Perhaps it was just too delicious for Jerry Jones to pass up, to draft someone else named Jones from Jerry's alma mater, Arkansas. But most pro scouts believe Rashard Mendenhall of Illinois was the best pure running back in the draft. Rick Gosselin, the Morning News NFL writer who has forgotten more about pro football than most people, including me, know, ranked Mendhenhall the 10th best player in the entire draft. And there he was, available when the Cowboys picked at the 22nd spot. Yet they selected Felix Jones of Arkansas who arguably rushed for as many yards as he did last year because defenses were keying on his teammate, Darren McFadden.
It is interesting to note that the Pittsburgh Steelers, picking right after the Cowboys, was the first team not to use their allotted time in making their pick which was Mendenhall, of course. Dallas Morning News sportswriter Tim MacMahon writes: "Rashard Mendenhall might be even better for the Steelers than Steven Jackson has been for the Rams."
MacMahon also argues that Jones might be a great fit for Dallas because he provides a speedy change of pace for Marion Barber. According to MacMahon, Jones gives the Cowboys "a breakaway threat in the running game" and a "major boost to the special teams as a kick returner."
Possibly that's true, but I still think picking Mendenhall, who would have become the No. 1 back with Barber in the "change-of-pace" role, was the obvious choice.
I will give the Cowboys credit for this, however. They did trade up to No. 25 in the first round to pick up cornerback Mike Jenkins of South Florida. Now this was a good move. He is superb in man-to-man coverages, but may have some troubles with zone defenses. He also doesn't have great hands, so while he may break up a lot of passes and make some good tackles, don't count on him to intercept a lot of passes. But he will shut down anyone he's assigned to cover and that's what the Cowboys desperately need at cornerback. I also think Dave Campo will coach him up to the next level.