Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
With their selections almost evenly split between the early to middle rounds and the seventh, the Cowboys have to draft smart. This is one of the deepest drafts to come around in quite some time. Dallas cannot afford to miss the mark.
After finishing last season dead last in total defense, new coordinator Rod Marinelli could use some help on his side of the ball. Look for the Cowboys to focus heavily on revamping their defensive unit in the first three rounds.
As the middle and late rounds approach, Jason Garrett and company can focus on which positions need the most depth.
The head coach and the rest of his war room should look to the offensive line, wide receiver and running back positions for offensive help.
Miles Austin and Phillip Tanner are gone. Therefore, the team could use two players to replace them in some manner on the depth chart. While the offensive line held up admirably in 2013, adding another young guard or tackle would be a smart insurance policy.
On defense, after handling the immediate needs, linebacker is a position that has been plagued with injuries in recent years.
Bringing in a seventh-round pick with upside and raw talent would prevent Dallas from looking for veterans on the street if a starter goes down next season. The rookie could also become a key special teams contributor, which Dallas could use after the departure of Danny McCray.
There are more than a few places the Cowboys need help in one way or another when looking at the potential 2014 roster. This draft has a ton of young talent that could help fill those holes, which is why Dallas has to be smart from pick No. 16 to No. 254.
This slideshow will be updated each and every time the Cowboys select a player and will give quick analysis and a report card grade for each selection. Make sure to check back here each time Dallas' pick is in.
Dallas Takes Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame
The Cowboys elected to go offense in the first round but not in the manner most expected. Owner Jerry Jones resisted the urge to break the internet and draft quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Offensive tackle Zack Martin is the newest member of the Dallas roster. The selection backs up a multi-year project of rebuilding the offensive line.
Last draft, Travis Frederick was the pick, giving the team a solid center to anchor the line with 2011 first-rounder Tyron Smith at tackle.
Martin has the ideal offensive lineman size at 6’4”, 308 pounds and really grew over his four years as a starter at Notre Dame. He is nimbler than most would expect given his size and excels at protecting the quarterback, something Tony Romo will be happy about.
The only issue with this pick for Dallas is that its No. 32-ranked defense last season could have used a first round kind of talent. It makes sense that the franchise would want to protect Romo and add arguably that last pick to rebuilding the line.
That being said, defensive tackle and defensive end would have been smarter areas to address before looking to offensive needs. Martin, Frederick and Smith make one heck of a team but Henry Melton and Anthony Spencer would have like some help on their line here.
At the very least, the Cowboys got a player that can become an instant starter, unlike that Texas A&M quarterback everyone keeps talking about.
Pick Grade: B
Dallas Trades Up to Take Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
The Cowboys were able to work a deal with arch rival Washington to move up in the second round and take defensive end Demarcus Lawrence.
This is the kind of move Dallas really needed to make here in the second, even if it did cost a third rounder to do so.
George Selvie surprised last season, posting seven sacks in the absence of injured Anthony Spencer. There's no guarantee that Selvie will be anything more than a one year wonder just yet, however. One season doesn't make a career.
Spencer was re-signed this offseason but he's on yet another one-year deal. He could easily leave next year if the price is right.
By taking Lawrence, the Cowboys have bolstered a defensive line that lost Jason Hatcher, DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff over last season. He's a huge addition to the front four and gives this team insurance if Spencer or Selvie leave or falter.
Lawrence is an instant starter going into the 2014 season and no wonder considering his work at Boise State. He posted 20.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks last year thanks in part for his fine quickness off the snap and ability to move off his blocker.
Despite the veteran losses the Cowboys saw this offseason, Lawrence along with free agent Henry Melton should revitalize Marinelli's front four.
Pick Grade: A
Cowboys Select Anthony Hitchens, LB, Iowa in the Fourth Round
The Cowboys have seen injuries plague their linebacker corps in over the past few seasons. Starters Bruce Carter and Sean Lee have missed playing time in each of the past two seasons.
In order to shore up the depth chart at the position, Dallas chose linebacker Anthony Hitchens with its fourth-round selection.
Hitchens has a fine first step and uses that ability when blitzing. With time and coaching, there is room for the Iowa product to be a situational player in the Dallas defense. He'll also likely contribute immediately on special teams.
The issue with taking Hitchens in the fourth is that the Cowboys had other defensive needs to address before looking at linebacker. Despite Carter and Lee's injuries, the position is in better shape than more than a few others on that side of the ball. Addressing safety or defensive tackle would have been a better move.
Pick Grade: C
Dallas Trades Up to Grab Devin Street, WR, PIttsburgh in the Fifth Round
The Cowboys traded up in the fifth round to take their first wide receiver of the draft in Devin Street.
