Football Memo

NFC East Draft Grades: Dallas Cowboys

Offensive guard/tackle Zack Martin

Offensive guard/tackle Zack Martin

Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones showed proper restraint in the first round, choosing Notre Dame tackle/guard Zack Martin instead of going for the headlines with quarterback Johnny Manziel. Tony Romo remains one of the better QBs in the NFL, and bringing in Manziel would’ve eventually led to trouble for the Cowboys. Instead, they upgraded the line with Martin, who will likely shift to guard, but also has the versatility to play tackle if needed. The Cowboys’ line is now one of the strengths of the team, and rebuilding the defense was the priority throughout the remainder of the draft. Early in the second round the Cowboys grabbed Boise State defensive end/outside linebacker Demarcus Lawrence. I think No. 34 was a little high for Lawrence, but the departure of DeMarcus Ware left a huge hole to fill on the edge. While this Demarcus will not remind many of Ware, he is a solid all-around performer. Despite average size (6-3, 253) for a defensive end, Lawrence holds up well against the run. What he needs to improve is his pass-rush skills, because he doesn’t have the quickest first step, and will have to win with effort and technique. Lawrence was suspended at Boise, so maturity is also an issue to monitor. In the fourth round, the Cowboys grabbed linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who brings another versatile linebacker into the fold. Hitchens could push for time early, either at inside or outside linebacker in the Cowboys’ 3-4 base set. In the fifth round, Dallas added Devin Street to its receiving corps. Street is 6-2½, 190-pounder, and has adequate speed. Street could see early reps, and possibly help fill the hole left by Miles Austin’s departure. The Cowboys had five 7th-round selections, and used them all on defense. Defensive linemen Ben Gardner and Ken Bishop, linebacker Will Smith, and defensive backs Ahmad Dixon and Terrance Mitchell will all have a good chance to earn roster spots, and possibly help turn around one of the worst defenses in the NFL. I love the pick of Martin, but the Cowboys didn’t really have the ammunition – no third round pick – to bring in as many impact players on defense that I would have liked.
Grade: C+

Dallas Cowboys – 2014 Draft Selections
1 (16) Zach Martin, G/T, Notre Dame
2 (34) Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
4 (119) Anthony Hitchens, LB, Iowa
5 (146) Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh
7 (231) Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford
7 (238) Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech
7 (248) Ahmad Dixon, DB, Baylor
7 (251) Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois
7 (254) Terrance Mitchell, DB, Oregon

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