It wouldn’t be a Dallas Cowboys Draft if there wasn’t some degree of controversy and discontentment amongst fans. While things maybe didn’t play out as a dream scenario for some of us, it certainly wasn’t a nightmare scenario either. Let’s take a quick good news/bad news look at each of the nine draft picks.
Round 1, Pick 16
OT/OG Zack Martin
The 6’4” lineman from Notre Dame came as a surprise to some. Both top safeties were on the board and the Cowboys had well-documented needs all along the defensive line. Yet, the Cowboys chose the best player available (and someone we speculated as the Cowboys secret target two days before the draft) and built a solid foundation for the future.
The Good News: Martin can upgrade the guard position in 2014 and right tackle in 2015 and beyond. The Cowboys offensive line will be at the top of the league for the next decade.
The Bad News: The Cowboys defensive line is embarrassing and consists of unproven players, role players, and players returning from major injury. Bringing in a first round talent to the D-Line would have helped enormously.
Round 2, Pick 34
DE Demarcus Lawrence
Demarcus Lawrence was one of three difference making edge-rushers in the draft capable of playing DE in a 4-3. He has supurb speed, balance, and lean able to beat most offensive tackles around the edge. He also mixes in enough combo inside moves to keep agile tackles guessing. No one will replace DeMarcus Ware, but Demarcus Lawrence will be a difference maker with Pro-Bowl potential.
The Good News: Dynamic edge rushers able to play DE in a 4-3 are a rarity every draft. The Cowboys acquired a 1st round talent with a second round pick.
The Bad News: The Dallas Cowboys spent their 3rd round pick in order to secure Demarcus Lawrence. Judging by the talent still on the board, that 3rd round pick could have easily translated into a starter for the Cowboys.
Round 4, Pick 119
LB Anthony Hitchens
The unknown man from Iowa was picked to provide depth and competition to the linebacker position. Hitchens will likely get a chance to compete for the two outside spots since Sean Lee has the MIKE nailed down. The curious pick is a tackling machine that will thrive on Special Teams
The Good News: Hichens played the WILL LB spot well at Iowa, a position Bruce Carter has failed to secure. He’s a good sideline to sideline player that plays bigger than his size.
The Bad News: The WILL and MIKE are best suited for a LB with cover skills which happens to be something Hitchens lacks. Most agree Hitchens projects as a backup in the NFL and was a reach in the 4th round.
Round 5, Pick 146
WR Devin Street
The Cowboys desperately needed to add depth to the receiving corps with the jettisoning of Miles Austin. The Cowboys specifically lack depth at the outside receiver spots and needed a big bodied and seasoned receiver to contribute in year 1.
Devin Street was Pittsburg’s leading receiver for 2 consecutive seasons and played at multiple receiver spots. With his 6’3” frame he can dominate on the outside and in the redzone.
The Good News: Devin Street’s ability to play the outside will make him a favorite to win the #3 WR spot in certain packages. Street on the outside will allow the Cowboys to move Bryant and Williams around to exploit matchups.
The Bad News: Street isn’t particularly great at creating separation and relies on his positioning, height, and leaping ability to make catches. Tony Romo will need time to work with Street to feel confident in throwing to him when he doesn’t appear open.
Round 7, Pick 231
DE Ben Gardner
Gardner was selected for his intelligence and work ethic above all. He doesn’t stand out on film but plays hard and is a high character team leader. He’s a run stuffing DE with below average pass rush skills. Only projects as a left defensive end and a rotational/backup player on the Cowboys
The Good News: Gardner works hard and can still improve his hand skills. The Cowboys plan to have an open competition on the D-Line and Gardner’s hard-working nature should push others to play better.
The Bad News: Gardner isn’t the most athletic and his frame can’t support much more weight. He’s probably no better than a backup in the NFL and while a high-character player, he’s lacks much of an upside.
Round 7, Pick 238
OLB Will Smith
The Cowboys had to address LB in the draft and Will Smith marked their second LB pick of the day. Smith led Texas Tech in tackles last year and had a standout game in the Holiday Bowl earning Defensive MVP. He’s athletic and reliable and should figure into the competition at WILL this season for the Cowboys.
The Good News: Smith is very reliable having never missed a game at Texas Tech. With the Cowboys propensity for injury in the LB Corps, having a reliable option is a good thing.
The Bad News: Smith wasn’t thought of as much of a pro prospect and will need to flash some plays in training camp if he wants to stay. He has an upside but needs to show it fast.
Round 7, Pick 248
SS Ahmad Dixon
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t rank safety very high on their “needs” list and it showed. Dixon was the sole safety selected and joins a safety unit under much scrutiny. Dixon is an excellent in-the-box safety but a liability in coverage. He is stiff and slow to react when in coverage.
The Good News: Ahmad Dixon is a hard hitter who will thrive close to the line of scrimmage. He will be an excellent addition to special teams and will provide depth behind Barry Church at SS.
The Bad News: The Cowboys have the starting SS spot locked in with Barry Church and really need help at FS. Dallas hopes that J.J Wilcox can be the FS but he has yet to prove anything. Dixon is not an option at FS.
7th Round, Pick 251
DT Ken Bishop
The Cowboys had yet to draft a player with 1 technique ability until they drafted Ken Bishop. Bishop is short and stout. Able to take on multiple blockers without giving up ground. He rarely makes splash plays but is secure in doing his job and controlling the line.
The Good News: The Cowboys only have one true 1-Tech DT on the roster and need to find more big bodies to work in a rotation. Bishop plays a position of need and has a good chance of contributing if he keeps his motor running.
The Bad News: He’s not flashy. Like Gardner, Bishop has peaked physically and will need to work harder than others in order to play effectively.
Round 7, Pick 254
CB Terrance Mitchell
Mitchell is a well-built highly aggressive cover-corner. He gambles on the big play and baits opposing QBs. He had one of the best combine performances among CBs and was expected to go in a middle round. He plays best in zone and off-man coverage (something Carr and Claiborne are terrible at) and should be able to contribute on special teams
The Good News: A great deal in the 7th round could be a dime corner for the Cowboys in 2014. His strengths are the current CBs weaknesses so he could see playing time on a regular basis.
The Bad News: Michell isn’t exceptionally fast and will not be able to bait QBs the way he did in collage. He grabs and checks WRs down the field, which will probably lead to flags in the NFL.
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