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What Happened to the Cowboys’ 2014 Draft Class?

Jess Haynie

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

This will be the fourth season for players from the 2014 NFL Draft. That means expiring rookie contracts for most, which often comes with a referendum on how that player has lived up to their draft status. It's a little difficult for the Dallas Cowboys, though, as surprisingly few players remain from their 2014 draft.

Indeed, only three of the nine players drafted by the Cowboys that year remain on the team. Fullback Keith Smith was an undrafted free agent that year and has stuck around, though that still leaves six guys who didn't make it.

That number may surprise you in this new era of Cowboy draft management. We now think of Dallas as a strong draft performer thanks to the rise of Will McClay in the front office and the influence of Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett. I wouldn't have guessed so many players from that 2014 class were gone given other recent history.

Early Success

One big reason that we may not think poorly about the 2014 class is that the first-round pick worked out so well. Zack Martin may be the best guard in all of football and is about to get a major contract extension. Even though Dallas had already found great offensive linemen in Tyron Smith and Travis Frederick, adding Martin immediately made it the best line in football.

The next pick has been a disappointment, but at least he's still with the team. DeMarcus Lawrence took up our second and third-round picks in 2014 as Dallas moved up to select him. He has had strong moments but injuries and a suspension have held back his full potential. As I wrote about recently, this contract year will be huge for Lawrence's future with either the Cowboys or another team.

Fourth-round pick Anthony Hitchens has been a steady, versatile performer who has done more than his fair share since joining the Cowboys. He may get pushed out this year by the debut of Jaylon Smith and continued development of Damien Wilson, but there's no question that Dallas got a good return on their draft investment with Hitchens.

Ben Gardner

DE Ben Gardner

Later Picks Lacked Staying Power

Of the six guys drafted after Anthony Hitchens, none are still in Dallas and only two currently have NFL jobs. None of emerged as any sort of significant contributor for a team.

WR Devin Street lasted two years in Dallas and was mostly known for some bad drops. He was released at final cuts before the start of 2016 and has since bounced around the AFC with the Patriots and Colts practice squads. Street has recently signed with the Jets and anxiously awaits to find out who might be throwing him the ball.

Ben Gardner was looking like a potential boost to the defensive line before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He came back in 2015 but couldn't make the team. He has spent some time with the Chargers practice squad over the last two years but is currently a free agent.

Linebacker Will Smith couldn't make the team as a rookie and took so many good "Fresh Prince" and "Wild Wild West" jokes with him. He is currently signed with Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL.

Ahmad Dixon flashed as a hard-hitting playmaker in his rookie preseason but had a problem showing up on time to practice and meetings. Dallas didn't keep him past final cuts and Dixon quickly bounced between the Vikings, Bears, and Dolphins during that same season. He has not been in the NFL since 2014.

Like Smith, defensive tackle Ken Bishop is currently gettin' jiggy in the CFL. He was with the Cowboys for a year and half but got released midway through 2015 to make room for Greg Hardy. No other NFL team signed him before the made his way up to Canada.

The last guy drafted in 2014, cornerback Terrance Mitchell is actually doing the best of this bunch. He didn't make it with Dallas as a rookie but has since caught on with Kansas City.  He started two games last season and is expected to compete for a starting role in 2017.

~ ~ ~

Anyone drafted in the fifth round or lower is hardly guaranteed to become a significant player, or even make your squad as a rookie. However, losing on six spins at the roulette wheel is bad for any NFL team regardless of the rounds. You'd like to think that at least one guy like Anthony Brown would emerge from the pack.

This year's draft class features players like safety Xavier Woods and receiver Noah Brown who many hope will be late-round studs like Anthony was in 2016. Unfortunately, the 2014 class is a reminder of just how hard it is to make it in the NFL.


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!

Dallas Cowboys

REPORT: Cowboys DL David Irving’s Accuser Retracts Claims Of Domestic Violence

Kevin Brady

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David Irving

After what was a rather crazy day which resulted in reports the Frisco Police Department were investigating Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving for domestic violence, the accuser has now retracted her claims.

https://twitter.com/DCBlueStar/status/988527577915674624

This retraction comes after the mentioned reports of domestic violence claims against David Irving earlier in the day. Irving was neither arrested nor charged for the incidents, though two separate allegations were made.

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms allegations made against Cowboys player David Irving were reported on April 22nd. At two separate times: 5pm & 10pm. Allegations made by girlfriend @wfaa

Irving has claimed through his own social media account that his accuser is an ex-girlfriend looking for retaliation over a breakup. Irving has already said he has changed the locks on his house in attempt to change behavior moving forward.

Whether or not Irving abused his reported ex-girlfriend is not for me to say, but it will be interesting to see how Roger Goodell handles the matter after she retracted her claims later in the day. As we know very well, the NFL can claim violation of the personal conduct policy even if the justice system pursues no charges.

And the results of both the Frisco PD's investigation and that of the league office will be intriguing over the coming weeks and months.


