Jeremy Bloom, who was robbed of his final years of college eligibility by the NCAA bureaucracy, was drafted in the 5th round yesterday by the Philadelphia Eagles. Bloom is remarkably philosophical about the whole thing.
Unlike most players who slip down the slope of the second day of the NFL draft, no one enjoyed the ride more than Jeremy Bloom. He’s finally made the NFL as a fifth-round choice of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Bloom missed the past two football seasons at Colorado after the NCAA ruled he couldn’t accept endorsements to ski and still maintain his amateur status. Bloom, a mogul and free-style skier, competed in the Olympic Games in February. To professionally ski at Bloom’s level, endorsements are needed. It was those endorsements that ended his college football career.
He was the 147th player selected in the draft and couldn’t have been happier. NFL Films had cameras at his home when he was chosen. It was a celebration. But at no point did Bloom think about what could have been had the NCAA not interceded in his dream to finish his college football career. During his first two years at Colorado, he was on pace to be an incredible big-play receiver. He averaged 16.2 yards a catch as a sophomore. Overall, he caught 24 passes for an average of 19.1 yards per catch, returned 47 punts at 13.5 yards per return and 25 kickoffs at 25.1 yards per return. He had an amazing five touchdowns of 75 yards or more.
Still, Bloom didn’t reflect with bitterness. Even though he was sure to be Colorado’s No. 1 receiver, Bloom hit the slopes and waited for his chance in the Olympics. “I wouldn’t trade the past two years for being a No. 1 pick,” Bloom said of his success in skiing. “The NCAA showed me the door on college football and caused me to miss my final two years of football. But I can’t take away the experiences I had during the past two years. I’m happy being a fifth-round pick.” His memories included being a three-time world champion on the slopes. He has two World Cups and one world championship. The only thing he didn’t win was Olympic gold. “I have my share of victories and certainly my share of defeats in the sport,” Bloom told the media in a conference call. “But it’s been a blessing to do the things I have done in skiing.”
It’s a remarkable story. As a fan of the division rival Cowboys, I’ll have to root against Bloom at least two games a season. But you have to admire the kid’s reflectiveness. He has every right to be angry about the NCAA’s silly rules but just shrugs them off.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports gives the Packers an A in the draft:
Green Bay Packers
High marks â€“ The mass of the class is fantastic â€“ 13 total picks, including five in the top 75. Linebackers A.J. Hawk and Abdul Hodge should be a great tandem for years to come. Tackle Daryn Colledge and center Jason Spitz should eventually develop into starters. Greg Jennings and Cory Rodgers add depth to the receiving crew and should provide what Terrence Murphy would have if he hadn’t been injured. Cornerback/wide receiver Will Blackmon offers flexibility and can also be a return specialist. Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly was a great value selection in the sixth round.
Low marks â€“ The Packers started strong, but dropped off with some reaching in Rounds 5 through 7. Two big ones came in the fifth round: Quarterback Ingle Martin was a seventh-round choice on many boards, and tackle Tony Moll was expected to be an undrafted free agent.
Final grade: A
The linebacker tandem should really improve defensive speed. With it being a down year for wide receivers I don’t know what to think of Jennings and Rodgers.
Rick Gosselin is a tough grader, giving most teams a “C” and not giving extra credit to teams who are picking late in the round or who foolishly traded away their picks in the previous draft and thus entered this one shorthanded.
Notable on his report card:
Dallas: The Cowboys addressed all their needs: size in the front defensive seven, a tight end, safety, kick returner plus depth on the offensive line. The player who could have the quickest impact is Green, the kick returner.
Sounds pretty good, right? Grade: C. I told you, he’s tough.
Washington: With only one pick in the first four rounds, it was tough for Washington to build up any momentum. The draft for the Redskins is just a light exercise on the calendar between Presidents Day and the Fourth of July. (Grade: F)
Arizona: Leinart, Lutui, Pope and Watson were all first-day values that slid right to the Cardinals. Leinart couldn’t pick a better situation. The perfect weather conditions won’t challenge his arm and he has two great wideouts. (Grade: A)
Cleveland:The Browns found quality in every round. They took Pac-10 rushing champion Harrison in the fifth and the draft’s best fullback in the sixth. Wimbley and Jackson give Romeo Crennel starting linebackers in his 3-4 defense. (Grade: A+)
I’ll update with other expert analysts’ picks as I find them.
