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Dallas Cowboys 2014 Draft Class, Five Years Later

Jess Haynie

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- Zack Martin | #70 | Offensive Guard
AP Photo/LM Otero

Five years ago, the Dallas Cowboys landed two of their marquee talents in Guard Zack Martin and Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence in the 2014 NFL Draft. Today, these players are arguably the team's best talents on each side of the ball. As we prepare for the 2019 Draft, it seemed a good time to look back on the overall success of the 2014 class.

After five years is a great point to reevaluate a draft. It tells you who landed a second contract with their original team, or found a new home in free agency after their rookie deal ended. It also shows who might not be in the league any longer.

We know Martin and Lawrence became major stars, but what about the other guys drafted in 2014? What impact did they have, if any?

We'll work our way down the line. To start, we get to bask in the glory of one of the Cowboys' best all-time picks.

1st Round - Zack Martin, G, Notre Dame
(16th pick overall)

This draft may always be remembered for the discussion around Quarterback Johnny Manziel and Jerry Jones' rumored infatuation with him. But with Tony Romo still firmly entrenched as the team's starter, the team wisely passed on Manziel and bolstered their offensive line with Zack Martin.

Five years later, Martin is generally considered the best guard in the NFL. He has been to the Pro Bowl every season, even as a rookie, and has been named to either the First or Second All-Pro Team every year.

Zack started every game for Dallas from 2014-2017, then missed just two last year for injury and veteran rest. He has been as durable as he's been outstanding.

Since Martin joined the Cowboys, a Dallas running back has led the league in rushing three out of five years; DeMarco Murray in 2014 and Ezekiel Elliott in 2016 and 2018. Elliott was on pace to lead again in 2017 if not for his suspension.

You could look back and say Dallas would've done well to trade up three spots and land DT Aaron Donald, or perhaps take LB C.J. Mosley, who went at #17 to Baltimore. But for where they got him and the player he turned out to be, Zack Martin gives no reason for regrets.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Dallas Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence

2nd Round - DeMarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise St.
(34th pick overall)

Dallas traded their 2nd and 3rd round picks to Washington to move up from 47th to 34th and draft DeMarcus Lawrence. One month earlier, the Cowboys had released veteran DeMarcus Ware in a cap-saving move.

Lawrence didn't feel Ware's shoes right away, struggling as a rookie, but he started to emerge with seven sacks of the team's final eight games of 2015. Suspension and injury hampered him again in 2016, but then DeMarcus broke out with 14.5 sacks in 2017 and a Pro Bowl trip.

Playing on the franchise tag last year, Lawrence posted 10.5 sacks and remained on of the top run defenders in football. He was named to the Pro Bowl a second-straight time.

Just last week, DeMarcus and the Cowboys agreed to a new five-year deal that makes him one of the highest paid defenders in NFL history.

While Lawrence didn't hit the ground running, he eventually found his stride. The end result has been exceptional value for a second-round pick; a defensive end that most teams would happily spend a Top-10 pick to acquire.

Washington used the picks Dallas sent them to take LB Trent Murphy and OL Spencer Long, who have been solid starters but hardly star players. Outside of a few of the 2nd round receivers such as Jarvis Landry or Allen Robinson, it's hard to put together any pair of picks that would equal what the Cowboys eventually got in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Anthony Hitchens

Former Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens

4th Round - Anthony Hitchens, LB, Iowa
(119th pick overall)

Dallas got considerable value out of this pick. Hitchens had to start 11 games as a rookie with Sean Lee missing the entire year and injuries to Justin Durant and Rolando McClain. He performed solidly despite his inexperience, helping the Cowboys get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Hitchens remained a key rotation player in 2015 and eventually became a full-time starter for his final two years in Dallas. He was never a dazzling play-maker but was one of the most reliable players on the defense during his tenure.

The Kansas City Chiefs thought enough of Hitchens to give him a five-year, $45 million contract in the 2018 offseason. In fact, Dallas was awarded an extra fourth-round pick in the upcoming 2019 draft thanks to Hitchens leaving in free agency and signing a lucrative deal.

The Cowboys got four years of strong play out of Anthony Hitchens and even got a fourth-round pick, the same round in which they'd drafted him, out of his departure. That's a fine outcome for any Day 3 selection.

One alternative; safety Tre Boston went nine picks after Hitchens to the Panthers in 2014. You can't argue that Hitchens was needed during his time, but landing Boston in the draft could also have been very useful for the Dallas defense.

Cowboys Headlines - Will Devin Street be Next Casualty From 2014 Draft? 2

Former Dallas Cowboys WR Devin Street

5th Round - Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
(146th pick overall)

Sadly, this is where our success stories end.

Dallas packaged their original 5th and a 7th-round pick to move up and take Devin Street. He only got seven targets as a rookie and then was injured during the 2015 training camp, which cost him more opportunities to grow. He received just 13 targets that season.

