Three Years Later: Grading The Cowboys 2011 Draft Class, Part 1

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Dec 15, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith (77) in action against Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews (52) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1: OT Tyron Smith, USC

Smith made his first Pro Bowl in 2013 – a three-year veteran of the league at just 23 years old, playing arguably the second-most important offensive position on the field. His ability to shut down premiere edge rushers with scant help from backs and tight ends helped to popularize the term Tyron Island. Not sure if Bob Sturm over at Sportsradio 1310AM The Ticket coined that moniker or not, but for a brilliant breakdown of Smith’s dominance against another pro bowler from this draft, click here.

Smith was one of eight pro bowlers taken with the first 10 picks of the 2011 draft. Others taken within five picks after him include Houston defensive tackle JJ Watt and St. Louis defensive end Robert Quinn. While either of those All Pros would be a welcome addition in Dallas, it’s hard to find any justifiable angle to criticize this pick.

Smith was pro bowl talent at a position of need. The Cowboys carried five tackles on the 2010 roster – Mark Columbo, Alex Barron, Jermey Parnell, Sam Young and Doug Free. Anyone see the future in that crew? As a 20-year-old rookie, Smith was an instant upgrade at right tackle, and would develop into the franchise left tackle of the future.

Assuming the team can re-sign him, and he continues to enjoy excellent health, Smith could turn out to be as good a first-round pick as any the team has made since Bob Lilly.

First-Round Grade: A+Tyron Island could anchor the most important spot on the O Line for another decade, and still have gas in the tank.

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  • Ed

    well researched and analyzed. I think that a future time we will look back at Redball’s rebuilding and marvel.

  • Scott.

    Smith is a stud (can’t miss pick), I’d say Carter has a ton of improvement in front of him before he gets close to a B+. He was a weakness in pass and was benched so I’m wondering where the good grade comes from. Not saying he won’t get there but a bit presumptuous to say he will. Murray I’d say can be a top 5-10 back with a 2nd or 3rd round pick of a guard in the draft. That will stabilize the line for years to come. Leary was a great ufa pickup. I did notice rounds 4-7, where you solidify your depth and 53 man roster was not mentioned.

    • John

      Agreed that Bruce Carter needs to improve, but if we cut him today there’d be 31 waiver requests for him tomorrow. He’s a legit starting linebacker in the NFL. We’re not grading the player so much as the draft pick. If Carter was a first-rounder, he’d still be the same player, but he’d have a different draft grade. Finding a quality NFL starter is better than average for the second round, so we give him a B. His as yet unrealized upside accounts for the B+. Ron Leary came a year later in the 2012 class; a breakdown of rounds 4-7 in 2011, along with the notable UDFAs, will be part of a future post…

  • ctcowboy1968

    Great article. Fantastic start to a draft. All three are important parts of this team. Smith and Murray are critical parts of this team. Carter can be much better and hopefully will be. He needs to play up to his physical ability.