Retrospective: Grading the Dallas Cowboys 2011 NFL Draft Class

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5th Round (143rd Overall)Josh Thomas – Defensive Back, Buffalo

Thomas, a Texas native, was one of the only two defensive players chosen in this draft. And he was the lone player selected to help our ailing defensive backfield. But Thomas didn’t even make it out of training camp as he was cut from the team before the season started. Thomas landed with the Carolina Panthers and played nine games for them, but only recorded one tackle for the season. He’s young and who knows what the future may bring, but if Thomas couldn’t crack this defensive backfield, I don’t think “bust” is too harsh a word. Grade: F

6th Round (176th Overall)Dwayne Harris; Wide Receiver – East Carolina

Harris exploded on the radars of many Cowboy fans early in the preseason. The late round pick had five receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns in his debut against the Denver Broncos. But Harris failed to record a single reception this season, mainly due to the emergence of free agent wideout Laurent Robinson. Harris spent his time on special teams as Dallas’ primary kick and occasional punt returner. In both roles, Harris was rather forgettable.  But the future  looks bright for the speedy young man and his flash of greatness in the preseason helps his grade a bit. Grade: C+

7th Round, (220th Overall)Shaun Chapas; Fullback, Georgia

Fullback has become a very big position in Big “D” this year. The spotlight shifted to this position when Dallas signed Tony Fiammetta and the rushing offense began to take off. Chapas, who spent most of the year on the practice squad, filled in decently when Fiammetta missed some games due to illness. But Chapas will have to cut his teeth on special teams if he wishes to make next year’s cut. I know the Cowboys like this kid, but you have the feeling he’s always on the edge of release. Maybe the biggest red flag on his current status with Dallas is the fact that tight end John Phillips played more fullback than Chapas did this season. Grade: C

7th Round, (252nd Overall)Bill Nagy; Offensive Lineman, Wisconsin

Nagy could be an even bigger steal in the draft than DeMarco Murray…eventually. How many seventh rounders actually start in their rookie season? Not many, but Nagy did. Former offensive line coach Hudson Houck believes Nagy has the tools to become a NFL center. His play in the preseason was one of the reasons why Dallas felt comfortable releasing  All-Pro Center Audre  Gurode. Nagy’s season was cut short by a broken ankle, but his play exceeded the expectations of a late round pick. If Nagy will remain a starter for the Cowboys in the future is yet unknown, but his experience and play already makes him a great back-up. And what else can you really ask from a late seventh rounder? Grade: B+

I give the Cowboys a final grade of B-. I think Kiper hit it “right on the nose” the first time. Arkin and Carter are the big question marks here. Both could easily be contributors or busts, but Carter has more upside. We’ll find out next season. Also, Nagy as a late round pick should get more credit than I think he has. I may be a little high on Chapas and Harris, but both are still around for a reason. And I know that  the Cowboys really like the upside of both players.

What overall grade would you give the Dallas Cowboys 2011 NFL Draft Class?

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