Taylor: Cowboys’ draft creates competition up and down the roster
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR
The Dallas Morning News
Bruce Carter, the second-round pick, will compete with Keith Brooking and Sean Lee for playing time at weakside linebacker once he returns to full strength from his torn knee ligament. Guards David Arkin (4 round) and Bill Nagy (7 round) will provide competition for Montrae Holland and Phil Costa next season if not this season.
DeMarco Murray will challenge Felix Jones for the starting running back position, and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t expect to win the job. Jones has been a disappointment, and the Cowboys have provided a catalyst for him to play his best football.
Josh Thomas, the Cedar Hill native, will compete with veteran Alan Ball for a spot in the dime defense, and Dwayne Harris will compete with disappointing Kevin Ogletree and Manny Johnson for the fourth receiver and slot role in the offense.
And Shaun Chapas will battle Chris Gronkowski for the only fullback spot on the roster.
“I think we’ve improved in what we are trying to do on our football team, on the offensive line and throughout our team, which is to create competition. We want to bring good football players, and we want guys that earn their job,” Garrett said. “We like to create competition on the offensive line and throughout our football team.”
Well, that hasn’t always been the case. We all saw Roy Williams start two seasons ago, when we knew he didn’t deserve it. And we saw Marion Barber have the role as ceremonial starter at running back.
Those days, apparently, are coming to an end.
Q: I’m still stunned that Jerry Jones didn’t make any cute look-at-me moves during the draft and tried to take the best players when available — are you?
Mark Young, Los Angeles
TAYLOR: I had hoped he would let the draft come to him and take the best guys at the spots when he picked. When you take that approach, it’s hard to go wrong. I don’t like trading down a lot of times because I’m a big believer in getting the guy you want — not the guy who’s left from a group of players.
I loved the fact they didn’t trade down and that they stayed at No. 9 and picked the guy they thought was the best offensive tackle in the draft. Give Jason Garrett a lot of credit. I think that’s his influence impacting the club.
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Q: I give Jerry a C. He just about blew another draft. He should have traded down a few spots in the first round for an extra second- or third-round pick and still taken Tyron Smith. I know the best he was offered was pick 16, but if not Smith at that time, there were two or three other tackles he could have taken.
Glenn Guillory, Baytown
TAYLOR: I disagree. There was a big gap — as evidenced by how the draft played out — between Tyron Smith and Anthony Castonzo and Nate Solder and Gabe Carimi. Teams expect the other guys to be good. Smith has a chance to be great. There’s a difference. Only time will tell. It’s not about acquiring picks and getting good players. You win with elite players surrounded by good players.
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Q: You and I disagree over Hudson Houck’s quality of work in recent years. I hope you are right.
TAYLOR: After seeing the entire draft, it’s really not about what Hudson Houck does with Tyron Smith. It’s whether he can get David Arkin to be a starting guard in 2012 and Bill Nagy to be a legitimate backup in 2012.
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Q: Tyron Smith is Rayfield Wright.
TAYLOR: I don’t know that I would compare him to a Hall of Fame player yet. It’s way too early for that. But Smith said he wants to be a Pro Bowler and a Hall of Fame player, so I can’t argue with his ambition.
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Chris Bryant, Reading, Pa.
TAYLOR: The first rule of the NFL is you don’t make a decision on any player until you have to because of the injury nature of the NFL. Once the league year is established, which won’t happen until a CBA is reached, then the decision-making process will start. That said, it’s unlikely Barber and Colombo will return. Rule No. 2: You don’t cut players until you have their replacement lined up.
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Q: I have always been told that your money goes in the following areas: quarterback, left tackle, receiver, pass rusher and cornerback. Why, then would the Cowboys pick a right tackle at No. 9 when there are at least three others who could be picked up later in the draft who are arguably as good as Smith for less?
Joe Stout, Boca Raton, Fla.
TAYLOR: First, the Cowboys believed there was a significant difference between Tyron Smith and the other tackles on the board.
Second, it’s important to have a quality right tackle in today’s NFL because if a defensive coordinator believes the offense’s left tackle is too tough, then he just flips the pass rusher to the other side to take advantage of the matchup. With Smith and Doug Free, the Cowboys should be set at tackle for the next decade.
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Q: From the recent comments from Jerry Jones on the Cowboys “not having the league’s highest payroll” does that possibly point to veterans like Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis being released?
Jonathan Green, Rowlett
TAYLOR: As I mentioned earlier, you can’t just cut players until you have their replacements lined up. Those players who survive this season, probably Williams and Davis, won’t be here in 2012.