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.
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
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+
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-
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
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 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+
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-
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+
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.
Can Powers of Persuasion Help Make Will Hernandez a Cowboy?
There is no shortage of NFL hopefuls who would like to become a member of the Dallas Cowboys in the 2018 NFL Draft. But, not one of them have used their powers of persuasion to make their intentions known as much as former UTEP offensive guard Will Hernandez.
Throughout the entire draft process, Will Hernandez has done nothing but stand out when given the opportunity. He first started to make waves at the 2018 Senior Bowl, where he pretty much dominated his competition. Then, he improved his draft stock even more by putting on a show at the Scouting Combine.
The 6'2", 330 pound offensive guard has likely cemented himself as a surefire first-round draft pick and is arguably the second-ranked OG in the entire 2018 draft class. He is a plug-and-play prospect for any team who drafts him, but he has made his intentions well known that he would love to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Back in February, Will Hernandez was spotted hanging out with the Cowboys bookend offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and La'el Collins, to see the premiere of the movie Death Wish, starring Bruce Willis.
@PujolsFive Cowboys fans will appreciate this post!! ⭐️ Movie Premiere #Deathwish Great movie!
To see Will Hernandez rubbing elbows with a few of the Dallas Cowboys talented offensive lineman only strengthened the connection for Hernandez becoming a draft pick by America's Team. But, this wasn't the only time the former UTEP offensive guard was seen out with a Cowboys player.
In March, he was once again seen out on the town with the Cowboys All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.
Huge blessing being surrounded by players like this 👊🏽👊🏽
All of this can probably be chalked up to a current player hanging out with an NFL hopeful, but as a Cowboys fan you want to believe it's more than just a coincidence.
The Dallas Cowboys without a doubt need a new starting left guard. It can be argued it's the team's biggest need this offseason and Will Hernandez fits the bill to a T. He would immediately upgrade the entire offensive line and solidify the unit for years to come.
The only problem is, the Dallas Cowboys have already invested quite a bit in their offensive line and taking Will Hernandez in the first round would be considered by some as overkill. I for one wouldn't be opposed to taking him at 19 if he is the top rated player when the Cowboys are on the clock.
It's hard to know if seeing Will Hernandez hanging out with Tyron Smith and La'el Collins improves his chances of being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but it definitely doesn't hurt. Offensive lines around the NFL perform at their best when they play as a cohesive unit, so developing a bond already could be viewed as a good thing.
Who knows, maybe Will Hernandez's powers of persuasion will pay off and end up being the deciding factor to help him become the next first-round offensive lineman drafted by the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you read anything into Will Hernandez hanging out with Cowboys players?
Keeping Dez Bryant Shouldn’t Stop Cowboys From Drafting Calvin Ridley
With NFL Free Agency buzz at full speed this week, Dez Bryant is one of the most intriguing names in the Dallas Cowboys world. We all know the story. We've been talking about it since last season. Bryant, who was once among the "Top WR of the league" conversation, doesn't look like an elite player anymore.
That doesn't mean he is a bad football player, but the problem is that he's getting paid big time.
The Dallas Cowboys, who have struggled with cap space for many years now, may want to avoid paying $16.5M to a player who isn't justifying his paychecks on the field. Big name and all, it certainly doesn't feel that way.
His lack of production on the field the last three years is concerning, even though he's played with quarterbacks not named "Tony Romo." There are other receivers around the league who have played with bad quarterbacks and have still been able to produce.
Even still, it wouldn't be easy to replace Bryant on the offense just like that. Right now, top free agents are already off the market, so if Dallas wants to replace him, it'd have to be via trade or via the NFL Draft.
ICYMI: A few things to consider as we wait on news about Dez Bryant's future with the Dallas Cowboys https://t.co/cCNpXmhARe
Right now, it seems that Dez is going to remain a Dallas Cowboy and after seeing the contracts other receivers in the league are about to get, who knows if a pay cut will even enter the equation.
