Jason Garrett looks to turn things around in 2011.
The Dallas Cowboys were primed for a historical season in 2010. They had the talent in place to make a long run in the playoffs, and had they reached the Super Bowl, they would have become the first team in NFL history to play at home in the biggest game of the year.
Unfortunately, the team was lethargic after holding onto head coach Wade Phillips a year too long and got off to a horrible start early in the year. Tony Romo going down for the season with a broken collarbone didn’t help matters, and the season was lost from there.
There’s hope for 2011, however, as new head coach Jason Garrett has the team refreshed and re-committed, and the Cowboys will once again put one of the best groups of talent on both sides of the ball on the field.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t use more talent. Check out the new players they stocked up with in the 2011 NFL draft, along with some analysis and grades:
Round 1 (Pick 9): Tyron Smith, T, USC
I don’t think that Dallas could have done any better with this selection. Tyron Smith never played left tackle at USC, but his potential is outstanding. At the very least, he should be able to man the right side of the Cowboys line for quite some time.
They are in a great position to groom him to play left tackle eventually, despite the fact that they are quite pleased with the play of the incumbent Doug Free. The right side of the line hurt Dallas big time in 2010.
I question Carter’s true fit in a 3-4 scheme, and he may be forced to play inside. That being said, he’s an outstanding tackler and a smart football player.
He does pretty well in coverage and could end up sticking to outside linebacker and playing that utility role like Mike Vrabel had done for years in New England’s 3-4 system. Carter was the BPA at 40, and the Cowboys did a nice job of nabbing him.
Round 3 (Pick 71): DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
I’m not a huge fan of Murray overall, but I do think he’s a talented player with a ton of upside. This selection likely means that Marion Barber will be out and Tashard Choice, Felix Jones and Murray will all be a part of the rotation in the talented Cowboy backfield.
Murray is a do-it-all running back but won’t be a workhorse, especially because of his injury history.
Round 4 (Pick 110): David Arkin, OL, Missouri State
I’m not a huge fan of this selection. I believe that there were a lot more NFL-ready guards at the next level, but Jerry Jones elected to go with the big-time sleeper. The value the Cowboys got doesn’t seem to be great, but Arkin is talented.
The issue with Arkin is that he’s raw and didn’t play against top-tier competition. He doesn’t know what it’s like to play against big-time playmakers on the defensive line.
Round 5 (Pick 143): Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo
It took the Cowboys forever to address the secondary, but they made it. The selection of Josh Thomas in the fifth is a great one, and they get a solid coverage corner with some good tackling ability.
He’ll likely never end up more than a No. 2, but he could at least become a respectable nickel corner playing the slot receiver inside.
Round 6 (Pick 176): Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina
The Cowboys don’t really need more offensive weapons, but it’s hard to pass up on a late-round talent like Harris. He’s an elusive receiver with raw route-running ability, but very solid upside.
He’s going to be a guy that can turn a quick slant into a 40-yard gain, and he has a nice ability to make defenders miss in the open field.
Round 7 (Pick 220): Shaun Chapas, RB, Georgia
The Cowboys elected to go with a fullback in Chapas who helped pave the way for guys like Knowshon Moreno, Danny Ware, etc. Chapas is a great lead-blocking fullback with some pass-catching ability out of the backfield.
Round 7 (Pick 252): Bill Nagy, C, Wisconsin
In an effort to gain depth on the interior offensive line, the Cowboys went with Nagy who is a decent center prospect out of the mauling offensive line systems in Wisconsin. The Cowboys have their history with Wisconsin centers (Al Johnson) and they love their hard-nosed interior linemen.
Overall Grade: B+