Whitt’s End: 4.27.12
Whether you’ve reached the end of your rope or merely the end of your week, welcome to Whitt’s End:
*So how is it that the Cowboys were so confident in trading up to pick a player – Morris Claiborne – in which they’d not spoken a word to before the draft? Remember, LSU head coach Les Miles once coached the tight ends at Valley Ranch.
*As we’ve been saying for a couple week it’s Mavs-Thunder in the NBA Playoffs. Simple. It’s Dallas’ acumen vs. Oklahoma City’s athleticism. In last spring’s Western Conference Finals the Mavs prevailed in 5 games. Nobody giving the defending champs a chance. Same folks probably picked Portland over Dallas in the first round in 2011.
*Claiborne scored a 4 out of 50 on his Wonderlic Test. You can believe 1 of 2 stories. 1 is that he has a learning disability. 2 is his version, which is that since none of the questions were about football he “blew the test off,” answering only 18 of the 50 questions. Either way, the Cowboys didn’t consider it an issue. Neither should you.
*If the Mavs are going to upset the Thunder, Jason Terry has to at least play OKC 6th man James Harden to a draw. As for Russell Westbrook, look for Delonte West and Roddy Beaubois to chase him early, but Jason Kidd to get in his jock at crunch time. Oh, and at least once in this series a game will be decided on a crunch-time jumper by former Laker Derek Fisher. Book it.
*Claiborne will wear No. 24. Pretty good history with that number for Cowboys’ corners, huh Everson Walls and Larry Brown?
*Failure Jesus has only, well, failed me one time. Once evoked, he worked his powers of losing on the unfortunate noggins of Tiger Woods, Terrell Owens, Brett Favre, Dwyane Wade, Alex Rodriguez, the Milwaukee Brewers and Tim Tebow. Only when the Cardinals wiggled off the World Series hook against the Rangers did he let us down. Today, after a long respite, I invoke him on … Russell Westbrook. The Thunder point guard is fantastic. He’s athletic. He’s also easy to hate. The scowl. The irrational selfishness. He plays the game for him, not his team. If he has a horrible series and suffers a couple of crunch-time mental lapses, the Mavs have a chance to beat OKC. So, FJ, work your magic. Amen.
*So was the Mavs’ 36-30 regular season dawdling foreplay or a precursor of a flawed team about to make a premature evacuation? We’re about to find out.
*Folks looking at the Cowboys’ bold trade up to get Claiborne two ways this morning: 1. Too much. Could have stayed at 14, taken Alabama corner Dre Kirkpatrick and still had a 2nd-round pick today; 2. Bargain. Some NFL trade charts suggested the moving price from 14 to 6 should have been a 2nd and a 4th-round pick. In other words, thank you Rams’ COO Kevin Demoff.
*You might be alarmed by the Mavs going 2-9 in their final 11 games against playoff teams. But, then again, they had the same exact record against their last 11 playoff teams in 2011. So there.
*Is it just me or did eye-itchin’ allergy season just kick it in to high gear? Claritin, you are my newest best friend.
*Mildly concerned about the cast on Claiborne’s left wrist. He had surgery after the Combine and won’t be ready for football contact until training camp in July. He’s no Bruce Carter, but still … Consider Claiborne a $250,000 Ferrari with a frayed windshield wiper. Not perfect, but certainly fixable.
*The NFL’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement has quite the impact: Two years ago OU’s Sam Bradford, the first overall pick in the 2010 draft, got a six-year deal worth about $78 million, $50 million guaranteed. Andrew Luck will probably receive a four-year deal for $22 million.
*Don’t wanna forget the red-hot Rangers. Elvis Andrus is the only MLB shortstop without an error and on April 27 reliever Robbie Ross has as many wins as Albert Pujols has RBI. 4. Truth.
*Poor Dave Campo. He gets let go by Cowboys and immediately Dallas acquires stud corners Brandon Carr and Claiborne. Suddenly, new secondary coach Jerome Henderson will be the savior. Right?
*Props to the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. Once upon a time he scored 62 points in three quarters against the Mavericks, and then volunteered to sit out the fourth in a blowout win. Last night he passed on trying to score 38 points and win a scoring title in a meaningless season finale. Call him a lot of things, but selfish ain’t one of them.
*What was the deal with the extended hugs and jivey handshakes by NFL commish Roger Goodell? And did fans at Radio City Music Hall really fill Goodell’s pauses with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s “Whaaaaat?!” Crazy.
*Sorry, but I don’t think the arrival of Claiborne is necessarily a death warrant for Mike Jenkins. Claiborne played some slot at LSU. And when facing Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III, can the Cowboys really have too many cornerbacks? If Dallas does shop Jenkins, don’t get your hopes up. The Eagles only got a 7th-rounder for Asante Samuel.
*If Claiborne is as good as Patrick Peterson, it’s a steal.
*The Cowboys had Claiborne graded higher than any NFL cornerback since Deion Sanders (who went 5th to the Falcons in 1989). And since he was No. 2 on their draft board behind only Andrew Luck, Dallas thinks he’s a better player than RGIII.
*Rob Ryan is the happiest man in Dallas. His aggressive defense is predicated on physical, man-to-man jam coverage by his cornerbacks. And with Carr and Claiborne, now he now has the players to play it.
*Prediction about the bawling 3-year-old who didn’t get the baseball tossed into the stands by the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland the other night: He also bawls when he doesn’t get nachos, or other kids’ toys, or a Happy Meal at McDonald’s or whenever he wants what he wants when he wants it. See, 3-year-olds want everything in their sight. Life is tough. It ain’t fair. The sooner that spoiled brat learns that lesson the better. But let me guess, he’ll grow up to be a kid who gets a participation trophy for merely showing up to Saturday morning soccer games. And if you’re fortunate enough to get a ball at a game, it’s yours. No obligation to do anything with it other than whatever you damn well please to do with it. The end.
*Best of all, the arrival of Carr-Claiborne means goodbye to Terence Newman, Frank Walker, Abe Elam and, yes, Alan Ball.
*Stanford ready-to-wear offensive lineman David DeCastro fell all the way to the Steelers at 24. Maybe best value of any first-round pick.
*In case you’re confused as to why Cowboys’ fans are giddy today: The last three seasons Dallas’ pass defense has ranked 20th, 26th and 23rd.
*The Cowboys have had only three coaches and two quarterbacks to win Super Bowls. But they’ve also had only two left tackles – Ralph Neely and Mark Tuinei.
*Jerry Jones calls Claiborne the “most consensus pick we’ve ever had in our war room.” Remember, there were a lot of voices at Valley Ranch in Dallas in 1989 who wanted the Cowboys to choose Tony Mandarich over Troy Aikman.
*Tyson Chandler, you are missed. And I say that even before Thunder center Serge Ibaka swats his first shot tomorrow night in OKC. By the way, Thunder went 26-7 in Chesapeake Arena, including 2-0 vs. Dallas.
*Names to remember for Cowboys’ fans in Rounds 3-4: Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin, North Carolina outside linebacker Zach Brown and Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford.
*This weekend? Today we’re at Valley Ranch for Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Saturday we’ll make it to Oklahoma City for Mavs-Thunder Game 1. Love this time of year. Don’t be a stranger.
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