Street didn't survive final cuts in 2016 and landed on the Patriots squad. He bounced around several teams that year and the following offseason, eventually being released by the Texans before the start of the 2017 regular season. He hasn't been signed with an NFL team since.

Had Dallas just stood pat at their original spot in that 2014 5th round they might've been better off. Detroit used their pick to take DT Caraun Reid, who ironically landed with the Cowboys last year and was a solid reserve. Dallas also could've taken Ricardo Allen, a solid defensive back, who went right after Street to the Falcons.

Another interesting potential pick would've been QB A.J. McCarron, who went later in the 5th round. If Dallas has been in the QB development business back then, McCarron would've had a year of grooming and then been on the roster for the disastrous 2015 season when Tony Romo was injured.

It could've led to a very different timeline for the Cowboys, one where Kellen Moore never gets signed and Dak Prescott never gets drafted. I'm not saying McCarron was going to become a star here, but he might've been solid enough that things would've turned out differently for several parties.

Cowboys Headlines - Roster Moves: Cowboys Release Terrance Mitchell; Waive McGee 1

Former Dallas Cowboys CB Terrance Mitchell

7th Round - Multiple

  • Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
  • Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech
  • Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
  • Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois
  • Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon

Four of these give guys are no longer in the NFL. Only Terrance Mitchell remains, and he didn't find his stride until he wound up with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2016. Mitchell parlayed solid performances in KC into a starting role with the Chicago Bears last year, but was injured after four games.

None of these players finished out their rookie contract in Dallas. Gardner, Smith, and Bishop were all gone by 2016. Ahmad Dixon was cut before Week One of his rookie year after reporting late to a team meeting.

Coincidentally, undrafted linebacker Keith Smith wound up having more of an impact for the Cowboys than any of these 7th-round players. He was a special teams standout for four years and converted to fullback in 2016, helping block for the league's leading rusher in Ezekiel Elliott. When Special Teams Coach Bisaccia left for Oakland last year, he took Smith with him as a free agent.

~ ~ ~

Looking back, 2014 was nearly a textbook draft for the Cowboys. They got two franchise players with their first two picks, even if they had to sacrifice their third-rounder to trade up for DeMarcus Lawrence. They also landed a multi-year starter in Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round.

If just one or two of their seventh-round guys had amounted to anything, this would be one of the top draft classes in Dallas history. At least they found some value in Keith Smith among the undrafted free agents.

But even as it stands now, 2014 still goes down as a very solid performance by Will McClay and his crew. Five years later, Lawrence and Zack Martin are two of elite players on the Cowboys roster. A re-draft would have both of them in the Top 10 picks of this entire class.

We can only hope that the Cowboys will do as well in two weeks at the 2019 NFL Draft.



Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Dallas Cowboys

3 Biggest Non-Divisional Games on the Dallas Cowboys 2019 Schedule

John Williams

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The Dallas Cowboys Are Legit Contenders

There hasn't been a repeat champion of the NFC East since the early 2000's when the Philadelphia Eagles won three in a row from 2002-2004. Unfortunately, history is already against the Dallas Cowboys repeating as division champions again in 2019. For the Cowboys to repeat as NFC East champs, they'll have to navigate a tough slate of opponents.

That's the reward of winning your division.

Though much can change in the next five months as the NFL prepares to play football games that matter in September, there are already key matchups for this young Dallas Cowboys team. We know the NFC East is always a difficult division to play in. The rivalries make for a lot of close games. The Cowboys have to play well in the division to have a shot at winning the division. But with the schedule they have, they'll have to win some contests that they probably shouldn't to stake their claim as Super Bowl contenders.

Divisional games are always important, but let's take a look at the three games outside the division that will have the greatest impact on the fortunes of the Dallas Cowboys 2019 season.

1. Week 4 - Dallas Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints

The Cowboys have an opportunity to get off to a hot start in the first quarter of the season with games at home against the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins, and a road game against the Washington Redskins. There's a legitimate chance for them to start the season 3-0.

Whatever momentum they do gain in the first three games of the season could all come to a screeching halt with a tough week four matchup in New Orleans.

New Orleans has been a tough place to play in the Sean Payton and Drew Brees eras. The Dallas Cowboys defense will have a tough test attempting to slow down the high scoring Saints offense two years in a row.

When the two teams met in 2018, the Dallas Cowboys defense completely dominated the Saints. On that day, they held the Saints to 176 total yards (111 passing and 65 rushing) and an amazing 3 for 11 on third downs. It was especially impressive because the Cowboys only had two sacks and one turnover in the game. The Saints just couldn't find a rhythm as the Cowboys came with a lot of energy and physicality. It was a defining moment for this young defense and gave us a picture of what they could possibly be.

