Anyone's Guess

It's the time of year when NFL lovers and some organizational employees go a little bonkers or throw common sense right out the window.

Psychiatrists must do extremely well in late April and early May as the amount of broken hearts and lost minds increases dramatically, and virtually none of it has to do male/female relationships. Couch occupancy, martini swilling and Valium prescriptions are NFL-driven. It's the time of year when NFL lovers and some organizational employees go a little bonkers or throw common sense right out the window. The psychoanalysis applies to all, League-wide, and the masses can only hope amnesia and dementia steer clear of Valley Ranch.

The files and public records are available to all for viewing. Documented cases are abundantly plentiful. The mystery is in how an NFL organization spends 363 days dedicated to player evaluation and then screws it up in two days of late April. Pick a team or pick a year. You will find an organization that completely loses their mind and sensibilities when on the clock. Instead of laying down a hand they've practiced a thousand times before, they panic. Falling in love with a particular player is the most forbidden fruit on the tree, yet General Managers and Head Coaches can't resist the temptation. They take one bite looking for that magic nibble which will take them to the Promised Land. On more than one occasion, there have been forbidden bites which have set franchises back years.

Disastrous decisions don't even have to occur on Draft Day, but many of them have Draft implications. Case in point, the Dallas Cowboys. In an attempt to provide Troy Aikman with a legitimate receiving weapon to replace Michael Irvin, General Manager Jerry Jones executed the single-worst personnel move in his ownership tenure. In 2000, Jones sent two (2000 & 2001) first round Draft picks to Seattle for the rights to Joey Galloway. At the time, the Cowboys were quickly approaching the bottom of Downslide Valley and ushering in the Dave Campo era. The last thing the Cowboys could afford was dealing first round Draft choices. In classic Murphy's Law terms, the 2000 and 2001 Cowboys' Drafts were atrocious. Not one player from either Draft class remains on the current roster. Not one!

Conversely, Seattle used Dallas' 2000 pick and selected Shaun Alexander. Not sure, but he might have been a nice option to replace Emmitt Smith a few years down the road. Other notable names in the first round of the 2000 Draft included Brian Urlacher, John Abraham, Julian Peterson and Chad Pennington. While Seattle missed on Koren Robinson utilizing Dallas' pick in 2001, they grabbed Steve Hutchinson with their second pick in the first round. Players like Casey Hampton, Santana Moss, Nate Clements, Duce McAllister, Reggie Wayne and Todd Heap could have been acquired had the Cowboys been a first round participant.

The Cowboys selected 14 players in 2000 and 2001, and not one of them remains. Only now are the Cowboys starting to pull themselves out of the 2000 personnel implosion. As Bill Parcells used to proclaim, "If we can hit on 50% of the Draft selections, we're way ahead of the curve." Giving away first rounders and completely whiffing on all other selections, it's a safe bet Jerry would have taken his mulligan or asked for a "do over." The net take of the 2000-2002 Drafts crippled the Cowboys organization and greatly curtailed their desire to return to post season play.

While attempting to pull themselves out of the Galloway hole, their climb continues. While light and level ground can be seen, Cowboys fans can only hope the 2007 Draft is another step towards competitive waters. This Draft should constitute succession planning, renewed shelf life and adding a few extra cans of beans to the pantry. There are age issues to keep an eye on, but they're still getting very productive play from their elder statesmen. Terry Glenn, Terrell Owens, Aaron Glenn and Jason Ferguson are all contributing, and every team needs its share of veteran talent, experience and leadership. You don't want your organization top-heavy in age, but a portion is essential for continuity.

Weighing the strengths and depth of a Draft is for those who make a living at it. When in doubt, turn to and trust your Scouts and personnel evaluators. They're hired to do a job, and it would be foolish to ignore their legwork. No doubt, there's no shortage of information and suggestions out on the Web. The NFL has to do annual cartwheels and handstands regarding their product and public interest. They've compiled the ultimate fan sport for interest and involvement. The NFL world is full of fans that cheer for their favorite team, spend major coin for team apparel, drop hundreds participating in fantasy football and assemble Mock Drafts on every website known to man. Name another major sport where the fan gets to play General Manager year round. The fan is completely captured by the sport, and the sport is making a ton of money with its capture.

With all this in mind, it's absolutely comical to listen to and read the commentary of the local Dallas media. They've been consistently and problematically chastising Jerry Jones for his Monday afternoon, pre-Draft press conference. They shudder at some of the pronouncements Jones made during his hour visit with the locals. Talk of moving up. Talk of moving down. Bundling verbiage noting what it would take to run down one of the "WOW" players in this Draft. Statements indicating there are two suitors for a Cowboys move completely out if the first round. They're all clamoring, "Jerry's out of control again. Someone needs to reel him in. An organization gone mad. Watch out for the next Shante Carver, David LaFluer, Quincy Carter, Dwayne Goodrich or Kareem Larrimore. Someone call the authorities or local funny farm. Lock this man up."

All begging the question, "Are you kidding?" Acquire the transcripts or rewind the video and analyze exactly what Jerry said. How about absolutely nothing? Nada. Zip. Zero. In 60 minutes he covered every possible scenario and yet said absolutely nothing. Just comb the newspapers and NFL outlets. Jones moving up. Jones moving down. Jones says he'll listen to all offers. Jones wants out of the first round. Does that about cover it all? People. People. People. Even Jerry Jones doesn't know how it'll go down this weekend. It's all speculation, smoke and mirrors. Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been decided and won't be until Saturday, April 28th. Bank it.

The extended beauty of Jones' press conference was the public outcry regarding the absence of Jeff Ireland and Wade Phillips from the proceedings. So, this solidifies the fact Jerry is running solo with this Draft? This brilliant, billionaire, businessman is so naïve and short-sided he sees no need for a Head Coach or VP of Scouting to be involved? Right? What else could be deduced from Jerry going on camera unaccompanied? Good Lord, people, and how many organizational shirts does it take to say absolutely nothing? Do you really need three smoke-screeners for comfort and reassurance purposes? Jerry's employees are working their tails off in preparation for the weekend. It's what they're paid to do. Who better to go in front of the camera giving fans and NFL scribes all they want? No one does it like the Master himself. Jerry was born to pontificate. He ate the opportunity alive, as he always does. Once again, Jerry has the NFL world guessing and double guessing. Purpose served.

Jerry's comments have fans going crazy and debating themselves to death on The Ranch Report forum boards and many other venues. He has Mel Kiper reconstructing the Big Board and making adjustments to his weekend coiffure. His has the NFL world in the palm of his hand. Say what you will, but the man is a marketing genius. He makes millions by saying nothing. The mere fact Jones is plotting and pontificating has the NFL world plugged in. Guaranteed the talking heads will mention the Cowboys 10 times before the Raiders are on the clock. All eyes are on Dallas.

Just as Jerry wants it.

And with their first pick, the Cowboys select...

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