Operational Security in JerryWorld
Once again, the war room draft board of the Dallas Cowboys appears to have been leaked. An employee of the team who does not work in football operations took a snapshot of what appears to be their war room with a completely filled out wall of legible names and corresponding draft positions in the background -- and posted said photo to social media. Some of our POD readers may remember a video that sparked debate about whether the Lions had been careless with their draft board on social media. The Detroit Lions' official website posted a video of Bob Quinn, Papa Jim, and Martha talking to first-round selection Taylor Decker on the phone in the Lions' war room, but none of the draftee names on the wall were legible (believe me, we tried).
Although it has not as of yet been confirmed by the Cowboys to be an authentic picture of the board the team actually used during the 2016 draft, Blogging the Boys performed some deep analysis on what could be read from the picture and concluded it was in fact very likely to be real. Within hours of that article being posted by Blogging the Boys, the original post with the picture on social media vanished, raising eyebrows. This is not the first time it has happened, either. Similar inadvertent releases of draft board information from the Cowboys happened in 2010 and 2013.
While the relative valuation of prospects for another NFL team will differ from that of the Lions simply due to that team's needs, it is still interesting to see what they thought. Per Blogging the Boys, the draft needs of the Cowboys heading into Day 1 of the draft was (in order): DE replacement for suspended players and Greg Hardy, backup QB to beat Kellen Moore for the right to hold Tony Romo's clipboard, No. 2 WR opposite Dez Bryant, a new DeMarco Murray at HB, young DT to help the interior rotation, and young CB to mold for the future. Everything else was rated as a medium to low potential for improvement to the roster.
With that in mind, let's see what the Dallas Cowboys (probably) thought about the players the Lions selected.
The Detroit 2016 draft class
|Player||Detroit's actual pick||Dallas war room board|
|LT Taylor Decker||1(16)||2(25)|
|DT A'Shawn Robinson||2(46)||2(27)|
|C Graham Glasgow||3(95)||4(81)|
|SS Miles Killebrew||4(111)||Does not appear|
|OL Joe Dahl||5(151)||Does not appear|
|LB Antwione Williams||5(169)||Does not appear|
|QB Jake Rudock||6(191)||Does not appear|
|DE Anthony Zettel||6(202)||Does not appear|
|LS Jimmy Landes||6(210)||Seriously?|
|HB Dwayne Washington||7(236)||Does not appear|
Although the Cowboys did not have a need at offensive tackle, the war room board had two tackles with first round grades (Laremy Tunsil at third overall and Ronnie Stanley at 16th overall). Taylor Decker, who the Lions selected with the 16th overall pick in the draft, was the third highest rated tackle on the war room board (24th). This is interesting because with the draft day shenanigans that messed with Tunsil's draft stock, this meant the Lions actually ended up with the "as-it-was-happening" second rated offensive tackle on the war room board. Michigan State's Jack Conklin, actually selected eighth overall by the Tennessee Titans, was the 34th rated player in the war room photo.
Defensive tackle was not regarded as high a need as defensive end for Dallas, but the Cowboys ended up taking DT Maliek Collins (67th overall) about a full round earlier than DE Charles Tapper (101st overall). Part of this has to do with how highly they regarded Collins: he is the 41st rated player on the war room board and would have been considered a major steal at the 67th pick. We mention this because it reminds us DT was a real need that was considered heavily by the Dallas Cowboys in this draft. It is interesting, then, that the Lions came away with fourth-highest rated DT on the war room board. After Sheldon Rankins (10th), Kenny Clark (20th), and Vernon Butler (25th), Lions' second-round selection A'Shawn Robinson was the next best defensive tackle on the war room board in the 27th spot.
Offensive center is an interesting case with the big board because it was not a major need for the Cowboys but appeared three times in the top 92 players on the war room board. Alabama's Ryan Kelly was the highest ranked at 36th overall, and USC's Max Tuerk was the last man listed on the war room's fourth round column at 92nd. The player the Lions actually selected in the real draft was the middle guy of the three: Graham Glasgow, the 81st name on the war room board, listed in the fourth-round column. According to Blogging the Boys' analysis of the "by position" section of the photo, which grouped centers and offensive guards together, Glasgow was penciled in as the fifth best interior offensive lineman.
Unfortunately, most of the Lions' remaining picks were from smaller programs and likely not scouted very heavily by the Cowboys (e.g. Killebrew from Southern Utah, Williams from Georgia Southern). Just off the first three names, though, it would seem the Cowboys' scouting department would approve of the selections by Bob Quinn. According to the war room board, the Lions got top players at all three positions targeted in their early selections in Decker, Robinson, and Glasgow
The later rounds: who we didn't select
What's interesting to see about the late-round selections of players like Joe Dahl, Jake Rudock, and Anthony Zettel is that they did not appear at all on the war room list despite hailing from big time college programs. Although it's possible these players may be among the names not mined from the photo's late round columns, we can see some alternative selections that would have been preferred by the Cowboys.
Unless Joe Dahl (actually selected 151st overall by the Lions) was one of the six unknown names at the top of the fifth-round column in the war room picture, the recommended pick would have been 104th ranked name on the war room board OT Brandon Shell. Shell ended up going 158th to the Jets, but it's likely that Dahl's experience at multiple positions along the offensive line appealed to Quinn.
The object of many POD readers' ire, Jake Rudock, did not appear on the war room board's revealed names despite being selected 191st overall by the Lions. The recommended name that would have come off the war room board? 67th ranked war room player QB Jeff Driskel in the fourth-round column, who was still available until drafted by San Francisco at 207th overall. The Lions may have been drafting their backup with different criteria in mind from what Dallas was looking for, though.
Considering backup quarterback was a much-publicized need for the Dallas organization, it's interesting to see that they thought so highly of Driskel. Also interesting? The Cowboys actually selected the 68th ranked war room player QB Dak Prescott as the 135th overall selection instead of the still-available Driskel, so take the Driskel thing with a grain of salt.