6 Late-Round Sleepers Who Would Be Perfect for Dallas Cowboys
Like most other NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys have three picks between rounds five and seven of this year's draft. Unlike most other teams, the Cowboys' picks come only in the fifth and seventh rounds. Dallas needs to spend a little time this offseason looking for a diamond in the rough.
This year's NFL draft is crucial for the salary cap-strapped Cowboys. The team is going to have to build through the draft, and honestly, some of Dallas' longtime stars are starting to get up there in age.
Dallas has to spend its draft picks wisely this year, and that means trying to find this year's Jay Ratliff or Tom Brady in the late rounds. Here is a look at which draft sleepers would be perfect fits for Dallas. In order to qualify for this list, the player must be a fifth-round or later projection.
OT Donald Hawkins, Texas
Donald Hawkins isn't the most technically sound lineman in this year's NFL draft, but he's a nice project Dallas could use in the fold.
Hawkins is from a hometown school in Texas and showcased his ability to move swiftly despite his 6'5", 301-pound frame. He is far from polished and guessed wrong more than a few times for the Longhorns, but potential is still there.
Considering Hawkins is projected to be selected in the seventh round this year, the Cowboys could use a lottery pick on him. The team's offensive line is not exactly known for its depth and surrendered 35 sacks on Tony Romo last year.
Darrion Weems and Jermey Parnell served as Dallas' backups at offensive tackle last year. There is certainly room for a project and late-round pick like Hawkins on the Cowboys' roster.
QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
Dallas needs to draft a quarterback of the future this draft, and it would be wise of the team to do it before Round 5. That being said, the Cowboys don't always choose to be wise.
If the team still hasn't selected a quarterback by the time the later rounds begin, Aaron Murray might be a good fit in Big D. Obviously, he is still recovering from knee surgery at the moment, but that shouldn't bother Cowboys scouts.
During his time at Georgia, Murray captured many school and SEC conference records for his position. When looking at his throwing mechanics, he has few flaws and shows a delivery that can be successful in the pros.
Again, drafting a quarterback late in this year's draft wouldn't be the smartest move by owner Jerry Jones and Co. If that situation does play out, however, the team's best option after some bad decisions would be to take Murray and see if he can become Tony Romo's successor down the road.
WR Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest
Michael Campanaro does not come from an NFL player factory like Alabama or USC. He did, however, help bring the spotlight to Wake Forest and set the school record for most career receptions with 229.
As Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun has noted, Campanaro's draft stock is a bit hard to map out. Wilson mentioned in a recent article that the wide receiver is projected to go anywhere from the third to fifth round by various analysts.
Campanaro doesn't have the Calvin Johnson-like height at 5'10", but he makes up for his height with his strength and route-running ability. He could become a nice No. 4 or slot-type receiver if he pans out.
The reason the Cowboys should invest in a wide receiver—Campanaro specifically—is that Miles Austin needs to be shown the door. The Monmouth graduate will count $5.5 million against Dallas' cap this year, and that's just too much money after two disappointing seasons.
With Austin likely gone, players like Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and such will move up the wide receiver depth chart. While Harris and Beasley arguably deserve more playing time, this creates a depth issue at the position.
Wide receivers, regardless of age and talent, cost big money in free agency that Dallas needs to spend elsewhere. A later-round pick on Campanaro gives the Cowboys a cheap fix in the depth department and could pay off big potentially down the road.
OLB Denicos Allen, Michigan State
The Cowboys have two promising linebackers in Sean Lee and Bruce Carter. The problem is that both of those players have a history of catching the injury bug.
Dallas has signed veterans like Ernie Sims and Justin Durant to combat this issue. A cheaper way to achieve the same goal would be to draft a late-round linebacker like Denicos Allen.
Allen is likely going to turn out to be a seventh-round selection this draft where the Cowboys have two picks. When it comes to the last round of the draft, teams are drafting purely on secondary needs and hoping for the best.
The Cowboys could certainly use some cheap depth at linebacker and could even work with Allen to turn him into a safety. The Michigan State product is listed at just 5'11", 218 pounds.
Allen is a smart player who can weave his way through traffic to find the ball-carrier. He has some raw speed and burst that can be molded by a good position coach over time.
His flexibility as far as where Dallas can put him on defense is an added bonus as well.
CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste
The No. 1 thing that you'll hear most scouts praise when talking about Stanley Jean-Baptiste is his coverage skills. As any Cowboys fan who watched his team in 2013 knows, coverage was a bit of an issue in the secondary.
Jean-Baptiste plays well in either zone or man coverage, as Bleacher Report's Michael Felder noted in his College Football 250 write-up on him. Lead NFL Draft Writer Matt Miller currently projects the former Cornhusker as a fifth-round selection by Green Bay.
Besides Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr, the Cowboys have no sure-thing kind of players at cornerback. Morris Claiborne was supposed to be a sure thing but has struggled in his first two seasons.
Dallas needs to find some quality depth at cornerback, and the team needs to find out if Claiborne is going to pan out. By drafting Jean-Baptiste, the team could do both things.
A young rookie drafted in the fifth round might help re-ignite the fire for Claiborne, and it gives the Cowboys another piece to utilize in the secondary.
FS Terrence Brooks, Florida State
The Cowboys have been hurting at safety for the past few seasons. Even before moving up to draft Morris Claiborne instead of Mark Barron in 2012, this team has had trouble finding quality talent at the position.
Barry Church signed a five-year deal back in 2012, but that doesn't mean he couldn't use a little help back there. J.J. Wilcox was drafted last year in the third round in hopes of being the answer opposite Church. He lost his starting job to undrafted rookie Jeff Heath.
Drafting Terrence Brooks would be a smart move for Dallas. Brooks would force Wilcox and Heath to fight for a spot on this team. Eventually, there's a chance that the former Seminole could even start for the Cowboys.
With his impressive agility and speed when tracking down ball-carriers, it's clear to see why CBSSports.com has him ranked as the No. 4 free safety in this year's class.
The Cowboys need someone to push their second-year safeties and really can't afford to pay for any veterans about to hit the free-agent market. If Dallas wants itself a diamond in the rough at safety, Brooks is the guy it needs to draft around the fifth or sixth round.