, hindsight is 20-20 – but this isn’t hindsight. I was pushing for Ramsey before the draft last year (surprisingly, my sway within the organization didn’t have an impact), and I’m on record saying that Zeke was a dumb pick when it happened. After this year’s draft, even with Ezekiel’s incredible rookie season, that pick looks even worse.
Two years after management set out to get better in pass coverage and the pass rush – the ‘Boys are still missing elite talent at the two positions most critical to making such improvements – CB and DE. It’s a problem with its own problem – because if you look at the NFL’s draft history – the most realistic way to get a top CB or DE is to be terrible. And, that kind of sucks if you’re a Cowboys’ fan who’s tired of sucking. Either you stay good and the holes at those positions remain. Or, you have to suffer through a few more bad seasons, so that you can get the kind of picks you need to turn those spots into strengths. They certainly can’t sign those kind of guys with cap room (Hi, Tony! Say hello to CBS for us!).
So, yeah, it’s a bit of a conundrum. One made only more frustrating when you see the players who fell in this year’s draft and the spots they fell past. Watching Dalvin Cook slip into the second round was a total bummer, because now we’re living in a world where the Cowboys could have had Jalen Ramsey and Dalvin Cook. Instead, they have Ezekiel Elliot and Taco Charlston. I’d take the first two any Sunday of the week.
Because, look: 1) Senor Taco wasn’t even a first-round talent on the Cowboys’ own draft board, and 2) Dalvin Cook would’ve been if they needed a RB. You know why? Because, Cook is a world-class rusher who could’ve been just as good for the Cowboys this season as Elliot was last year. And, before you start yelling at the computer screen, just watch this clip. Dalvin Cook is a freaking beast – and I don’t care what happens in Minnesota – nothing will ever convince me that he would’ve done anything but shred behind the Dallas O-line. A belief that brings me to the fundamental reason Elliot was a bad pick: the Dallas O-line is the real star of this football team – and their star burns so bright it can make anyone look good. Anyone.
For example: Did you know that while playing for the Cowboys in 2015, Darren McFadden finished 4th in the league in rushing? You didn’t? Don’t feel bad – Darren McFadden didn’t even know he finished 4th in the league in rushing that year.
Seriously, if McFadden can do it, anyone can. Which is kind of the whole point. It was never really about how well Zeke played – it was about who the team passed up, and the value they could no longer get back by picking him there. The Cowboys could’ve had a star corner who would’ve been on the team for the next 12 seasons. Instead, they have a star running back who is an informant for the FBI (the “Federal Boobie Inspectors”) and who probably won’t be resigned after his rookie deal.
Ultimately, next season there will be 10-15 running backs who could duplicate 85% of what Zeke does for the Cowboys. There will only be 4-5 guys that can hold a candle to what Ramsey will unleash on the NFL in 2017. And, the worst part is – the Cowboys could’ve had 100% of both. Ramsey was there, and they let him slip away. Cook was available, but they no longer needed him.
Oh well. At least Taco Charlton has a cool name. Too bad Drew Pearson didn’t get to yell it.