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Grading The Cowboys 2014 Draft

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The Dallas Cowboys went into the 2014 draft needing to improve the defense. Dallas picked at #16, right after the top defensive talent dropped off. Dallas hoped to land Ryan Shazier or Aaron Donald but the draft didn't fall their way and, like you are supposed to do, Dallas went BPA and grabbed Zack Martin. Don't buy into the Manziel hype; Jerry was just blowing smoke to try and force a trade. Lets begin grading the Cowboys 2014 draft pick by pick.

Zack Martin

When I first saw people mocking Zack Martin to the Cowboys in March I was very skeptical. I thought offensive line wasn't a major need. I also thought that we couldn't afford to not improve the defense via the first round.

Jerry Jones did everything he could trying to boost a Manziel trade-up, and it seemed like we had a solid chance, but the Browns decided to wait. I was happy about this pick because we didn't reach and we went with the best player on our board. Pairing Martin with offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, we have a very young and promising offensive line for years to come.

Everyone that was a big Aaron Donald fan needs to also know that Donald dominated every interior linemen at the Senior Bowl except Martin, who held his ground well against him. Martin is very versatile as he has played every spot on the line in his 50+ starts at Notre Dame. He'll step in and play from day one.

GRADE OF PICK: A

Demarcus Lawrence

The Cowboys elected to give up their 2nd and 3rd round picks to move up 14 spots and grab Demarcus Lawrence.

While I like the player and the fit, I wonder if we gave up too much to get him. A lot of scouts had a 1st-round grade on Lawrence so that makes it seem worth the gamble. He had one of the top 10-yard-sprint times at the combine and he had the biggest hands out of all of the defensive ends. He could be a very special pass-rusher and, ultimately, our answer on the outside.

I like Lawrence and his skill-set but I can't help noticing we could have gotten Kony Ealy at #48 who is a big-boom-or-bust guy, and Scott Crichton at #70. Hopefully Lawrence is the real deal. However, I'm going to grade this pick lower because I believe cost was too high.

GRADE OF PICK: C+

Anthony Hitchens

With the trade-up for Demarcus Lawrence, the Cowboys had to wait 85 picks until their next pick in the 4th round. It was a long wait to see the first "who is that?" pick.

When people think of an Iowa LB they tend to think of Kirksey and Morris, at least I did. That was until I actually went back and watched Iowa tape on Hitchens, and I must say I was impressed. He's not an unbelievable athlete and didn't blow away the combine workouts but he has great LB size and moves well.

In watching the tape he showed off his good ball-skills, he also blitzes well and is an effective tackler. When the pick was made I was a little disappointed but after doing my research on him I think he will contribute right away. That's what you hope for out of a 4th round pick - a guy who can contribute to your team as a rookie.

My only question is did everyone else have him as high as we did? A lot of scouts had him as 6th-URFA grade. Overall you can't complain too much after seeing the tape and understanding that Iowa and Penn St. are good places to draft LBs from.

GRADE OF PICK: B-

Devin Street

This is a pick I instantly liked. Devin Street was one of the under-the-radar wide-outs that I was hoping we would target late.

He's a perfect compliment to Dez Bryant on the opposite side at outside wide receiver. He has nice size and respectable 4.5 speed. When I've managed to catch a couple of Pittsburgh games in recent years I was most impressed with his ball-skills. He has very good body control and the ability to go and get it.

I think he rounds out our wide receiver core nicely.

He's an upgrade over Miles Austin and his worst yards per throw average in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Bottom line is this guy has great upside and was a late pick.

GRADE OF PICK: A

Ben Gardner

One of my favorite picks of our entire draft. I have watched almost every Stanford game and this guy always jumped out at me. He's got size and a great motor.


Some scouts had a late 2nd to late 3rd grade on him. Apparently, NFL teams saw it differently. I think the biggest knocks on him were his arm length and quickness. I see him being a great fit in our 4-3 scheme as a rotational guy opposite Lawrence.

Either way you look at it, Ben Gardner is a football player and I'm excited to see what Marinelli can do with him. A 7th round pick that can contribute beyond special teams is all you ask for. I'm stoked to see if Gardner gets on the field in 2014.

GRADE OF PICK: A+

Will Smith

Will Smith is going to be a special teams guy and/or coverage guy on 3rd down. Playing in the Big 12 he was asked to cover a lot of field every week against the various spread offenses.

Overall, he did a pretty good job. His weaknesses are his short arms and not getting off of blocks very effectively. His strengths lie in his ability to run well and cover on 3rd down.

He could be serviceable next year but not a ton of upside with this pick.

