With no good quarterback options, Cowboys can get defensive in draft

By By Randy Galloway

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Jan. 5 2012 3:12 p.m. MST

FORT WORTH, Texas _ Last January, it was Cam, Cam, Cam.

A year later, this sentence should be reading Luck, Luck, and then duck, because I'd be edging over to RG3.

The game is always about the quarterback, right?

A long-standing tradition _ OK, it's only been three straight Januarys _ has been my scream in this space for the Cowboys to get a head start on the April draft by honing in on a first-round quarterback.

Even as a Romosexual, there's nothing that should prevent either me or the King of the Cowboys, Mr. Jerry, from seeking alternative options at the most important position on the field.

Plus, some constant heat on Tony in the form of a young challenger wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Romo. I'd say Tony is coming off a pretty good season, although many are gushing over his latest campaign, and the gush won't come from here.

But, got to admit, I'm backing off this time on the QB demand, at least in the first round, even though the creeping age factor for Romo makes the topic extremely timely.

From this amateur eye (and with help from some eyes more qualified), only three QBs in college football this season really jump off the HD big screen when it comes to projecting for an NFL career.

One of those, Matt Barkley of USC, is returning to school.

That leaves the long-anticipated draft arrival of Stanford's Andrew Luck and also a challenger to Luck who came out of almost nowhere the last few months. My man, my man (I'm a front-runner), Robert Griffin III of Baylor.

Otherwise, no way, certainly not in the first round, and until further notice, not the second round either is there a college QB who has that prime NFL potential. If you've noticed on websites that Landry Jones of Oklahoma is still listed as a first-round candidate, that's rather questionable. Based on his season, Landry definitely needs to be back at OU for a makeup season.

Luck was always going to be a top-three guy, and probably the No. 1, and at one time Griffin could have been a Cowboys' mid-round grab with what turns out to be April's 14th pick. Except RG3 has bumped himself right up to top five in the draft, and even the first overall, ahead of Luck, is not necessarily out of the question.

Some kind of massive trade up by the Cowboys for either QB is so remote, it's barely worth mentioning.

A year ago in January, the opinion from here was the Cowboys, no matter what, had to hone in on Auburn's Cam Newton, a controversial young man at the time due to some questionable "recruiting" by War Eagle Nation.

The NFL, of course, doesn't necessarily care about how much hush money your daddy was asking to "guide" his son to a school.

Newton was a stud too good to pass up, and the Cowboys did have the No. 9 pick in the first round.

First, the e-mail dog-cussing from readers I received on that opinion might have been my world record, which is saying a lot for this space. Cowsheep and puritans alike hated _ I mean hated _ the Cam idea.

Second, Newton ended up the first pick in the draft last April.

But do remember, that in January there were questions, even from the draft gurus, if he was even a mid-level first-rounder.

No, I'm not fishing for your apology by mentioning all this, but Newton's NFL rookie work was outstanding, of course, for Carolina.

But as it turned out, I'd have looked more astute by promoting the kid from our back yard as the Cowboys' pick high in the second round.

How did I miss on Andy Dalton? How did the Cowboys miss on Andy Dalton? There were a lot of questionable first-round QB picks last April, guys I'd have never touched that high, but Dalton was right there under my hooked nose.

As a second-round pick, Andy's rookie season for the Bengals, a playoff team, by the way, has been beyond anyone's expectations.

Looking ahead to April, the Cowboys need a quarterback for the future to be available, and I mean available in the first round. Right now, and by April, that won't be case, I'd guess.

So ....

With so many needs on defense, is it legitimate to say the Cowboys should draft for, yes, need? For years in the NFL, drafting for need was the ultimate no-no but that unwritten rule has changed over the years.

Best guess is the Cowboys will be going heavily defense in April, and can't be blamed if they do.

Cornerback is an obvious priority, but the best one figures to be LSU's Morris Claiborne and he will be gone in the top 10. But if Dre Kirkpatrick of Alabama is there, then he's a Cow maybe.

Also factor in the linebacker needs at Valley Ranch, and take note of Luke Kuechly of Boston College, called by one scout a Sean Lee starter kit. Also at linebacker, at least on the outside, consider Zach Brown of North Carolina, along with Courtney Upshaw of Alabama.

Just a few names to mull over, but there's no Cam who will be there, or even an Andy.

That's too bad. Bad for even Romo.

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