Our SB Nation representatives from Blogging The Boys, Mocking The Draft and SB Nation DFW grade and summarize the Cowboys' 2011 draft.
Over the past 36 hours we've shared various grades on the Cowboys' draft from around the area and the country. Now we'll share the opinions from SB Nation writers, including representatives from Blogging The Boys, Mocking The Draft and SB Nation Dallas-Ft Worth.
Dave Halprin - Blogging The Boys
In grading a draft, I always start the team with a C grade, that's the baseline. You move up or down from that. As mentioned above, this was Jason Garrett's draft. We went in thinking a lot about defense and the needs there, but Garrett had plans for his offense and executed them. I guess the Cowboys will be addressing the defense in free agency. They must also feel that Rob Ryan's tutelage and schemes can turn around the defense from last year's disaster.
Jason Garrett is re-making the offense in his image, or rather the early 90s Cowboys image, and Jerry Jones gave him the room to do it. I would have like to seen a little more attention paid to the defense, so I didn't walk away totally satisfied. Still, a solid B- grade.
K.D. Drummond - Blogging The Boys
Welcome to Jason Garrett's team. This was a draft that instilled the vision JG has for this offense. The defense wasn't really addressed though, with no D line picks in a draft regarded as being deep there. I'd imagine free agency is the plan for the secondary, and that's how I would have done it. I love the Tyron Smith pick. Wish we could have traded back and still got him, but who knows if that was in the realm of possibilities, so great job getting a talent that meets a huge need. BPAPN #1 on the Boys board no doubt about it.
Dan Kadar - Mocking The Draft
The Cowboys did a nice job addressing most of their needs, namely with offensive linemen Tyron Smith and David Arkin. The upside for linebacker Bruce Carter is great. It will just be a matter of being patient while he recovers from injury and finding a spot for him. He could play inside or outside in the Dallas 3-4. Whats puzzling about this draft is how the Cowboys avoided the secondary until the fifth round. Cornerback Josh Thomas is a good player, but maybe not an immediate contributor early in his career. The Cowboys will have to hope they can hit in free agency to bolster their secondary.
Brad Wells - Mocking The Draft
The Cowboys addressed their issues along the offensive line by taking the best linemen many mock drafts had on their board, Tyron Smith. It's evident now that letting Flozell Adams go last year was a mistake for Dallas, but getting Smith will help infuse their line with talent. I also like the addition of David Arkin in the fourth round. DeMarco Murray is a bit of a head-scratcher in Round Three since Dallas already has three very good running backs. With defense clearly the problem area for Dallas, why not get someone like Martz Wilson, LBer out of Illinois, or Johny Patrick out of Louisville? Both those players were picked up by the Saints who, like Dallas, run a 3-4. Again, THE reason Wade Phillips was fired was because his defense seemed to implode and give up on the 2010 season. I know new head coach Jason Garrett is an offensive-minded coach, but using three of the teams first four picks on offensive players isn't going to fix the Cowboys' problems. I don't have any issue with someone like Arkin getting taken in Round Four, but failing to effectively address their issues on defense might come back to hurt Dallas.
Liam Ponting - SB Nation DFW
I was ultimately fine with Tyron Smith. He obviously graded out that much higher than Costanzo/Solder to make a trade down less optimal. Bruce Carter I was OK with...he had a first-round grade and the Cowboys wanted to bring in a Brooking/James replacement early. Where they fart and fall down a little is with the DeMarco Murray pick. Unless Garrett has that little faith in Jones and Choice, it seems unnecessary to spend a 3rd rounder on an area that absolutely did require the attention of an early pick. They addressed need positions well after that with Arkin and Thomas (who, after reading reports, I'm starting to really like) but that 3rd rounder sticks in my craw. They ended up not drafting a single DL player and only Thomas to help with the secondary. Presumably they'll be pro-active in FA but without knowing their plans or how effective they'll be, a B- feels like the right grade.
JP Starkey - SB Nation DFW
I do like the Smith, Arkin and Thomas picks a good bit. As I've said before, you really need to be able to protect the quarterback to win, and on the flip side, you have to be able to defend the pass. I feel like Thomas was a pretty good value pick. I still don't understand the DeMarco Murray pick - he might be explosive, but Dallas has that with Choice and Jones. They needed somebody to replace Barber, and I don't think Murray is that guy... of course, maybe they'll keep Barber around. I don't know that Bruce Carter was worth the risk with their second rounder, so between he and Murray, I feel the second day of Dallas' draft was a bit lacking.
Maurice London - SB Nation DFW
They got younger at the offensive line by taking Smith in the first round. I'm still not sold on Smith but, if you can get the best offensive lineman in the draft when your quarterback's season was ended by shady offensive line play, it makes sense. Bruce Carter provides upside at linebacker if he's healthy and Arkin seems like a great pick in the fourth round. The DeMarco Murray selection is getting the most scrutiny but, I like the pick. Jason Garrett loves the bubble screen and Murray might turn into one of the best pass catchers in the league out of the backfield and his blocking ability- a problem with this current group of runners- is exceptional. However, they didn't address their two biggest needs on the defensive line and secondary. Combine that with the fact that this draft seemed to be more about future assets than any kind of immediate production and it's hard to give them higher than a C+.
Be sure to check out all of the excellent coverage of the Dallas Cowboys on Blogging The Boys, including their full Cowboys draft grades and reviews. Also, be sure to check out Mocking The Draft, SB Nation's NFL draft site, for their continuing coverage of the 2011 NFL draft and their coverage of the 2012 draft that has already begun.