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Fixing The Dallas Cowboys Defense

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Draft Draft Blog - Fixing The Dallas Cowboys Defense

The Cowboys’ offense still has some weaknesses but overall, the Cowboys are pretty set on offense.

This past week they looked at a couple of veterans to play Guard and backup Wide Receiver - which are really their biggest needs on offense - But while they could use an upgrade at Guard and will need to look ahead to 2015 to find a replacement for Doug Free at Right Tackle, the offensive players are not the biggest problems the Cowboys have. With the addition of Scott Linehan and Garrett taking a hands-off approach to the offense in 2014, the Cowboys have the necessary talent on offense to be playoff contenders in 2014.

The defense is another story. Last season, the Cowboys had the worst defense in their 54-year history and they have some gaping holes that need to be filled. Can the Cowboys turn it around in 2014? Is it even a possibility, or are we Cowboys fans doomed to another season of 8-8, or worse?

The silver lining is that even with the worst defense in the storied history of America’s Team the ‘Boys were really, really close to being in the playoffs last year. I believe it’s possible to turn this team around if the Cowboys make good use of the upcoming draft, and if they can avoid the injuries that decimated them last year.

Here is what I'd like to see on opening day for the Cowboys’ defense:

LCB - Morris Claiborne

I still think there is a big reason for the entire NFL believing Claiborne was the top defensive player in the 2012 draft. I was upset that the Cowboys traded up to get him because I thought they needed more players, but that doesn't mean that his sophomore slump should stop the Cowboys from pushing him to be the starter in 2014.

He had a very solid rookie season, followed by a disappointing injury-plagued 2nd year. I think he is motivated to bounce back strong in 2014. If the Cowboys get decent play from the Free Safety position then Claiborne will look much better this season.

RCB - Brandon Carr

Unlike Courtland Finnegan - who was cut from the Rams only two seasons after signing his $50 million free agent contract - Carr still has a lot in the tank. Did the Cowboys overpay? Absolutely! But that is almost always the case in Free Agency.

So forget about the salary, and just look at Carr as a player. He’s a big strong corner who can manhandle receivers coming off the line. Maybe he's not an All-Star player, but he's more than solid.

NCB – Orlando Scandrick

Scandrick has challenged for a starting job. He fought Mike Jenkins for the job back in 2009 and Scandrick pushed Jenkins to his only Pro Bowl performance.

Last year, Scandrick took the job away from the injured Morris Claiborne by the end of the season, but ultimately Claiborne has more talent than Scandrick so he should reclaim his starting position. Regardless, Scandrick has proven to be the best 5th round pick the Cowboys have made in recent years.

The Cowboys restructured his contract last year to make it more CAP friendly and Scandrick ultimately took a pay-cut over the next three seasons, but he was rewarded with a 2-year contract extension that is CAP friendly for the Cowboys. Scandrick is one of the best 3rd cornerbacks in the NFL and the Cowboys should be thankful to have him.

FS - Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (1st round) or Deion Bucannon (2nd round) or Matt Johnson

If the Cowboys end up with Clinton-Dix in the first round he immediately becomes the starter. Barring that, I think Johnson is the best option for the Cowboys (providing he can stay healthy). Both Clinton-Dix and Johnson have the talent to solidify the Free Safety position.

What about Calvin Pryor? I think he's more suited to play Strong Safety and Free Safety is really where the Cowboys need help. But Pryor at Free Safety would still be an upgrade - He just doesn't have the cover skills of Clinton-Dix. Johnson has instincts that are off the chart, but he hasn’t been healthy the last three seasons – including his final year in college. If Johnson can remain healthy, he might be a huge surprise for the Cowboys. Since he clearly cannot be counted upon so far, Dallas would be well-suited drafting a true Free Safety this May.

The Cowboys brought in Jimmie Ward for a visit, but I believe that Deion Bucannon would be a better choice in the 2nd round if they don’t get a shot at Clinton-Dix in the 1st round. A 3rd round option is Terrance Brooks out of Florida State.

SS - Barry Church or J.J. Wilcox

Wilcox has all the raw talent in the world, and he has the big-hitting instincts you love in a Strong Safety. The question is whether or not he develops that talent this season, or will the Cowboys have to wait another year for him to come into his own. I think it would be a HUGE, HUGE mistake to try to put Wilcox at Free Safety; he just doesn't have the instincts to play the position at a high level. But he could become a Pro Bowl level Strong Safety.

