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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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NFL Draft

Cowboys Mock Draft: 2 Different Simulators, 2 Different Outcomes

Brian Martin

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7-Round Cowboys Mock Drafts Using Draft Network and Fanspeak

The Dallas Cowboys have done an outstanding job of filling holes with some cost-effective free agents so far in free agency, which should allow them two approach the 2019 NFL Draft without any glaring "needs". This should free them up to take the best player available if they so choose, but they still have to keep the future in mind as well. After all, there are several players on a one-year deal or entering the last year of their contracts.

For this 7-round Dallas Cowboys mock draft exercise I decided to use the mock draft simulators for Draft Network and Fanspeak. I was curious to see the difference, if any, between the two. I have to say, even though I used two different draft simulators, I was pretty happy with the way things turned out.

Let's take a look…

Draft Network

Fanspeak

Rd 2 (58) DE, Christian Miller DE, Christian Miller
Rd 3 (90) DT, Trysten Hill S, Amani, Hooker
Rd 4 (128) OT, Bobby Evans TE, Kahale Warring
Rd 4 (136) S, Marquise Blair RB, Rodney Anderson
Rd 5 (165) WR, Jalen Hurd DT, Michael Dogbe
Rd 7 (241) RB, James Williams WR, Cody Thompson

Even though I used two different draft simulators, you can clearly see the positions I was targeting for the Dallas Cowboys. I think each one of these players I selected can challenge for a starting job in 2019, but at the worst can be solid depth this year and then become starters in 2020.

Let's dive into this a little deeper so I can tell you why a selected each one of these players…

2nd-round (58th overall)

Christian Miller is the only player I drafted in both mock drafts for the Dallas Cowboys. He is one of my "pet cats" this year and someone who I believe fits the criteria the Cowboys look for in their defensive ends. I believe he could challenge to be a starter as a rookie, but at worst would be a really good rotational piece with starting potential down the road.

3rd-round (90th overall)

Trysten Hill is a penetrating DT who could challenge Maliek Collins to become the starting three-technique as a rookie, but at the very least be a really good rotational piece with starting potential.

Amani Hooker is someone who I believe could start next to Xavier Woods as a rookie, even after the Dallas Cowboys added George Iloka to the mix.

4th-round (128th overall)

Bobby Evans has the ability to play the left or right tackle position in the NFL and could immediately challenge La'el Collins at RT. At worst, he would be Collins' replacement in 2020.

Sitting behind Jason Witten and learning for a season would be ideal for Kahale Warring, because he does have the potential to become the Dallas Cowboys TE1 in 2020 despite his lack of college production.

4th-round (136th overall)

Marquise Blair is an underrated safety in the 2019 draft class and someone who would also pair nicely with Xavier Woods. He played mostly strong safety at Utah, but as the ability to be a factor in coverage as well.

Rodney Anderson would immediately step in and become Ezekiel Elliott's backup as a rookie. He is an upgrade over Rod Smith and has starting potential if he can stay healthy.

5th-round (165th overall)

Despite signing Randall Cobb, the Dallas Cowboys could use a slot receiver for the future. I personally really like Jalen Hurd as a "big slot". He gives the Cowboys some size at the WR position and a big target for Dak Prescott to throw to in the slot.

Michael Dogbe is another potential three-technique with starting potential for the Cowboys. He'd likely be a rotational player as a rookie, but could take over for Maliek Collins in 2020.

7th-round (254th overall)

James Williams would bring an intriguing skill set to the Dallas Cowboys as Zeke's backup running back. He is arguably the best receiving RB in the entire draft out of the backfield and when split out wide like a WR.

Cody Thompson reminds me of LA Rams WR Cooper Kupp and would play a similar role with the Cowboys. He needs to fine-tune his route running, but I think he can become their future slot receiver.



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NFL Draft

Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Blake Jarwin, Giants

Tight end has become a very intriguing position in Dallas. For the first time in 15 years, the Cowboys went through a season without Jason Witten lining up with the offense in 2018. Instead, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz took over and didn't contribute much to a struggling offense. They both had a few flashes here and there, but TE production wasn't really special for the Cowboys last season. Now, Witten is back from retirement and he'll work with the younger guys to upgrade the offense.

