Allow me to start off by establishing that Zach Martin and Demarcus Lawrence are both fantastic talents and should contribute to upgrading both sides of the ball for the Cowboys. With that said, their selections were a bit puzzling and are worth some discussion.
Zach Martin is supremely talented. He will be a great addition to the Dallas Cowboys offensive line as it makes its case for the most talented group in the league. However, the positional versatility for which he is lauded may not truly mean very much.
Given his relatively short height and arm length, Martin is projected to move inside and play the Guard position. If the Cowboys were after a Guard, though, were there not other, more proven options available much later? Gabe Jackson went in the 3rd round, David Yankey at the end of the fourth, and Cyril Richardson in the 5th.
If Martin is to be a Tackle, will he truly be an upgrade over Doug Free? While Free has frustrated many fans in the past, his 2013 season was actually solid, earning him one of the highest rankings of RTs at ProFootballFocus.com. Plus, Martin’s being shorter could present a significant disadvantage on the edge.
Similar questions could be raised about Demarcus Lawrence. Anybody who watches his film could immediately see his knack for getting to the Quarterback. However, Lawrence played as an Outside Linebacker at Boise State and often rushed from an upright position, behind linemen.
It is almost a certainty that Dallas will look to convert him to Defensive End, but unlike target Anthony Barr, Lawrence does not have a typical build for the position. Just under 6’3 and weighing in the mid 200s (though it has been reported he has already begun to bulk up), Lawrence possesses a relatively thin frame.
It is quite possible that Demarcus Lawrence will conquer the physical requirements for the Defensive End position; plus, good instinct and aggressiveness are the most important traits in a pass rusher and he’s got both. Still, it’s curious that Dallas would move up 16 spots (in turn surrendering a third-round pick) to take him while several more proven Defensive Ends were available. Furthermore, if they did not mind somewhat of a project player, why not stay put and take somebody like Kony Ealy who arguably has a better build for the position?
Once again, Zach Martin and Damascus Lawrence are excellent additions to the Dallas Cowboys team. Fans should not hesitate to be welcoming and expect solid production out of them. Still, an objective look at their selection raises some worthwhile questions. It is quite possible that each one simply represented the best player available. If that’s the case – great; but now the challenge is figuring out how to utilize their talents most effectively.