In the mean time, Barry Church is a good tackler. His coverage skills are atrocious and many of his tackles came after the first down was already made. But on a historically bad defense, at least he tried to clean up for the lack of production from the front-seven.

It would be a waste for Dallas to select another Strong Safety in the draft. They have two guys that must be allowed to fight for the position - The competition should make both of them better. Wilcox has the talent. Church has the strong work ethic and a better understanding of how to play the position. I'm looking forward to an epic battle for the starting position that lasts beyond training camp and into the season - that is, if the coaches are smart enough to put Wilcox at Strong Safety where he belongs and not impede his progress by trying to play him as Free Safety.

WLB – Bruce Carter

Carter flat-out got exposed at times last year when covering passes – especially on wheel routes - but his performance actually improved toward the end of the season. I think Bruce will bounce back strong in 2014, especially if the Cowboys solidify Free Safety. Carter was once considered a top 15 prospect, and too many Cowboys fans are giving up on him too soon.

He has the talent and I believe he keeps his job in 2014 with a much better year than he had in 2013. I’m not willing to say he’ll jump to the Pro Bowl level until I see him actually produce but I don’t think he’ll be as bad as last year.

MLB – Sean Lee

Lee just signed a huge contract last year. The fact that he’s been repeatedly injured has some fans and pundits wanting to move him out of the MLB position and draft someone like C.J. Mosley but, that’s a mistake.

Lee is the new face of the Cowboys defense and they paid him to play middle linebacker. He has the natural instincts of a middle linebacker, and his ability to drop back in coverage in the middle of the field is vital to the style of defense Rod Marinelli wants to play.

There is just no scenario in which the Cowboys move him to outside linebacker. Lee is the Cowboys “Brian Urlacher,” and even if the fans are disappointed with his injuries, there is no way Dallas moves him from his natural position this year or anytime in the foreseeable future.

SLB – Kyle Wilbur

This is the year for the 2012 draft class to step up and prove its worth. Wilbur was a man in search of a position a year ago. The Cowboys started him at backup defensive end at the beginning of the year but by the end he was moved to strong side linebacker because of injuries.

Wilbur played linebacker in college, and he surprised everyone by playing better than Durant or Holloman on the strong side. The extra weight he added to play defensive end ironically made him a much, much better linebacker. The Cowboys should be excited that they may have found the answer to their search for strong side linebacker by accident.

LDE – Anthony Barr (1st round) or Kareem Martin (2nd round)

Anthony Barr should be the #1 target of the Cowboys. If they have to package their 1st and 4th round picks to move up to get him then they should do it. Heck, throw in one of their six 7th round picks to go with it. More than Aaron Donald or Clinton-Dix, the Cowboys need a pass rusher to replace DeMarcus Ware. Barr is being compared to Ware coming out of college nine years ago, and he would go a long way toward helping the Cowboys’ defensive line recover from the debacle of 2013.

I don’t think Martin is on the Cowboys’ radar, but I would pick him over Scott Crichton or DeMarcus Lawrence, both of whom the Cowboys did bring in for visits. Both of those players are more suited to play RDE than LDE, in my opinion. If the Cowboys miss out on both Barr and Martin, then I think their next best option is starting journeyman Jeremy Mincey and drafting Will Clarke in the 4th round. But Barr is my top target in May if I’m sitting in the Cowboys’ front office.

3-Tech DT – Henry Melton

Prior to signing Melton I was high on Aaron Donald, just like so many others. I’m still high on him, but there are higher-priority needs now that Melton has signed. The NFL landscape is full of players who have come back strong from ACL injuries and had very, very productive careers. The ACL injury is not the career-ending injury it once was.

These days, players tend to come back from those types of injuries even stronger than before they got injured. If you put Barr next to Henry Melton, Melton will have a monster season in 2014 and return to Pro Bowl form. Does that mean I don’t draft Donald if both Barr and Clinton-Dix are gone? No. Donald would be a heck of a consolation prize. But Melton gives the Cowboys the luxury of looking first at a pass-rushing defensive end and free safety in the 1st round.

1-technique DT – Ra’Shede Hageman (1st round) Will Sutton (3rd round) or Ego Ferguson (3rd round)

I’m in agreement with the notion that you don’t spend 1st round picks on 1-technique defensive tackles.

However, if Barr, Clinton-Dix and Donald are all off the board when the Cowboys pick at #16, then I would be in favor of a trade back in the 1st round with someone like Green Bay, Carolina or San Francisco. If you combine Hageman with another 2nd round pick, then the value you could get would be very good for the Cowboys in the long run.