Even if Dez keeps wearing the Star every week next season, wide receiver is still one of the team's top needs. Despite the fact that Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Terrance Williams and Jason Witten are some very well-known names, the truth is this offense needs a guy who can create separation and be harmful as a deep threat.
This is a draft class with a lot of depth at wide receiver, and the Cowboys could find contributors at the second or later rounds. Even still, if they're on the clock at 19 and Alabama's Calvin Ridley is available, the front office should pull the trigger.
Yes, even if Dez is still on the team.
Despite last year's struggles, we shouldn't lose faith on the Cowboys' offense when it has a lot of talent. We believed in this group to take us to the Super Bowl. What they are missing could just be a new, dynamic wide receiver.
Calvin Ridley is by far the best WR in the Draft this year and will be an impact player anywhere he goes. Despite a poor showing in the Combine, Ridley proves to be worthy of a first round pick on tape. Ideal route-running, great ability to separate and more than enough speed for the NFL.
This would certainly take a lot of pressure off Cole Beasley's shoulders, who was constantly double-teamed last year. Sure, he's still good, but if he continues to run into double-coverage, Dak Prescott and company will probably continue to struggle another year.
It's tough to imagine Calvin Ridley being available at 19, especially with the Baltimore Ravens holding the 16th overall pick. However, some people believe there's a 50/50 chance he's available once Dallas is on the clock. If that's the case, the Cowboys shouldn't pass on this prospect.
Ridley could very well end up being the most productive receiver for the Cowboys in 2018 becoming an essential "best friend" for Dak Prescott.
We've seen how other front offices have made friendly offenses for their young QBs and if Calvin Ridley is what it takes, why even think about it?
2018 NFL Draft: What Cowboys Look For In LBs
As we continue to move through the Cowboys' positions of need and construct their overall draft board, we now take a look at what Dallas tends to look for in linebackers.
The Cowboys have some real questions to answer within their linebacker corps this offseason. Sean Lee is an obvious stud, but his injury history makes him a bit unreliable. Jaylon Smith began to come along later in the season, but how much better will he be in 2018? And then, of course, there is the impending free agency of Anthony Hitchens the team must deal with.
The Cowboys will certainly be looking at this somewhat-deep linebacker class in the upcoming draft, and after reviewing what their "type" has been in the past, a few prospects stood above the rest.
And here it is for LB. Better set of training data so should be more predictive of future picks. LVE is a freak athletically.
For starters, Virginia Tech's Tremaine Edmunds must have been built in a lab. At 6'4" 253 pounds he is much bigger and stronger than the typical Cowboys linebacker, but his athletic testing all exceed the normal thresholds as well. He is significantly faster and more athletic than the typical Dallas draft pick, and would be an excellent candidate with the 19th overall pick. Unfortunately, I don't anticipate him being their for the taking.
Iowa's Josey Jewell is an interesting prospect to evaluate. A rather reliable player on film, Jewell also passes each of the athletic thresholds set by Dallas in previous years. Well, besides his 40 time, which is nearly a full second slower than their average selection. Still, considering his tape, short shuttle, 3 cone, and broad jump, I expect him to be a potential target for the Cowboys on day two.
The 2 linebackers which fit the Cowboys' plan best, however, are BYU's Fred Warner and Boise State's Leighton Vander Esch.
As seen on the spreadsheet, Vander Esch is a certified freak by Cowboys' standards. He greatly exceeds each of Dallas' athletic markers, and does it all at 6'4" and over 250 pounds. Like I said, he's an athletic freak in the eyes of the Cowboys.
Warner is just below the average weight in previous years (by only 2 pounds), but he is much more athletic than players we've seen the Cowboys draft since 2011. He is converting from more of an EDGE-type role in college to being a full time off-ball linebacker, and so far he has looked comfortable doing so at the Senior Bowl and Combine.
Considering the struggles the Cowboys have had on defense as of late, finding these younger and faster players should be a priority. And, as indicated by the testing of their previous draft classes, the Cowboys should be able to upgrade on that athleticism during the 2018 NFL Draft.
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