#4. Which newcomers are ready to contribute?
It was a curious 2009 draft for the Cowboys, to say the least.
The addition of Jason Williams (OLB out of Western Illinois) in the third round appears to be on track, as does the fifth round acquisition of safety Mike Hamlin (Clemson). But as far as the other picks Dallas made … well owner Jerry Jones and company left a lot of pundits scratching their collective heads.
Dallas selected Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee in the fourth round a kicker (David Buehler out of Southern California) in the fifth. McGee was thought to be a late-round pick at best or perhaps even an undrafted free agent and the Cowboys already have a Pro Bowl kicker in Nick Folk.
As it turns out Folk underwent hip surgery during the offseason, but even then he's expected to be back at full strength in time for the start of training camp.
Dallas also added a couple of quality cornerbacks (Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith – both from Cincinnati) in the fifth and seventh rounds, two more outside linebackers (Victor Butler – Oregon State and Stephen Hodge - TCU) in the fourth and sixth rounds, one offensive tackle (Robert Brewster – Ball State) in the third, a defensive end from Texas Tech in Brandon Williams in the fourth, and a wide receiver (Manual Johnson – Oklahoma) in the seventh.
We won't know if it's a bad draft for three to four years, but certainly there were a handful of eye brow-raising moments and the initial knee-jerk reaction from experts around the country seemed to all concur this was a step down compared to what the organization did in the Parcells era.
The good news is, in free agency, the Cowboys were bargain shoppers and appeared to do pretty well.
Igor Olshansky was signed to replace Chris Canty at defensive end while Gerald Sensabaugh was added to replace Roy Williams at strong safety and veteran Keith Brooking will essentially man the linebacker spot vacated by Zach Thomas.
Dallas also finally has a proven backup quarterback this year in Jon Kitna.
Kitna was brought over from Detroit in a trade that sent cornerback Anthony Henry to the Lions and provides significant insurance in case Romo misses a couple of games like he's done in the last two seasons.
"The best-case scenario for this football team is for me to not have to play a snap," Kitna told The Ranch Report after one of the OTAs during May. "But if the time comes, I'll be ready."
All of the veteran additions listed above should provide instant help in 2009 while Hamlin, Hodge, Jason Williams and Smith figure to see the most time on the field from the rookie class.
9 Questions for 2009: #4
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