Imagine a draft where the Cowboys pick up Hageman in the bottom of the first round, then Bucannon and Martin in the 2nd round.

But barring a trade back, the Cowboys still need an upgrade at this position. Let’s face it. Nick Hayden tried hard last year, but was one of the worst starting defensive tackles in the NFL. The addition of McClain gives the Cowboys another journeyman. The Cowboys need a serious upgrade here, and either Sutton (who after his junior season projected as a 1st round pick) or Ego Ferguson (who was being projected as a potential 1st round pick in 2015) would really help the Cowboys solidify the interior of their defensive line.

RDE – Anthony Spencer

I really wanted to see Dallas re-sign Spencer to a small contract and they did just that, a one-year deal worth less than $4 million after all possible incentives.

Realistically, we’re probably looking at a rotation of Crawford and Selvie at RDE to start the season, but the best-case scenario for the Cowboys would be for Spencer to get healthy by September, and retake his starting position in October. That would also buy the Cowboys some time for Crawford to get healthy.

Achilles injuries are much harder to come back from than the ACL that Melton is recovering from. So, I really don’t know what to expect from Crawford. But Selvie played well last year, and with a stronger DT like Hageman, Sutton or Ferguson playing next to him, he will have an even better year in 2013 – unless Spencer surprises all of us and comes back as the Pro Bowl level player he was just two years ago.

Here is the draft that would fix the Cowboys defense in 2014:

  • 1st, 4th & 7th round picks traded to move up and get – DE Anthony Barr
  • 2nd round pick – FS Deion Bucannon
  • 3rd round pick – DT Will Sutton or DT Ego Ferguson
  • After the 3rd round, the Cowboys could focus on other positions.
  • 5th round pick – OG Anthony Steen or OG Trai Turner
  • Five 7th round picks – DE Aaron Lynch, DT Kerry Hyder, WR Jeff Janis, RB George Atkinson III, and OLB/DE James Gayle
  • Rookie Free Agent – RB Ben Malena



Engineer, writer and private NFL analyst, he began developing his own statistical analysis program in 1998 to measure and predict the performance of NFL teams. Scott is also a self-taught expert on the NFL salary CAP, analyzing how Cowboys contracts affect the team this year and in future seasons. Mr. Harris' skill lies in digging inside the numbers to explain which statistical measurements matter, and which do not. Mr. Harris developed his skill at writing for his college newspaper, and had his own politically oriented blog for several years. A passionate fan of the Cowboys, Scott uses his skill with numbers and writing to provide a unique viewpoint of the Cowboys and the NFL as a whole. He is a native of the DFW metroplex and currently resides in Golden, Colorado designing environmental controls systems for data centers, high rise buildings, college campuses, and government bases.

NFL Draft

Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts, a Pass Catching Theme Persists

John Williams

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Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts a Theme Persists

The Dallas Cowboys haven't played the 2018 NFL season yet, but that shouldn't stop us from looking ahead to the 2019 NFL Draft and seeing what players the team will have their eye on this fall.

With the NFL season fast approaching, that means the college football season is as well, and as we look through these mocks, perhaps you get an idea of whom to watch with a Cowboys perspective this fall.

I scoured the internet looking for the best and brightest minds and their "way too early 2019 mocks." As I perused the mocks, one thing was clear. Many of the national writers see the Dallas Cowboys going with an offensive pass catcher in the 2019 NFL Draft. Namely a TE.

TE Noah Fant, Iowa

Noah Fant, from the University of Iowa, will be a junior in his 2019 season and as a sophomore caught 30 passes for 494 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage may not look all that impressive, but if we think about Iowa's offense in the Big 10, we can understand that he's not going to get many opportunities to catch the ball when the team is running it as often as they do.

In fact, the Hawkeyes ran the ball 10 more times per game than they threw it and their quarterback only completed - on average - 15 passes a game.

Fant accounted for 21% of the receiving yards on the season and 42% of the passing touchdowns. He was only 36 yards away from leading the team in receiving despite catching 21 fewer passes than leader Nick Easley. No other pass catcher for Iowa had more than four receiving touchdowns.

If there's something not to like at the moment about Fant, it's his size.

At the moment, College Football Reference has him listed at 232 pounds. There are running backs that weigh more than Fant does and he'll probably need to add about 10-20 pounds in the NFL to be an effective in-line blocker.