Update 1: Mel Kiper weighs in. He’s a little easier a grader than Goose and has a different board, based entirely on his own assessments of players vice Goose’s consultation with NFL GMs to get a consenus of the 32 teams’ boards.
Dallas Cowboys: GRADE: B-
They drafted a very versatile and talented OLB in Bobby Carpenter. Anthony Fasano is a good tight end, but the Cowboys already have Jason Witten, and more importantly, they didn’t get the free safety and offensive line help I thought they needed. Skyler Green brings speed to the return game, and I do like getting DT Montavious Stanley in the sixth round.
So, a slightly harsher assessment but slightly higher grade than Gosselin gave the ‘Boys. The choice of Fasano with the 2nd pick surprised many of us who are Dallas fans, given the strength already at that position, but Jerry Jones insists that he wants two TEs on the field virtually every play.
Kiper gave no A’s and no F’s, which is interesting. He gives the Redskins a C and and Cleveland a B, radically different than Gosselin’s F and A+, respectively.
Via Sean Hackbarth, I see that YahooNews has put up its report cards with the grading done by Charles Robinson. Frankly, I’ve never heard of the guy and would give his analysis less weight that Gosselin’s or Kiper’s. Still, his views are being published by a reputatable outlet, so I’m adding him. He grades the NFC and AFC separately.
He gives the Cowboys a C+.
High marks â€“ Bobby Carpenter is a solid pick at No. 18 overall and gives the Cowboys impressive depth at outside linebacker. Defensive end Jason Hatcher is huge and could end up being a great value selection in the third round. Wide receiver Skyler Green should be productive on special teams.
Low marks â€“ No offensive line help until the seventh round? That was a surprise for such a pressing need, and the Cowboys had quality offensive tackles on the board when they used their second-rounder on tight end Anthony Fasano. With Jason Witten on the roster, using such a high pick on tight end seemed curious.
As noted earlier, though, Jerry Jones explained to the Dallas media that he intends to use two TE sets routinely.
The Eagles, Packers, Cardinals, and Titans all earn “A” grades from Robinson with the Broncos getting an A-minus. Nobody gets below a C-.
Final grade: C-plus
Update 2: ESPN collects several roundups. The precis:
Everyone has an opinion, especially when it comes to how teams fared at the NFL draft each year. And this year is no different.
The intrigue started on the night before the draft began when the Houston Texans came to terms with defensive end Mario Williams as the No. 1 overall selection. News of the surprising signing spread quickly around the league. And there were more surprises in store on the first day of the draft when Vince Young went ahead of Matt Leinart, and Leinart fell all the way to Arizona at No. 10.
While many websites are in agreement that the Cardinals enjoyed one of the best weekends, the jury is still out on Houston’s draft class. Other nearly unanimous winners were San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints and Denver Broncos. But which teams didn’t draft so well according to the experts? Below are the grades handed out by nine different outlets followed by the consensus GPA, based on a 4.0 scale.
