Posted: 11:00 a.m. Thursday, May 2, 2013
By Tom Ryle
Jerry and Stephen Jones have spoken extensively about the rationale behind the trade the Dallas Cowboys made with the San Francisco 49ers during the first round of the NFL draft. Director of scouting Tom Ciskowski and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin added their perspectives. Now in an article in the Ft Worth Star Telegram, Clarence Hill provides insight into what the rest of the scouting staff thought of the trade.
Basically, they were very unhappy about how it all went down.
This is not to say they were displeased with getting Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams with the picks obtained from San Francisco. On the contrary, they felt these were very good picks for the Cowboys. What they are displeased about were the two things that most of the readers here have been less than thrilled over: The process of arriving at the decision to forego drafting someone at 18, and the value the Cowboys received in the trade.
Hill provides some new detail. Going into the draft, Dallas had three primary targets they were hoping to get at 18, which match up with what many fans were saying: Guards Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper, and safety Kenny Vaccaro. Further, Jerry Jones was committed to upgrading the offensive line or safety at that draft position, or trading back. Defensive line was simply not part of Jones' thinking. The scouts wanted to go pure BPA, and felt the high grade they had on Floyd (quoted here as "top 10", which would not conflict with the # 7 position cited elsewhere) more than justified taking him. And according to this account, the coaches had a similar viewpoint to Jerry, so the split was actually more down the middle of the war room. And the scouts got outvoted.
That puts things in a bit of a different light. Since the article specifically says "coaches", it would certainly indicate that Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli had input. It is possible (just to speculate) that Garrett was inclined to go with the scouts, but Kiffin and Marinelli were in step with Jerry. But regardless where each individual stood, the information presented by Hill is that the scouts wanted Floyd because he was so high on the board, the coaches were not sold on his fit in Kiffin's 4-3 (possibly because of his low sack total in college since Kiffin is all about pressure on the quarterback all the time), and Jones did not want anyone except offensive line or safeties. With no players fitting Jones' desired profile, the trade option was selected. The scouts lost out in a three way disagreement where they got outnumbered, and they felt that the team erred in deviating from the board at that point.
Although the Cowboys wound up taking Frederick at 31, he was not the target when they made the trade. They wanted to take guard Justin Pugh, but saw that plan shatter when the New York Giants grabbed him at 19. In 2013, the glamour jobs in the NFL draft were offensive linemen. They were all going high, and as the first round progressed, they were climbing rapidly. With Pugh, in the Cowboys' mind, being taken twelve positions earlier than they expected, Frederick became a much more logical pick at 31. There was little to no chance he was going to make it to 47, and with no viable safeties at that point, it was the best move left. And by that point, there was agreement on the choice.
The decision to forego Floyd was a case of the scouts getting outvoted, but the results of the trade were seen by the scouts as just a bad deal for the Cowboys. They clearly are not buying the "updated trade value chart" argument. The staff had looked at making a trade down prior to the draft, and the 49ers were an obvious target. In that scenario, the trade should have netted a second and a third from the 49ers (remember, they had multiple picks). But neither Jerry or Stephen Jones were involved in the scenario, and apparently were not aware of the conclusions the staff had reached.
In this situation, the mock draft the staff ran had about as much relevance as all the mocks we do around here. That looks like a serious breakdown. Jerry and Stephen may not put much faith in these exercises. They may just think they can do a better job on their own (very questionable at this point, I'd say). Or, and I do think this is most likely, there was a breakdown in communications prior to draft day. The value of the move from 18 to 31 does not seem to have been discussed with the Jones family by the people who were convinced it was worth more than just an additional third round pick. Who is right is hard to say, because there are some trade value charts, such as the one developed at Harvard University, that agree with Stephen Jones' assertion that the Cowboys came out ahead, but this is the kind of thing that should have been hashed out before the draft actually started. It is the kind of thing you want to work out calmly over a decent amount of time, not with that ten minute timer running. There is no doubt everyone but JJ and SJ felt the Cowboys should have gotten more, and that the 'niners clearly had their way with them.
It is a bit distressing to see this kind of discord on draft day. But when the team went on the clock at 31, they had a much better, more universally agreed on plan. And the picks had a coherent strategy to them and really got better looking, value wise, the deeper the draft went. The Williams pick in the third and especially the Joseph Randle selection in the fifth were very good.
The staff had some issues, and the scouts clearly did not feel good about how things were handled in trading down. That is clear, and hopefully this will answer some of the lingering questions about the what happened.