Mel Kiper Regrades Dallas Cowboys 2014 Draft


With the Dallas Cowboys now officially in offseason mode, it’s a great time to look back on the 2014 season and evaluate some of the team’s choices. And nothing effects a team more than their decisions during the NFL Draft.

“I’m thrilled to see (Zack) Martin do so well, because I really was a big fan” – Mel Kiper Jr.

Last season, the Cowboys made some controversial choices with their draft picks. Some of those choices paid off this season and were a reason why the team finished the season with a 12-4 record. Other choices have yet to pay off or are simply will not pan out.

Here’s a brief look at the Cowboys’ 2014 Draft Class.

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Upon first review, ESPN NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. gave the Cowboys a grade of “B” citing Dallas’ front office made the right call by selecting Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin over former Heisman-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with their first round pick. Kiper also mention the Cowboys should be able to run the ball with Martin on the line.

Fast forward a year, and Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray finishing the regular season as the leagues’ leading rusher. Martin is the only rookie to be named to the NFL’s All-Pro first team and to his first Pro Bowl. And Manziel is coming off a disappointing rookie campaign where it’s currently unclear if he’ll be the Day One starter in Cleveland in 2015.

Now, Kiper has regraded the Cowboys’ 2014 draft. And for Dallas, the grade is trending upwards as the draft expert increased the Cowboys’ grade to a “B+”. And that’s mainly due to Martin.

"“I’m thrilled to see Martin do so well, because I really was a big fan,” Kiper wrote in his latest article on ESPN. “He as one of the better guards in the NFL this year and, along with Joel Bitonio of Cleveland, top rookies at that position. The one thing I should point out: If you draft a player at No. 16 with the intention of moving him to guard, you’re expecting him to start. I’m not saying Dallas couldn’t afford to miss, but they had to assume he was a starter because Martin obviously has more value at tackle. So the grade has to jump because they nail the pick, and it leads to more wins.”"

As for the other players selected by the Cowboys in the 2014 NFL Draft, it’s still a bit of a guessing game. Even for Kiper.

"“DeMarcus Lawrence is going to be a player but had only 277 snaps after not seeing the field until Week 9. Anthony Hitchens provided some useful depth, as well, with over 600 snaps. That’s really about it, though you could mention undrafted CB Tyler Patmon seeing some time. All in all, Dallas hit one great pick (so far) and mostly dodged a bullet in doing so. They also won a bunch, which is an added bonus.”"

I for one am not sold on Lawrence. The Cowboys gave up their second and third round picks to move up on the second day to select him. And, as of yet, D-Law really hasn’t shown enough to justify that sacrifice. Although an ankle injury essentially stole half of his rookie season.

Hitchens was a pleasant surprise for me, as his ability to play all three linebacker positions was critical to the resurgence of the Cowboys’ defense in 2014. Especially when you consider the number of injuries suffered by the linebacker corps throughout last year.

Because of the Cowboys’ numerous offensive options, rookie recevier Devin Street had little to no opportunity to prove his worth. If Dallas decides to part ways with Dwayne Harris this offseason, Street should get his number called a lot more often.

The Cowboys’ seventh round was a wasteland. Defensive end Ben Gardner, who was injured all season, might be a sleeper impact player in 2015. And undrafted players cornerback Tyler Patmon and quarterback Dustin Vaughn could also become important depth players this upcoming season.

Next: Dallas Cowboys Draft Decisions By Position

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