May 12, 2014

2014 NFL Draft Review: Dallas Cowboys

#2 Zack Martin, OL, Notre Dame

Dallas Cowboys
Division: NFC East | Last Season Record: 8-8

What Needed to be addressed in the Draft: Defense. The entire defensive line is a big issue. Both defensive end and defensive tackle should have be high on their priority list. Safety is another big need. While they can do better than Barry Church, they at least needed to find a new starter to play along side him. Other than that, finding a starting outside linebacker and adding cornerback depth would have made sense.

On offense, they at least needed to find one new starter at guard, or draft a tackle and kick Doug Free inside to guard. That would solidify the offensive line. It also would make sense to add a fast receiver and running back. Finding a backup quarterback to Tony Romo should have been in their plans as well.

Individual Draft Picks:

Round 1

16. (16) Zack Martin, OL
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Notre Dame
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 308 lbs.

Round 2

2. (34) Demarcus Lawrence*, DE
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Boise State
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 250 lbs.

Round 4

19. (119) Anthony Hitchens, OLB
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Iowa
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 240 lbs.

Round 5

6. (146) Devin Street, WR
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Pittsburgh
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 195 lbs.

Round 7

16. (231) Ben Gardner, DE
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Stanford
Height: 6-4 | Weight: 262 lbs.

23. (238) Will Smith, OLB
Experience: Senior | School: Texas Tech
Height: 6-2 | Weight: 231 lbs.

33. (248) Ahmad Dixon, SS
Experience: Senior | School: Baylor
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 213 lbs.

36. (251) Ken Bishop, DT
Experience: Senior | School: Northern Illinois
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 306 lbs.

39. (254) Terrance Mitchell*, CB
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Oregon
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 193 lbs.

Two Picks of Note:

Best Value Pick:

Terrance Mitchell*, CB (Round 7, Pick 39)
Experience: Junior (RS) | School: Oregon
Height: 5-11 | Weight: 193 lbs.

Analysis: A lot of people felt like Terrance Mitchell was the best corner at Oregon. While I won't go that far, I do think he could have easily been a second or third round pick. He has starting potential, and getting that in the 7th round is always a plus.

Most Questionable Pick:

Anthony Hitchens, OLB (Round 4, Pick 19)
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Iowa
Height: 6-0 | Weight: 240 lbs.

Analysis: Anthony Hitchens was a borderline draftable player in my opinion. While this year's group of non-pass rushing linebackers is underwhelming, there were much better linebackers on the board (Telvin Smith and Jordan Tripp come to mind). I don't think Hitchens is a starter.

Undrafted Free Agent Signings:

Most Notable

Chris Whaley., DT
Experience: Senior (RS) | School: Texas
Height: 6-3 | Weight: 269 lbs.

Analysis: Former running back at the University of Texas. Converted to defensive tackle and flashed the ability to be an disruptive interior defensive lineman. Sound familiar? This is a really good pickup. If Whaley proves he can stay healthy, he could be an UDFA steal.

Other Free Agent Signings

Dustin Vaughan, QB, West Texas A&M
Chris Whaley, DT, Texas
Andre Cureton, DL, Cincinnati
Casey Kreiter, LS, Iowa
Joe Windsor, LB, Northern Illinois
Ronald Patrick, OG, South Carolina
Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M
Jarrod Pughsley, OT, Akron
L’Damian Washington, WR, Missouri
Kolton Browning, QB, La-Monroe
Davon Coleman, DE, Arizona State
J.C. Copeland, FB, LSU
Evan Wilson, TE, Illinois
Brian Clarke, G, Bloomsburg
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Josh Aladenoye, OT, Illinois State
Jocquel Skinner, CB, Bethel
Joe Windsor, DE, Northern Illinois

Draft Review:

Analysis: Jerry Jones made the right move passing on Johnny Manziel and taking Zack Martin in my opinion. I did feel like the guard position could have been addressed a little later, and they did pass on two first round safeties, but Martin could be a future all pro.

The Cowboys got a first round pass rusher at the top of the second. Can't argue with that value. They did have to give up a third round pick to move up those 13 spots, and I felt like they could have stayed put and landed a defensive lineman, but Lawrence was their guy and Cowboys fans should be fine with that.

The only pick I really didn't like was Anthony Hitchens in the 4th round. Other than that, I think the Cowboys got some really good value out of their day 3 picks. Devin Street isn't the type of receiver I preferred for the Cowboys, but he's big, fast, and could emerge as a #3 or #4 receiver for Tony Romo.

Ben Gardner should be an excellent rotational defensive end. Ahmad Dixon is probably only a strong safety at the next level, but I'm confident he'll compete for a starting job. Both were 7th round steals.

Linebacker Will Smith and defensive tackle Ken Bishop were worth the gamble late in the 7th round. Bishop has developmental potential, and I see Smith as an excellent special teamer.

I touched on the Terrance Mitchell pick. If Morris Claiborne struggles again, he'll likely be cut, but I'm confident Mitchell can step in as an outside corner and he won't have a ton of pressure on him like the former first round pick.

The Verdict: Dallas addressed the safety position really late, knowing that this class wasn't particularly strong. However, I think they may have gotten a starter in Ahmad Dixon. They also didn't really upgrade the defensive tackle position. The reason I really like this class however, is the value they got in the late rounds, and their first two picks filled two major needs, and were excellent value picks. Overall, solid, if unspectacular draft for the Cowboys.

Overall Grade: B-