If the Dallas Cowboys can find a way to win this game and potentially start the season 4-0, it would be huge for their playoff hopes.

On the flip side, if the Dallas Cowboys start the season 2-1, they could be going into New Orleans with the possibility of starting the season 2-2. The pressure would be incredible for the Cowboys the rest of the way with the slate of teams they have at the end of the season.

The Cowboys have to leave the first quarter of the season at worst 3-1 to have a shot at the playoffs in 2019.

2. Week 14 - Dallas Cowboys @ the Chicago Bears

The toughest part of the Dallas Cowboys schedule always comes around the Thanksgiving day game, and this season is no different. Starting with their week 12 game at the New England Patriots, the Cowboys will play three games in 12 days culminating with their week 14 game against the Chicago Bears.

The Bears, coming off an NFC North title in 2018, are similar to the Dallas Cowboys. They boast an incredible defense with one of the best pass rushers in the NFL and a young an improving offense.

Playing in Chicago is always a tough task, but doing so in December is a tall order. Doing so after going to New England, then playing at home, then going back on the road seems like an impossible task.

It's a game that will likely be a grind-it-out affair, as both teams want to run the ball and play defense. Depending on what happens in the previous two games, this could be a must-win to start the final quarter of the season.

3. Week 15 - Los Angeles Rams @ Dallas Cowboys

The rematch of the NFC Divisional round matchup is just another in a long line of important conference matchups for the Dallas Cowboys. It will be a very important game for the Cowboys because it will be a home game after their three games in 12 days stretch. They'll have to go to Foxboro and Chicago in a span of 12 days, which makes for tough travel.

Facing a Los Angeles Rams team that absolutely dominated the Dallas Cowboys defense is an opportunity for redemption, but will have huge implications on the playoff standings for the NFC.

The Cowboys and Rams could both be leading their divisions at this point in the season, which would make this game important for seeding. Or, they could be fighting for a wild card berth. Either way, a conference game this late in the season has huge consequences in the way the tie breakers shake out.

This one will carry an emotional importance as well.

The way the 2018 season ended for this club, especially on the defensive side of the ball, left a lot of players -- and fans -- with a bad taste in their mouths. It completely changed the way a lot of people view a defense that finished in the top 10 in most major defensive categories. The loss to the Rams was one of the worst defensive performances of the season and it came at the worst time of the season.

Not only was the defense bad, but the running game was terrible that day too. Ezekiel Elliott only managed 47 yards on 20 carries for one of the worst rushing performances of his career. It took a really good second half from Dak Prescott and the passing game to get the Cowboys within one score with a shot to get the ball back at the end of the game.

If the Cowboys can get revenge for that playoff loss, it would do a lot for the morale of this team heading into the final two weeks of the season.

These conference games will have huge implications for the Cowboys and their playoff hopes. Though the NFC East will have a bigger impact on their ability to win the division, how they fare in these three games will give us a better understanding of the legitimacy of their contender status. Each of these games is against the team that won the division the previous season. If they can go 2-1 against this quality of competition, then we'll know this is a team to be reckoned with heading into January.



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Dallas Cowboys 2019 Schedule: Reaction and Analysis

Jess Haynie

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Dak Prescott/Carson Wentz Is No Rivalry, And There's Only One Side To Blame

The full NFL 2019 regular season schedule was released last night. Here is my reaction to the Dallas Cowboys' schedule and analysis of how what I think it means for them next season.

Of course, a schedule can have a very different feel come September-December than it does in April. The teams don't change, but their circumstances can be wildly altered by the time they actually have to take the field.

Just ask the Cowboys' opponents from the 2015 season. Nobody was looking forward to playing that Dallas team coming off its 12-4 playoff run the year before. But all it took was a Tony Romo injury in the preseason to suddenly make the Cowboys a cupcake.

But for now, we can only react to what we know. Before we dive in, here's a quick reminder of the complete 2019 regular season schedule for the Dallas Cowboys.

    • Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
    • Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
    • Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys 
    • Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints (SNF)
    • Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
    • Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
    • Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys (SNF)
    • Week 8: BYE
    • Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants  (SNF)
    • Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys (MNF)
    • Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
    • Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
    • Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys (T'giving)
    • Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears (TNF)
    • Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
    • Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
    • Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys

We already knew this wasn't going to be an easy slate. The Cowboys won the NFC East last year, meaning they were guaranteed to play against four division winners this season; Bears, Patriots, Rams, and Saints. They also get the regular two games against the Eagles, who were a Wild Card team last year.

Let's just talk about those six games for a minute. New England is still New England; Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will ensure that it's one of the toughest games of the year, and especially on the road. The Patriots have won 12-straight home games going back to 2017.

