There have been mixed opinions overall about the amount of impact the 2012 draft class will have for the Dallas Cowboys this season. Obviously this is something that no one can guess 100% correctly. Every year there are draft surprises and busts. Even though the athletes coming out of college are bigger, faster, and better equipped to handle the NFL style of football, there’s still that sense of uncertainty.
With that being said, let’s take a shot at predicting what the most recent draft class will do this season.
Round 1, Pick 6: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU
Morris Claiborne is the closest thing to a sure-fire shut-down corner the Cowboys have had since Dieon Sanders’ days. He has great instincts and ball skills to go along with the speed and size to match up with NFL sized receivers.
I think it’s fate that he went at number six overall, or “pick 6.” If he lives up to the hype, and I think he will, then there are a lot of interceptions that go the other way in this man’s future.
I predict Claiborne will start out as a rotational guy, and by mid-season he will have a firm grip on the number two corner spot.
Round 3, Pick 81: Tyrone Crawford, DE, Boise State
Tyrone Crawford is an interesting case because he didn’t grow up playing football, and didn’t play as much college ball as some of the other players similar to him that were drafted. He’s a project player to a certain degree. But considering how much of a force he was in college, I don’t imagine he’ll take too extremely long getting up to speed.
I predict by the end of the season he will be a full-swing, rotational guy on the defensive line and causing all kinds of trouble at the same time.
Round 4, Pick 113: Kyle Wilber, OLB, Wake Forrest
Kyle Wilber is one of the many players I’m excited about seeing live in person this upcoming season. From all the reports I’ve read to date, Wilber has shown the pass-rushing ability he was drafted for. Now obviously he needs to get back on the field after having his finger operated on. I don’t see that slowing him down that much though.
I see Wilber making a huge impact in the preseason and that momentum should carry over to the regular season. I believe he will be replacing Anthony Spencer on 3rd downs and obvious passing situations. Spencer is really good against the run, and I think Wilber can help be the rush that the Cowboys need on DeMarcus Ware’s opposite side.
Round 4, Pick 135: Matt Johnson, S, Eastern Washington
Matt Johnson is another player that gets me excited for the upcoming season. He has good enough speed and agility to roam sideline to sideline, and he definitely has the knack for finding the ball and coming down with it. While at Eastern Washington, he has 17 interceptions in 45 games played. That’s just plain ridiculous. Just think of what he could do when he is placed in a secondary that has players like Claiborne, Brandon Carr.
Keep in mind he is coming off an injury that took away most of his 2011 season, and he is a small-school guy that hasn’t played against big-time talent like he will see in the NFL. That being said, I see a lot of Eric Weddle in this guy, and by the end of the season, or even the beginning of 2013, we should see Johnson making a huge impact.
Round 5, Pick 152: Danny Coale, WR, Virginia Tech
Hello Wes Welker 2.0! The whole off-season leading up to the draft I kept asking, “When are we going to get a better option at the number three WR spot?” Well the wait is over. Danny Coale is the prototypical slot receiver. He has been compared to Welker, and when you see him in action, you see why. He’s good in tight spaces, and when he gets those short, check-down throws, he is able to turn small gains into big ones.
I see Coale starting out as the fourth wide receiver, but by week four or five I could see him taking over the third wide receiver spot and not letting go.
Round 6, Pick 186: James Hanna, TE, Oklahoma
James Hanna is the kind of mis-match player the Cowboys could use in the red zone, or when they want to catch people off guard. Hanna is big and fast, with great athleticism. One of the many knocks on him, and that’s why a tight end that ran a 4.49 40-yard dash landed in the 6th round, is that he doesn’t block well. To go along with that, he didn’t see many balls thrown his way during his collegiate career.
I don’t see Hanna making a substantial impact until 2013… at the earliest. But he has one of the best to learn from.
Round 7, Pick 122: Caleb McSurdy, MLB, Montana
Caleb McSurdy, like most seventh-round picks, is most likely destined for a special teams role. And that’s okay. McSurdy has shown he is willing to do whatever the team needs him to do in order to win. He did both linebacker and fullback drills during his pro day to show his willingness to “take one for the team,” as well as show his versatility.
In the end I don’t expect much from McSurdy this year beyond being a special teams contributor, and that may be a good thing. If he does turn into this diamond in the rough, then I will be pleasantly surprised.