2014 NFL Draft Recap: Dallas Cowboys Underwhelm Once Again
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t known for their draft day decisions under Owner/GM Jerry Jones, and this is yet another questionable haul. Some positional needs were filled and depth was certainly added, but the value of a few of the picks were questionable.
Zack Martin at no. 16 overall is a solid pick. He’s smart, versatile, tough, athletic and has experience playing all along the line, so he provides a movable piece for OC Bill Callahan. He’s got the skill set to protect the edge at OT, but his highest ceiling as a pro could be inside at G, where the Cowboys initially plan to place him. He’ll begin his career at RG replacing Mackenzy Bernadeau, but could very well slide to RT if the team decides to let Doug Free walk after ’14. This pick gives the Cowboys one of the more underrated offensive line units in the NFL.
I liked the Demarcus Lawrence pick at no. 34 overall, and thought that was the right range for him, but it was a steep price to move up for him. I like his ceiling and his fit in Rod Marinelli’s scheme, but I wonder if it would’ve been better to stay put and look at either Timmy Jernigan (DT, FSU) or Kony Ealy (DE, Missouri) without having to give up a third round pick.
Anthony Hitchens (LB, Iowa) wasn’t a great value in the middle of the fourth, as most didn’t project him to even be drafted. The scheme fit isn’t bad, as Hitchens is a natural strong side linebacker in a 43 front and the team’s been looking for an upgrade over Justin Durant, and he offers some decent pass rush. Still, he’s limited athletically and is a liability in coverage, so he may only ever be a two down ‘backer.
Devin Street (WR, Pitt) was a solid pick in the fifth round and will help provide some depth to a unit of receivers long on numbers but short on production (outside of Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams). Street has a good size/speed combination with impressive hands but needs to get stronger if he’s going to consistently get separation at this level. Undrafted free agent signings Chris Boyd (WR, Vanderbilt) and L’Damian Washington (WR, Missouri) are wild cards, as both are impressive physical specimen’s, but Boyd has major off-the-field concerns and Washington needs to add strength to go with that size and speed. Still, don’t be surprised to see both of them stick.
The team had five seventh round picks; Ben Gardner (DE, Stanford), Will Smith (OLB, Texas Tech), Ahmad Dixon (S, Baylor), Ken Bishop (DT, Northern Illinois) and Terrance Mitchell (DB, Oregon). All will be long shots to make the team out of camp, but all have just enough upside to warrant a late round flyer on them.
Mitchell is the one guy I believe has the best chance to stick, namely because I think he’s been playing out of position at CB throughout his career. I think if he moves to FS (where the Cowboys have a hole) he could really maximize his skill set.
Overall, the class filled some positional needs and added depth, but you have to question the value of a few of the picks. Impact interior defensive linemen weren’t added and neither was a safety. Martin was the best pick and he looks like he’ll be a long time staple up front along with LT Tyron Smith and C Travis Frederick.
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