GRADE OF PICK: C+

 

Ahmad Dixon

There was a lot of buzz on Ahmad Dixon as the draft process started. As more people watched the film, the buzz shifted toward things not to like about Dixon. I wrote up a report on Ahmad Dixon so I know him quite well. I simply wasn't a fan but I specifically wasn't a fan of him in rounds 2-4 like some people ranked him.

I like the value of getting him in the 7th, though.

Dixon has upside. He runs well and can definitely lay the hammer. At the very least, he'll be a great special teams player for us.

In terms of his ability to play safety in Dallas, I am not sure I like his chances. He has a tough time in coverage and can miss a lot of tackles coming up out of control. The thing I like about him the most is he plays with a lot of passion and is the type of guy that could just simply figure it out in the pros and become a solid NFL player. I am hoping for that.

GRADE OF PICK: A-

Ken Bishop

First of all, I was a little disappointed that the first time we addressed the defensive interior wasn't until way back at pick #251.

Bishop comes from a successful program where he was fairly productive in the MAC conference. He's described as having the right mean-streak and football mentality but was very low on draft boards due to his size and lack of quickness.

As we all know, in the 7th round you're buying lottery tickets that could cash in. I'm not sure Bishop has the upside of the previous 7th round picks, but he is a big body with a mean-streak so... it's something to work with at least.

GRADE OF PICK: C+

Terrance Mitchell

This is the type of lottery ticket you hope your team takes in the 7th round. Mitchell is a classic case of a guy who came out too early.

Most scouts had a 3rd or 4th round grade on him and I've seen numerous Oregon games where I felt Mitchell had a lot of talent. But he can be inconsistent at times and was overshadowed by Ikre at Oregon.

Mitchell had a much better sophomore year than his junior year and that's another reason for his possible fall. Either way, he has shown signs that he can be a productive NFL starter and I think the value here is top notch.

GRADE OF PICK: A

 

Things we learned from this draft

  • Dallas has a lot of faith in J.J. Wilcox, Barry Church and Matt Johnson at the safety position
  • Callahan actually does like Lance Dunbar since we didn't pick a single RB to help Demarco Murray out
  • We were never going to take Manziel!
  • The success of this draft hinges on Demarcus Lawrence; if he doesn't produce then this draft will be considered a failure

At the end of the day, as a fan of the Cowboys and an avid draft enthusiast, I feel that the Cowboys indeed did get better. That's the whole point, right? Lets hope we can stay healthy this year and see what guys like Crawford and Johnson and this rookie class can do for this team.


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Cowboys Land CB in Matt Miller’s way-too-early 2020 NFL Mock Draft

Brian Martin

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Matt Miller's 2020 Mock Draft Predicts Cowboys Strengthen Their Secondary

What better way to kick off the 2019 NFL regular-season and the start of college football then a way-too-early 2020 mock draft? Well, you're in luck. Matt Miller, one of my favorite draft analysts, just released his latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft for Bleacherreport.com and you may be surprised as to who he selected for the Dallas Cowboys.

One of the reasons I enjoy Matt Miller's work above many other so-called "draft analysts" is because he has his ear to the ground and has a pretty good connection with scouts around the league. That kind of information is pretty invaluable, but he also has a solid understanding of team "needs". Add all of that up and you get a really solid guesstimate of who could be on a certain teams radar, in this case the Dallas Cowboys.

Let's take a look at who Matt Miller predicted the Dallas Cowboys could draft in the 2020 NFL Draft with their first-round selection. Miller set this particular mock draft according to current Super Bowl odds from Caesar's Palace.

25. Dallas Cowboys

Bryce Hall

Virginia Cavaliers CB Bryce Hall

The Pick: CB Bryce Hall, Virginia

Matt Miller predicting the Dallas Cowboys select Cornerback Bryce Hall with there first-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft definitely seems like a plausible possibility. He knows the Cowboys can't afford to pay everyone and he even said as much. With Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering a contract year in 2019 and with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis having expiring contracts after 2020, Dallas' secondary could definitely need addressing.


The Cowboys know this as well which is why they probably attempted to add some developmental depth to the CB position through the 2019 NFL Draft when they took Mike Jackson in the fifth-round. Jackson has the attributes they look for in their corners, but in no way has he looked like he'd be ready for a starting role next season. That makes Miller's Bryce Hall selection a definite possibility.

According to Miller's 2020 mock draft Bryce Hall is the fourth secondary player to come off the board. There were three cornerbacks selected ahead of him and one safety. He does fit the mold Kris Richard prefers in his CBs (6'1", 200) and also has the physical playing style in press coverage Richard likes as well. All in all, this is a very solid prediction for the Dallas Cowboys.