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Player News

REPORT: Cowboys DE/DT David Irving Suspected of Domestic Violence

Jess Haynie

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David Irving

[4/24/18 UPDATE: Irving's accuser has since recanted with police. However, the NFL could still investigate under their domestic violence policy.]

ORIGINAL STORY

Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman David Irving is under investigation by Frisco, TX police for charges of domestic violence, according to a report by Jobin Panicker of WFAA-ABC in Dallas.

The following was tweeted from Panicker's account not long ago:

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms it is investigating serious allegations against Cowboys player David Irving. No arrests. Assault-Bodily Injury, Unlawful Restraint, & Assault-Impeding Breath and Circulation @wfaa

Jobin Panicker on Twitter

BREAKING @FriscoPD confirms allegations made against Cowboys player David Irving were reported on April 22nd. At two separate times: 5pm & 10pm. Allegations made by girlfriend @wfaa

The veracity of the accusations are certainly not ours to judge, but other recent events on Irving's social suggest he is in the middle of a breakup with his girlfriend. Posts early this morning on his Twitter account appeared to be from an unauthorized user, and David later posted on both Twitter and Instagram that someone had hacked him.

Furthermore, Irving shared that he was already taking steps due to the volatile situation.

David Ja Rodd Irving on Twitter

@DCBlueStar Changed the locks yesterday

While personal lives should stay that way, Cowboys fans are understandably concerned after what happened last year with Ezekiel Elliott. As we saw then, Roger Goodell's "justice" system allows for just an accusation to lead to a suspension. There is no burden of proof on the accuser.

And as in that case, even if the police dismiss the allegation, the NFL can still pursue the matter under the personal conduct and domestic violence policies.

It would be nice to just say "let the process play out," but the NFL commissioner doesn't hold himself to that standard. Therefore, we have to report this as it could mean consequences for David Irving and the Dallas Cowboys no matter how legitimate the claims are.


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Player News

Jaylon Smith Practicing Without AFO Brace

John Williams

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Jaylon Smith Voted Cowboys' Ed Block Courage Award Winner 1

A lot of the talk circling the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL Draft is the need for the Cowboys to draft a linebacker as insurance to Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith's injury issues.

One of the questions, Sean Lee, will always be a question. When he's on the field, he's as good a linebacker as there is in the NFL. In 2016, he finally got in a near full season and rewarded the Dallas Cowboys with an All-Pro season that led the team to the playoffs. Talent has never been the issue with Lee. Keeping him on the field has been.

Jaylon Smith's question isn't his health as much as it is his recovery. The surgery to repair his ACL and MCL that he suffered at the end of his final season at Notre Dame was considered a success. There was a caveat, however, that there was no telling how much functionality would return because of the massive nerve injury that occurred.

Last year, Jaylon Smith actually played football games. No small step. In some games he made some plays and in other games, it was clear that he was still struggling with changing directions and running with receivers and running backs in coverage.

Time is Jaylon's biggest ally and another offseason removed from his injury should only help him get stronger and more confident in his recovering knee.

Lost in all of the Dez Bryant hoopla was a beautiful little nugget that Jaylon Smith teased Cowboys Nation with last week.

Jaylon provided a great look at his training regimen on the first day of team workouts and if you look closely, you'll see with a Clear Eye View that Jaylon Smith isn't wearing a brace, tape, or any other kind of support. On his knee or foot.

Jaylon Smith on Twitter

Focused vision, Determined belief, Earned dreams. #ClearEyeView

Remember that even after Jaylon was playing and practicing without a knee brace, he was still requiring an AFO brace to help with his foot drop.

Oh, how much one offseason can change things.

Mike Fisher, now of 247Sports.com, quoted Smith as saying, "I have more power and more flexibility now. And the dropfoot (issue) is fading. Absolutely!'' over on Scout.com, and there was this:

"As our colleague Bryan Broaddus has previously noted, it does seem that some of the testing is behind him, that the nerve is regenerating, that the repaired knee is stronger than ever and that more improvement is ahead of him. Smith's 6-2, 245-pound body is about as sculpted as is imaginable. His mind is sculpted, too, the result of his faith and his intellect and his personality and more. He suggests now that more improvement is inevitable, and that includes the medical improvement that is now, to him, simply "a matter of timing.'''

Mike Fisher - 105.3 The Fan and 247Sports.com

There is still a lot of hope around The Star and Cowboys Nation that Jaylon Smith can return to the All-American form that was projecting him as a top-five talent in the 2016 NFL Draft. If he's healthy and moving with better lateral movement and agility than he was in 2017, that's a huge step forward for Jaylon Smith and the Dallas Cowboys.

The progression of his knee and his confidence in said knee is going to be a huge determining factor in Dallas' plans to draft a linebacker. If they feel confident that he will be a more functional linebacker in 2018 than he was in 2017, then perhaps they could wait until day two or three to address the linebacker position.

We can't fully know their intentions as we get closer to draft day. How they address the linebacker position in the 2018 NFL Draft could give us an excellent indication of how they feel about Jaylon Smith's progression.

What we do know is that Jaylon Smith will never give up working toward being an elite middle linebacker. Let's hope he can realize his dreams. Everyone will be better for it.


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