Commentary: Felix Jones is not getting traded, and Ryan Tannehill could be over-drafted

Posted Thursday, Apr. 12, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill is not a top 10-caliber quarterback. But he could go as high as No. 3 in the NFL Draft.

No, the Dallas Cowboys are not trading running back Felix Jones.

The unpolished, but potential-laden, Dontari Poe of Memphis and Michael Brockers of LSU are among the players vying for the Cowboys' pick at 14, and neither was brought in to visit.

Say what you will about Jerry Jones' personnel failures, including Quincy Carter, Joey Galloway, Bobby Carpenter and Roy Williams, he has never made a Lamar Odom-like mistake.

And finally, Brittney Griner should go down as Baylor's greatest athlete -- ahead of Robert Griffin III and Michael Johnson.

Now that I have your attention, let's attack them point by point.

The news that quarterback-desperate teams (Miami) are rumored to be trading up as high as No. 3 to take Tannehill is great for him and Texas high school football -- my first love. That the first two picks are locks in Stanford's Andrew Luck (Houston) and Baylor's Robert Griffin III (Copperas Cove) are Texas homegrown products is delicious enough.

If Tannehill of Big Spring goes No. 3, the UIL might make 7-on-7 an official school sport. Tannehill is already a lock to go in the first round, giving the state of Texas six first-round quarterbacks since 2006, joining Texas' Vince Young (Houston), Georgia's Matt Stafford (Highland Park) and Florida State's Christian Ponder (Colleyville).

The problem with Tannehill, not unlike Ponder last year, is that he is being over-drafted based on his potential and team needs rather than his body of work.

He certainly has all the tools -- size, athletic ability, work ethic, smarts and arm strength to develop into a capable, if not upper echelon, NFL quarterback.

But there was nothing you saw on the field and in his team's production last season that screamed top-10 pick, let alone top-3 pick. The fact that Tannehill's body of work is limited because he spent the first 2 1/2 years at receiver and has only 19 college starts makes it even more of a dicey proposition.

But quarterback desperation and the advent of the rookie salary cap, which has taken some of the JaMarcus Russell sting off making the wrong choice at the top of the draft, will likely rule the day.

"No, but neither was Ponder," said one NFL scouting director, when asked if Tannehill was a top-10 pick. "If you don't have a quarterback, you are going to lose. If you miss, you are going to lose."

This is not an indictment of Tannehill but rather that of the desperate teams, and the process that is setting him up for failure. He could well be a successful quarterback if drafted in the right spot. But picking him in the top 10 and certainly as high as No. 3 puts undue pressure on him and the team. Instead of allowing him to grow and mature naturally, he will be forced on the field early, which is never good for a quarterback who still needs time to develop.

Tannehill's possible rush up the board -- and the No. 1 and 2 picks being quarterbacks -- is only part of a unique draft that could eventually favor the Cowboys, who pick 14th. There is a chance that six offensive players could go in the top 10.

And if Jacksonville goes offense with fast-rising receiver Michael Floyd, that number could increase to seven of the first eight, pushing down a number of quality defenders and increasing the pool of candidates for the Cowboys' first pick.

Stanford guard David DeCastro remains an option, but it looks as if the Cowboys are going to go defense early with cornerbacks Stephen Gilmore and Dre Kirkpatrick, safety Mark Barron and defensive linemen Fletcher Cox, Poe and Brockers the likely targets.

The Cowboys like Cox but believe he will be gone by the time they pick. Poe and Brockers are the only defensive prospects on that list they didn't bring in to visit. And yes, every top pick since 2006 has been among the team's pre-draft visitors.

But don't be misled. According to a team source, the Cowboys "like both players and know all they need to know."

Linebacker Courtney Upshaw was one of three Alabama players brought in for a pre-draft visit last week along with Kirkpatrick and Barron. But don't look for him to be among the considerations at 14, a source said.

This is a big spot for the Cowboys. They need to hit a home run with this pick.

But too many options mean too many choices.

On paper, it's a good thing as the Cowboys truly believe they are in line to get a really good player.

But in the name of Bobby Carpenter and Shante Carver, choosing wrong is also an option in the Cowboys history.

I checked with a few high-ranking Cowboys officials regarding a recent ESPN report that the team has had internal discussions about trading running back Felix Jones if they selected a running back in the draft. The responses were swift. From the scouting department to the front office, the texts came back "No," "Not at all" to "Hell, no! Totally inaccurate. And disappointing."

Speaking of the Cowboys' front office, Jerry Jones might have a well-chronicled history of bad decision-making when it comes to personnel via the draft and/or free agency. But he does not have a Lamar Odom-mistake on his résumé in terms of investing $9 million in a player who gave no effort, quit on the team and was forced to go away before the season was over.

Busts Williams and Carpenter tried. They were just poor choices. Terrell Owens gave effort and produced. The Cowboys only invested time but no money in Pacman Jones.

The way things are looking in Waco, Griner could (should) leave Baylor next year with two national titles, two Player of the Year awards and an Olympic gold medal -- making her the most accomplished and celebrated athlete in school history, even more so than Heisman Trophy quarterback RGIII and track star Johnson.

If those things happen, there is nothing to debate.

Those are the facts, Jack.

Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760

Twitter: @clarencehilljr

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