Whether or not the Dallas Cowboys would choose to select a CB this early is unknown at this point. But, it certainly seems like a high possibility considering all the corners with expiring contracts in a year or two. I think the Cowboys could look into taking a tight end or a safety with their first-round pick as well, but again it's way too early to have any kind of clue as to how their draft board will look like when the 2020 NFL Draft rolls around.

I don't know about you, but I'll be keeping a closer eye on Bryce Hall this season just in case Matt Miller is correct. I'd like to get a head start to see just how well he would fit, or not, with the Dallas Cowboys.

Do you like the Bryce Hall selection for the Dallas Cowboys?


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2020 RB Options for the Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

Brian Martin

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2020 RB Options for Cowboys if Things Turn Ugly With Ezekiel Elliott

The Dallas Cowboys could have a Le'Veon Bell-type situation on their hands in regards to Ezekiel Elliott. It's been reported Zeke is contemplating a holdout until his financial demands are met by way of a contract extension. This could put the Cowboys between a rock and a hard place.

Ezekiel Elliott is technically still under contract for two more seasons because of the fifth-year option he carries as a former first-round draft pick. Threatening to hold out seems a little premature, but Zeke has the Cowboys by the short hairs right now, meaning the leverage is on his side.

This is a situation that could, unfortunately, turn ugly, and quickly.

Check out Ep. 6 of Cowboys Weekly - Segment 1 for more discussion from Inside The Star on Ezekiel Elliott's Hold-Out situation:

The Cowboys have several other mouths to feed and Zeke may not be at the top the list considering his continued immaturity issues off the field. His on-field production is undeniable, but so are the red flags that keep popping up. It may be time for Dallas to look for his successor and fortunately, the 2020 running back draft class is a pretty good place to start.

Let's take a look…

Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin

Jonathan Taylor

Wisconsin Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor

Jonathan Taylor (5'11", 219) would probably be the ideal candidate to replace Ezekiel Elliott for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of the more productive collegiate running backs expected to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and has the intangibles that are eerily similar to Zeke as far as size, speed, and power are concerned. Unfortunately, that likely makes him a top 10 selection, putting him out of reach of the Cowboys.

Taylor doesn't come without his warts though. As a true Junior, he's seen a lot of action in his three years as the starting RB for the Badgers. That wear-and-tear is a cause for concern because it could lead to durability issues once in the NFL. He also has struggled with his ball security. He's put the ball on the ground 12 times in the last two seasons, which will need to be cleaned up at the next level. But, there's no denying his talent.

D'Andre Swift, Georgia

D'Andre Swift

Georgia Bulldogs RB D'Andre Swift

D'Andre Swift (5'9", 215) is one of my favorite RB options in the 2020 draft class to replace Ezekiel Elliott if things turn ugly with the Dallas Cowboys. He doesn't have the same kind of production as Jonathan Taylor and is still somewhat under the radar because he's been stuck in a committee with the Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, and Elijah Holyfield the last two years. But mark my words, he will be the next great RB to enter the NFL out of Georgia. Swift could be as ideal of a candidate to replace Zeke as there is.

Dallas likes an inside runner with zone vision as well as someone who can be a threat in the passing game, and D'Andre fits the bill. Despite being a little smaller in size than Zeke, he still possesses the power to run inside. Then throw in his receiving ability, 32 catches for 297 yards and three touchdowns last season, and you have someone who is more than capable of replacing #21's offensive production. He's projected to be a late first-round pick, which could put him within striking distance of the Cowboys.


J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State

J.K. Dobbins

Ohio State Buckeyes RB J.K. Dobbins

J.K. Dobbins (5'10", 214) could be someone who is already on the Dallas Cowboys' radar as a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement. They seem to have a liking for Ohio State running backs (Zeke, Rod Smith, Mike Weber) and could turn to another Buckeye to carry the rock. Dobbins, an all-purpose back and native Texan (Houston, TX) checks all of the boxes the Cowboys typically look for in their featured back.

Dobbins has the size, speed, and vision to be a featured back in the NFL. He has rushed for over 1,000 yards his last two seasons while splitting time with Mike Weber and has averaged about 200 receiving yards during that time span as well. He's not the most physical back, but he keeps moving his feet upon contact. He also needs to improve in pass protection in order to become a true three-down RB in the NFL. But his vision, shorter area quickness, elusiveness, and patience as a runner are all top-notch.

