5 Risky Picks Dallas Cowboys Must Consider in 2014 NFL Draft
The Dallas Cowboys have more than a few holes to fill in this year's draft, and not every pick can be a safe one.
Given the defensive losses this offseason and the growing age of some offensive weapons, Dallas will need to consider some riskier names in the middle and late rounds. Given the team's six picks in the seventh round alone, Jerry Jones and Co. aren't exactly in a bad position to gamble, either.
The middle and later rounds are where the Cowboys could—and should—take some risks with their picks. This team has benefited from taking risks in the draft. Just ask head coach Jason Garrett how much he enjoys having Dez Bryant on the roster.
There are players on this list that have injury or character flags and those who don't play a position Dallas needs to fill desperately. That being said, all the guys on this list have the potential to pay off in one way or another.
Let's take a look at some risky players the Cowboys must consider in this year's NFL draft.
CB Deion Belue, Alabama
One of Alabama's standout players on defense last season, Deion Belue might pique the Cowboys' interest for cornerback depth.
During his time under head coach Nick Saban, Belue showed a keen ability to position himself between receivers and the football. He also has a noticeably quick recovery speed that not all draft prospects at his position possess.
While the Cowboys could certainly look his way for these reasons on draft day, Belue does have his drawbacks. He battled through a toe injury all last season, which ultimately kept him out of two games.
Belue also doesn't have the ideal height for his position, standing just 5'11". If 'Boys fans didn't like how Calvin Johnson manhandled 6'0" Brandon Carr last season, they'd be horrified by what Megatron could do to Belue.
Height isn't the only thing that makes a cornerback great, but it is an advantage or disadvantage that can't be changed by any amount of coaching. Between recent Cowboys Terence Newman, Anthony Henry and Morris Claiborne, this team has also been plagued by injury-prone corners.
Drafting a cornerback in the middle rounds would be a smart move on Dallas' part. However, Belue might have too many red flags to be the guy Big D chooses. That doesn't mean he doesn't already possess talent to become a solid NFL corner, though.
OLB Kasim Edebali, Boston College
The Cowboys have suffered at linebacker over the past few seasons. Bringing in depth like Kasim Edebali would be a helpful move in giving the position a little more depth.
When scouts think about Edebali, the first word that probably comes to mind is burst. He knows how to make the most of his speed when in the backfield rushing the passer and on run defense. Edebali used this and his impressive ability to slip past blockers to be one of the Eagles' top defensive contributors.
Like Deion Belue, though, Edebali doesn't have the picture-perfect frame for his position. At just 6'2", 253 pounds, he's going to go up against some blockers who just plain outsize him.
Considering that starting linebacker Bruce Carter is the same height and less than 10 pounds lighter than Edebali, though, it's clear size isn't a deal-breaker in Dallas.
If the Cowboys are looking to bring in a rookie linebacker in the later rounds, Edebali is a player they must consider and likely won't knock based on size.
WR Mike Davis, Texas
Mike Davis doesn't play a position the Cowboys are dying for help at.
After Terrance Williams' impressive rookie campaign and the continued growth by Dez Bryant, the Cowboys have a nice starting duo at receiver. That being said, Davis is a hometown kid with noticeable size and speed.
Davis doesn't have the softest hands in this class, but he can track the deep ball well and has the speed to get past defenders.
With Miles Austin gone, Dallas could just let Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris battle it out for the No. 3 job. The team would certainly be tempted to throw Davis into that battle as well if he was still available in the fifth or sixth rounds, however.
Ultimately, it probably wouldn't be the smartest move on Dallas' part to take the Texas product. Beasley averaged 9.4 yards per catch last season and put together a fine sophomore season.
The Cowboys are prone to taking risks, though, and if that's what they want to do around the fifth or sixth round, Davis might be their gamble.
RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
The Cowboys drafted Joseph Randle out of Oklahoma State just last year but could look to add a running back late in this draft.
De'Anthony Thomas posted a 4.5 40-yard dash time at this year's NFL combine. That time isn't too reflective of his clear speed he showed on the gridiron in college. There is no questioning Thomas' pure speed, and he also knows how to make defenders miss in the open field.
Not many would project Thomas to become the next Adrian Peterson. That being said, he does have the ability to become a serviceable backup and change-of-pace rusher.
Part of what is holding him back from becoming a full-time starter is his 5'9", 176-pound frame. At that size, durability has to be something NFL teams consider before drafting Thomas. NFL Network's Mike Mayock told Tyson Alger of The Oregonian that he personally only sees Thomas as a "kickoff guy."
With Phillip Tanner no longer on the Dallas roster, the team could look to bring in another running back.
Thomas could help add depth to a position led by DeMarco Murray and give the Cowboys another kickoff option to Dwayne Harris. The wide receiver will be moving up the depth chart now that Miles Austin has been cut.
There are a few reasons to consider the Oregon standout if you're Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett. Thomas does have some flaws, but he also has some home run speed and natural talent to him.
QB Aaron Murray, Georgia
ESPN Dallas' Calvin Watkins is reporting that the Cowboys are looking at Georgia product Aaron Murray. There is no expectation that Dallas would select Murray in the upcoming draft, according to Watkins.
All expectations aside, Murray is not exactly the worst guy the Cowboys could gamble on in the later rounds. He has solid mechanics, a fine deep ball and plenty of pro-style offense experience.
Murray is not the cream of the crop of this year's quarterback class. His mechanics could make him an intriguing project for Jason Garrett and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, though.
While the ACL injury to end his 2013 season isn't how scouts wanted to see him go out in college, ESPN's Jon Gruden told Jim Corbett of USA Today that Murray's "knee is almost completely healed."
"He's going to be ready to go for training camp. I don't think there's any question," Gruden told Corbett.
With Tony Romo set to turn 34 years old this month and fresh off two back surgeries, it might be time to think about drafting his heir apparent.
He is projected to go in the fourth or fifth round, with the latter being a more likely place for Dallas to take him.