Yes, it's too early. Yes, it's asinine to try grade players who haven't even put on a jockstrap for their respective new team. But this is what we do as fans to try to make sense of all the new talent our team has brought in via the draft.
Everyone has their own set of critera they apply to a team's draft class. Mine is weighted heavily on value and need.
For the Cowboys, they unquestionably added talent and value, but did they actually address any pressing needs?
You simply don't get this type of Top-10 value at the latter end of the first-round often. Bryant instantly gives the Cowboys a shot in the arm of big-play ability lining up opposite of Miles Austin. He also provides a ready-made Plan-B once the Roy Williams experiment comes to its merciful and likely end after 2010.
It's interesting to note how Bryant's presence is already causing a stir. It's been reported that GM Jerry Jones has given the agents of wide receivers Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd the permission to seek trades.
Bottomline: There may have been greater needs, but Bryant was too tempting and talented to pass up at No. 24 in round one.
Better Alternatives: Hard to really gripe at Dez Bryant at that spot in the draft
In round two, Jerry and company leaned heavily again on value trading up for Penn State stand-out linebacker Sean Lee.
Most experts rated Lee a solid second-round grade and many conceded he would have gone higher if not for durability concerns.
The talented Lee instantly becomes Keith Brooking's backup and heir-apparent to the 35-year old veteran in the 3-4.
Some would argue that Dallas should have addressed more pressing needs, such as free safety or offensive line. With players such as Morgan Burnett, Vlad Ducasse and Charles Brown still on the board, I tend to agree.
Bottomline: There was a definite need for backup at ILB behind Brooking. Last year's third-rounder Jason Williams is still raw and Bobby Carpenter doesn't exactly instill confidence for the future. Lee provides an answer today and moving forward.
Better alternatives: As noted, Burnett, Ducasse and Brown were still available. The Cowboys could have also chosen to trade back and acquire additional picks to carpet their needs.
There seems to be a lot of excitement over the 6' 0", 207 lb defensive back from division II, Indiana (PA).
Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is quite an athlete (4.47 sec. forty, 32.5 vertical) and a terrific return man (five returns for TDs on ST in '09). Dallas is hoping to turn his raw ability into a dynamic playmaker in the NFL.
Owusu-Ansah is extremely raw. The Cowboy coaching staff has already admitted 2010 is likely to be sort of red-shirt season for him. Any production they can get out of him this upcoming season will be shocking.
Bottomline: Unless Dallas is truly comfortable with Alan Ball manning the free safety spot, there is an immediate need at the position. Owusu-Ansah isn't going to be provide that answer right now.
Better alternatives: Georgia safety Reshad Jones.
The Cowboys finally addressed its offensive line needs by selecting Notre Dame offensive lineman Sam Young. Young was once highly touted but finished out his career with the Irish projected as a mid to late-round (3-7) pick.
Bottomline: Throwing anyone into the mix of o-line incumbents that are currently manning the depth charts is a good thing. Young fits that bill as well as anyone. He's got tremendous size and a good skill-set to work with.
Better alternatives: None
How can you be overcritical at this point in the draft? Here's a cbssportsline.com overview on Wall:
"One of the more underrated players at his position... Wall is a good athlete who had a storied high school career where he ran for over 2,000 yards in both his junior and senior seasons. Though a bit shorter than scouts prefer, Wall's stocky build, athleticism, aggressive play and sure tackling make him a potential starting zone corner in the NFL..."
Bottomline: Wall will likely be hard-pressed to find a spot in Dallas' talented secondary. He's a good athlete with a chance to develop and likely destined for the practice squad.
Better alternatives: OT Selvish Capers
Sure, why not? Lissemore sports a good frame (6'4" 284 lbs) and will likely make the transition from college DT at William & Mary to 3-4 DE with the Cowboys. Here's what cbssportsline.com says:
"High-effort All-American (4 TFL, 6.5 sacks in '09). 4.8 40 at pro day, played hard, strong at Texas vs. Nation)."
Bottomline: The Cowboys have a history of striking gold in the late rounds before (Leon Lett, Jay Ratliff, John Phillips, et cetera), Lissemore can only hope he's next.
Better alternative: Ohio State DT Doug Worthington. Worthington offers a better pedigree and even larger frame (6'5" 292 lbs), but it's nitpicking at this point.
FINAL GRADE on next page.
The value of the Cowboys' first two draft choices positively skew the overall grade of the draft class.
Dallas chose to not address any of its glaring needs (free safety and offensive line) early in the draft with talented prospects still on the board.
Overall, this was a fulfilling draft for the Cowboys because they were able to acquire top-rated talent early; add talented developmental prospect in the middle round; and address a few needs in the later rounds.
If Dallas chooses to fill some needs with veterans via trades or free agency, it will put this draft into an even better light.