The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on April 25, 2001.
As the professional football establishment shakes it head in collective amazement over the Dallas Cowboys latest bizarre draft, we are all left to ponder the only relevant question surrounding the selection of Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter with the Cowboys first pick.
Is Dallas owner/general manager/head coach Jerry Jones such a shrewd evaluator of talent that he spotted something in Carter none of the NFL’s other personnel people did? Well, none of them with the possible exception of Al Davis and the also quarterback-needy Oakland Raiders.
Only time, of course, will tell if Jones blundered as badly as it would appear that he did. In the meantime, however, old Jethro has enhanced the state and national perception that his chances of rebuilding the Cowboys are roughly the equivalent of Monica Lewinsky landing a job in the Bush White House.
Jones, with a team desperate for defensive help, is not only being panned for taking Carter at least a round and possibly two rounds higher than need be, but for the maneuvering which went into it. Dallas first traded down from the 37th pick to No. 52, then traded down again to 56.
But, after the 51st pick was made, Jones gave up two choices to get up to No. 52 and select Carter.
The rather lame explanation for the goofy tactics was that Jones feared the Raiders were going to grab Carter in the second round. According to anonymous sources, one of Jones’ spies spotted a Raiders scout watching tape of Carter behind a grassy knoll near the Texas School Book Depository.
He supposedly phoned in the report just after Jones traded down.
Jethro’s rationale was a real knee slapper. “The way to get to the Super Bowl is to go for it,” he informed. “Carter is only a risk when you consider how he was rated by other people. You don’t get to the Super Bowl without taking chances.”
Others might say bad teams which gamble in the draft, instead of going for sure things, have better odds of taking up permanent occupancy in the toilet bowl.
Jones certainly got not slack from those whose job it is to review the draft. From the Dallas Morning News to USA Today, from highly regarded draft expert Mel Kiper to the Houston Chronicle’s well informed NFL writer John McClain, the Cowboys draft was rated as the league’s worst.
Kiper and USA Today gave Dallas a D minus grade, while the Morning News and Chronicle were more lenient. They each opted for a D. But it was the comments that were most revealing. Forthwith a sampling.
John McClain, Houston Chronicle: “The most asked question around the NFL today is what were the Cowboys thinking? Then, again, you don’t have to look beyond their post-Jimmy Johnson drafts to find out the answer.”
Mel Kiper, ESPN: “I have major problems with the Cowboys draft and was critical of them on both days. I thought QB Quincy Carter, whom them took in the second round, was at best a fifth-round pick.”
Randy Galloway, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “The football world is laughing again. Jerry Jones outdid even himself with his second-round antics on Saturday that ultimately produced George quarterback Quincy Carter as the team’s first selection. And then Carter was also surprisingly introduced by Jones as the quarterback to lead the Cardinals back to Super Bowl glory.
“Easy, Jerry. Muzzle yourself immediately.”
Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News: “Someone please place a moratorium on trading down at Valley Ranch. Jerry Jones twice traded out of choice defensive slots in the second round and became obsessed with Quincy Carter. He went a round too early, and Willie Blade, Dallas’ third-round pick, might have gone two rounds too early.”
Larry Weisman, USA Today: “The Cowboys traded down twice and then back up to take QB Quincy Carter in the second round. This Texas three-step would be dazzling if it occurred in the fifth round, where Carter figured to go. In round two? Knock, knock. Anybody home? Safety Tony Dixon is another in a collection of ‘iffy’ DBs. Dallas needed big-time help at defensive tackle and didn’t get it.”
Jones’ only short-term salvation is the conventional wisdom that it takes four to five years to truly evaluate an NFL draft. Maybe by then Quincy Carter will have emerged s a superstar and the owner will look like a genius for climbing so far out on a limb.
Then, again, maybe not.
Jethro’s well-documented and pitiful record in seven previous drafts without Jimmy Johnson suggests he’ll crash and burn on this one, too. If so, the timetable has been accelerated again on how quickly the expansion Houston Texans are able to surpass the Cowboys as the state’s top NFL team.
Rest assured they applauded Jethro’s draft in the Texans’ offices.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed t firstname.lastname@example.org.