Whether any of them can actually play will be determined next fall and well into the future, but if getting exactly what you wanted is evidence of a successful draft then the Cowboys were a huge success on Saturday and Sunday.
After giving up more points (406) than all but five teams in the league last season and the second most passing touchdowns (31) in team history, shoring up of the defense with impact pressure players was the top priority.
The Cowboys used six of their eight picks on defensive players, led by pass rushing linebacker Demarcus Ware with the 11th overall pick, defensive end Marcus Spears at No. 20 and linebacker Kevin Burnett in second round, 42nd overall.
"We gave up 406 points last year and 31 touchdown passes," coach Bill Parcells said. "That is the highest of my career. I knew for a fact if that didn't change, the fortunes of the Cowboys wouldn't change. It is obvious you can't give up 25 points a game and expect to win. We have to fix that. Hopefully we have started down that path."
The Cowboys, who didn't have a third round pick thanks to last year's trade with the Texans for quarterback Drew Henson, picked up running back Marion Barber III with their first pick of the fourth round.
After owner Jerry Jones was unable to make a first day trade for only the fourth time since 1989 -- and he certainly tried to move one of the two first round picks to add more value -- the Cowboys pulled off a deal in the fourth round to get defensive end Chris Canty. To acquire Canty, the Cowboys gave the Eagles their fifth-round pick this year and a fourth-rounder next year. Dallas also received a 2006 sixth-round pick from Philadelphia. The Cowboys then took safety Justin Berialt and tackle Rob Pettiti in the sixth round and defensive end Jay Ratliff in the seventh round.
Jones said the Cowboys thought about getting a receiver at times in the draft but felt compelled to address their needs on defense.
Making it even more a priority was the team's impending move to a 3-4 defense next season. These picks on defense were all selected with the 3-4 in mind, especially Ware, Spears and Canty.
They do give the give the Cowboys "total flexibility to do some of the things that the 3-4 allows you to do," said Parcells: "We're prepared to play both fronts if we have to ... we're prepared scheme-wise to go either way."
"I walked into Bill's office quite a few times last season, and he would be wringing his hands saying we had to get pressure on the quarterback," Jones said. "These guys should allow us to do that. The combination of Ware and Spears gives us total flexibility: Spears gives us size, and Ware gives us flexibility."
The top two picks were the key to draft for the Cowboys, as Ware and Spears were the two players the Cowboys wanted heading into draft day.
They decided to take Ware first because of his abilities as a pass rusher, gambling that Spears would still be there at 20.
A nervous Jones and Parcells even tried to trade up three or four times to get Spears but were unable to do so.
When he fell to them at 20, Jones said it was like checking off a Christmas list.
"I think we had a good fortune there on the 20th pick," Parcells said. "I thought there was a good chance someone would come and get that pick.
Actually we know now for a fact that someone was trying to trade up in front of us. Realistically I didn't think we could expect to get two players like this at the top of the draft."
BEST PICK: Marcus Spears: Although the Cowboys picked Ware first, they viewed Spears as the most crucial pick because he gives the flexibility to use the 4-3 or the 3-4 defense. He also has the size Parcells covets.
COULD SURPRISE: Chris Canty: Missed much of last season because of a knee injury and then compounded that with a eye injury in a bar fight. As a result there is a question of whether he will be ready to play next season. But no one questions Canty's abilities as a prospect. The Cowboys think he can be as good or better than Spears.
A closer look at the Cowboys' picks:
Round 1/11 -- Demarcus Ware, DE, 6-4, 247, Troy State
Expected to compete for starting job at linebacker if the Cowboys move to a 3-4 defense. Projects as a nickel pass rusher in the 4-3. Reminds Parcells of Lawrence Taylor and Willie McGinest.
Round 1/20 -- Marcus Spears, DE, 6-4, 298, Louisiana State
Likely starter at defensive end opposite Greg Ellis in both the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. He possesses the powerful size and strength Bill Parcells covets in defensive linemen.
Round 2/42 -- Kevin Burnett, OLB, 6-3, 237, Tennessee
Good size, speed and power. Solid tackler and effective playmaker in blitzing situations. Could compete for a starting job in the 3-4 or the 4-3.
Round 4/109 -- Marion Barber, RB, 5-11, 221, Minnesota
Was very productive in college and catch the ball. Has the size to provide a nice change of pace with Julius Jones.
