Sports Outside the Beltway

Cowboys Sign Safety Ken Hamlin

The Dallas Cowboys have signed former Seattle Seahawk safety Ken Hamlin to a one year deal.

The Cowboys signed unrestricted free agent Ken Hamlin to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million on Friday, hoping he solves their problems at free safety. Hamlin, 26, comes to Dallas after spending four seasons in Seattle, where he started 52 of 54 regular-season games for the Seahawks.

He’s able to be the quarterback of the defense,” coach Wade Phillips said at a Friday news conference from Valley Ranch. “That’s what he’s shown he could do throughout his career, and he’s just getting started. He can help put everybody in the right place.”

Hamlin, who played at Arkansas and was raised in Memphis, is a strong hitter with good coverage skills. Patrick Watkins and Keith Davis, the two starters in 2006, were inconsistent in pass coverage. Both are expected to remain on the roster.

Hamlin is expected to take the pressure off Pro Bowl strong safety Roy Williams, who struggled in pass coverage last season. Williams will play near the line of scrimmage where he can cover tight ends, make hard hits across the middle and play the run. Last season, the Cowboys’ 3-4 defensive scheme didn’t allow for a lot of blitzes, especially from the safety position. But in Phillips’ version of the 3-4, Williams can blitz more with Hamlin playing center field. “We had some strength at the position overall,” Phillips said. “This [gets] us as strong as you want it right now. We looked at the future, and we’re looking to him for the future.”


Hamlin’s signing also gives the Cowboys some flexibility with their first-round pick in the next month’s draft. With the No. 22 pick overall, the Cowboys can now take the best player available.

Hamlin is a great pickup for the ‘Boys, especially at the price. The main concern is that he’s “another Roy Williams,” meaning a powerful hitter who doesn’t excel at pass coverage. Still, at what amounts to a bargain basement price in today’s NFL, another dominant player is a luxury.

As to the draft, it’s sure shaping up for the team to take a wide receiver in the first round. That and cornerback are supposed to be where the value is this year and the team can’t justify paying first round money to another corner. On the other hand, while they’re very deep at wide receiver, their two starters, Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn, are over 30.

Todd Archer notes that the team hasn’t taken a wideout in the first round since Alvin Harper way back in 1991. Indeed, they haven’t taken an offensive player since 1997. It’s probably time to change both trends, unless a can’t miss player falls to them at #22.

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It would be a big mistake for the Cowboys to take a first round receiver, because they arenâ??t about to get the sure thing in Johnson, and I donâ??t see any of those other guys being sure things. In fact, I’ll bet WR is the position with the most first round busts in the last twenty five years. Too often you can find late round and free agent guys who end up succeeding at receiver. In fact, Iâ??ll do a quick analysis to prove my point.

Back in the day you have such late round finds as Mark Clayton (Miami) in the 8th , Andre Reed (Isnâ??t he an HOFâ??r for Buffallo?) in the 4th, Ricky Proehl (Everyone) 3rd, Terance Mathis (Houston I think) 6th and Keenan McCardell (Cleavland/Baltimore, now SD)12th.

If we move along to more recent times then we find the following. The 1994 Draft alone produced the first round bust trifecta of Charles Johnson, Johnnie Morton and Thomas Lewis! Then in â??95 there’s Michael Westbrook and JJ Stokes, first round busts in the same year that Chris Sanders was a 3rd rounder–where’s the value there? The ’96 Draft was better, with Keyshawn, Terry Glenn, Marvin Harrison and Eric Moulds going in the first, but you also had 2nd or later rounders Amani Toomer, Mushin Muhammed, Bobby Engram, Derrick Mayes, T.O., Reggie Barlow, Joe Horn and Jermaine Lewis who all have made significant impacts. 1997 was especially bad, with the first rounders (four of them) not even worth mentioning, and the only real impact player was Derrick Mason in the 4th. ’98 was more of the same–Moss in the first round (not even the first receiver–we know why) and two or three impact players at 3 or later, including Orande Gadsden as a free agent who actually started in Cowboys camp! (What a poor cut that was! We could have used a possession receiver for bargain basement money, huh?). I could go on–in ’99 you have one impact guy among four first rounders (Torry Holt) and a 6th rounder who played significant minutes (Martay Jenkins for the Cowboys and Cardinals) and a 7th rounder who I think is still in the league (Donald Driver). 2000 was a terrible year with Plaxico the only impact(?!?!?!) first rounder among five, with three marginal impact players at 2 (Jerry Porter and Todd Pinkston) and 3 (LaVerneus Coles). 2001 I feel really makes my point: In the first round we have David Terrell, Koren Robinson, Rod Gardner, Santana Moss, Freddie Mitchell and Reggie Wayne, with Quincy Morgan, Chad Johnson, Robert Ferguson and Chris Chambers in the 2nd. What about Steve Smith in the 3rd? Isn’t he better than all those guys picked ahead of him? And what about later picks such as Cedric Wilson (6th) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (7th)?

2002 brings us Donte Stallworth as the first WR picked, but then you have to go through seven more wasted WR picks before you get to Antwaan Randle El in the 2nd round! Later picks include two SB winners for the Pats in Deion Branch in the 2nd and David Givens in the 7th!

2003 brought Anquan Boldin in the 2nd, Nate Burleson and Kevin Curtis in the 3rd and Brandon Lloyd in the 4th.

For 2004 and later I feel the jury may still be out, but it is worth noting that you have great value picks such as Chad Henry (he may be a criminal but he has the talent) and Bernard Berrian in the 3rd and Patrick Crayton and Marquis Colston in the 7th, already exceeding expectations while picks such as Braylon Edwards, Mike Williams and Charles Rogers (already cut!) are already seen as phenomenal busts! Rogers had injury issues, but if he had shown anything when healthy then wouldnâ??t he have stuck around Detroit, with so much money invested in him?

What does all this mean to the Cowboys? I do not necessarily think a WR is a definite bust, but it is a big risk; these guys just donâ??t often pan out. WR in the NFL is about working hard, running good routes and being patient; something prima donna college WR stars arenâ??t always known for. I would rather they take some guy no more than 2nd round, possibly 3rd and teach him how to conform to their system and see how it develops. I donâ??t want them to pick some talentless hack, but a guy who has some intangibles, some raw talent that just needs to be refined. Heck, they have Crayton and two free agents they need to find out about (one which, if you remember, ran back that KO for a TD in the playoffs). I donâ??t want the next Braylon Edwards or even the next Mike Sherrard or Alexander Wright. I want the next Steve Smith or Marquis Colston for my team, and those guys are made by hard work and determination, not by the evaluation of Mel Kiper.


Posted by Blake | April 22, 2007 | 09:25 am | Permalink

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