Kiper’s Cowboys Grade Vs. Fish’s ‘Grading The Plan’

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FRISCO (105.3 THE FAN) – Are we still paying attention to Mel Kiper Jr.?

ESPN’s Kiper is, of course, among the original media draftniks, and deserves respect for having carved himself such a wide and successful niche. But I decided 25 years ago that my approach to the NFL Draft was to attempt to learn the pre-Draft plans of a team (the Dallas Cowboys) and then to grade them on the execution of their plan.

To do it any other way is to pretend that I know more about how to scout talent and assemble a football team than does Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, Jason Garrett, Will McClay and their staffs.

Dallas’ plan was to let the draft fall to them, in a way in which they could take a top-rated pass-rusher at 28 and a cornerback at 60, in a way in which most of their picks would be on the defensive side of the ball, in a way in which they’d have multiple “darts’’ to throw in such a deep draft.

I say they accomplished all of that. That doesn’t mean Taco Charlton (that first-round pass-rusher at 28) will be better than T.J. Watt (who they passed on, believing he’s more of an outside linebacker); it just means that for the most part, they stuck with their board and stuck with their plan.

Thus, I give them an “A’’ for execution.

Kiper? He gives the Cowboys a “B-minus.’’

His reasoning:

“I thought they missed an opportunity at pick No. 28 to get a first-round talent — Kevin King and Budda Baker were still on the board — and instead chose Taco Charlton, a 6-foot-6, 277-pound defensive end who is a much better run defender than pass-rusher. Yes, Dallas needed an end after DeMarcus Lawrence underwhelmed last season and Randy Gregory was suspended for at least the 2017 season, but a premier pass-rusher made more sense. I don’t think that’s Charlton, who is No. 46 on my board.

“Dallas’ Day 2 was much better. Chidobe Awuzie, the best tackling corner in this draft, and Jourdan Lewis, likely a slot corner, will play early and often. Lewis is facing misdemeanor domestic violence charges, however. Ryan Switzer wasn’t in my top 300, but I can see why teams like him. … I do wonder how Dallas will get both him and Cole Beasley on the field together. Noah Brown was much higher on my board (168) than where he went (239).

“Without many picks, the Cowboys got some value after Round 1, but the Charlton pick is a bit of a head-scratcher. Seven of nine picks on defense show that Dallas knows it has to improve there to be a true Super Bowl contender.’’

Kiper isn’t automatically wrong here; as always, the question is, do the TV draftniks (or even our 105.3 The Fan aces Broaddus, Brugler, Cavanaugh and Turner) know more than McClay’s scouting department and Garrett’s coaching staff?

It’s a 10-year examination that is about to unfold, and too early to judge the players.

But I can judge the plan. And the plan gets an “A.’’

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