Highest Grade: Arizona Cardinals (3.8)
Lowest Grade: Washington Redskins (1.3)
The polls, in addition to Kiper’s and Robinson’s from above:
1(209) Cincinnati (from Houston) Ethan Kilmer WR PENN STATE
2(210) New Orleans Zach Strief OT NORTHWESTERN
3(211) Dallas (from NY Jets) Pat McQuistan OG WEBER STATE
4(212) Miami (from Green Bay) Frederick Evans DT SW TEXAS STATE
5(213) Jacksonville (from San Francisco) James Wyche DE SYRACUSE
6(214) Oakland Chris Morris OC MICHIGAN STATE
7(215) Tennessee Cortland Finnegan RS SAMFORD
8(216) Buffalo Terrance Pennington OT NEW MEXICO
9(217) Detroit Fred Matua OG USC
10(218) Arizona Todd Watkins WR BYU
11(219) Baltimore Ryan Lacasse DE SYRACUSE
12(220) NY Jets (from Philadelphia) Titus Adams DT NEBRASKA
13(221) St. Louis Tim McGarigle ILB NORTHWESTERN
14(222) Cleveland Justin Hamilton S VIRGINIA TECH
15(223) Atlanta D.J. Shockley QB GEORGIA
16(224) Dallas EJ Whitley OT TEXAS TECH
17(225) San Diego Chase Page DT NORTH CAROLINA
18(226) Miami Rodrique Wright DT TEXAS
19(227) San Diego (from Minnesota) Jimmy Martin OT VIRGINIA TECH
20(228) Kansas City Jarrad Page S UCLA
21(229) New England Willie Andrews RS BAYLOR
22(230) Washington Kili Lefotu OG ARIZONA
23(231) Cincinnati Bennie Brazell WR LSU
24(232) NY Giants Gerrick McPhearson CB MARYLAND
25(233) Miami (from Chicago) Devin Aromashodu WR AUBURN
26(234) Carolina William Montgomery OC VIRGINIA TECH
27(235) Tampa Bay Justin Phinisee CB OREGON
28(236) Jacksonville (from San Francisco from Jacksonville) Dee Webb CB FLORIDA
29(237) Carolina (from Denver) Stanley McClover DE AUBURN
30(238) Indianapolis (from Tennessee from Indianapolis) TJ Rushing RS STANFORD
31(239) Seattle Ryan Plackemeier PT WAKE FOREST
32(240) Pittsburgh Cedric Humes RB VIRGINIA TECH
33(241) Tampa Bay (Compensatory selection) Charles Bennett DE CLEMSON
34(242) St. Louis (Compensatory selection) Mark Setterstrom OG MINNESOTA
35(243) St. Louis (Compensatory selection) Tony Palmer OG MISSOURI
36(244) Tampa Bay (Compensatory selection) Tim Massaquoi TE MICHIGAN
37(245) Tennessee (Compensatory selection) Spencer Toone OLB UTAH
38(246) Tennessee (Compensatory selection) Quinton Ganther RB UTAH
39(247) Detroit (Compensatory selection) Anthony Cannon OLB TULANE
40(248) Buffalo (Compensatory selection) Aaron Merz OG CALIFORNIA
41(249) Seattle (Compensatory selection) Ben Obomano WR AUBURN
42(250) Washington (Compensatory selection) Kevin Simon ILB TENNESSEE
43(251) Houston (Supplemental compensatory selection) David Anderson WR COLORADO STATE
44(252) New Orleans (Supplemental compensatory selection) Marques Colston WR HOFSTRA
45(253) Green Bay (Supplemental compensatory selection) Dave Tollefson DE NW MISSOURI ST
46(254) San Francisco (Supplemental compensatory selection) Vickiel Vaughn S ARKANSAS
47(255) Oakland (Supplemental compensatory selection) Kevin McMahan WR MAINE
1(170) Houston Wali Lundy RB VIRGINIA
2(171) New Orleans Mike Hass WR OREGON STATE
3(172) Tennessee Jonathan Orr WR WISCONSIN
4(173) Washington (from NY Jets) Reed Doughty S NORTHERN COLORADO
5(174) New Orleans (from Green Bay) Josh (Bernard) Lay CB PITTSBURGH
6(175) San Francisco Delanie Walker WR CENTRAL MISSOURI
7(176) Oakland Kevin Boothe OG CORNELL
8(177) Arizona Jonathan Lewis DT VIRGINIA TECH
9(178) Buffalo Keith Ellison OLB OREGON STATE
10(179) Detroit Alton McCann CB WEST VIRGINIA
11(180) Cleveland Lawrence Vickers FB COLORADO
12(181) Cleveland (from Baltimore) Babatunde Oshinowo DT STANFORD
13(182) Dallas (from Philadelphia) Montavious Stanley DT LOUISVILLE
14(183) Green Bay Johnny Jolly DT TEXAS A&M
15(184) Atlanta Adam Jennings WR FRESNO STATE
16(185) Green Bay Tyrone Culver S FRESNO STATE
17(186) Kansas City (from Dallas) Tre’ Stallings OG MISSISSIPPI
