Despite selecting an underwhelming draft class, a 2015 re-draft analysis has three Dallas Cowboys selected in the first round.
The Dallas Cowboys‘ 2015 draft class has been a mixed bag thus far. It hasn’t been remotely close to the level of talent that came out of the 2016 draft (but to be fair, few draft classes this decade compare), but it still brought some value to the team.
Unfortunately, a lot of attention is honed in on players perceived as draft pick misses. That starts with second round pick defensive end Randy Gregory. Gregory has become the team’s latest poster boy for failed second round projects after having failed drug tests in his rookie and sophomore seasons.
Third and fourth round picks lineman Chaz Green and linebacker Damien Wilson haven’t generated much excitement either. Green is a giant question mark as the future starter at right tackle due to to persistent injury concerns and Wilson doesn’t stand out as an impact defender.
Despite underwhelming performances from some draft picks, a few players from the Cowboys’ 2015 rookies stand out among all 2015 rookies. NFL media draft analyst Lance Zierlein recently mentioned three of them in a 2015 re-draft analysis. Below is where he would project them if teams could re-choose their selections in the first round.
"#12 – Cleveland Browns: David Irving, DT, Iowa State – Irving was dismissed from Iowa State and fell in the draft. In the re-draft, however, he’s on the board and going early.#14 – Miami Dolphins: La’el Collins, OG, LSU – Collins fell out of the draft due to off-the-field concerns, but we’ll slot him to guard-needy Dolphins in this do-over.#27 – Dallas Cowboys: Byron Jones, S, UConn – Cowboys would be pleased to find Jones here again."
Based on this analysis, it would appear the Cowboys were among the best teams in terms of rookie talent acquisition. Irving, Collins and Jones haven’t made a name as being among the best at their position, but the ceiling is sky-high for each of them.
Irving is considered by many to have the most promise among his defensive line teammates heading into 2017. In multiple games last season he was a one-man-wrecking-crew. His performance against the Green Bay Packers led to him being named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, while his 4th quarter domination against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers brought back memories of former Cowboys’ greats DeMarcus Ware and Randy White for some analysts.
Collins played well enough in his rookie season to supplant veteran offensive guard Ronald Leary. In his rookie draft analysis, he was compared to Pittsburgh Steelers Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey for his athleticism and tenacity. He received praise from his fellow offensive linemen teammates during the 2016 offseason and was set to remain a starter before a toe injury placed him on Injured Reserve. And how can you not get excited after seeing some of his vicious pancake blocks?
Jones entered the NFL after having one of the best combine performances in NFL history. His elite athleticism helped him immediately fill in at cornerback in his rookie season before transitioning into a full-time safety in 2016. His versatility in the secondary is the reason why Cowboys’ Ring of Honor member Darren Woodson considers him to be the MVP of the defense. He’s also commonly identified as a break-through candidate in 2017.
Rather than view 2015 as bringing in a disappointing rookie class, perhaps the perception should be the Cowboys brought in a group with the potential to become team pillars. They could very well become among the most memorable rookie signings of the decade.