FRISCO - Jerry Jones and Moby Dick. The death of a member of the Dallas Cowboys extended family. A new Cowboy who was once a refugee 7,000 miles away. A reluctant "MVP.''
The 2020 NFL Draft is in the books, and wow, do the Dallas Cowboys have some tales to tell about what the team's owner is suggesting might be his best draft in 31 years. His haul:
Pick 17: CeeDee Lamb, receiver, Oklahoma
Pick 51: Trevon Diggs, cornerback, Alabama
Pick 82: Neville Gallimore, defensive tackle, Oklahoma
Pick 123: Reggie Robinson II, cornerback, Tulsa
Pick 146: Tyler Biadasz, center, Wisconsin
Pick 179: Bradlee Anae, defensive end, Utah
Pick 231: Ben DiNucci, quarterback, James Madison
Who are the Cowboys' best and worst picks? Who is the best story? Who is the sleeper? What is the funniest story? The saddest?
Here, The Top 10 Steals, Shockers And Storylines of the Cowboys 20202 NFL Draft:
1) Best Pick: "Stick to the Board with CeeDee''? It's easy to say. History says it's harder to do. But when the No. 6 player on Will McClay's in-house Big Board is still available at slot No. 17 in Round 1?
You pick Oklahoma receiver CeeDee Lamb. (Who is marveling at being a Cowboy.) And if you don't do so (as Dallas and every other team has failed to do on occasion)? What was even the point of building a Big Board in the first place?
The Cowboys did the same thing in Round 2 with Alabama cornerback Trevon Diggs, getting at 51 a player who they view as a top-20 prospect. (See "Diggs in his own words'' here.) They claim to have done the same in choosing Oklahoma defensive tackle Neville Gallimore in Round 3, saying they considered him at 51.
Maybe a little of this is hype. (Jerry swears that the Round 4 choice of Tulsa DB Reggie "In Your Face'' Robinson II was the easiest choice of them all.) But sticking to the board to take the sixth-best player in the draft at 17? That's brilliant. And a bit "serendipitous,'' too, as Jerry Jones would admit.
2) Worst Pick: Not that Tyler Biadasz might not someday grow up to be Travis Frederick; the new Wisconsin center (pronounced "Bee-AH-Dish'') possesses many of the same positive traits as his now-retired Wisconsin predecessor. Basically, Tyler wants to grow up to be Travis.
But did Dallas really need to trade up into Round 4 (using a 2021 fifth-rounder) for a center when the post-Frederick roster already boasts a trio of interior guys bidding for two jobs, including solid vet Joe Looney and two recent draftees who carried second-round grades in Connor Williams and Connor McGovern? And if Dallas ends up a body short somehow, isn't unsigned free-agent vet guard Ron Leary a better option than all four of these guys?
Maybe the new kid takes over right away and everybody looks like a genius. But the Cowboys also want floated out there the logic that in the 2021 they figure to have a bunch of extra mid-round picks (as compensation for the losses of Randall Cobb, Maliek Collins, Byron Jones and Robert Quinn. I hate that logic. There is no such thing as "extra picks.'' They're all just "picks'' - and they're valuable.
Hopefully, so is Biadasz.
3) Sleeper Pick: QB Ben DiNucci. If you are going to throw a late-round dart as a prospect - because once we get to, say, the seventh round, it is a dart throw, right? - that dart might as well be aimed at a quarterback.
It so happens that new coach Mike McCarthy has a personal relationship with DiNucci; he's worked with the uncle of his college coach, they bumped into each other in an Omni at The Star elevator (DiNucci was here to play for James Madison in a title game) and they're both Pittsburgh guys.
"His brother was my eighth-grade basketball coach,'' DiNucci said. "It's just crazy to see this thing come full-circle.''
That's nice. And McCarthy is a "QB guy'' who came to power in a Green Bay program famous for always dart-throwing at QBs. (By the way, the Biadasz pick was also fairly McCarthy-driven.)
But .. is Ben D better than Cooper Rush? No idea. Is he better than Clayton Thorson? No idea.
But ... Is a seventh-round QB a better "sleeper'' candidate than a seventh-round guard or a fifth-round safety? Always. Because if the dart hits the bullseye on a QB, it really hits.
