The Baltimore Ravens and Dallas Cowboys were pretty much at polar opposite ends of the success spectrum last season. Dallas finished 8-8 and did not sniff the post season while Baltimore finished first in their division and went on an unlikely run that ended with a Super Bowl XLVII victory.
However, when the 2013 NFL Draft started, the two teams found themselves picking back-to-back in the first round. The Cowboys surprised most people by selecting Wisconsin center Travis Frederick while the Ravens didn't surprise too many people at all by jumping all over Florida safety Matt Elam.
Why such a significant difference in draft strategy between two NFL teams, especially since in this day and age, teams have virtually the same abilities and resources, yet seem to go in completely different directions? While no one knows for sure, a bit of the Cowboys strategy was released recently when their entire 2013 draft board was leaked.
An interesting story on SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys' blog, Blogging The Boys, shows every player that the team considered an option to target at some point in the seven rounds. Most interesting to fans of the Ravens is the apparent lack of interest that Dallas had in the players that obviously interested Baltimore's front office.
Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown and Wisconsin offensive tackle Ricky Wagner were the only players that the Ravens drafted that held any interest whatsoever with the Cowboys. Other than Brown and Wagner, not a single other player drafted by the Ravens was anywhere on the Cowboys full draft board.
With so many players available over the course of the draft's seven rounds, one would have thought there would be multiple players that both teams coveted, or at least would consider drafting. The Ravens had anywhere from 150-180 players that they considered "draft-able" on their board, although there is little chance that anyone outside of their War Room will ever know whose names were on that list, other than the ones ended up being selected.
It's hard to say this is indicative of the difference between the Ravens current streak of success, being the only team in the entire league to make the playoffs for the past five years in a row, while the Cowboys have made the post season only once during that same span and in fact have not had a winning season since that lone playoff game in the 2009 season.
However, if you look at the results, which are greatly affected by the players that are drafted each year, the Ravens success as well as the Cowboys lack thereof, points a finger at a draft board that perhaps could be a source of one of the biggest issues that currently face the Cowboys. At the same time, the Ravens are probably thrilled to learn that Dallas doesn't see things along the same lines as them, meaning one less team to worry about grabbing the players targeted by the defending Super Bowl Champs.