The Dallas Cowboys added several players of need during Days 2 and 3 of the 2012 NFL Draft, including five on the final day of the event. Dallas only had one pick on Day 2 in the third round after trading its second-round pick to the St. Louis Rams in exchange for the No. 6 overall pick in the first round, which the Cowboys used to acquire cornerback Morris Claiborne from LSU. While that was a costly move, Dallas used its later picks to add players at positions of need. Now it’s time to determine whether those were good picks.
With the No. 81 overall pick, the Cowboys added Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford, who the team hopes can develop into a solid NFL defensive end. Crawford a very athletic, yet prototypical five technique player, so he should be a great fit in the Cowboys’ variable 3-4 scheme. At 6’4″ at 275 lbs., Crawford might be slightly undersized on paper according to some, but his athleticism is superb for a 3-4 defensive end.
Dallas used its first of two fourth-round picks to take Wake Forest outside linebacker Kyle Wilber No. 113 overall. The latest scouting report states Wilber can play defensive end and outside linebacker in either the 3-4 or 4-3, but that’s questionable considering he only weighs 250 lbs. He’s very athletic, however, which suggests he’ll play his natural position of outside linebacker in the Cowboys’ 3-4 scheme. Wilber is a solid pass-rusher, but struggles to stop the run and he’ll likely be primarily a special teams contributor for Dallas early on in his pro career.
Later in the fourth round, the Cowboys took another defensive player in Eastern Washington safety Matt Johnson. Some “experts” consider this pick a stretch, but Rob Ryan and the Cowboys’ coaching staff liked Johnson after his visit to Valley Ranch before the draft and didn’t want to pass on him. Johnson recorded 17 career interceptions at Eastern Washington showed the ability to play both free and strong safety. He’s considered an “efficient” player, which is what Dallas needs.
Dallas selected its first offensive player in the fifth round, Virginia Tech receiver Danny Coale. For whatever moronic reason, the Cowboys haven’t contacted Jesse Holley about re-signing, so adding a slot receiver was a must during the draft. Since it had to be done, Coale is a great value pick at No. 152 overall. He started in the slot for the Hokies all four years of his college career and showed the ability to work across and up the field against both man and zone coverages. Coale also has the ability to make defenders miss after the catch, so he could be one of the best value picks in this year’s draft if he pans out.
Oklahoma tight end James Hanna was the second straight offensive player taken by the Cowboys on Day 2 of the draft. A sixth-round pick, Hanna will replace the recently departed Martellus Bennett at the bottom of Dallas’ depth chart behind Jason Witten and John Phillips. Hanna is an extremely athletic and raw player, much like Bennett was coming out of college, and is a low-risk/high-reward pick at No. 186 overall. If he can improve his route-running and blocking skills, he just might be a solid NFL tight end.
Dallas’ final pick of the draft was Montana linebacker Caleb McSurdy in the seventh round. McSurdy is a cliché hard-working player with minimal talent. He gives 100 percent effort on every play and showed a solid tackling ability in college, but he lacks the size, speed and athleticism to excel right away in the NFL. With some work on special teams and coaching from NFL defensive gurus like Ryan, he might make a decent linebacker one day.