Mocked to the Dallas Cowboys by Dane Brugler of The Draft Show on DallasCowboys.com. In a mock draft he did for Sports Day DFW and the Dallas Morning News, he had this to say.

"It is now the post-Witten era in Dallas and unless a tight end on the roster emerges this season, the position could be high on the wish list next offseason. His athleticism makes Fant an appealing up-and-coming prospect."

Dane Brugler - Sports Day DFW, Dallas Morning News

Eric Galko of The Sporting News selected the Iowa tight end to the Cowboys as well, seeing him as a special prospect that has the chance to fill the shoes of Jason Witten.

Ben Standig of NBC Sports Washington also had Noah Fant to the Cowboys, thinking they are in need of a Jason Witten replacement.

DE Austin Bryant, Clemson

Depending on what Dallas can get out of Right Defensive Ends Tyrone Crawford, Randy Gregory, Dorance Armstrong, and Charles Tapper, it could have the Cowboys taking a defensive end in the first round for the second time in three years.

Will Brinson's mock doesn't offer much analysis on Bryant, mostly saying that Clemson is going to be good. But here's what Draftek.com's Brett Clancy, who covers the 49ers, had to say about Bryant:

"Clemson's Austin Bryant is the 4th EDGE off the board in this mock and 2nd from his school, but he's still well worth a mid-round pick. Bryant broke out with 8.5 sacks as a junior last year and many thought he'd go pro. I like Bryant's move to stay in school and refine his game, specifically growing a repertoire of pass rush moves to complement his strong edge-setting ability."

Brett Clancy - Draftek.com

Bryant was amazingly disruptive for the Clemson Tigers as a junior, racking up 50 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks. At 6-5 265, he could come in and play right defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys on day one.

DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama

We know that the Dallas Cowboys have an affinity for Power 5 prospects and Jason Garrett goes back with Nick Saban.

Despite that relationship, it hasn't led to many Alabama players being selected by the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps, that should tell us something.

One other factor that could be in play with Davis is dependent upon who the defensive coordinator is in 2019. We all know that Rod Marinelli doesn't place premium draft value on defensive tackles, but prefers to find diamonds in the rough to develop.

If Kris Richard takes over as the defensive coordinator in 2019, the story could be a bit different. Seattle, with Richard at the defensive helm, selected defensive tackles in the second round of the 2016 and 2017 NFL Drafts.

If the Dallas Cowboys are going to spend a first on a defensive tackle, this is the guy to do it on.

He was highly productive as a sophomore for the Crimson Tide, racking up 69 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also had one interception that was returned for 19 yards. At 6-7 306 pounds, he has the size and frame to be an immediate impact player on the Dallas Cowboys interior.

If the Dallas Cowboys choose not to resign David Irving in the 2018 offseason and Maliek Collins doesn't take a step forward, then Davis becomes a real possibility.

Here's what Draftek's Cowboys analyst had to say about Raekwon Davis.

"Alabama's Raekwon Davis has played both DT and DE in the Crimson Tide's 3-man line. He can maintain his gaps against the run when needed, but his primary skill set is using his long arms and strong lower body to use a variety of pass rush moves to win with power and speed. 

"One red flag on Davis happened 8/27/17: he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet during the wee hours of Sunday morning at a Tuscaloosa bar (Bar 17) where several shootings have occurred over the past few years. Despite HC Jason Garrett's affinity for Nick Saban coached players, this incident might remove him from the Dallas board."

Long Ball - Dratek.com

Interestingly, Draftek did a second round in this mock and they sent Boston College Safety Lukas Denis to the Dallas Cowboys.

S Jaquan Johnson, Miami

Speaking of safeties, Dan Kadar over at SBNation sent one to the Dallas Cowboys in the form of Jaquan Johnson.

Johnson, from the University of Miami, was very productive in his junior season for the Hurricanes, racking up 96 total tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack and four interceptions. He returned one of those interceptions for a touchdown.

Here are Kadar's thoughts on the second team All-ACC player:

"There was a lot of talk during the draft that the Cowboys were in talks to trade for Earl Thomas. If they want to address safety next draft, Johnson was a second-team all-conference player who some thought would go pro."

Dan Kadar - SB Nation

Obviously, this pick will depend on what happens with Earl Thomas over the next nine months and the development of Xavier Woods, but Johnson will be a name to watch for teams that need a safety.