The Bears and Rams are both rising teams that shouldn't suffer any drop off next year. Chicago QB Mitch Trubisky is entering his third year and LA's Jared Goff will be in his fourth season, but only third in Sean McVay's offense. Both have starting QBs with rookie contacts, which means having the resources to load up on talent elsewhere on the roster.

Much like the Patriots, the Saints still have their franchise QB and coach and should remain a top team. They will also be out for blood after the Cowboys humiliated them last season, as will their fans, and that could make for a very tough road game in New Orleans.

Then, of course, there are the Eagles.

Eagles vs Redskins Tonight; What Outcome is Best for Cowboys?

Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott

The NFC East appears to be a two-horse race in 2019. The Giants are arguably the worst team in the NFL right now and the Redskins are dealing with major QB problems. It should be Dallas and Philadelphia once again battling for the top spot.

The Cowboys and Eagles should both get some cushy wins against their fellow division opponents. It could come down to their games against each other, and so far Dallas has dominated Philly when Carson Wentz is playing QB. With Nick Foles gone, how will that impact the Eagles going forward?

As for the rest of the schedule, the only other game that seems easy on paper is against the Miami Dolphins. Teams like the Bills, Jets, and Lions could go either way. The Packers and Vikings should both be tough opponents.

The teams aside, the general layout of the schedule isn't bad. The Week 8 bye is nice for a break right in the middle of the season. Dallas only has to play back-to-back road games one time, Weeks 11 and 12 against the Lions and Patriots.

The first three games against the Giants, Redskins, and Dolphins give Dallas a great opportunity to start the year right and build momentum. They will definitely need to go into December with some cushion, because that stretch against the Bears, Rams, and Eagles could be very difficult.

Overall it's a solid schedule. It's got some tough spots because of the Cowboys' performance last year, but that means they were a good team then and they stand to be even better now. There's nothing here that prevents Dallas from building on the success of 2018 and making then an ever better season.



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BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys 2019 Regular Season Schedule Announced

Mauricio Rodriguez

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys against Philadelphia

Although we're still months away from the 2019 NFL season, we finally know how the Dallas Cowboys' games will line up this year. The entire league schedule was just released. I know just how much you want to know who the Cowboys will be playing each week so don't let me keep you.

Here's the full 2019 Dallas Cowboys schedule and a few notes at the end. Enjoy!

  • Week 1: New York Giants @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Sep 8th, 3:25p
  • Week 2: Cowboys @ Washington Redskins
    • Sun, Sep 15th, 12:00p
  • Week 3: Miami Dolphins @ Cowboys 
    • Sun, Sep 22nd, 12:00p
  • Week 4: Cowboys @ New Orleans Saints
    • Sunday Night Football
    • Sep, 29th, 7:20p
  • Week 5: Green Bay Packers @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Oct 6th, 3:25p
  • Week 6: Cowboys @ New York Jets
    • Sun, Oct 13th, 3:25p
  • Week 7: Philadelphia Eagles @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Oct 20th, 7:20p
  • Week 8: Bye
  • Week 9: Cowboys @ New York Giants 
    • Monday Night Football
    • Mon, Nov 4th, 7:15p
  • Week 10: Minnesota Vikings @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Nov 10th, 7:20p
  • Week 11: Cowboys @ Detroit Lions
    • Sun, Nov 17th, 12:00p
  • Week 12: Cowboys @ New England Patriots
    • Sun, Nov 24th, 3:25p
  • Week 13: Buffalo Bills @ Cowboys
    • Thanksgiving Day
    • Thu, Nov 28th, 3:30p
  • Week 14: Cowboys @ Chicago Bears
    • Thursday Night Football
    • Thu, Dec 4th, 7:20p
  • Week 15: Los Angeles Rams @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Dec 15th, 3:25p
  • Week 16: Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
    • Sun, Dec 22nd, 3:25p
  • Week 17: Washington Redskins @ Cowboys
    • Sun, Dec 29th, 12:00p

A few notes and thoughts...

  • It feels like the Cowboys play the Giants on week 1 just about every year. In 2018 it was the Carolina Panthers, but now we're back to watching this divisional matchup early on.
  • I love that the Cowboys and Saints will matchup against each other on primetime on week 3. Last season's Thursday Night game between the two was one of the best games of the season.
  • Having a bye week right in the middle of the season is pretty ideal, and the Cowboys have been lucky in this regard lately. This time they'll rest on the eight week of the season.
  • Overall, this seems like a tougher calendar than last year's. This only makes sense given that the Cowboys are the current NFC East champions and are bound to face tougher opponents.
  • A particularly tough stretch might take place from week 12 to week 17. The Patriots, Bears and Rams will be on the list as well as two divisional rivals in the Eagles and Redskins.

Tell me what you think about "BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys 2019 Regular Season Schedule Announced" in the comments below, or tweet me @MauNFL and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!



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