Round 4/132 -- Chris Canty, DE, 6-7, 286, Virginia
Would have gone higher if not for injury concerns. Is a prototypical 3-4 end. Cowboys think they got a steal. Also played for Parcells friend Al Groh in college.
Round 6/208 -- Justin Beriault, FS, 6-2, 199, Ball State
A hard hitting safety who the Cowboys hope will address a huge need at free safety next to Roy Williams. Should at least be factor on special teams as a rookie.
Round 6/209 -- Rob Petitti, OT, 6-6, 347, Pittsburgh
Needs to lose a little weight and the Cowboys will quickly put him in touch with the strength coach. The Cowboys hope he can develop enough to get into the mix at right tackle.
Round 7/224 -- Jeremiah Ratliff, DE, 6-3, 293, Auburn
Is considered an ideal 3-4 end, though he is still a little raw. The started his college career as a tight end before moving to defense.
NEW YORK GIANTS
The Giants kept their word, exhibited great restraint and did not try to move up into the first round of the draft or even add more than the four draft picks they were left with after last year's trading frenzy.
They did not have a first round pick, nor a fifth or seventh; the first and fifth represented final payment for the Draft Day-2004 swap with San Diego that brought QB Eli Manning, the first overall pick last year, to their roster. The seventh was sent to Tampa Bay shortly before the 2004 season started in return for the right to reacquire guard/tackle Jason Whittle, who will most likely be a valued reserve this year but started last year.
"No, I never had any regrets," GM Ernie Accorsi said. "I watched the draft proceed this year and never once lusted for one of those higher picks. We got the player we wanted. You know, there are two kinds of teams in this league, the kind who have a quarterback they like and the kind who are still looking for one. I know where we are, and it's comforting."
So the Giants, still labeled a "work in progress" by the unrelentingly tough head coach Tom Coughlin, took a cornerback in the second round. He is Corey Webster who played at LSU, and played there for Nick Saban, now the Miami head coach and for 20 years one of Accorsi's best friends.
"We had set him aside when we started to study the second round," Accorsi said, "because we had him figured to go in the first round."
The remaining picks were DE Justin Tuck of Notre Dame in the third; RB Brandon Jacobs of Southern Illinois in the fourth; and defensive end Eric Moore of Florida State in the sixth.
"The key when you have only four picks," Accorsi said, "is to be extra careful and make sure of what you're doing. But we took care of the lack of picks, I think, with the work we did during the free agent period. We signed three young veterans, all in their 20s, who would have been first round picks this year."
He referred to WR Plaxico Burress (Pittsburgh), ORT Kareem McKenzie (NY Jets) and MLB Antonio Pierce (Washington). All three are virtually guaranteed to start this season as the Giants attempt to continue improving from their last two years (4-12 and 6-10).
DRAFT REVIEW -- The Giants made the most of a few picks (four) and may have stumbled on a keeper with CB Corey Webster, their second round pick and the 43rd overall.
"When I left his pro workout at the school (LSU)," said Giants director of personnel Jerry Reese, "I kind of like had my head down. I figured what I saw was so impressive that he'd never get out of the first round and that as a result we would not have a chance to get him."
Not so. The run on CBs didn't go as far as to include an injured LSU starter, but Accorsi's close relationship with Saban was utilized and all the necessary assurances were given.
So they took him, and now he is being penciled in as a nickel back, outside corner (to cover the split end and not the flanker) and a potential starter a year or two down the road. That could be sooner, if persistent rumors that starter Will Allen is still going to be traded are legitimate.
Tuck was thought of as a 'tweener, somewhat smaller for a pass-rushing DE and a little too heavy for a SLB. "I'm going to be a defensive end," he said. "I was told that. I think it's a great honor to get the chance to learn from one of the best defensive ends who ever played this game."
He was referring to 33-year-old Michael Strahan, a six-time Pro Bowl veteran who is attempting to come back from a torn pectoral muscle (as well as a bitter, distracting divorce).
Jacobs, Accorsi insists, was not drafted as a fullback or a blocking tight end despite his 6-3, 267-pound stature, and argued that he is not going to be merely a "third and one" back, either.
He gained almost 1,000 yards and scored 19 touchdowns last season," he said. "He is a running back and that's how he was drafted."
The sixth round pick, Moore, is intended to fill another hole and he has a chance to surprise.
Overall, with only four picks, the Giants drafted intelligently.