18(187) San Diego Jeromey Clary OT KANSAS STATE
19(188) San Diego (from Miami) Kurt Smith PK VIRGINIA
20(189) NY Jets (from Dallas from NY Jets from Washington) Drew Coleman CB TCU
21(190) Kansas City Jeff Webb WR SAN DIEGO STATE
22(191) New England Jeremy Mincey DE FLORIDA
23(192) San Francisco (from Tampa Bay) Marcus Hudson S NORTH CAROLINA ST
24(193) Cincinnati Reggie McNeal QB TEXAS A&M
25(194) Tampa Bay (from New York Giants) Bruce Gradkowski QB TOLEDO
26(195) Chicago JD Runnels FB OKLAHOMA
27(196) Washington (from Carolina) Kedrick Golston DT GEORGIA
28(197) San Francisco (from Jacksonville) Melvin Oliver DE LSU
29(198) Denver Greg Eslinger OC MINNESOTA
30(199) Indianapolis Charlie Johnson OT OKLAHOMA STATE
31(200) Chicago (from Seattle) Tyler Reed OG PENN STATE
32(201) Pittsburgh Marvin Philip OC CALIFORNIA
33(202) Tampa Bay (Compensatory selection) TJ Williams TE NORTH CAROLINA ST
34(203) Baltimore (Compensatory selection) Sam Koch PT NEBRASKA
35(204) Philadelphia (Compensatory selection) LaJuan Ramsey DT USC
36(205) New England (Compensatory selection) Dan Stevenson OG NOTRE DAME
37(206) New England (Compensatory selection) Le Kevin Smith DT NEBRASKA
38(207) Indianapolis (Compensatory selection) Antoine Bethea S HOWARD
39(208) Baltimore (Compensatory selection) Derrick Martin CB WYOMING
1(134) Buffalo (from Houston) Kyle Williams DT LSU
2(135) New Orleans Rob Ninkovich DE PURDUE
3(136) New England (from Oakland) Ryan O’Callaghan OT CALIFORNIA
4(137) Tennessee Terna Nande OLB MIAMI (OHIO)
5(138) Dallas (from NY Jets) Patrick Watkins S FLORIDA STATE
6(139) Atlanta (from Green Bay) Quinn Ojennaka OG SYRACUSE
7(140) San Francisco Parys Haralson DE TENNESSEE
8(141) Detroit Jonathan Scott OT TEXAS
9(142) Arizona Brandon Johnson OLB LOUISVILLE
10(143) Buffalo Brad Butler OT VIRGINIA
11(144) St. Louis Marques Hagans WR VIRGINIA
12(145) Cleveland Jerome Harrison RB WASHINGTON STATE
13(146) Baltimore Dawan Landry S GEORGIA TECH
14(147) Philadelphia Jeremy Bloom RS COLORADO
15(148) Green Bay (from Atlanta) Ingle Martin QB FURMAN
17(149) Minnesota Greg Blue S GEORGIA
18(150) NY Jets (from Dallas) Jason Pociask TE WISCONSIN
19(151) San Diego Tim Dobbins ILB IOWA STATE
20(152) Cleveland (from New England) DeMario Minter CB GEORGIA
21(153) Washington Anthony Montgomery DT MINNESOTA
22(154) Kansas City Marcus Maxey CB MIAMI (FLA.)
23(155) Carolina Jeff King TE VIRGINIA TECH
24(156) Tampa Bay Julian Jenkins DE STANFORD
25(157) Cincinnati A.J. Nicholson OLB FLORIDA STATE
26(158) NY Giants Charlie Peprah S ALABAMA
27(159) Chicago Mark Anderson DE ALABAMA
28(160) Jacksonville Brent Hawkins DE ILLINOIS STATE
29(161) Denver Chris Kuper OG NORTH DAKOTA
30(162) Indianapolis Michael Toudouze OT TCU
31(163) Seattle David Kirtman FB USC
32(164) Pittsburgh Omar Jacobs QB BOWLING GREEN
33(165) Green Bay (Compensatory selection) Tony Moll OT NEVADA
34(166) Baltimore (Compensatory selection) Quinn Sypniewski TE COLORADO
35(167) Pittsburgh (Compensatory selection) Charles Davis TE PURDUE
36(168) Philadelphia (Compensatory selection) Omar Gaither OLB TENNESSEE
37(169) Tennessee (Compensatory selection) Jesse Mahelona DT TENNESSEE
1(98) Houston Owen Daniels TE WISCONSIN
2(99) Philadelphia (from New Orleans) Max Jean-Gilles OG GEORGIA
3(100) San Francisco Michael Robinson WR PENN STATE
4(101) Oakland Darnell Bing S USC
5(102) Tennessee Calvin Lowry S PENN STATE
6(103) NY Jets Brad Smith WR MISSOURI
7(104) Green Bay Cory Rodgers WR TCU
8(105) Buffalo Ko Simpson S SOUTH CAROLINA
9(106) New England (from Detroit) Garret Mills FB TULSA
10(107) Arizona Gabriel Watson DT MICHIGAN
11(108) New Orleans Jahri Evans OG BLOOMSBURG
12(109) Philadelphia (from Green Bay from St. Louis) Jason Avant WR MICHIGAN
13(110) Cleveland Leon Williams ILB MIAMI (FLA.)