Looking Ahead to 2019 NFL Mock Drafts a Theme Persists 2

Miami Hurricanes WR Ahmmon Richards

WR Ahmmon Richards, Miami

Another Hurricane to have on your NFL Draft radars is Wide Receiver Ahmmon Richard, who is going into his junior season at Miami.

The Dallas Cowboys have begun the process of overhauling their wide receiver corp with the departures of Dez Bryant and Brice Butler in the 2018 offseason. In 2019, it's likely that Terrance Williams (contract) and Cole Beasley (age) could be next to go.

That would leave them with Michael Gallup, Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Deonte Thompson, Noah Brown, and Cedric Wilson as their WR depth chart. It's certainly a solid group, but adding a talent like Richards could help.

The Draft Wire's Luke Easterling believes, "Richards would be another great addition with impressive size and speed."

In two seasons at Miami, Richards has averaged 18.8 yards per reception, and 68.65 yards per game. He's got deep-threat ability which would combine well with Gallup and Hurns.

WR Collin Johnson, Texas

If Richards doesn't do it for you, then lets head a couple of hours south of Dallas to the University of Texas and Wide Receiver Collin Johnson.

Bleacher Report's Matt Miller has the Dallas Cowboys going with the junior wide receiver and had this to say:

"The Dallas Cowboys made interesting moves at wide receiver in the 2018 draft—trading Ryan Switzer to Oakland, acquiring Tavon Austin from Los Angeles, not selecting a receiver early—and will head into the upcoming season with a need for a playmaker down the field. Texas' Collin Johnson at 6'6" can be the downfield weapon and red-zone nightmare the Cowboys so badly want.

"Johnson does need to improve upon his production from the last two seasons and prove to scouts he can run well enough to separate from NFL defenders, but his size and hands are already getting buzzed about as teams prepare for the upcoming college season."

Matt Miller - Bleacher Report

I'll agree with Miller that Johnson will need to increase upon his production. Some believe that the quarterback limitations in Austin have been a factor, but at the moment, I'm leery of taking a wide receiver from the Big 12 that doesn't have excellent production in the first round of the draft.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

It's obvious from these mock drafts that analysts see the Dallas Cowboys continuing to invest in pass catchers for their offense and that is a reasonable thought.

Obviously, a lot will change between now and next April when the Dallas Cowboys go on the clock, but this gives us a bit of insight on who to watch in this upcoming college football season.

What names will you be watching in college football this season?



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NFL Draft

Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?

Sean Martin

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Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?

Last night, it was reported that Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Marquez White has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The incident comes from a traffic confrontation that took place back in October, where White -- according to his camp -- was justified in drawing his weapon for self-defense.

A promising young player that stuck on the Cowboys practice squad in his rookie season, the sixth round pick doesn't need this case hanging over his head as training camp approaches. When considering the timing up against this week's supplemental draft, and the rare crop of defensive back talent available in it, White could soon be fighting for relevance on the Cowboys roster.

Becoming complacent in building one of the best young secondaries in the league won't be an issue for the Cowboys under new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard. The Cowboys were relying on White to be a depth option behind projected starters Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis.

White's spot on the depth chart may very well hold up, but by the end of the week he could also have added competition in Adonis Alexander or Sam Beal.

Respectively, the former Virginia Tech and Western Michigan cornerbacks are two of the most talented supplemental prospects to enter the draft in years -- both likely to be the first players drafted since 2015.

Alexander and Beal are also joined by Mississippi State Safety Brandon Bryant as another backup option for Dallas.

Supplemental Draft: CB Adonis Alexander A Depth Option for Cowboys? 1

A lengthy cornerback with the toughness to play on the boundary, Alexander is a similar player to White, and one that Richard should love for his physical traits. Whether or not this natural skill outweighs some maturity issues that saw Alexander fall from freshman starter to suspended at VT will determine if the Cowboys feel comfortable sending away a 2019 draft pick for his services.

Where Alexander's career leaves his arrow trending downward on the eve of the supplemental draft, Beal is a rising prospect that some are calling the best to ever enter this draft.

An all-conference cornerback as a Junior out of Western Michigan, Beal improved with each passing college season, determined to finish out his degree along the way. However, once Beal's eligibility for his Senior season was called into question, the feisty 6'1" CB decided to turn towards the NFL.

Beal's professional football faith is now in the hands of any team that's done their homework on him. Projected to be taken as early as the third round, teams impressed by Beal's tape could be giving away a premium pick in next year's draft to add him just before training camp.

