Gil Brandt and Misjudging a Hall-of-Fame Linebacker (1982)
Nobody would seriously doubt how important Gil Brandt was to the development of the Dallas Cowboys as a consistent contender for more than two decades.
However, by the 1980s, Brandt’s magic was not what it was. Consider how the Cowboys approached the 1982 Draft.
Dallas had the 25th overall pick. Brandt referred to the draft as “unpredictable” that season, with player ratings varying greatly from team to team.
One player who stood out as a possible choice was Iowa linebacker Andre Tippett. However, Brandt apparently agreed with NFL scouts who thought that Tippett would not be able to grasp the Cowboys’ complicated defense.
Instead, the Cowboys took Kentucky State defensive back Rod Hill, who lasted two seasons in Dallas before leaving as one of the worst first-round busts in team history.
In the second round, Dallas took Yale linebacker Jeff Rohrer, who was presumably smart enough to master the team’s complicated defense.
Rohrer played six years in Dallas but hardly reminded anyone of Lee Roy Jordan.
How did Tippett do? Well, he went to the New England Patriots in the second round. He apparently figured out New England’s schemes, making the Pro Bowl five times. He was also elected to the Hall of Fame in 2008.
That is a bit better than Hill and Rohrer. The best player the Cowboys found that year was Notre Dame tackle Phil Pozderac. We can talk about him later…
The 1982 Draft did have one upside: the other name thrown around for the Cowboys was Arizona State tackle John Meyer. Brandt did not want to spend another high draft choice on an offensive lineman, having spent first-round picks on linemen in the 1979 (Robert Shaw) and 1981 (Howard Richards) drafts.
Meyer went to Pittsburgh in the second round but never played a down in the NFL. According to an Arizona State blog, the Steelers tried to convert him to defensive end, but his knees gave out on him.