However, tight end still feels like a team need at this point. Jason Witten will be 37 years old when the season begins. His speed was a problem during the last years of his career and that problem will likely show on the field now that he's back. The Cowboys made a good decision bringing him back, but he's clearly not a long-term answer.

Jason Witten, FOX Sports, and the Future at Tight End for the Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten (James D. Smith / Dallas Cowboys)

It seems like Witten will get the starts, but don't expect Blake Jarwin to have no say on who's the most important TE on the team. Jarwin didn't have the best stats in 2018 but, how could he? There were only three games last season in which he was targeted more than three times. In those games, he had 229 yards, including a three touchdown performance versus the New York Giants (when he was targeted eight times).

With Kellen Moore taking over as the offensive coordinator, tight ends might be more involved on the Cowboys offense than in previous years. If that's the case, the Cowboys will have Jason Witten, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz on the roster. All three of these guys will be able to contribute. Schultz is the one who's still unproven, but he did a decent job as a rookie both as a blocker and as a receiver on the rare occasions a ball was thrown his way.

We talk about drafting a tight end for the future when the Cowboys might see their future in Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. These two along with Jason Witten are virtual locks to make the roster. The Cowboys would need to carry four tight ends for it to make sense to draft one in the first place.

Fortunately, the Cowboys have done something at pretty much every position of need this offseason, giving them flexibility to take a "best player available" in April. I truly won't be surprised if the front office doesn't prioritize the need for a young TE. If they do, let's hope they get a very good one.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys Draft: Evaluating the Need for a Tight End" 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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NFL Draft

Is Defensive End a 2nd Round Need for Cowboys?

Mauricio Rodriguez

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Randy Gregory

It seemed as if defensive end wouldn't be a concern for the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. DeMarcus Lawrence did an amazing job last season keeping up his level of play and making a statement on why he's one of the best defensive players in the NFL. Randy Gregory had a tremendous comeback season with six sacks in only 14 games. It felt like the Cowboys didn't have to worry about the position this offseason. Unfortunately, Randy Gregory received an indefinite suspension by the NFL for violating the league's Policy and and Program for Substance Abuse. The 26 year old defensive end had just been reinstated prior to the season after sitting out most of his career.

Now the Cowboys are in search of a defensive end to play opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence (who by the way, has yet to reach an agreement with the team for a long term deal), who's reached elite status after the last couple of seasons.

Often, the positions that come to mind when discussing the team's current needs are defensive tackle, safety and before the front office signed Randall Cobb, wide receiver. However, I'm convinced defensive end is right up there and I wouldn't be surprised if the Cowboys draft one in the second round with the 58th overall pick.

Of course, the focus right now seems to be in trading for Miami Dolphins' DE Robert Quinn. I honestly believe that'd be a great move by the Cowboys' front office. Quinn will be 29 years old when the season begins and he still has a ton of gas left in the tank. In the past two seasons he's racked up 15 sacks and four forced fumbles. He'll be a good pass rusher for whoever he plays with once the season begins.

If a trade for Quinn doesn't take place and the team fails to upgrade the position via free agency, defensive end should be considered a top priority in the 2019 NFL Draft. There's bound to be quality prospects when the Cowboys get in the clock for the first time in April.

Right now the defense counts with Dorance Armstrong, Taco Charlton, Tyrone Crawford (who is currently under investigation by the NFL after getting in trouble at a bar) to take care of the position. Add to the mix recently signed free agents Christian Covington and Kerry Hyder, two players who could end up playing in the interior as well. The team definitely needs some additional help. When push comes to shove, the team is deep along the defensive line. What the Cowboys are missing are guys who can be unquestioned starters instead of rotational players.

As all eyes lay on a possible trade for Robert Quinn, keep an eye out for a defensive end's name being called by the commissioner when the Cowboys make the 58th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

Tell me what you think about "Is Defensive End a 2nd Round Need for Cowboys?" 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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