Travis Stewart // Texas Football -- Texas talents fall to unexpected teams.
So, as a Cowboys fan, did you see that coming?
Though the national perspective can't get enough Tim Tebow, here in Texas, the main storyline of the evening was Lufkin product and Oklahoma State star Dez Bryant falling (via trade) to the Dallas Cowboys, a move that gives Tony Romo an exceptionally dangerous weapon on the outside and Jerry Jones a hometown hero to roll out every Sunday to the masses. Baggage? No baggage for Bryant can top the aplomb of such a draft move. But more on that later. As for now, here's a look at how the state of Texas did in last night's first round — plus a comparison to how we predicted it playing out months ago.
Oklahoma OT Trent Williams (Longview): Washington Redskins, No. 4
Predicted spot: No. 18, Pittsburgh Steelers
Trent Williams' meteoric rise up the draft boards over the past two months caught everyone by surprise, especially with the fact that he eventually leapfrogged Russell Okung, once considered the top OL in the draft, and became one of three Oklahoma players selected in the top four. But the Redskins desperately needed a tackle to help protect newly-acquired QB Donovan McNabb, and Williams' has the most upside of anyone available. I think Okung would have been the safer pick, but Williams, if he hits his potential, could be a Pro Bowler. Hey — don't you think he's just glad he didn't go to Pittsburgh, like we predicted? And at least this way most Texans will get to see him twice a year in the NFC East. Good luck with DeMarcus Ware, kid.
Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung (Fort Bend Bush): Seattle Seahawks, No. 6
Predicted spot: No. 5, Kansas City Chiefs
This is as numerically close as we came to getting any pick right in the first round, but it wasn't a tough call — Okung, in my opinion, was the top Texan in the draft and his No. 6 spot proves it. Believe it or not, I think Seattle was actually hoping to go another direction at the No. 6 spot, but there just wasn't a quarterback, running back, wide receiver or really anything else that provided the right "value" (draft buzz word alert!) at this spot. Considering the Seahawks are taking flight on a new era with Pete Carroll as the GM — and his track record of NFL football decisions ... well, sucks — this was a solid double off of an easy underhand pitch. Right guy, right space, and it'll be tough for Seattle fans to get mad and argue if Okung doesn't live up to potential. I think he will, for what it's worth.
Texas S Earl Thomas (West Orange-Stark): Seattle Seahawks, No. 14
Predicted spot: No. 19, Atlanta Falcons
Thomas was one of the first-round's great enigmas, a guy who's college career clearly suggested top-15 status, but lack of position made teams wonder about his pro potential. Again, it was Pete Carroll and the Seahawks who eventually rolled the dice, and like anyone who could have drafted Thomas, I think the franchise will be extremely pleased with the results. If there's one thing Thomas showed us at Texas, it's that he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and that he's capable of making game-changing plays on defense at any moment. How many guys can you really say that about? Seattle has lacked an identity since Matt Hasselbeck famously opened his mouth and said, "We'll take the ball, and we're gonna' score!" Adding impact names like Thomas, someone you can build a defensive concept around, is a good start to getting this one highly-respected franchise back on the national radar. Oh, yeah, and they had, like, no safeties at all on the roster. So there's that, too.
Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon (Jasper): Atlanta Falcons, No. 19
Predicted spot: No. 38, Cleveland Browns (second round)
What a great choice for Atlanta — when I saw this was the selection, I nodded and offered a mental round of applause. Here's the deal — when Atlanta is able to stay fully healthy, they're a very tough team to beat offensively. But the defense has been average at best, despite the presence of one of the league's leading-tacklers a year ago (Curtis Lofton, 133), and a tackling-machine like Weatherspoon might be able to hide the fact that Atlanta has a terrible secondary in desperate need of corners. As a matter of fact, you could say the Texans' choice — 'Bama's Kareem Jackson — could have been a better call here. But Weatherspoon, in a way, could end up being like former Falcon (and Longhorn) Tommy Nobis: A guy who plays with the franchise for a long time and makes a ton of tackles. One thing I always liked about Weatherspoon was leadership, and I think he has a chance to utilize that here once Mike Peterson is too old to be a three-down guy.
Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant (Lufkin): Dallas Cowboys, No. 24
Predicted spot: No. 16, Tennessee Titans
If we weren't going in numerical order, this would be our starting point, of course. Dallas' move up to get Dez Bryant was, in short, a wise one. This Cowboys team is already more or less set everywhere — yes, there are still some valid questions at tackle and safety, but those are things that could still be addressed later in the draft or via free agency. So bringing in a "risky" guy like Bryant is the perfect decision, because if he fails, you're still a legit Super Bowl contender. But everyone seems to be very, very concerned about Bryant's personal life. It's consumed his draft status, dragging what should have been a top ten pick to the bottom of the first round. Could that "baggage" he carries eventually sink his ship? Of course. Will it? I doubt it. Jerry Jones is used to guys who have had troubles, and I think he could actually help Bryant fit in and mature. He seems like someone Jones would take under his wing and pay personal attention to. And as far as on-the-field talent goes ... well, you don't need me there. He's ridiculously talented. If Miles Austin can produce even half of what he did last year, Bryant will have plenty of opportunities. And Patrick Crayton ... I don't think you're the punt returner anymore. Sorry, bud.
TCU OLB Jerry Hughes (Fort Bend Austin): Indianapolis Colts, No. 31
Predicted spot: No. 43, Miami Dolphins (second round)
The pleasant surprise of the first round. As the clock ticked away, it looked more and more likely that Hughes would not find the first-round gold we were all hoping he would. But then the Colts made a wise choice and selected someone that, from Day 1, has reminded me of Dwight Freeney, the Indy DE that has spun his way into the NFL forefront. Now, I'm assuming the Colts would do as we all expected and put Hughes at OLB, not DE. But I guess you never know. If he does go to LB, he'll help support Gary Brackett at a spot that Indy has had trouble manning over the years. Hughes becomes TCU's highest draft pick since (wow!) 2001, when LaDainian Tomlinson was selected by the Chargers.
Predicted first-rounders not drafted: Texas LB Sergio Kindle (Dallas Wilson)
Bonus coverage: Houston Texans, No. 20, Alabama CB Kareem Jackson
Positionally, this was the right choice for Houston. Yes, the Texans wanted a running back or Texas' Earl Thomas badly in this position, but the truth of the matter was that Thomas wasn't available and that there just wasn't a runner on the board that was worth the value of the choice. Jahvid Best? I'm sorry, but the Texans needed a corner just as bad as a running back, and instead of reaching for a guy that was nearly a second-rounder, they got a cover-corner talent that made sense at No. 20. Plenty of teams have found great runners outside of the first round. The Texans have a chance to do the very same this year. And without Jackson, Houston really had no options for a No. 1 corner. Perhaps Glover Quin, or Brice McCain? Maybe, and maybe, despite the flashes both have shown. But Jackson is as close as a slam-dunk for the spot as anyone in the draft. Every pick is a gamble, but this was a very low risk, very high reward one. That's a no-brainer, in my book.