14(111) Baltimore Demetrius Williams WR OREGON
15(112) Green Bay (from Cleveland from Atlanta) Isaac Sowells OT INDIANA
16(113) St. Louis (from San Diego) Victor Adeyanju DE INDIANA
17(114) Miami Joe Toledo OT WASHINGTON
18(115) Green Bay (from Philadelphia from Minnesota) Will Blackmon WR BOSTON COLLEGE
19(116) Tennessee (from Philadelphia from Dallas) Stephen Tulloch OLB NORTH CAROLINA ST
20(117) NY Jets (from Kansas City) Leon Washington RB FLORIDA STATE
21(118) New England Stephen Gostkowski PK MEMPHIS
22(119) Denver (from Washington) Brandon Marshall WR CENTRAL FLORIDA
23(120) Chicago Jamar Williams OLB ARIZONA STATE
24(121) Carolina Nate Salley S OHIO STATE
25(122) Tampa Bay Alan Zemaitis CB PENN STATE
26(123) Cincinnati Domata Peko DT MICHIGAN STATE
27(124) NY Giants Barry Cofield DT NORTHWESTERN
28(125) Dallas (from Jacksonville) Skyler Green WR LSU
29(126) Denver Elvis Dumervil DE LOUISVILLE
30(127) Minnesota (from Philadelphia from Indianapolis) Ray Edwards DE PURDUE
31(128) Seattle Rob Sims OG OHIO STATE
32(129) NY Giants (from Pittsburgh) Guy Whimper OT EAST CAROLINA
33(130) Denver (Compensatory selection) Domenik Hixon WR AKRON
34(131) Pittsburgh (Compensatory selection) Willie Colon OT HOFSTRA
35(132) Baltimore (Compensatory selection) Prince (PJ) Daniels Jr RB GEORGIA TECH
36(133) Pittsburgh (Compensatory selection) Orien Harris DT MIAMI (FLA.)
Brodie Croyle was drafted in the 3rd round yesterday by the Kansas City Chiefs, the 85th pick of the 2006 draft.
Alabama had not had a quarterback in the National Football League since Jay Barker washed out in 1999. Jon Soloman of the Birmingham News notes that it wasn’t always that way:
The names read like the opening chapter of a book on great NFL quarterbacks. But first, they belonged to the University of Alabama. Bart Starr. Joe Namath. Ken Stabler. Throw in three more with at least eight NFL seasons (Scott Hunter, Jeff Rutledge, Richard Todd) and one short-timer (Steve Sloan), and Alabama produced seven NFL quarterbacks between 1956 and 1979.
The Crimson Tide has yielded only three since 1980 – and none played in a regular-season game. When Brodie Croyle gets drafted this weekend, he figures to become Alabama’s first NFL quarterback since Jay Barker in 1996.
In a separate piece written before the draft, Soloman assesses Croyle’s prospects:
Facing the difficult task of predicting NFL quarterback success stories, scouts use the body types of current players as a guide. Two names pop up for University of Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle, due to their skinny frames: Trent Green and Billy Volek. Green went from being an eighth-round pick in the Canadian Football League to his current 13-year NFL career with two Pro Bowls. Volek was not drafted and has played six years as a backup.
Croyle said he hopes merely to get drafted sometime during the first day Saturday, which is three rounds. “If you’re not a top-15 pick, you’ve got to go prove yourself anyway,” he said. Croyle is projected as a second- to fourth-round pick. Once Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Jay Cutler are gone, Croyle could be the next quarterback selected.
