In Hindsight: Anthony Hitchens Pick was Perfect


Anthony Hitchens didn’t set the world on fire in 2014, but he certainly proved his worth, AND shut up his draft day critics.

Hindsight may not always be exactly 20/20, but it certainly offers a retrospective view, based on actual applied performance. As a quick post-2015 NFL Draft series, let’s look at a few of last years’ draft picks and how they look with one year under their belts.

Anthony Hitchens sparked plenty of controversy when the Dallas Cowboys selected the unheralded LB from Iowa with their third pick in the 2014 Draft. Hitch was thought of by many analysts as only a future special teamer and likely career role-player at LB.

Picked in the 4th round, 119 overall, Anthony Hitchens was called a bona fide “reach” at the time.’s Daniel Jeremiah had this to say about the Hitchens pick:

"“He has some size and had a whole lot of production at Iowa. This might be a little early in the draft for him, as I had him further down the board”"

Indeed, has him considerably lower on the board than where the Dallas Cowboys selected him. called him a “Round 7-Priority Free Agent”. This essentially says he went 100-200 spots too soon. Ouch. had a similar grade on Anthony Hitchens, grading him as undrafted, and the 335th ranked player in the 2014 Draft. Their top four evaluators didn’t even offer an expert analysis on the poor guy.

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Despite the near-universal criticism of the pick, Anthony Hitchens proved his worthiness of a fourth round pick by his strong and steady play in 2014. Anthony Hitchens wasn’t flawless, by any means. In fact, his pass coverage skills are extremely flawed. Hitch was worthy of his fourth round status because of his versatility, his tackling, and his ability to reliably execute assignments regardless of specific LB position.

Anthony Hitchens’ ability to study, understand, and execute, were simply amazing for an un-pedigreed rookie. Was the pick a “steal” as some have suggested? Probably not, given his coverage struggles and his starting status in question for the 2015 season. But it was likely season-saving given the number of injuries at LB the Cowboys sustained in their unexpected playoff run that collected 13 wins (including playoffs). The “expected” career back-up ended up logging 541 snaps with the Cowboys in his rookie campaign and appears to have a valuable future going forward.

It’s hard to say what’s in store for Anthony Hitchens in 2015. His lack of pass-coverage ability is nothing new and something that has followed Hitch from college. But it would be foolish to discount significant improvement considering his work habits and recent track record for improvement.

As the Cowboys stand now, Sean Lee and Rolando McClain (health permitting) are the only guaranteed LB starters in 2015. The Cowboys want Lee to play the less-punishing, and more playmaking position of WILL. McClain should regain his spot in the middle at MIKE.

Rod Marinelli is well known for playing his best players regardless of position, and this is no different. Because of this, Anthony Hitchens will have a chance to claim a prominent role at any of the three spots this season.

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Next: Grading the Cowboys' 2015 Draft

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