How Each Draft Pick Fits into Dallas Cowboys' Plan in 2012
The NFL draft has come and gone and people are still talking about the Cowboys' picks. Boise State defensive end Tyrone Crawford is probably the second most talked about pick behind cornerback Morris Claiborne.
The Cowboys talked about needing a pass rusher, and they chose a part-time starter with just 13 sacks. No judgment from me on the player, but I do question the pick. If you have interest in my grades on each Cowboys draft pick, they are either being ripped apart or praised by the great readers of Bleacher Report.
Outside of grades and how we feel about each pick, they now have stars on the sides of their helmets. And aside from my sometimes errant prognosticating, I truly believe that team owner Jerry Jones has a plan for each player.
So, let’s call this piece the rundown, as we will rundown how each pick fits into the Cowboys' plans for 2012.
Morris Claiborne, Cornerback
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Claiborne wasn’t a reach and the Cowboys did not give up too much for him. Dallas was absolutely dreadful against the pass last season, ranking 23rd overall. The secondary had little to no depth and injuries plagued any chance of stability and consistency in the defensive backfield.
So in an effort to rectify their issues against the pass, the Cowboys drafted LSU corner Morris Claiborne.
Claiborne will more than likely take over for Jenkins on the right side, as Dallas is shopping the injured cornerback. He’ll be paired with new Dallas corner Brandon Carr. If Jenkins stays, it will be interesting to see how Claiborne is worked into the defense.
Morris will also have a spot on the kick and punt return units, as he’s a weapon to score points on special teams as well. No matter what side he ends up playing or how many kicks he returns per game, the Cowboys got themselves a solid defensive player for many years to come.
Tyrone Crawford, Defensive End
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Crawford will play the left side of the line, probably, and could start immediately if he has a strong training camp. The team knows that he’s raw and needs development, but they like his potential enough to draft him in the third round.
What irks many fans about the Cowboys' draft is that there were no sexy picks this season—well, besides Claiborne. But Dallas did not grab anyone who will make headlines. Crawford could very well fade into the background or could emerge as the next Jay Ratliff type of player.
Crawford will be rotational to begin and will probably only play on first and second down. Once he becomes well versed in defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme, he could morph into a full-time starter.
Kyle Wilber, Outside Linebacker
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I actually like Wilber, contrary to belief. He has diversity in his game, as he played outside linebacker in the 3-4 at Wake Forest and end when the team ran a 4-3 scheme. He is a pass rusher, and Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett sees him as such.
Wilber is also projected to be a strong side linebacker, something that should give notice to linebacker Anthony Spencer that he is on the clock to improve.
Wilber will more than likely start off on special teams and work his way into the rotation as his pass rushing skills improve. But I believe he'll eventually replace Spencer, or at least that is the plan.
Matt Johnson, Safety
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Johnson is a special team’s player and may be a darn good one. He is listed as a safety and may develop into a pretty good safety one day, but Dallas sees him as a key cog in their special teams.
Garrett states that he believes Johnson can play the run and pass well enough to develop into a pretty good player. But I still believe his main position will reside as a special teamer and maybe some back-up safety here and there.
Danny Coale, Wide Receiver
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Coale is an interesting guy because he is a white wide receiver. I state that in a very matter-of-fact way because it seems that all new white receivers are automatically compared to Wes Welker because of their skin color.
Coale is a couple of inches taller and almost 20 pounds heavier than Welker. Their skill-set may be totally different, but already he’s being placed in the same bucket as Welker.
At any rate, ESPN’s Todd McShay seems to believe that Coale will be the Cowboys draft pick that will have the most impact. Garrett likes him as a gunner, and besides his impact on special teams, Dallas isn’t loaded at the slot position.
It will be interesting to see how he develops and where Dallas uses him, but as of right now, I believe he’ll end up on the inside before the season is over.
James Hanna, Tight End
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Dallas needed a third tight end, and Hanna is that. He'll push Phillips for playing time, but what's most exciting about him is his down the field ability.
He ran a sub 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and will be able to stretch the field for quarterback Tony Romo. He'll need to work on his pass catching ability and blocking, but stretching the field will be key for him and the Cowboys this season.
Caleb McSurdy, Linebacker
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Linebacker is his listed position; however, he’ll play on special teams and may get some work at linebacker. He is a little undersized for his position, but the Cowboys like his motor and his versatility.
If he does end up at fullback, the Cowboys should be well stocked and versatile in such an inconsistent position.