BEST PICK: While CB was not an overwhelmingly urgent need, the addition of Webster, 6-0 and 198, should improve the secondary, the special teams and the nickel packages. His toughness was never in question. He played most of his senior season with various injuries, including a persistent hamstring pull, a dropped foot injury and bruised ribs. He earned his coach's respect (Saban) by playing through it all, and that was one of the factors addressed by Coughlin in his post-draft comments. "He proved he was tough and dedicated," he said, "and when he got healthy, we saw how good he could be. This kid has a great deal of upside."
COULD SURPRISE: Jacobs might just have enough steam in his engine to run the ball consistently. He has more than enough bulk, and if he can get the crucial third-and-two and third-and-one yardage, he'll have a valued role in the team's offense. Having once played at Auburn, as the first replacement for Ronnie Brown and Cadillac Williams, he is not without talent; in fact, he transferred to Southern Illinois in order to gain playing time.
A closer look at the Giants' picks:
2/43 -- Corey Webster, CB, 6-0, 198, LSU.
The Giants had given up on him as a certain first round pick, but early season (2004) injuries seemed to push him down slightly and he became available. If healthy, he's a steal.
3/74 -- Justin Tuck, DE, 6-5, 265, Notre Dame.
Some scouts say he will have to gain weight to play DE or lose weight to play OLB. The Giants say his speed and quickness as an edge rusher make him attractive.
4/110 -- Brandon Jacobs, RB, 6-3, 267, Southern Illinois.
Once played behind Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams at Auburn, transferred to gain more playing time. Giant scouts say he can play as a fulltime halfback and is not being thought of as a TE or a FB.
6/186 - Eric Moore, DE, 6-4, 265, Florida State.
There was some durability questions about Moore, who in 2000 was voted one of the top five LB prospects graduating from Florida high schools. Had 14.5 sacks in his career with the Seminoles. Timed in 4.72 for the 40.
With their 11 selections in this past weekend's draft, the Eagles, much to the chagrin of their NFC rivals, may have managed to build a bridge to the future that will keep them in the Super Bowl hunt indefinitely.
The Eagles, who have made four straight NFC Championship Game appearances, came away with six of the first 126 picks in the draft and seemingly fortified a team that has won a league-best 59 regular-season games over the last five seasons.
They attacked their offseason contract dilemmas with defensive tackles Corey Simon and Hollis Thomas, wide receiver Terrell Owens and running back Brian Westbrook head on. With Simon still not having signed his $5.1 million franchise-player tender offer and Thomas accusing the Eagles of reneging on a promise to re-do his contract, coach Andy Reid and his player personnel chief Tom Heckert, selected USC defensive tackle Mike Patterson with their first-round pick.
With Terrell Owens wanting his seven-year, $46.18 million deal redone after just one season, the Eagles used the first of two second-round picks on Georgia wide receiver Reggie Brown. With restricted free agent Westbrook still not having signed his tender offer, the Eagles grabbed Westbrook-clone Ryan Moats of Louisiana Tech with 77th overall pick.
The Eagles fully expect Simon, Thomas, Owens and Westbrook to play this season because, well ... because they don't have any choice. But their draft decisions over the weekend made it clear that they're planning for their eventual departures.
"People can read into it all they want," said Reid. "What we tried to do was take the best football players we could possibly get. We stayed very disciplined with it. We had the players ranked up there a certain way and we felt very good about these two young men being there."
Patterson is only 5-11, but is a very similar type player to Simon. Both have huge bases and impressive first-step quickness. The Eagles expect him to compete for a spot in their four-man DT rotation next season with Simon, Thomas, Darwin Walker, Sam Rayburn and Paul Grasmanis.
"I've always talked about being able to throw fastballs at the offense. I think we can do that with (Patterson's) addition. He'll work into the rotation and I think he'll do a heck of a job."
The Eagles already are bracing for a training camp holdout by Owens. They don't expect him to be at their post-draft minicamp next week. Former No. 1 pick Freddie Mitchell, who was the team's third receiver last year behind Owens and Todd Pinkston, is expected to be released or traded any minute now.
In the 6-1, 196 pound Brown, the Eagles feel they have a guy capable of playing all three of the wide receiver positions in their offense. With his 4.46 speed and 4 1/2 inch leaping ability, they think he can make an immediate impact on their offense, with or without Owens.
"Reggie is very intelligent, and throughout his career he's played all of the positions," Reid said. "I think he can be good at inside slot because of his body size. I think you're going to see a real quick football player, a guy that can really change directions fast. That gives him an opportunity to play inside and out."