Croyle’s detractors don’t like his injury history, lack of speed and slender frame, which the NFL lists at 6-foot-3 and 204 pounds. His supporters love his composure, quick release, accuracy, deceptive arm strength and knowledge. “Some guys look good on the team bus,” said Mike Detillier, a Louisiana-based draft analyst for the M&D Report. “This guy looks good out on the football field. I think he’s a heck of a player.”
Croyle worked out for the Jets, Ravens, Patriots and Chiefs, and visited the Chargers and Buccaneers. Ideally, Croyle prefers a team with a veteran starting quarterback he could learn from for a couple years. “I’ve always been a Cowboys fan,” Croyle said before explaining, in his laid-back drawl, the unusual reason why. “I was always a Cowboy growing up and thought it was pretty cool they were called the Cowboys.” NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, the former architect of the Cowboys, believes Croyle will be an NFL quarterback. “He’s a quality, quality player, the kind of guy you want on your team,” Brandt said. “My only concern is, does he stay healthy?”
It’s interesting that Croyle is being compared to Trent Green and now has the chance to be tutured by him.
As an Alabama alumnus and fan, I hope he does well, although I share Brandt’s concern about Broyle’s ability to stay healthy in such a brutal game. I’d have liked to have seen him go to the Cowboys, who I’ve been rooting for since before I lived in Alabama, but the team already has two young quarterback propects, Tony Romo and Drew Henson, who are likely at least as good a prospect as Croyle.
Kevin Blackistone notes something that many of us have been wondering: Where exactly is Bill Parcells?
There was a lot of buzz over the fact that he was not at the press conference announcing the signing of controversial wide receiver Terrell Owens. Then again, Parcells didn’t show up for the Drew Bledsoe conference last year, either, and we know Bledsoe is one of “his guys.”
But Parcells was nowhere to be seen at yesterday’s draft, either. And that’s unusual.
You’d be hard-pressed to find an NFL franchise Saturday when the draft started, whose coach wound up unavailable to talk about the new charges he was adding to his arsenal. You’d be hard-pressed to find such a precedent with the Cowboys for that matter. This doesn’t happen. And it shouldn’t have. But moments after [team spokesman Brett] Daniels redesigned Valley Ranch’s interview theater, Jerry, sporting a blue jacket with a silver star in the lapel, strode in. And when asked about his coach, Jerry responded: “He’s doing fine, but he’s gonna let me do the talkin’ today.”
You get the feeling that if you ran into Jerry and Bill dining somewhere, they’d look like a couple in the last throes of a bad marriage. Not speaking. Making little eye contact. Just stabbing at their food with heads down, hoping it would just disappear so they’d have no more reason to be there in public together. You get the feeling that Bill is off in a room somewhere, arms crossed tightly across his chest, shaking his head from side to side refusing to do anything the boss wants because he’s being made to eat something he doesn’t like, a petulant player.
Jerry even sounded Saturday like a partner in a troubled union who was trying to do everything he could to please the other half. He pointed out how the first two players the team drafted Saturday, linebacker Bobby Carpenter from Ohio State and tight end Anthony Fasano from Notre Dame, were selected specifically to continue the overhaul of the Cowboys’ offensive and defensive models to the desire of his coach. Out is the old offense with a fullback and in is Bill’s preferred scheme with two tight ends and one back. Out is the traditional 4-3 defense and in is Bill’s preferred 3-4.
You could almost hear Jerry’s back breaking as he explained how much he was bending over to appease his coach. And you couldn’t help but hear Bill screaming in silence.
Randy Galloway is also concerned.
Landry, Jimster, Switzer, Chan, Campo and, until Saturday, Bill Parcells himself the last three Aprils, had always willingly addressed the first-day haul with the local media. Forty-seven years, and no head coach ever ran scared of media questions on Draft Day. But it’s been nearly four months now, and Parcells continues to be in his bunker, ducking local reporters.
So what’s the problem here? Easy answer. Parcells has Eldorado Owens-phobia. Big Bill is not yet ready to tell the world why he approved the acquisition of Mr. Owens.
Instead, Parcells continues to lurk in the Valley Ranch shadows, wearing his own self-devised muzzle. Jerry Jones now does the talking for the Cowboys, and did so again on Draft Day. Meanwhile, Parcells gives the impression he’s a lame-duck coach, hoping for one last splash in his one last season before he takes a hike out of town.
