Boiling A Mouthpiece To Prep For The Draft

IRVING, Tex. - If you think the NFL Draft is something short of scientific for the actually teams involved, just think of how complex it is for the poor SOB reporters who've never in their lives boiled a mouthpiece.

That's the first of today's assorted musings from my Valley Ranch barstool. ...

ITEM: Consider the educated writings of one prominent journalist who, in attempting to pinpoint the Cowboys' first-round plans, has in the last two weeks opined:

* That this Cowboys draft could be highlighted by the trading of Julius Jones and Greg Ellis.

* That there is something that "leads me to believe the Cowboys will go after a pressure player again. Maybe they'll take a run at Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss.

* That Dallas might want "a wideout--LSU's Dwayne Bowe, Tennessee's Robert Meachem, USC's Dwayne Jarrett or USC's Steve Smith. Any of those players could help immediately. ...''

* That the team could "use the 22nd pick on Florida S Reggie Nelson.''

* That while "there's nothing sexy about taking the best player in the draft. ... that's exactly what the Cowboys should do. Whoever is sitting atop the draft board when it's their time to select, is the player the Cowboys should choose.''

* That "Ted Ginn might be a really good fit for the Cowboys.''

* That something "leads me to believe Dallas will trade down from No.22.''

And there you have it. ... all in the space of about two weeks, one singular expert observer offers up a first-round plan that includes any one of many different players (Jones, Ellis, Moss, Bowe, Meachem, Jarrett, Smith, Nelson, Ginn) many different approaches, and many different. ... well, wild guesses.

ITEM: I was always taught by the draft masters of a certain very successful team that the only reason to trade down is to take advantage of a) a team that wants too desperately to trade up, and b) because a certain draft is terrifically deep.

Therefore, I don't get the "Cowboys-will-trade-down'' buzz we hear at the moment. Because a) it's too early to have targeted a sucker, and b) this is not a deep draft. Right?

Why do I want MORE players from a sub-par pool? No, I'd rather aim for one of the few blue-chip guys and go get him.

Oh, by the way, the draft-mastering team that taught me that philosophy? The Jerry-Jimmy Cowboys of the early '90's.

ITEM: Wade Phillips, as you may know, bought himself a mansion in the same ritzy Dallas neighborhood as Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban and Tom Hicks. He remains a simple man, however: One of his favorite places to grab a bite happens to be my buddy's "Wild About Harry's'' restaurant. And what does Harry serve?

Hot dogs. Best hot dogs in town.

"The most impressive thing about coach Phillips,'' says his new best friend Harry, "is that there is no pretense. There are no walls to climb over to get to him. I mean, physically -- no security guards and that stuff -- but also emotionally. No barriers. You simply can't not like the man.''

Advice to Phillips: Be careful of "Wild About Harry's'' other specialty, the frozen custard. Best frozen custard in town. And too much of it and you won't fit into your new Cowboys coaching outfits.

ITEM: More proof that the Hall of Fame should be about "passing the eye test'' and about "aura'' and "feel'' and stuff: The question of just-retired Drew Bledsoe's HOF qualifications.

Nothing against Bledsoe, but I barely even have to look at the numbers when giving my answer to the question: No.

Bledsoe was not "special'' in that way.

ITEM: The Legend of Jimmy Johnson continues to be spun by people who never knew him. I give credit where it's due, but I also take pleasure in clearing up the record with I-was-there facts.

Everywhere now, it seems the use of the "Trade Value Chart'' is mentioned. It details what round of a pick equals what in trade. It is quite in-depth and detailed, apparently used almost universally now by NFL teams.

And who is completely and misguidedly credited with the creation of the formulaic "Trade Value Chart''?

That would be Jimmy Johnson. Misguidedly. In fact, the creator of the chart is named Mike McCoy. He's an oil-and-gas man with a legal background who became a vice president of the Cowboys when his dear friend Jerry Jones bought the team. McCoy's not a football guy, and back in his days officing at Valley Ranch, he never pretended to be. But numbers and formulas and value? That was McCoy's department.

So on NFL Draft Weekend, when Mel Kiper and and everyone else with a microphone or a keyboard cites Jimmy as the founder of a concept that will come into play many times over the course of two days, they'll only know the myth.

You'll know the truth.

ITEM: The Dallas Observer featuring my friend Richie Whitt (we were the Cowboys' beat-writing team at the Star-Telegram in the 90's Super Bowl years) travels to Shreveport to find Quincy Carter. He's playing QB for an ArenaLeague2 team. And the experience sounds. ... yecchy. Whitt reveals that Quincy makes 200 bucks a game. ... but if his team wins, he makes 50 more.

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