Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2009 Round 4 #101 – Dallas Cowboys – QB Stephen McGee

The Cowboys chose Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee, the consensus best-available QB, with their first pick in the 4th round.  The 6’3″, 225 pounder is raw but has tremendous upside.

Obviously, this is yet another pick spent on a backup, since Tony Romo is a Pro Bowler and under a lucrative, long-term contract to start.  Still, the team needs to start grooming a backup and the 4th round means he’ll come cheap by NFL standards.

Here’s what says about him:


Few quarterbacks will ever be drafted after starting only three games their senior year, but McGee has the tools worthy of consideration. A fine Texas high school quarterback recruited by several top programs, McGee went to Texas A&M to make his own name. While his statistics under former head coach Dennis Franchione were solid enough to earn NFL attention (60 percent completion rate for 4,606 yards and a 24-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio), McGee was hardly developing into a pro-ready quarterback through Franchione’s read-option offense.

With former Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman taking over the helm in 2008, optimism was high that McGee would enjoy a big senior campaign. Then he suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder early in the season, limiting him to only the three starts. A solid week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game – and this year’s weak senior class of quarterbacks – could result in McGee earning a surprisingly high grade from some teams who are willing to look past his stunted development and focus on his undeniable tools. Had an arm span of 32 inches and a hand span of 9 inches at the combine.
High School

Three-year starter at quarterback for Class 3A Burnet High School, leading his team to a combined record of 36-5 (including a 28-2 mark as a junior and senior). … Burnet appeared in the 3A state finals in 2002 and 2003. … did not throw a single interception in the 2003 regular season. … finished his career with 8,256 passing yards and a 3A state-record 101 passing touchdowns. … as a senior, McGee completed 196 of 313 passes for 3,579 yards with 47 touchdowns and three interceptions. … as a junior, he completed 155 of 276 passes for 2,841 yards and 34 touchdowns and five interceptions. … as a sophomore, he connected on 93 of 176 attempts for 1,829 yards, 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. … two-time all-state selection and three-time all-district pick. … named the 3A Offensive Most Valuable Player after his senior year. … also earned Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine Super Team second-team and Austin American-Statesman All-Centex Co-Player of the Year honors. … coached by Bob Shipley. … also played basketball and track and field. … all-district on the hardwood as a sophomore, but was injured as a junior. … advanced to the regional meet in track with the 400- and 1,600-meter relays. … an excellent student, McGee was Burnet’s No. 1-ranked student-athlete and ranked No. 9 overall in his senior class of over 250.


Positives: Legitimate NFL frame. Good toughness. Has absorbed a lot of hits throughout his career and is willing to play through pain. Legitimate arm strength. Good zip on his passes, especially on short and intermediate routes. Flashes the arm strength and trajectory for deep passes with touch over the top. Good athlete who can buy time in the pocket and also make plays as a runner in the open field. Good agility and strength for the position as a runner. Solid week of practice at the East-West Shrine Game offers hope that he can develop with time in a pro-style offense. Excellent intangibles. Natural leader who was voted permanent team captain in 2006. Twice led the Aggies to upset victories over rival Texas.

Negatives: Raw as they come. More of a thrower than a passer at this point. Inconsistent footwork and delivery. Inconsistent accuracy, mostly due to flawed technique. Still acclimating to reading a defense from a passer standpoint. Lacks patience in the pocket and will either run or force passes too often, rather than check down. Needs to be cleared medically due to the torn labrum suffered during his senior year.
Injury Report

2008: Limited to three starts due to a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. says, “McGee will be one of the most sought after quarterbacks in the country. Last season as a junior, he threw for over 2,800 yards, 34 touchdowns and only five interceptions. McGee has a strong arm, good mobilty and makes great decisions with the ball. He carries a 4.0 GPA. ”

Scouts, Inc. gives him mixed grades.