I must admit, Parcell’s silence is quite bizarre. He agreed to a new two year deal this offseason, despite already being under contract for 2006. The signings and non-signings made were all in accordance with Parcell’s philosophy. Parcells has had carte blanche to hire, fire, and reassign coaches.
The T.O. signing certainly looks more like a Jerry thing than a Big Bill thing, to be sure, but I can’t imagine it was done with Parcells objecting too awfully much.
The Dallas Cowboys got the linebacker they were targetting, Ohio State’s Bobby Carpenter, with the 18th pick. They also achieved two other goals they had announced prior to the draft: recouping the 4th round pick that they traded away last draft so that they could take Chris Canty, and taking the “best available player” on their board regardless of need.
The Cowboys have said all along they were in position to draft the “Best Available Player” when Saturday’s NFL Draft got underway. Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said the team’s aggressiveness in free agency didn’t give the team many glaring needs heading into the draft. But as Saturday’s first three rounds unfolded, two things became clear: The Cowboys indeed still had a couple of holes to fill. And they filled them.
The club drafted Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter with the 18th pick, and then landed Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano with the 53rd selection after moving down four spots through a trade with the Jets. And that was the first of two trades the Cowboys pulled off Saturday. The second one cost them 12 spots in the third round – moving from 80 to 92 – but gave the Cowboys that all-important fourth-round pick. The Cowboys entered the draft without a fourth-rounder, having traded it to get Chris Canty in last year’s draft. And then the Cowboys completed the wild day by drafting Grambling defensive end Jason Hatcher.
The Cowboys will go into Sunday’s final four rounds with a total of six picks after acquiring three via trades on Saturday. But regardless of what happens on Sunday, the success of this draft will ultimately hinge on Carpenter, a player Jones said he couldn’t risk not taking when he became available. Despite history suggesting the Cowboys might trade out of their 18th overall pick in the first round, they stood pat and drafted a player they had targeted all along.
Not only does Carpenter fit the Cowboys’ 3-4 defensive scheme, with the ability to play the strong side linebacker opposite DeMarcus Ware, but he should be everything Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells is looking for. Carpenter is the son of Rob Carpenter, who played four seasons at running back under Parcells with the Giants from 1981-85.
“We were so happy to see him still there for us,” Jones said after the pick. “He’s a compliment to what we’re doing with DeMarcus Ware. He’s a short term in that we think he will be an immediate contributor. He’s done everything that we’re going to ask him to do. Take on the tight end. Cover on the outside. Rush the passer. He’s done that and he’s got a great background through osmosis with his dad having played in the NFL. “He’s got serious character qualities and has a high motor. We wanted to get the best player we could for the future but also someone who fits what we do in the future. And he’s that guy.”
And maybe it won’t be long before he’s a “Parcells Guy.” However, Carpenter said that title is something he’ll have to earn. “I wouldn’t characterize myself as one of those guys yet. I believe that’s something that’s got to be earned but I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Carpenter said. “My dad said he always valued hard work and that’s something that I’m going to bring to the table every day. If there’s anything that has been questioned, hopefully I can answer that as well.”
Carpenter will get his first chance to do so next weekend when the Cowboys invite all of their draft picks and rookie free agents, which will be signed Sunday night and Monday, to Valley Ranch for a three-day mini-camp from Friday to Sunday.
Along with Carpenter, all eyes should be on Fasano, a somewhat surprising pick considering the Cowboys already have two-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten and went out and signed free-agent Ryan Hannam in the off-season. But soon after the Cowboys drafted Fasano with the 53rd pick, Jones held his only press conference of the day and told the media he envisions an offensive style that includes “two starting tight ends.” While Jones basically said the Cowboys will have little to no need for a fullback on the roster, he also made a bold statement regarding Fasano, who caught 47 passes for 576 yards last season for Notre Dame. “I expect him to come in here and start,” Jones said. “But I want to be real clear now. Not start in place of Jason Witten. Both of them will start.”
