Dallas Cowboys: Compensatory picks can add players like these
By Brad Austin
By gaining four extra compensatory draft picks the Dallas Cowboys can add valuable players. Recent draft examples show what to expect.
They may not have been as high of picks as desired, but the four compensatory draft picks the Dallas Cowboys gained can add real value.
In compensation for costly free agency losses in 2017, the Cowboys were awarded extra picks in the fourth round (137), two fifth rounders (171, 173), and a sixth (208).
Before the NFL Combine and college Pro Days, it’s hard to speculate what players will be available when gazing over the 2018 draft class.
Even past compensatory selections made by the Cowboys don’t paint the full picture.
A good way to see what is possible is better shown by recent Dallas draft picks in the 4th-6th rounds and what they provided.
Within the last five years an adjusted draft strategy began balancing out decision making. The Cowboys new collective approach provided results among elite levels.
MIDDLE ROUND HIDDEN GEMS
Below are successful players Dallas drafted in the 4th-6th rounds during 2013-17.
2013 5th ROUND – JOSEPH RANDLE
I wouldn’t call Joseph Randle a gem, but he did provide a whopping 6.7 yards per carry on 51 attempts in relief of DeMarco Murray in 2014.
His role that year added real value on way to a playoff campaign. It was enough to earn the first six starts in 2015 before behavior issues led to in-season release.
2014 4TH ROUND – ANTHONY HITCHENS
Dallas hopes to re-sign this priority free agent but will likely be outbid due to his high performance. Anthony Hitchens earned starts right out of the gates and continued to be a solid piece of the linebacker unit through 2017.
2015 4TH ROUND – DAMIEN WILSON
Damien Wilson took over the starting SAM linebacker role in late 2016. He continued to hold the spot last season. While solid play comes and goes in spurts, Wilson remains an important piece for the Cowboys defense.
2016 4TH ROUND – DAK PRESCOTT
After receiving multiple rookie year honors, Dak Prescott needs no introduction. He stepped right into a dire situation and became the franchise quarterback. After a less stellar second season, Dallas still views Dak as the long-term answer at quarterback.
2016 6TH ROUND – ANTHONY BROWN
Like Dak, Anthony Brown exceeded expectations as a rookie. His worthy play earned a starting role last season. Again the sophomore slump struck and after a demotion he seemed to recover at the end of 2017.
2016 6TH ROUND – KAVON FRAZIER
It’s taken Kavon Frazier a little time to find his niche, but in 2017 the hard hitting safety showed some value as a spot safety. He will continue to add needed depth to the position next year.
2017 4TH ROUND – RYAN SWITZER
Ryan Switzer stepped in and assumed the returner role last season. 856 return yards and a touchdown prove his value. Hopefully next season Dallas will wise up and mix in double slot packages so he and Cole Beasley can terrorize the middle together.
2017 6TH ROUND – XAVIER WOODS
The Cowboys thought they found a late round steal at safety and still might have. But oddly enough, Woods key contribution came at slot corner. He’ll only get better after gaining experience. Expect an expanded role for Woods going forward.
Next: Ranking every top-10 pick in Dallas Cowboys’ history
NOT ALL BURIED TREASURE
Of course when picking in these later rounds, the talent level naturally has taken a dip. Hit and miss is a reality regardless of drafting prowess. For every Hitchens there will be busts like B.W. Webb, Devin Street, and Ryan Russell. Yet looking at the success rate during the last five drafts, Dallas is batting above .500.
With the Cowboys own middle round picks plus the compensatory ones, they hold six chances to make contact in the 4th-6th rounds. Adding three or four new players in 2018 who contribute quality snaps over the next few years can provide a solid boost to a team seeking redemption.