Columnist calls Cowboys 2015 Draft Class overrated
One longtime sports columnist calls the Dallas Cowboys 2015 Draft Class overrated, despite landing three potential first round talents.
The Dallas Cowboys got a lot wrong in 2015. But most consider their draft this year a resounding success. Landing three potential first round talents is the biggest reason most consider the Cowboys last draft one of their all-time best. But has this class been over-hyped?
One longtime Cowboys columnist thinks so. Here’s what he had to say when asked about grading Dallas’ newest draft class.
"“How about an O for Overrated?,” responded longtime sports columnist Tim Cowlishaw to a chat question on SportsDayDFW.com Thursday. “And I put blame on myself along with everyone else who bought into the ‘They got 3 first-round picks’ hype. Eventually, perhaps, Jones and Collins and Gregory will all perform like first-round picks. That time isn’t now. And third-round pick Chaz Green just now arriving on the scene in December.”"
With the 27th overall pick in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Cowboys selected Connecticut cornerback Byron Jones. The versatile defensive back has impressed this season, playing both at corner and safety. Jones seems to be gaining more confidence and playing better as the year progresses, making him a rising candidate for defensive rookie of the year.
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In the second round, the Cowboys had to pinch themselves to make sure they weren’t dreaming as projected top ten selection Nebraska pass rusher Randy Gregory was still on the board due to failing a drug test during the NFL’s Scouting Combine. Gregory filled Dallas biggest area of need with the 60th overall selection. And after a three game, three sack start to the preseason, many labeled the rookie defensive end a game-changer this year.
Unfortunately, Gregory suffered a high-ankle sprain in his regular season debut against the New York Giants, and it’s taken him a majority of the season to get back to looking like his old self. The Cowboys pass rush has suffered in his absence and through his on-field rehabilitation. Gregory has five more games to prove this wasn’t an entirely wasted rookie year for him.
The rest of the Cowboys draft was pretty much a wash this season. In the third round, Dallas selected Florida offensive tackle Chaz Green. But the rookie lineman has spent most of the season recovering from a hip injury. It’s hope Green could, at best, become a replacement for starter Doug Free at right tackle next year. At worst, the Cowboys new swing tackle. But first, Green simply must get some playing time.
The Cowboys fourth round selection, linebacker Damien Wilson, is nothing more than a downhill tackler and special teams contributor at this point. Wilson’s rookie year will likely be known for his busted assignment that resulted in a C.J. Spiller 80-yard game winning touchdown in overtime against the New Orleans Saints in Week Four. Fifth round selection defensive end Ryan Russell spent most of the season as a healthy scratch before landing on the Injured Reserve list with an abdomen injury.
The Cowboys seventh round selections included linebacker Mark Nzeocha, offensive tackle Laurence Gibson, and tight end Geoff Swaim. Nzeocha was recently activated following a knee injury, but will likely only be a special teams contributor. Gipson was released prior to the start of the regular season and refused to sign to their practice squad, instead joining the Kansas City Chiefs. And Swaim impressed with his ability as a receiver this offseason, but has been unable to crack the Cowboys tight end depth chart. He’s expected to become Dallas third tight end since veteran James Hanna is a free agent next season.
Lastly, the Cowboys landed possibly the greatest undrafted free agent in NFL History when projected first round offensive lineman La’el Collins out of LSU fell completely out of the draft after he was questioned in the murder of an ex-girlfriend and her unborn child. Although Collins was only questioned by police, not charged, every single NFL team elected to pass on the talented lineman in the draft. As a free agent, he signed with Dallas and eventually replaced veteran Ronald Leary as the Cowboys starting left guard. And Collins has played well ever since, but he’s still has had some issues. Which you’d expect any rookie in his position to have.
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Looking back at the Cowboys 2015 Draft Class, the term overrated could certainly apply. Maybe a better assessment might be incomplete. Clearly, Jones and Collins have been home runs. And Gregory appears to be slowly regaining his confidence following his injury. The rest of the draftees appear to be at least a year or two away from contributing anything serious to the team. And that’s a bit sad, as many of us had such high hopes for this group coming into the season.