Overall Football Traits
Production 2 2004: Texas A&M red shirts McGee. 2005: McGee starts one of the eight games he appears in completing 24 of his 53 passes for a total of 283 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He rushes for a total of 235 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries. (5.5 yard avg.) 2006: McGee starts all 13 games completing 194 of his 313 passes (62-percent) for a total of 2,295 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. He rushes for a total of 666 yards and four touchdowns on 146 carries. McGee catches one pass for a 12-yard gain and he punts twice for a total of 71 yards. He places one of those punts inside the opponent’s 20-yardline. 2007: McGee starts all 13 games completing 211 of his 364 passes (58-percent) for a total of 2,311 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He rushes for five touchdowns and a team-high 811 yards on 181 carries. (5.0 yard avg.) 2008: McGee starts three of the six games he appears in completing 56 of his 85 passes (65.9-precent) for a total of 586 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He finishes the year with -50 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Height-Weight-Speed 3 Marginal height and bulk but above-average top-end speed.
Durability 4 2007: Injures non-throwing shoulder during Alamo Bowl. 2008: Undergoes surgery on non-throwing shoulder and is held out of spring ball. Injures throwing shoulder during New Mexico game and then re-injures it against Army two weeks later.
Character 1 Great competitor and teammates rally around him. Works hard on and off the field. Voted Permanent Team Captain in 2006. One of if not the toughest quarterbacks in the nation.
Quarterback specific Traits
Game Management 3 Played in the read-option offense for the first three years of career and started just three games in head coach Mike Sherman’s pro style offense last year but has the mental toughness to make the necessary adjustments. Generates a lot of yards when after plays start to break down. Shows above-average poise in the face of pressure and isn’t afraid to take the big hit.
Accuracy 3 Mechanics need a lot of polishing, especially his footwork. Throws off his back foot sometimes and doesn’t follow through as often as he should. Also has a tendency to over-stride with his front foot, which occasionally can cause his ball to sail high. Does a decent job of changing up velocities. Throws a ‘catchable’ ball underneath. Has shown the ability to throw efficiently while on the run.
Release 3 Ball jumps off hand and can throw from different arm slots. He flashes the ability to get rid of the ball quickly on three-step drops but he has a tendency to cock the ball back and wind-up on deeper throws. Pats the ball too much.
Arm Strength 2 Underrated arm strength. Gets adequate-to-good zip on the ball when throwing the deep-out and can drive the ball downfield on vertical throws when steps into the pass.
Mobility 2 While not an elite athlete, he’s certainly one of the most mobile and experienced runners in the 2008 quarterback class. Competitive ball carrier that displays excellent vision and toughness.


Dallas Cowboys 2009 Draft – Day 1

The Cowboys traded their 2009 1st, 3rd, and 6th round picks to the Detroit Lions for WR Roy Williams and a 2010 7th rounder.  Thus far, it has been an awful trade but Williams was hurt and didn’t have the benefit of an offseason working with Tony Romo and the Cowboys’ system.  Those excuses will be gone this season.

The trade meant that the Cowboys’ first chance to pick came at the #51 spot but they traded that pick to the Buffalo Bills for their 3rd and 4th round picks.  Indeed, those of us watching on television thought the Cowboys had “passed” on the pick entirely!   Apparently, they had their sights set on Oregon center Max Unger but the Seattle Seahawks traded up and grabbed him two spots earlier.  Thinking there were no players left worth spending a 2nd rounder on, they pulled the trigger on the trade.

So, Day 1 of the draft was a complete bust for Cowboys fans.  With a whopping twelve picks on day 2, though, Jean Jacques Taylor says there are no excuses for not dominating today.

There will be no acceptable excuses today for the Cowboys failing to obtain every single player they covet because they will control the draft. That’s what having two picks in the third round and three picks in the fourth and fifth rounds does for them.

They can target specific players and, with the bevy of picks they’ve accumulated, easily move up and down the board to scoop them up.

