The Case for DT John Henderson

It seems that we as Americans have an opinion on any subject that comes down the pike. From politics to Indonesian basket weaving most Americans will spout off. And when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys, truly America's Team, even the most neophyte sports enthusiast will wax poetic.

So when my editor came to me and ask if I would put together a few words about this years draft and the Cowboys; well I am an American, and a huge fan. How could I resist?

The last season version of the Cowboys revealed a tough defense with a lack of offensive punch. Several victories were within the grasp of this team only to be dropped by an anemic offense. A logical conclusion could be drawn that the team needs offense to take a step forward. I disagree.

The addition of La'Roi Glover adds bite to a front line that was woeful in the sack department. The Cowboys registered 24 sacks last year. To put this in perspective they surrendered 34 sacks. Only the Cardinals had fewer sacks than the Cowboys.

Glover should change that issue immediately this season. His ability to get to the quarterback made him the premiere defensive tackle on the free agent market. Jerry Jones showed up with common sense and a checkbook and improved the defense by this signing.

Bryant Westbrook was also added to the defensive backfield. A player recovering from an Achilles injury similar to what Kevin Smith sustained in the opening game of the 1995 season. Westbrook has skills to be a pro-bowler. The proverbial ‘IF' applies here. If he can regain his pre-injury form, the team stole this player. If not…well…

The building blocks have been put into place to make the defense even more effective in the 2002-03 season. But the task-at-hand is not complete. The Best Available Athlete theory is justified in this case. And in most instances it is a defender that fits that category.

Quentin Jammer is perhaps the best defensive player in this draft. More and more ‘experts' claim he has fewer holes in his game than any other player. But drafting 6th means the Cowboys will have to move up to take the cornerback from Texas. That might require a 3rd round pick that could be a starter at the end of this next campaign. Too much for even the talented Mr. Jammer, most feel.

Carr, Harrington, Peppers, and McKinnie should all be off the board as well. That leaves a dilemma for the Cowboys. Who really justifies the 6th over-all pick.

The players left that are considered top athletes are John Henderson, Roy Williams as well as Albert Haynesworth and Phillip Buchanon.

The idea of Glover and Henderson on the interior of the line should make quarterbacks around the league shudder. But it also will improve a pass rush that was non-existent last season, making Ellis and Ekuban better.
Buchanon offers a shut-down cornerback with speed that can return punts. A favorite of my colleagues at the Update, Buchanon can fill a need for this team. His skills could aid the defense by moving either Westbrook or Edwards to safety. A spot across from Woodson that is a need.

Yet his size is a factor with the bigger receivers that are in vogue in today's NFL. Can he match up with the David Boston's and Terrell Owen's that are on the 2002-03 schedule? This could be seen as a reach at 6.

Haynesworth rode the coattails of Henderson last season as a college player. His 2.5 sacks don't equate to the 6th best player in the draft. I pass on this guy.

Roy Williams is a fan favorite. He is a hard hitting safety out of Oklahoma. His reputation is that of a player that will deliver a crushing hit and can blitz like no other in this draft.

Yet Dallas passed on Teague, a player they were familiar with because of his 1 million dollar salary demands. Why would Dallas consider a player that has no NFL experience and be forced into paying him over 2 million dollars a year in compensation? Roy is a playmaker, but I have to pass on him.

Dallas took several defensive linemen last season. The thinking by most is why waste another pick on this position. Yet this isn't just any defensive tackle.

Henderson commands a double team because of his size and strength. His motor is always running and he will make the conversion to the pros with little effort. He also can play left end, which is a bonus to the Cowboys as they will juggle players to accommodate Ekuban.

The idea of Glover and Henderson on the interior of the line should make quarterbacks around the league shudder. But it also will improve a pass rush that was non-existent last season, making Ellis and Ekuban better.

The rotation of Stewart and Blade will allow the Cowboys to return to the days of the early 90's when they always had fresh legs on the field in the 4th quarter.

The cornerbacks would benefit with this line-up. But so would the offense. A shut-down defense that allows fewer drives and forces 3 and outs giving Quincy and company more opportunities to touch the ball.

The offense will rest in the hands of Quincy Carter. How well the team does against what appears to be a brutal schedule will be dictated by the second year quarterback.

I believe Henderson gives the team the best chance of success this next season by improving the defensive line and taking the pressure off the Cowboys offense . Buchanon is my second choice provided Jammer is truly unattainable.

In no way do I think the Cowboys should draft William Green. He will back-up Emmitt and get few touches. The team needs a playmaker. Not a spectator.

But then this is just an opinion that will either fall on its face or bear fruit April 20th. After all I'm just a fan.

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