Nov 16, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon (6) in game action during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Everything the Cowboys Did Right In the 2014 NFL Draft

My first article since the 2014 NFL draft and I have to give a round of applause to a top commenter – “Old Frog”. Not only do I write the articles, but I read and post in the comments because I enjoy interacting with Cowboy Nation. “Old Frog” was the first to mention that he would be perfectly fine if the Cowboys drafted a guard in the first round and then went defense with their remaining picks.

If you’re a contributor to the comments, you’d know that “Old Frog” liked Baylor’s guard, Cyril Richardson. Based on a “poor performance” at the Senior Bowl, Richardson started sliding down to the third round of mock draft boards and guard rankings. The best player at the position was Notre Dame’s Zach Martin. Hopefully, many of you have overcome your fascination with Manziel to appreciate Martin.

There’s something you should love about the Cowboys 2014 draft picks. First, they are finally from colleges with strong Division 1 football programs: Notre Dame, Boise State, Iowa, Pittsburgh, Stanford, Texas Tech, Baylor, Northern Illinois & Oregon. When I shared my mock draft, I was teased that the Cowboys always select a player from the University of Phoenix Poly Tech of Bubble Gum Community College. Fortunately, that didn’t happen this year so things are already looking up.

After searching the internet for details about our draft picks. They may not have received the media hype that Manziel did, but those with “insider” knowledge are applauding the Cowboys selections.

 

Player Name

College

Award / Accomplishment

Zack Martin Notre Dame MVP 2013 Pinstripe Bowl, 2nd team All American
Demarcus Lawrence Boise State 1st team All-MWC in 2012, 2013. 10.5 sacks in 2013
Anthony Hitchens Iowa 236 tackles in 2012 – 2013, Roy J. Carver Defensive MVP
Devin Street Pittsburgh School Receptions Record – 202, 3rd team All-ACC
Ben Gardner Stanford 1st team Pac-12 defense, Team Captain
Will Smith Texas Tech 86 solo tackles, Holiday Bowl Def MVP, 1st team All Big 12
Ahmad Dixon Baylor 1st team All America & All Big 12
Ken Bishop Northern Illinois 1st team All MAC, 70 tackles as Nose Tackle
Terrance Mitchell Oregon Pac-12 Honorable Mention, Ranked 16th by Walter Football

 

This is a quality group of athletes and the Cowboys fulfilled my promise that they would get young, strong and fast in the 2014 NFL draft. Great job by Will McClay finding players in positions of need and to challenge current starters.

Zach Martin will challenge Doug Free or MacKenzy Bernadeau. Both had stellar seasons last year, but were awful the year before that. I used to write that the Cowboys could replace Bernadeau with a mannequin and nobody would notice. I would love to see the left side of the line consist of Smith, Martin and Frederick for the next 6 years.

With all the talk about Anthony Barr from UCLA being a possible 16th pick, you should be happy about the addition of Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence played right defensive end in college and that’s where he’ll play in the NFL. I’m not a fan of using a high draft pick on a player and moving him to a new position in the NFL. Lawrence will get significant playing time, but I expect him to dominate in his third year.

Anthony Hitchens isn’t a reach, but I am not in favor of drafting players to be backups. Expect Hitchens to challenge Bruce Carter for the Weakside Linebacker position. I would love to see Lawrence or Hitchens, Lee and Holloman on the field together.

Poor Cole Beasley. The Cowboys aren’t trying to “replace” Miles Austin. Anyone that writes that doesn’t know what they are talking about. Austin was replaced with Terrance Williams. The addition of Devin Street adds height and speed to the slot receiver position and challenges Cole Beasley and Dwayne Harris for playing time. I’m a big Dwayne Harris fan, but he’s 5′ 10” and the incredibly productive Beasley is 5′ 8”. Beasley caught 39 passes and 20 were for first downs last season. Unfortunately, you can’t coach height and Street at 6′ 3” is going to get chances to contribute.

I would be comfortable with Ahmad Dixon and Terrance Mitchell starting immediately. They have some things to learn, but Mitchell job this season is to wake Morris Claiborne up. If Claiborne doesn’t show why he was a first round draft pick, then he may need to practice asking “Do you want fries with that?”

This draft is packed and of the undrafted free agents, I’m expecting LSU’s fullback J.C. Copeland to land a roster spot. Review the list of undrafted free agents and many of them are from big name schools too. Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Baylor, Iowa, Missouri, Texas, Illinois are all represented. It’s the perfect ending to the Dallas Cowboys best offseason in a decade.

With the conclusion of this draft, can Cowboy Nation finally stop talking about Johnny Manziel. I understand that some of you are grieving and I intend to quickly help you with that. There are only five steps.

Step 1 – Denial and Isolation – When your first reaction was – “We didn’t draft Manziel? Why didn’t we draft Manziel, when he was available with the 16th pick? Who’s Zack Martin? There must’ve been some kind of mistake at the podium.”

Step 2 – Anger – “What in the world is Jerry Jones doing this draft? We need a GM! We might win 3 games this season! ”

Step 3 – Bargaining – The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control – “Well, I can still love the Cowboys, but wear a Cleveland Browns Manziel jersey. I’ll probably put him on my fantasy football team too.”

Step 4 – Depression – “I can’t believe I paid for a custom Dallas Cowboys Johnny Manziel jersey with overnight express shipping.”

Step 5 – Acceptance – “When Madden comes out, I’ll just move Manziel to the Cowboys’ roster.”

I’m not going to predict our season record. It’s foolish when teams and rosters haven’t been finalized, so save your 6 – 10 or 8 – 8 or 10 – 6 forecasts. I do believe that we’re going to be competitive on both sides of the ball. Releasing DeMarcus Ware is not going to come back to haunt us. Not drafting Manziel is not going to come back to haunt us. The loss of Jason Hatcher is not going to haunt us. This season is going to be fun to watch and I can’t wait.

#GoCowboys

 

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