The Cowboys entered this draft needing to shore up their secondary since Roy Williams and Adam Jones have been released, backup Keith Davis is a free agent and so many teams use formations with three and four receivers.  The Cowboys also need to improve their depth at receiver since Miles Austin and Sam Hurd have combined to catch 42 NFL passes. While the Cowboys love Austin and they like Hurd, neither has proved anything yet.

The Cowboys entered the second round with several potential candidates, but five of the 21 players they brought in for predraft visits were selected with the first 17 picks of the round.

But he also makes a good point:

Jerry [Jones] didn’t seem to think there were many players in the draft who could help this team right away aside from contributing on special teams or third downs.

Well, this team didn’t make the playoffs. It has holes. It’s not flawless.

It’s just hard to believe none of the draft’s top 64 players can have an impact on this team. It almost sounds like the philosophy the Cowboys espoused during the 1995 draft. The Cowboys drafted backup players that year because they were so talented, they didn’t believe anyone could break the starting lineup and didn’t want to pay players to sit on the bench.

It’s too early to evaluate this draft, obviously.  But every single other team in the division — the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Washington Redskins — got significantly better yesterday.  The Cowboys didn’t.   They’ve got some serious catching up to do today.


Romo Out 4 Weeks with Broken Pinkie

The underperforming Dallas Cowboys’ prospects of quickly fixing their problems just took a dramatic downward turn with news that two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo has a broken finger in his throwing hand and will miss up to four weeks.

Romo, who had started 30 straight games since replacing Drew Bledsoe in 2006, broke his right pinkie on the first play of overtime in a 30-24 loss at Arizona on Sunday, according to a posting on the team’s official Web site. The injury will not require surgery, a member of the Cowboys’ medical staff told’s Matt Mosley.

Veteran quarterback Brad Johnson, the Cowboys’ holder on kicks, is Romo’s backup. The 40-year-old Johnson, who won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay, hasn’t started a game since 2006 in Minnesota.

Romo missed on three straight passes to start the overtime. He passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns despite heavy pressure. He was sacked three times and hit several other times.

Frankly, given Romo’s dismal performance the last two weeks — and, especially, yesterday — it was hard to tell the difference. But there’s simply no question that Romo’s leaps and bounds the best QB on the Cowboys’ roster.

Through Sunday’s games, Romo ranks second in NFC passing with a 103.5 rating. He has thrown for 14 touchdowns and been intercepted five times.

The report is aptly titled “Bad Gets Worse.”

For now, the Cowboys will go as is at the quarterback position, turning the 4-2 Cowboys over to veteran backup Brad Johnson, with third quarterback Brooks Bollinger serving as the No. 2 guy in Romo’s absence. Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips will update the situation at his 1:30 (CDT) Monday press conference carried live on

The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, and certainly the Cowboys will canvass the league for any available candidates, but sensed desperation certainly would drive up the price if the Cowboys are even thinking about bringing in another quarterback for the time being.

And with Johnson and Bollinger having to spend their time preparing to run the Cowboys’ offense, the Cowboys might be forced to sign a practice squad quarterback to run the scout team. Richard Bartel, last year’s practice squad quarterback, has worked out for several teams since being released when the club signed Bollinger to the 53-man roster but hasn’t been signed and would be available for emergency practice squad duty.

The silver lining is that the team has three games, and only one divisional game, during the four weeks, followed with a bye.

Sun, Oct 19 @ St. Louis (FOX) NOON
Sun, Nov 2 @ New York Giants (FOX) 3:15 PM
Sun, Nov 9 BYE

The Rams just beat the Redskins, so it’s not a gimme, but even a Johnson-led Cowboys team ought to be able to win it. Tampa will be the favorite but, again, it’s a winnable game. Presuming the Giants stay healthy, though, they’ll be heavy favorites at home on November 2 and have a chance to all but wrap up the division title very early.


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