After choosing to cut ties with veteran Miles Austin this offseason, Dallas needed to bring in someone to replace him. Street will compete and likely win the slot receiver gig this offseason.
Last draft, the Cowboys chose to take a receiver in Terrance Williams and that worked out pretty darn well. The Baylor product posted 736 receiving yards and five touchdowns in his rookie campaign. Head coach Jason Garrett doesn't need that kind of production out of Street but he could get something similar.
Street has some impressive hand-eye coordination and runs fine routes on every passing play. He understands how to go up and get the deep ball and beat defenders along the way.
With Street in the fold, Dallas now has three talented young receivers that can produce for years to come. The problem with taking an offensive player here though is that the defense still has noticeable holes. Safety and defensive tackle still haven't been addressed in this year's draft.
Pick Grade: B-
Dallas Selects Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford with First Pick in the Seventh-Round
The Cowboys went back to finding help for their defense with their first seventh-round pick, taking defensive end Ben Gardner.
Gardner has some nice size at 6'4", 262 pounds and can come right in and help from a depth standpoint at his position.
Demarcus Lawrence was a great addition in the second round to help add a potential starter at defensive end. Gardner is a nice pick that can help back up Lawrence, George Selvie, Anthony Spencer and others. The team could even elect to move him to defensive tackle come training camp.
The Stanford product is a bit slow though and NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki noted that his arms are a little short. In order to become a reliable backup, he'll need some coaching up.
Expect to see Gardner used heavily on the special teams unit and an emergency option if injuries start to build up at defensive end.
Pick Grade: C+
Cowboys Use Second Seventh-Round Pick on Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech
Deciding to grab some in-state talent, the Cowboys took linebacker Will Smith with their second seven-round pick.
Smith totaled 120 tackles, 10.5 of which were for a loss in 2013. He also tallied 4.5 sacks to finish out his career at Texas Tech.
Based on the Hitchens pick earlier and now Smith, it's clear that Dallas thinks its linebacker corps needs some depth. It's no wonder why considering the injuries that have plagued guys like Lee, Carter and Justin Durant at the position.
Like other late-round guys, Smith will immediately be put to work on special teams and perhaps even the practice squad. Regardless of how the Cowboys use him initially, they have to feel their linebacker situation has improved through this draft.
Pick Grade: C+
Dallas Addresses Safety by Taking Ahmad Dixon, S, Baylor
It took way longer than most would have expected for the Cowboys to take a safety but they did in the seventh round. They chose to grab another in-state talent in Ahmad Dixon.
While at Baylor, Dixon established himself as a leader on the defensive side of the ball. He's got some nice size at 6", 212 pounds and has noticeable talent to boot.
Dixon showcased some fine downhill speed while in college and packs a punch when he made his tackles.
He's not going to come in and start but he'll add to the camp battle regarding who starts opposites Barry Church.
J.J. Wilcox, Matt Johnson, Jeff Heath and now Dixon will all be in the mix for arguably the most wide open starting position on the Dallas depth chart.
Pick Grade: A-
Cowboys Continue Defensive Trend by Taking Ken Bishop, DT, NIU
It appears Dallas' draft strategy was to focus heavily on the defensive side once the draft's final round began. The Cowboys added another name to help at defensive tackle, taking Ken Bishop.
Bishop finished his final season at Northern Illinois as a first team All-MAC selection due to his 70 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He finished his Huskies career with 127 tackles, and 16.5 tackles for a loss.
Bishop's position was viewed by many as a top need heading into this draft but he is the first true DT to be taken by Dallas. Given that Nick Hayden is the projected starter opposite Henry Melton, the Cowboys could certainly use some guys to push the former.
The position should have been addressed earlier than the seventh round but Bishop is as good a pick as at this point.
Pick Grade: B-
Dallas Rounds out 2014 Draft with Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Dallas added some depth to the cornerback position with its final pick in this year's draft, taking Terrance Mitchell.
The former Oregon Duck boasts a nice 5'11", 192-pound frame with long arms he uses to swat balls away from receivers. Mitchell has been seen both applause and head-shaking from the quick decisions he makes in coverage as well.
Last season did not go how the Cowboys would have thought for former first-round pick Morris Claiborne. One has to wonder if his struggles and the overall lack of depth at the position in general led to Dallas taking Mitchell.
Having a young and hungry player at corner was a smart move from a depth prospective. It could also provide a tiny bit of motivation for Claiborne to get back on track in 2014.
Mitchell was a nice steal this late in the draft and could develop into a nice slot cornerback option.
Pick Grade: A