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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  • David

    I dont know how you can say you would be comfortable with Dixon and Mitchell starting immediately??? Well I can see why you would say that with Dixon because anyone with a pulse could be an upgrade over their safeties. But at corner I think that is a bit of a stretch when these guys have not even started a single session with the vets.

    • Robert H. Carroll

      Easy. Church is a leading tackler, but he did miss games. I see Dixon as a young version of Church. As for Mitchell, I know he’s a 7th round pick, but Claiborne was given a starting roster spot immediately. With Carr & Scandrick on the outside, I wouldn’t be upset if Mitchell became the starting nickel corner. Mitchell was ranked higher than where he was drafted – 16th best cornerback by Walter Football. He will also give the defense additional insight on Chip Kelly’s offense. They could let him cover Josh Huff when we play the Eagles – surely they challenged each other in college during practice.

      • David

        So Dixon is a younger version of Church. Well thats not a good sign because that means he cant cover very well or help out the corners in Cover two or three.

        • Robert H. Carroll

          Strong safeties tend to help out around the line of scrimmage and at most, help cover tight ends. Which is only a problem when you have a TE like Jeremy Shockey repeatedly roasting Roy Williams like chestnuts on an open fire.

          Nowadays, a receiving tight end, like the Saints Jimmy Graham, would probably be covered by a nickel corner. Of course, that’s just a defensive counter scheme guess on my part.

  • Old Frog

    Thanks for the props. Admittedly Richardson was my 1st choice until the senior bowl and combine at which point I quickly changed horses (sorry Cyril). Extremely happy with Martin and not at all displeased with any of the other picks…including Hitchens. Looking forward to Oxnard.

    • Robert H. Carroll

      No problem. Your comments had me thinking about improving the defense by helping the offense. Plus we both believe in smash mouth football with a power running game. Sometimes the Cowboys do out-smart themselves and pass too often. Great comments & thoughts are appreciated around here.

  • Chesney

    Old Frog have to give it you, you got the Zack Martin pick correct. You had that three months ago. Time will tell if this draft went the right way. You had a chance to get Lawrence, Jernigan, Critchon Nix with a trade down with Browns. Instead you got Martin and Lawrence. Or Manziel, Jernigan, Nix.

    • Old Frog

      Thanks. Every Frog has his day. Only took 3 drafts but I finally got my OG.

  • Chesney

    7th round skipped: dion bailey, skov, tiny richardson, Jeffcoat, Quarles

  • PaulTX

    We didn’t get a coverage Safety or Will, both of which are huge in the Tampa 2, hence why Shazier was being targeted. Dixon will play special teams unless he beats out Church because neither guy can cover. Someone has to be the cover safety, and the Cowboys seem to think it’s Wilcox. I think it’s a 2015 draft pick.

    • Robert H. Carroll

      We’ll see. Wilcox played well until his mother passed away and then he injured his knee. Of course, there’s the enigma – Matt Johnson.. (knock on wood).

      Hitchens played weakside linebacker in college. I’m hoping he has a strong camp. There will also be competition with Will Smith. I saw film of him playing multiple linebacker positions at Texas Tech. It could easily be Smith, Lee and Holloman. Perhaps, Smith, Hutchens & Holloman, as you can see, I’m big on Holloman.

      • PaulTX

        You may be right on Holloman. Of the whole LB group, Carter seems to be the best athlete, but his football IQ is lacking. The “plan” was to draft Shazier at Will and move Carter to Sam, but that didn’t pan out. Whatever combination of players they use, I don’t think Carter can play Will.

  • Arturo Jara

    nice article… love the last paragraph about saving forecasts and all the things that won’t came to haunt us…

  • Bill Smith

    If Dallas doesnt use a couple of Really high draft picks on a future QB and a safety next year, they are Nuts.

  • Rick Vas

    besides participate ?