Cowboys NFL Draft Grades: Marshawn Kneeland pick is better than you think

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The Dallas Cowboys taking Jonathon Brooks would have been the most obvious pick in NFL Draft history. Since Brooks wasn't available, the Cowboys went ahead and made perhaps the most shocking pick of the draft's two rounds thus far in Western Michigan defensive lineman Marshawn Kneeland.

Just how Jerry Jones drew it up ... probably. Though the pick came out of left field, Kneeland was actually viewed as a second-round prospect. In fact, he went alter than the consensus rankings, which shows that the Cowboys once again got good value with their pick.

It's easy to be critical of the Kneeland selection. After all, Dallas still has needs at running back, linebacker, defensive tackle and center. However, they deserve credit for not reaching on those position and spending a premium resource on a premium position that was a sneaky need.

Cowboys NFL Draft grade for Marshawn Kneeland selection: B

Yes, running back Trey Benson and linebackers Payton Wilson and Junior Colson were available. Cowboys fans will me watching their respective careers closely to see if passing on them was the correct move. However, let's not dismiss the defensive line as a huge need after free agency.

The Cowboys lost three key contributors from their DL, including Dorance Armstrong, who donned multiple hats in Dan Quinn's system. Additionally, nose tackle Johnathan Hankins and defensive end Dante Fowler signed with the Seahawks and Commanders, respectively.

At 6-foot-3 and 267 pounds, Kneeland is built just like DeMarcus Lawrence. He's not big enough to play along the interior, but he thrives at setting the edge against the run. Kneeland's pass-rush technique needs to come a long way, but he can win with speed and power.

The fit with Mike Zimmer is perfect, which is baked into the grade. Zimmer will know exactly how to utilize the former Bronco. He had a 99th percentile run stop percentage over his final two seasons in the MAC and compiled 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles last year.

In his instant analysis of the pick, renowned football analyst Brian Baldinger called Kneeland a "complete football player who plays hungry." The Cowboys have long needed more tenacity and attitude on their defense and Kneeland checks both boxes.

Time will tell if passing on Benson, Wilson and Coslon was the right call, but Cowboys fans have every reason to be excited that Kneeland is headed to Dallas.

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