Just like with any team and any Draft, it’s FAR too early to really know how effective the Dallas Cowboys Draft in 2014 really was (let’s talk in two or three years), but on paper there was a lot to like about what they did over the weekend.
How the first two days are viewed will be largely based on the success of second-round pick Demarcus Lawrence. The Cowboys themselves admitted that they gave up “too much” for him, but they didn’t want to let an impact player get away.
“We said [before] that we thought there was a level and there was quite a drop-off relative to what we felt in our evaluation, in the outside pressure players at right end. We thought there was a drop-off, and we thought Lawrence was the drop-off,” explained owner and general manager Jerry Jones. “We very consciously did overpay and stepped up and used that pick and are very aware that it cost us a player.
Although Dallas only got two players with their first three picks (Lawrence and first-round pick Zack Martin), if those two players turn out to be the monsters in the trenches that the Cowboys envision, it will be hard to argue with the philosophy that landed the Cowboys two players with first-round grades.
The first real head-scratcher came when the Cowboys selected Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens in the fourth round. Hitchens was generally viewed as a player that would still be available in the seventh round and possible even as an undrafted free agent. But, given the injury situation that the Cowboys suffered through last year, they wanted to try and ensure that they wouldn’t be signing guys off the street once again in the middle of the season.
“We just feel like we needed linebacker depth,” said head coach Jason Garrett. “We’ve had different injuries at the linebacker position the last couple of years, and that’s the nature of the league. Guys get hurt. You want to make sure you have enough numbers there, enough competition there so if something does happen to one of your top-flight players, you can survive, function and even thrive. That’s where we feel like Hitchens fits in.”
Still, this was arguably the worst pick of the Draft (on paper) by the Cowboys, because while the fourth round isn’t a spot where you’re likely to find a sure-fire starting caliber player, it also is a little too high to be picking a player that you view strictly as a depth and special teams player.