“He’s very accurate,” McCarthy said. “He reminds me of a young Marc Bulger.”
Where is former NFL QB Marc Bulger from? Pittsburgh, of course.
4) Funniest Story: "Home Alone.'' The national and local media really, truly ran on Thursday's Day 1 of the NFL Draft with the belief that owner Jerry Jones would be "Home Alone'' and drafting by himself, unilaterally, "lone-wolfing it.''
What they somehow do not realize, even after 31 years of the Jerry Era: He's never, ever drafted unilaterally. And while he's the "final voice'' still, it's been almost a decade since he was even close to being the central personnel decision-maker.
It took some people three days to realize that Jerry was not only not "alone,'' but was also not "home.'' Nor was Stephen, by the way. COO Stephen retreated to a family getaway lake house. Jerry and daughter Charlotte did their work aboard the family's $250 million yacht, which floated about between the Florida Coast and the Bahamas.
“This situation may bring out the best in me,” Jones joked. “Old Moby Dick out there ... It just clears your head.”
Too bad the heads of too many people who claim to cover the Cowboys lack such clarity.
5) Saddest Story: The Thursday morning death of Jace Prescott, 31, one of Dak's two older brothers, cast a pall over the proceedings. (Full story here.) Dak will now be asked to compartmentalize this as he did in 2013, when as a teenager the Prescott family lost their mom, Peggy, after a battle with colon cancer.
Dak is surely excited about the draft. Is surely occupied with thoughts of his contract negotiations. And is surely mourning the death of Jace.
"Compartmentalizing'' might be the only way to muster through a bittersweet time like this.
6) Greatest Story: Pass-rusher Azur Kamara is listed as "being from Kansas.'' But he's actually from Africa, part of a refugee family that fled its homeland to come to the United States.
He might not be the top EDGE rusher coming to town; draftee Bradlee Anae, who is trying to mimic Tank Lawrence, would be that guy.
But Kamara? He had never played football until he arrived in Arizona, just in time to try the game as a high-schooler. Now he's a Cowboy via UDFA.
Can he play? Maybe, in time. Is he a story? Definitely. The best.
7) Slowest Pick: We mean this in more ways than one. After the trade for Pick 146 (Biadasz), the Cowboys had a lengthy wait until their next selection, Pick 179, at the end of Round 5.
The clock ticked slowwwwly. My colleagues on 105.3 The Fan spent what seemed like over an hour predicting that when Dallas finally got back on the clock the pick would be Bradlee Anae, the defensive end from Utah. They nailed it.
But if he's such a fine prospect, why the long wait?
“I didn’t run the time I wanted to (at the NFL Scouting Combine)'' Anae said of his 4.93-second 40 time. "I think it contributed a lot to this wait.''
8) Biggest Reality Check: McCarthy said over the weekend that the Cowboys are preparing multiple plans for training camp - one of which includes not traveling to Oxnard at all.
And on Sunday night a source suggested to us that a betting man might want to predict that the Cowboys hold training camp at home at The Star in Frisco ... assuming there is any training camp at all.
9) Biggest Loser: Rod Marinelli. He's not even here anymore, but the former defensive assistant is being made the scapegoat for everything that ever went wrong with previous drafts.
The truth? The Joneses and McClay like input from the coaching staff. But when it caused the franchise to veer off its Big Board - constructed after the scouting department's 18 months of work - because an assistant coach "discovered'' something in 18 hours of work?
Yeah, that was a problem.
What changed this time?
As one team source tells me, "This was a scouts' draft.''
In large part, the shelter-at-home nature of the Cowboys' gatherings prevented most "pounding on the table'' for prospects who didn't fit the board. It wasn't just Marinelli (now with the Raiders) who couldn't intercede; in a streamlined process like this one had to be - "Seamless,' Stephen called it - the thought process needed to be clear. And it was, because ...
10) Biggest Winner: "He,'' said Stephen Jones of personnel boss Will McClay, "is the MVP.''
“He was ready to roll,'' Jones said. "I think Will, with his leadership with our scouting staff, was off the charts.''
McClay didn't do this alone, obviously. But the people around him let him lead. And where Will McClay' leadership of the 2020 Dallas Cowboys NFL Draft take this team?
To a place where Jerry Jones believes "his best draft class ever'' successfully proves it on the football field.