Should this team be the Cowboys, Beal's presence would put more than just White on notice. The Cowboys are also expecting corners like Duke Thomas and Kam Kelly to fight for roster spots. In a perfect world, say the one the Cowboys were living in yesterday before this White news broke, Thomas or Kelly could replace White on the practice squad as the Florida State product took another jump in Oxnard.

Cowboys CB Marquez White Could Emerge in 2018

Dallas Cowboys CB Marquez White

As I've written before though, teams must be relentless in their search for talent. The Cowboys have drafted well, but passed on big name free agents in recent years. The result is a young roster full of potential and ready to compete.

If either Adonis Alexander, Sam Beal, or even Brandon Bryant help them do so this year, we could be right here talking about a new Cowboys rookie in the middle of July. Marquez White would be happy to see this talk overshadow his legal situation for the moment.

This won't be the case when he's competing against another player that will likely cost the Cowboys more than the sixth round pick they invested in him two years ago.

Tell us what you think about "Does Marquez White Assault Charge Alter Cowboys Plan in Supplemental Draft?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

Brian Martin

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Have the Dallas Cowboys Overcome Their 2nd-Round Curse?

You may not be aware or maybe you've simply forgotten, but the Dallas Cowboys have struggled drafting players in the 2nd-round who can come in and contribute. Typically players drafted this highly are not only immediate contributors as a rookie, but are cornerstone players for years to come. That hasn't been the case for the Cowboys.

I don't know where you stand, but I was beginning to think the Dallas Cowboys were cursed with their 2nd-round draft picks. I know this was an area where they would gamble on players for some reason or another, but unfortunately it never really paid off. Hopefully, things are changing for the better.

Let's take a look back at past drafts to see what I'm talking about.

Past 2nd-Round Draft Picks Dating Back to 2006:

2018 Connor Williams
2017 Chidobe Awuzie
2016 Jaylon Smith
2015 Randy Gregory
2014 DeMarcus Lawrence
2013 Gavin Escobar
2012 (no selection) used to trade for Morris Claiborne
2011 Bruce Carter
2010 Sean Lee
2009 (no selection) traded out of 2nd-round
2008 Martellus Bennett
2007 (no selection) used to trade back into 1st for Anthony Spencer
2006 Anthony Fasano

You may be wondering why I decided to start all the way back in 2006. Well, I believe that's when the 2nd-round draft picks curse started for the Dallas Cowboys.

Anthony Fasano ended up having a solid career in the NFL, but he never lived up to his draft status as a former 2nd-round draft pick. The same can be said for Martellus Bennett, Gavin Escobar, and Bruce Carter. Shed a tear for them if you want, but I'd put them in the "bust" category.

Sean Lee

Dallas Cowboys LB Sean Lee

The sad truth is, Sean Lee is the only 2nd-round draft pick on this list to ever see a second contract with the Dallas Cowboys. Although, I guess you can include DeMarcus Lawrence since he will be playing under the franchise tag in 2018. But, that's still not a very good hit percentage in the 2nd-round for more than a decade. Luckily, it looks as if things are changing.

DeMarcus Lawrence might end up being another "hit" for the Cowboys. It may have taken him four years to reach his potential, but there's no denying how dominant he was last season. If he can maintain that dominance this season, he could be looking at a big payday from the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys took a risk on the next two players they drafted after D-Law. They knew Randy Gregory had his off the field issues, but were willing to take a chance on his talent in the 2nd-round. That has yet to pay off, but Gregory has a chance to rebound now that it looks as if he has his life back in order.

Jaylon Smith

Dallas Cowboys LB Jaylon Smith

The Cowboys took another risk in the following draft when they drafted Jaylon Smith. No one knew if he would ever be able to play again after the devastating knee injury he sustained in his final collegiate game, but it's looking as if he could make a full recovery and return to his pre-injury form. Year 3 will be big for him, but he could end up being an absolute steal.

Fortunately, the Cowboys 2017 and 2018 2nd-round draft picks (Chidobe Awuzie and Connor Williams) look to be cornerstone players for years to come. That's what you're looking for in players drafted this highly.

I say all of this because it's really looking like the Dallas Cowboys have finally broken their 2nd-round curse. Maybe it's a change in draft philosophy or maybe it's because Will McClay's voice carries more weight in the draft room, but it's definitely good news for the future of the franchise. Hopefully it continues.

Do you think the Dallas Cowboys 2nd-round curse has ended?



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