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Re-Grading Dallas Cowboys 2012 Rookies at the End of the Regular Season

Jason HenryCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2013

Re-Grading Dallas Cowboys 2012 Rookies at the End of the Regular Season

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    The results are in for all of the Cowboys rookies for 2012, and the grades aren’t the greatest.

    The Cowboys selected former LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne with the sixth pick of the 2012 NFL draft, took a receiver and tight end, and went heavy with defense every pick thereafter.

    Most of the Cowboys picks didn’t see much of the field this season, or saw little of it. So some of the men listed will not be graded properly because they simply couldn’t play.

    I’ll also compare the grades that I gave these players when they were first drafted back in April. I think I was a little off on James Hanna, but hit with Matt Johnson. Well, at least I think I did.

    At any rate, here are my final grades for every drafted Dallas Cowboys rookie from 2012.

Morris Claiborne, CB

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    April Grade: A+

    January Grade: B-

    I thought Claiborne had a decent rookie campaign. He struggled in coverage at times, see the first Philadelphia game where he was flagged five times, but bounced back to help Dallas beat Philly in December with a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown.

    He was up and down like most rookies, but he was solid.

    Claiborne was targeted because he was a rookie and maybe still learning former Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme.

    In the end, I still believe the Cowboys made the right move in drafting the former LSU star.

    He was seventh on the team in tackles and turned out to be more physical than I thought he would be.

    He’ll get better, and being paired with Brandon Carr is something that will anchor the Cowboys defensive backfield for years to come.

    For his 2012 season, I believe Claiborne did a pretty good job.

Tyrone Crawford, DE

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    April Grade: C-

    January Grade: D

    Crawford played in every Cowboys game in 2012, but his stats would suggest otherwise. He ended the year with 20 tackles, no sacks and a few quarterback knockdowns.

    To his credit, Crawford was learning how to properly play out of a new technique, something he didn’t do before he got to the NFL (via Carlos Mendez, Star-Telegram.com):

    I never really was much of a 3-technique player in college. Actually, none at all. Here, that’s all I rush out of. Getting better at that. Just need to keep improving.

    Even with his light stats and learning Ryan’s convoluted scheme, I still think that Crawford’s ceiling is higher than what I first said last April.

    Back then, I said that Crawford wasn’t terribly physical and would need to add weight and more defensive moves. I still believe I’m right, but from what I’ve seen out of him so far, he may turn out to be better than I initially thought.

Kyle Wilber, OLB

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    April Grade: C+

    January Grade: Incomplete

    I expected so much out of Kyle Wilber because he had experience playing the 3-4, the 4-3 and inside and outside linebacker. I thought the addition of Wilber would make the Cowboys one of the best defensive units in the league, catapulting their linebacking corp to tops in the NFL.

    Wilber broke his finger in OTAs, broke his thumb in training camp and didn’t get on the field for four other games.

    He was slowed by injuries, which put him behind in development and other players on the roster.

    I really like Wilber, and believe that the Cowboys should keep him on for another season or two. He seems like a kid who can contribute a lot on the field if he can get over the injuries.

    For 2012, he gets an incomplete grade because he didn’t see the field enough. Plus, he was always injured.

Matt Johnson, S

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    April Grade: D

    January Grade: Incomplete

    Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Johnson. I thought the Cowboys were too high on him and his skill set seemed to be something Dallas wasn’t high on: A safety who specializes in delivering big hits.

    He had a few hamstring injuries and a back injury lifting weights.

    In the end, it doesn’t really matter what I think because the Cowboys really like Johnson.

    According to the Star-Telegram.com, Johnson will be given the opportunity to succeed in Dallas next season.

    I graded him as a special teams player, but the team sees him as much more. We’ll see how he works out in 2013.

Danny Coale, WR

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    April Grade: D

    January Grade: F

    Injuries were plentiful for the Cowboys in 2012. Besides losing key players like Jay Ratliff, Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, the Cowboys were also without a few rookies, Danny Coale being one of them.

    I was a little low on Coale coming out of Virginia Tech because I thought the Cowboys could have gone in another direction, but seeing their issues with injuries and the slot receiver position, I can understand why they chose him.

    He never got his season going as injuries slowed his development. During OTAs, Coale had a stress fracture in his foot, and followed that injury with a hamstring strain.

    Coale was cut because he couldn’t stay on the field, but the team decided to bring him back to the practice squad.

    His season finally ended in November when he tore the ACL in his left knee.

    I’m hopeful that the Cowboys will give him another shot next season.

James Hanna, TE

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    April Grade: C+

    January Grade: C+

    I was high on James Hanna when the Cowboys decided to draft him. When the team decided not to re-sign Martellus Bennett, it had to draft or sign another tight end.

    When they chose the speedy Hanna out of Oklahoma, I honestly thought that he would eventually succeed Jason Witten as the team's top tight end target.

    I didn't think it would happen this year or next, but maybe three or four seasons from now, he would be ready to take the next step.

    The knocks on Hanna were that he couldn't block that well and he would drop catchable balls. He seemed to fix all of that in training camp and came out with the team pretty high on him as well.

    He ended 2012 eight catches and 10 tackles on special teams. Hanna's ceiling is pretty high.

Caleb McSurdy, LB

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    April Grade: D+

    January Grade: Incomplete

    Caleb McSurdy was supposed to be a special teams player, nothing more, nothing less.

    He tore his ACL in training camp, and we never got a chance to look at him.

    No diss to McSurdy, but he was a seventh-round pick for a reason. Wouldn't shock me to see him back in training camp working on special teams again in 2013, but for the time being, his grade for 2012 is incomplete.

Worth Mentioning: Cole Beasley

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    No April Grade

    January Grade: C+

    Beasley was un-drafted out of SMU, but he impressed the team enough to give him a shot.

    He showed just how valuable he could be when the Cowboys were without Miles Austin and Dez Bryant for moments.

    Beasley was what I thought Danny Coale would be for the Cowboys. He ended the season with 15 catches and will fight for the slot receiver position next season.

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