Fasano not only played two seasons with Cowboys running back Julius Jones at Notre Dame, but also spent last season under head coach Charlie Weis, a former Parcells assistant. Jones said Notre Dame runs a similar offense to the Cowboys and uses the same terminology, which could be make for an easier transition for the second-round tight end. “I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a plug-in-place type of situation with the similar offenses we have run,” Fasano said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an easy transition no matter where I was, but I think with this offensive scheme and this coaching staff it’s probably the best situation I could have walked into. “If you are an outsider looking in it is a weird situation. But with the philosophy using two tight ends and being real multiple tight end set oriented I think it’s going to be a great fit.”
Now what that means for Hannam is unclear. But if the Cowboys are anticipating playing more two-tight sets, having three quality players at the position should give them plenty of depth.
And speaking of depth, the Cowboys ignored a few thinner positions in the third round and piled some more on the defensive end spot. In the third round, after moving back 12 spots to acquire the fourth-round pick from Jacksonville, the Cowboys took Hatcher, a relatively unknown prospect who figures to have tremendous upside. The 6-6, 284-pound pass-rusher had 11 sacks last season for Grambling and wowed scouts this off-season by running in the 4.8 range in the 40.
The Cowboys picked up three defensive ends in last year’s draft in Marcus Spears, Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff, and Greg Ellis still remains very much in the picture, especially as a nickel pass-rusher.
While outside linebacker was a position the Cowboys were expected to address, tight end and defensive end were small surprises. But because of the Cowboys’ draft-day trades, they’ve added two more picks for Sunday, meaning they will enter the second day of the draft with six selections over the next four rounds.
One hopes the vision for two tight ends on offense is Bill Parcells’ rather than Jerry Jones’. Still, it makes sense to have the best athletes possible on the field at all time. Keeping a mediocre fullback on the field as a blocker is silly if that means keeping a fullback who can both block and catch would be silly.
While one hopes the Cowboys can pick up a viable free safety and perhaps another wide receiver today, I feel good about what they’ve done so far. In the post-Jimmy Johnson era, the Cowboys have had only a handful of good drafts. All of them have been when they simply drafted their board rather than reaching to grab a high risk/high reward player that most had rated several rounds lower.
In terms of the Rick “Goose” Gosselin Top 100, here’s how the Cowboys did yesterday:
18th pick: Bobby Carpenter LB Ohio State – #18
53rd pick: Anthony Fasano TE Notre Dame – #54
92nd pick: Jason Hatcher DE Grambling – #88
They’re plus three on the day. No great catches but no reaches. The second day, though, is often a spot where one can grab a high ranked guy that fell for some reason. That’s especially true if a team is willing to draft value rather than need.
Jean-Jacques Taylor brings this important news:
[O]wner Jerry Jones said he’s committed to the 3-4 defensive scheme whether Bill Parcells is the Cowboys’ coach or not. Parcells, who did not make himself available to the media Saturday, signed a two-year contract in January. “We’ve really covered a lot of ground to be a 3-4 team, and I don’t intend to change that for a long time to come,” Jones said. “You can’t be flipping in and out of systems. Some players fit some systems and don’t fit others. We’re going â€“ and going strong â€“ defensively with the 3-4.”
I agree. And the team is well-stocked with young, talented players that fit that scheme after the last draft and a half:
A look at the projected starters on the defensive line and linebacker in 2006 reveals DeMarcus Ware, the 11th player selected in the first round last season, and Bradie James as the only returning starters as the Cowboys have gotten significantly bigger and younger. Last season, starters La’Roi Glover, Greg Ellis, Al Singleton and Dat Nguyen were each at least 30. Now, Jason Ferguson is the only 30-year-old starter in the front seven.
Adding Carpenter solidifies the Cowboys’ front seven because he fills an important role. In the 3-4 defense, the outside linebackers are the most important players because they provide the pass rush. At Ohio State, Carpenter (6-2, 257 pounds) showed he can handle every job the Cowboys will ask him to do. He can put his hand on the ground and rush as a defensive end, cover running backs and tight ends, and he has the size to be strong against the run even when he is matched against 330-pound tackles. Carpenter, who had 14 career sacks at Ohio State, also can be an effective blitzer at outside linebacker, which will force opposing offensive coordinators to decide which side to slide their pass protections because Ware and Carpenter each have the ability to rush the passer.
The radical reshaping of a defense that was already pretty good Parcells’ first year with the team–they were ranked #1 statistically and carried a team with Quincy Carter at quarterback and Troy Hambrick at running back to a 10-6 record and the playoffs.