BEST PICK: WR Reggie Brown. The Eagles used the early-second round pick they got from Miami last year for quarterback A.J. Feeley (35th overall) to take Brown. The Eagles have not had a lot of success drafting wide receivers under Andy Reid, but Brown appears to be the real thing and capable of making an immediate impact.
COULD SURPRISE: G Scott Young. Young, a fifth-rounder, wowed scouts at the combine when he did 43 reps in the 225-pound bench press. He's a former defensive lineman who only played offense one full year at BYU. He's got a great upside.
A closer look at the Eagles' picks:
Round 1/31 -- Mike Patterson, DT, 5-11, 292, Southern Cal
Patterson was a three-year starters at USC. Nicknamed "Baby Sapp" because his aggressive style and quickness of the ball remind people of Raiders DT Warren Sapp. Had 21 1/2 sacks and 46 tackles for losses at USC. Eagles expect him to be part of their four-man tackle rotation this season.
Round 2/35 -- Reggie Brown, WR, 6-1, 197, Georgia
Has the size, speed and intelligence to play all three wideouts positions in the Eagles' offense. Ran a 4.46 forty and recorded a 41 1/2-inch vertical leap in his pre-draft
workouts. Had a career-high 53 catches and averaged 16.2 yards per reception last year at Georgia. With slot receiver Freddie Mitchell expected to be traded or released and Terrell Owens threatening to hold out, Brown could get a lot of rookie playing time.
Round 2/63 -- Matt McCoy, OLB, 6-0, 240, San Diego St.
Undersized junior whose draft stock shot up when he ran a sub-4.6 forty in his pre-draft workout. A two-year starter at weak-side linebacker at San Diego State, the Eagles think he can replace departed special teams captain and nickel linebacker Ike Reese. Has solid cover skills. Broke his wrist and tore thumb ligaments last season, but has completely recovered.
Round 3/77 -- Ryan Moats, RB, 5-8, 210, Louisiana Tech
Was named the Western Athletic Conference offensive player of the year after rushing for a school-record 1,744 yards on 288 carries last season. Only caught 15 passes last year, but Eagles feel he has good hands and can handle the pass-catching responsibilities that go with being a running back in their offense.
Round 4/102 -- Sean Considine, FS, 6-0, 206, Iowa
J.R. Reed's possible career-ending leg injury made finding an eventual heir apparent to 32-year-old All-Pro FS Brian Dawkins a priority in this draft, and the Eagles think Considine has the talent to be that guy. He's an intelligent player who seldom blows an assignment. Doesn't have great speed, but uses his smarts to compensate for that. Excellent run defender. Should be able to contribute on special teams right away.
Rd. 4/126 -- Todd Herremans, OT, 6-6, 321, Saginaw Valley State
Herremans played on both the left and right side at Saginaw Valley, but was a left tackle his senior year. His team was 39-9 in his four seasons there. Allowed just two sacks as a senior. Has the frame to easily put on another 15-20 pounds. The NFL is a big jump up from the competition he's faced the last four years, but the Eagles like his potential.
Rd. 5/146 -- Trent Coles, OLB, 6-2, 251, Cincinnati
A three-year starter for the Bearcats, his nickname was "Scrap Iron." Was primarily a DE at Cincy. Had 8.5 sacks in '04 and finished his career with 19, the third most in school history. Coles would seem better suited to be an outside linebacker in a 3-4, so it will be interesting to see how the Eagles use him. They likely will start him out as a SAM (strong-side) linebacker.
Rd. 5/172 -- Scott Young, G, 6-4, 312, Brigham Young
Young made his mark at the league scouting combine in February when he benched 225 pounds 43 times. He was a former defensive lineman who switched to offense in '03 and has played just one full year on the offensive side of the ball. At 312 pounds, he's a little undersized for a guy, but very powerful. Eagles also might give him a look-see at center.
Rd. 6/211 -- Calvin Armstrong, OT, 6-7, 325 pounds, Washington State
A four-year starter at Washington State. Played primarily on the left side there. Can get bigger and will need to get stronger. Smart player who was a pre-med major in college.
Rd. 7/252 -- David Bergeron, ILB, 6-4, 245, Stanford
Was a three-year starter at Stanford. Moved to the middle last year after two years outside. Very intelligent player, who could end up being a practice squad player for the Eagles next season.
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