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NFL Dallas Cowboys

Grading All 9 Dallas Cowboys 2014 NFL Draft Picks

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Dallas Cowboys' 2014 NFL Draft Grades

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None of the Dallas Cowboys’ nine picks in the 2014 NFL Draft were sexy or popular ones, but they were all good ones. This is the first time in nearly 20 years Dallas has put together a solid draft from top to bottom, and Cowboys fans should be absolutely thrilled their team picked players needed right now instead of wasting draft picks on players like Johnny Manziel. Let’s take a look at all of the Cowboys’ draft picks.

Notre Dame OL Zack Martin: 1st Round, No. 16 (16th Overall)

Zack Martin - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame OL Zack Martin: 1st Round, No. 16 (16th Overall)

Zack Martin - Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys really needed to address their defensive line problems early, but there wasn’t a solid pass-rusher worth taking at No. 16 and they didn’t get a good enough trade offer to move down in the first round. Thus, filling a minor need on the offensive line with a player who can play every position up front was a solid move. Martin shores up Dallas’ front five, which is now an asset instead of a liability. Grade: A—

Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence: 2nd Round, No. 2 (34th Overall, from Redskins)

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Boise State DE Demarcus Lawrence: 2nd Round, No. 2 (34th Overall, from Redskins)

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Although the Cowboys probably didn’t have to give up as much as they did to trade up here, they got the player they needed most in this draft. Lawrence is an incredibly versatile outside pass-rusher who has a knack for making big plays. He’s the exact same size as DeMarcus Ware when he entered the 2005 NFL Draft and Lawrence has a similar playing style, which is convenient since he’s being asked to replace Ware. Grade: A+

Iowa OLB Anthony Hitchens: 4th Round, No. 19 (119th Overall)

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Iowa OLB Anthony Hitchens: 4th Round, No. 19 (119th Overall)

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This is the one pick of the draft that was definitely a reach by Dallas, although the coaching staff believes they can make a blue-collar contributor out of Hitchens. The 6-foot, 240-pounder is a great tackler and is a “high-motor” guy, but doesn’t possess a ton of God-given talent. Dallas likely could have gotten him in the sixth round while continuing to address the defensive line here. Grade: C

Pittsburgh WR Devin Street: 5th Round, No. 6 (146th Overall, from Raiders)

Devin Street Dallas Cowboys
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Pittsburgh WR Devin Street: 5th Round, No. 6 (146th Overall, from Raiders)

Devin Street Dallas Cowboys
Charles LeClaire- USA TODAY Sports

The lone offensive skill position player the Cowboys truly targeted in this draft, Street is an underrated pass-catcher who boosted the draft stock of Tom Savage. Dallas had a very minor need at wide receiver depth and traded up in the fifth round to ensure it got the player it wanted. Considering this was somewhat of a value pick by the Cowboys and the only offensive skill position player they took all weekend, it was a good one. Grade: B+

Stanford DE Ben Gardner: 7th Round, No. 16 (231st Overall)

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Stanford DE Ben Gardner: 7th Round, No. 16 (231st Overall)

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A fantastic value pick at a position of need, Gardner has a truckload of upside with a high floor as a rotational defensive end. He’s a terrific tackler who can help in stopping the run and he has worlds of potential as a pass-rusher, especially with a coach like Rod Marinelli to exploit his talents. Not all teams were willing to develop Gardner, which is why he was available in the 7th round, but he could be a starter in Dallas by 2016. Grade: A

Texas Tech LB Will Smith: 7th Round, No. 23 (238th Overall)

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Texas Tech LB Will Smith: 7th Round, No. 23 (238th Overall)

NCAA Football: Holiday Bowl-Arizona State vs Texas Tech
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Showing awareness of the injury problems at linebacker, the Cowboys drafted a second one late on Saturday. As is typical for the Cowboys, they picked a Big 12 player on whom most other teams weren’t very high heading into the draft. Smith put together a solid senior season at Texas Tech and is another low-risk/high-reward pick for a team that took five players in the fifth round. Grade: B+

Baylor SS Ahmad Dixon: 7th Round, No. 33 (248th Overall, Compensatory Pick)

2014 NFL Draft Philadelphia Eagles
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Baylor SS Ahmad Dixon: 7th Round, No. 33 (248th Overall, Compensatory Pick)

2014 NFL Draft Philadelphia Eagles
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The Cowboys waited a long time to address their need at safety, but they got a good value pick in Dixon, another Big 12 player Dallas liked more than other teams. He’s still very raw as a defensive back, but can play nickel back, which made him more appealing to the Cowboys. If he ends up panning out in training camp, he could be a draft steal. If not, he’s still a decent compensatory 7th-round pick to try out. Grade: B

Northern Illinois DT Ken Bishop: 7th Round, No. 36 (251st Overall, Compensatory Pick)

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Northern Illinois DT Ken Bishop: 7th Round, No. 36 (251st Overall, Compensatory Pick)

NCAA Football: Poinsettia Bowl-Utah State vs Northern Illinois
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Although he’s a long shot to make the active roster, Bishop is another one of those players the Cowboys think they can turn into a late-round steal. However, Bishop’s lack of size, speed and explosiveness make him a big-time developmental project. Since he was a compensatory pick at a position of need, the Cowboys made a good decision by adding bodies on the defensive line to compete. Grade: B

Oregon CB Terrance Mitchell: 7th Round, No. 39 (254th Overall, Compensatory Pick)

Terrance Mitchell
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Oregon CB Terrance Mitchell: 7th Round, No. 39 (254th Overall, Compensatory Pick)

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By pure projections only, this was a steal; Mitchell was projected as a 4th-round pick. However, he didn’t exactly set the woods on fire at Oregon and lacks the speed and physicality to be a starting cornerback in the NFL. On the flip side, he wasn’t drafted to start and could end up being a decent No. 4 cornerback if he performs well in camp. Put simply, Dallas could have done a lot worse with this incredibly late compensatory pick. Grade: B