The Dallas Cowboys did not really surprise anyone with their first round pick in the 2011 NFL draft. The Cowboys needed an offensive tackle, and they needed someone to protect Tony Romo who missed a huge chunk of the 2010 season.
Tyron Smith from USC is 6’5 and 307 pounds. He has elite speed and quickness which made him the first offensive tackle to come off the draft board, and the Cowboys were able to fill a need with a value pick.
After one pick, I give the Cowboys an A for picking a solid player who fills a desperate need.
In rounds two and three, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper wrote that the Cowboys were “confusing for two rounds.” The ‘Boys picked a linebacker and a running back despite their pressing needs of an offensive guard and cornerback. Second round selection,Bruce Carter, showed good production at North Carolina, and in Rob Ryan‘s 3-4 scheme, versatile linebackers are key. Then in the third round, the Cowboys took DeMarco Murray a running back from Oklahoma. Murray was chosen to replace Marion Barber III who overstayed his welcome in Dallas.
However, the Cowboys will most likely still have Tashard Choice along with Felix Jones in the backfield if and when the 2011 season ever starts.
Because the Cowboys opted for depth over needs, I will give the Cowboys a B- instead of a C for rounds 2-3 because I like the pick of Bruce Carter who will fit well in Rob Ryan’s scheme.
The Cowboys then began filling needs in rounds 4 and 5.
In round 4, David Arkin was selected. He is an offensive guard from Missouri State who started all 44 games of his college career. His durability and production are unquestioned. Arkin is a tough, hard-nosed football player who simply lacked premier height, weight, and top-end speed to be selected much higher in the draft.
The Cowboys then took Josh Thomas who was a cornerback at Buffalo.Thomas was a good value pick for the 5th round, but he is unlikely to produce much during his first two seasons in the NFL. Thomas was the 143rd pick of the draft who will be playing for his home state team. He is a native of Cedar Hill, Texas, who had 58 tackles and one interception in his senior season. He also had 8 pass breakups.
In the sixth round, they selected Dwayne Harris who Mel Kiper Jr. says will continue to develop and help the Cowboys at some point in the future. Harris has short arms and huge hands which is a rarity in a professional wide receiver. Last season, Harris caught over 100 balls for over 1200 yards. Harris was a former quarterback who is now mainly a slot receiver. He is still improving his route running. Harris is quick getting in and out of breaks, but professional scouts are concerned that he lacks top speed to run away from defenders in man coverage. He works better against zone coverage where he can find openings in the defense.
Next, the Cowboys first pick in the 7th round was a fullback by the name of Shaun Chapas. The former University of Georgia player has been often injured in his college career, and he has already undergone a reconstructive surgery on one of his ankles.
The Cowboys obviously identified fullback as a need so Chapas makes sense this late in the draft. He weights 250 pounds and is a much better blocker than a runner or pass receiver.
Finally, the Cowboys selected Bill Nagy an offensive lineman from Wisconsin. Nagy has a big body, but scouts question his ability to use his hands to control pass rushers, and Nagy is by no means the fastest lineman in the world. Overall, the Cowboys are trying to do nothing more than hit lightening in a bottle in this 7th round.
So….overall I will echo what Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Cowboys draft. They are deserving of a B+. Had I been in the Cowboys war room, I would have gone for the needs picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds while waiting to snag a linebacker and running back in rounds 4 and 5. The Cowboys flipped that with the early selections of Carter and Murray.
I have no issue with the pick of Tyron Smith. The only other option that the Cowboys likely had was to trade down and select an offensive lineman later in the first round. The aggressive selection Smith ensured the Cowboys got what they needed.
The biggest changes to the Cowboys in 2011 compared to 2010 will come not from the draft or new players, but from the new coaching staff which will be at the helm. Jason Garrett will be in his first full season, and Rob Ryan will be instituting his blitzing 3-4 scheme.