Travis Etienne, Clemson

Travis Etienna

Clemson Tigers RB Travis Etienna

The breakout season of Quarterback Trevor Lawrence, unfortunately, overshadowed the Heisman-worthy year Travis Etienna (5'10", 200) had in 2018. In his first year as a starter, he rushed for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns, all the while averaging an impressive 8.1 yards per carry. If he can follow that up in 2019 he could become the most coveted back in the 2020 draft class and become a really intriguing option for the Dallas Cowboys.

Etienne will probably need to add a little bit more "good weight" and muscle to his frame if he wants to be considered a featured back in the NFL. If he can accomplish that and not lose any of his elusiveness or speed he should climb up draft boards. If not, he may not be of much interest to the Cowboys because they already have a similar RB in Tony Pollard. He does possess plug-and-play talent though, making him a potential Ezekiel Elliott replacement.

Najee Harris, Alabama

Najee Harris

Alabama Crimson Tide RB Najee Harris

Najee Harris (6'2", 230) is yet another big, physical running back who has had to remain patient and wait his turn at Alabama, but 2019 could be his breakout season. With Bo Scarbrough, Josh Jacobs, and Damien Harris ahead of him on the depth chart the last two years, Najee saw limited playing time. But, when he did receive the opportunity to showcase his skill set he didn't disappoint. His physical talent could make him a top-5 running back come draft time.

Despite his limited playing time last the two seasons, he averaged over 6 yards a carry. He rushed for a career-high 783 yards and four touchdowns on just 117 carries in 2018 and should easily surpass those totals this season. In doing so he should become one of the more sought after RBs in the 2020 draft class. With the Cowboys, as Zeke's potential replacement, his physicality would pair nicely with Tony Pollard's slashing style. A Harris/Pollard duo could be just as productive as the Cowboys running game has been in the past.

Honorable Mention

The above five running backs are all potential Ezekiel Elliott replacements who I really like and will likely receive the most national attention due to the programs in which they play. But, they are only a few in what looks like a really strong 2020 RB draft class. Here a few honorable mentions you should also keep a close eye on as well.

  • Cam Akers, Florida State
  • Eno Benjamin, Arizona State
  • Kennedy Brooks, Oklahoma
  • Ke'Shawn Vaughn, Vanderbilt
  • Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

I believe any of these running backs mentioned above at any point in the article could be in play for the Dallas Cowboys if they choose to play hardball with Ezekiel Elliott over his want for a contract extension. The 2020 running back draft class has a plethora of potential starters and this could be in the back of the Cowboys mind when they're determining where they want to spend their money. Paying top dollar for an RB might not fit in their budget, even for one as talented as Zeke.

Do you like any of these potential RBs as replacements for Ezekiel Elliott?


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Cowboys Draft: Reviewing Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Kevin Brady

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Cowboys Draft: Kansas DT Daniel Wise

Throughout the post draft media process, the Cowboys' decision makers have been adamant that they found multiple draft-able players in undrafted free agency this year. Each of which, of course, will have an opportunity to compete for a roster or practice squad spot this summer.

One of those players who almost certainly had a draft-able grade despite fall through all seven rounds, is Kansas defensive tackle Daniel Wise.

At 6'3" and 290 pounds, Wise projects as a 3-technique in the NFL, and should compete for that very role on the Cowboys defense. Wise is not an overly bendy or athletic player, but he has a good initial quickness which allows him to penetrate gaps well. Wise plays with excellent effort, having the type of motor that I'm sure Rod Marinelli valued highly during the pre-draft evaluations.

A strong and powerful interior presence, Wise can offer some upside as a pass rusher as well. He has quick, active, and heavy hands. When combining his hands with his get-off, Wise is a real threat as a pass rusher. Maybe his most impressive pass rushing quality, however, is the effort which he plays with. Never giving up on a play, you'll have to block Wise until the final whistle or he will threaten for effort sacks.

In college, Wise was often asked to be a two-gap defender from the 5-technique, but that's just not where he'll be at his best. Rather, he should be used in the role the Cowboys likely envision for him, allowing him to play with power at the point of attack and disrupt the running game.


But what are Daniel Wise's chances of even making the team?

The Cowboys made a concerted effort to improve their defensive line this offseason, specifically on the interior. By adding free agents like Kerry Hyder and drafting Trysten Hill 58th overall, Dallas has improved what was considered a weakness during the postseason a year ago.

Not all of these talented defensive tackles will make the team, though, it's simply a numbers a game. And cutting an undrafted free agent will certainly be easier to do than cutting someone who will be owed real money, or was acquired through premium draft capital.

Regardless, Daniel Wise will have the chance to prove his worth during training camp and the preseason. And based on how he projects through his college tape and physical attributes, he'll likely make those final decisions very difficult on the Cowboys' staff.


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