Dallas Cowboys Draft Picks: Results, Analysis and Grades
Have no fear, the NFL draft is here! This is the time of year where fans are optimistic about their team and each team believes it has a realistic chance to get to the playoffs.
The Cowboys have an opportunity to improve their team and hopefully keep the momentum rolling from their stellar play throughout the season last year.
The Cowboys have a plethora of needs on defense, so expect them to attack that side of the ball throughout the draft. The Cowboys could use a cornerback to play opposite of Orlando Scandrick, a pass-rusher to fill the void left by Greg Hardy's suspension, a defensive tackle and linebacker who can provide depth at both spots.
On offense, the Cowboys need to come away with a running back who can help replace the production left by DeMarco Murray. Furthermore, don't be surprised if Dallas looks for a quarterback to groom behind Tony Romo.
Also, the Cowboys could select a deep-threat wide receiver, possibly Ohio State's Devin Smith, or they could even look to find an offensive tackle who they can develop to take over for Doug Free when he likely retires in a couple of years.
Moreover, fans should be ready for the Cowboys to trade a few times as owner and general manager Jerry Jones has proven to be a fervent trader in the past.
The only thing we can truly be sure of is that we don't know anything, so be prepared for some surprises throughout. Keep checking back here for instant analysis and grades on each of the Cowboys' picks throughout the draft.
1st Round: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut
The Cowboys opted to improve their secondary as they selected Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones with the No. 27 overall pick.
Jones is a freak athlete who put up one of the best combines in recent memory. Don't fret, though; he isn't just a workout warrior·—he is a fantastic football player as well.
Jones is great in press-man coverage where he uses his size and length to disrupt wide receivers' routes. He has the speed to recover when beaten and the foot quickness to seamlessly mirror a receiver through his route. Furthermore, Jones' athleticism allows him to go up and contest receivers at the catch point.
Jones can slide in on day one as a starting cornerback opposite of Orlando Scandrick and instantly upgrades the Cowboys' secondary.
2nd Round: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska
The first two rounds could not have gone better for the Cowboys. They got an excellent cornerback in the first round, and they get possibly the most talented pass-rusher in the draft with their second-round pick.
Gregory will give the Cowboys a formidable pass-rushing trio with DeMarcus Lawrence and Greg Hardy. Gregory has the upfield burst, length and flexibility to win with speed around the edge and the core strength to convert his speed to power.
Gregory gets a lot of flack for being a poor run defender, but when you turn on the tape, you see a guy who plays his responsibility and uses his hands to make up for his lack of size (6'5", 235 lbs).
The Cowboys have set themselves up incredibly well with their first two picks, and they appear to have really improved their defense thus far.
3rd Round: Chaz Green, OT, Florida
With their third-round selection, the Cowboys picked offensive tackle Chaz Green. He doesn't represent the type of value the Cowboys got in the first two rounds, but Green isn't a bad player by any means.
Green is a player who has great feet and movement skills, which bodes well for the team's zone-blocking scheme. He is a very intelligent player who recognizes stunts and blitzes extremely well. He is extremely versatile, as he can conceivably play at all five offensive line spots for the Cowboys.
He needs to develop his functional strength, as he is often susceptible to power-rush moves.
Green is a player with a high ceiling who can step in and be the Cowboys' swing tackle as he develops into a starting-caliber player.
4th Round: Damien Wilson, LB, MInnesota
The Cowboys love taking versatile linebackers with special teams ability in the fourth round, and they continued that trend as they selected Minnesota's Damien Wilson with pick No. 127.
Wilson is a well-rounded linebacker who has the ability to play all three linebacker positions for the Cowboys. He has great instincts for the position, and he understands how to use his hands to stack and shed blockers.
He isn't very athletic and tends to over run plays at times, but Wilson appears to be a natural fit for the Cowboys defense.
Wilson will step in and be a reserve linebacker who plays a huge role on special teams.
5th Round: Ryan Russell, DE Purdue
The Cowboys continue to address the defensive side of the ball as they selected Purdue's Ryan Russell.
He has great size for the position, standing at 6'4" and 269 pounds with 33 3/8-inch arms. He is very quick off the ball, and he can really stress an offensive tackle's pass set. Russell is still a very raw player, but he has the tools you are looking for in a defensive end.
He was a four-year starter at Purdue, but he didn't produce at a very high level. He really needs to work on his hand use and becoming more active throughout a game.
Russell will likely battle for a backup defensive end spot, and he will have to make an impact on special teams.
7th Round: Mark Nzeocha, LB, Wyoming
The Cowboys continued their defensive onslaught as they selected Wyoming's Mark Nzeocha with their first seventh-round pick.
Nzeocha looks like a player who will be a special teams ace for the Cowboys. He is an extremely athletic player with a great deal of mental toughness.
As a linebacker, Nzeocha will likely be a backup "Will" linebacker because of his ability to run and play sideline to sideline. He has trouble getting off blocks, and he is much better when he is playing in space.
He is coming off a torn ACL, so it will be interesting to see if he will be healthy enough to participate in training camp.
Nzeocha is an interesting player who has a lot of traits worth developing, which is why this is a good seventh-round pick.
7th Round: Laurence Gibson, OT, Virginia Tech
The Cowboys go back to the offensive side of the ball with their last pick in the draft as they selected Virginia Tech's Laurence Gibson.
He looks to be a good fit in the Cowboys' zone-blocking scheme. He moves laterally well and can execute reach blocks and work to the second level.
As you would probably expect from a seventh-round offensive tackle, Gibson has sloppy hands, as he tends to grab instead of punch. He has trouble sustaining blocks, and he lacks the power to get push off the line of scrimmage.
Gibson is a developmental prospect who will likely be a practice-squad player this year.
7th Round: Geoff Swaim, TE, Texas
The Cowboys traded back into the seventh round to select Texas' Geoff Swaim. He isn't very productive, but he is an extremely athletic tight end.
This is a developmental pick, as Swaim's athleticism indicates that he could become a legitimate receiving target for the Cowboys.
Swaim was used primarily as a blocker at Texas, and that is where he will likely be used until he develops more as a receiver.
Swaim will have to find a niche on special teams if he wants to make the Cowboys' roster in some capacity.