The DC Times

A New Way to Look at the Cowboys, NFL, and Fantasy Football

By Jonathan Bales

Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Grades: Did ‘Boys Find Value?

Subscribe to The DC Times
Never miss a post again!

Jonathan Bales

I posted a few articles on my thoughts regarding the Cowboys’ first three draft selections, but this will be my initial analysis of their late-round picks.  After a tremendous start to the draft and a questionable second day, I think the Cowboys found some really talented young players today in rounds four through seven.  Here are my grades. . .

Round 1: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

In my initial article on the selection of Smith, I stated how I see him as the future of offensive tackles in the NFL.  His athleticism and upside are incredible, and his versatility will be valuable to Dallas.  I know some of you aren’t as high on Smith as me (he was No. 6 overall on my board), but I think he has legit Pro Bowl potential.  He will be a left tackle sooner rather than later.

Grade: A

Round 2: Bruce Carter, LB, UNC

I was actually going to give this selection a “D,” but Carter’s potential versatility bumps him up a bit.  Despite what others are saying, I can’t see how the ‘Boys drafted Carter to start as anything other than an inside linebacker.  He has versatility to move outside in certain situations, but after watching more tape of him, it’s clear he does not possess the pass-rush repertoire to make a immediate impact as an edge-rusher.  With players like Ben Ijalana, Brandon Harris and Marvin Austin still on the board, I thought the Cowboys missed this one.

Here is my scouting report on Bruce Carter.

Grade: C-

Round 3:  DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

Let me be clear that I like Murray’s overall ability.  From my scouting report on Murray:

Murray has solid agility and start-and-stop ability.  His quickness and long speed are both really, really good.  He ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the Combine and he really does possess home run ability.  While I don’t like the timing of the pick, I think there are only a few runners in this draft who are better for Dallas than Murray.  He’s an insurance policy against a Felix Jones injury, which was really an underrated “hole” for the ‘Boys.

Murray is a really good back with a skill set I covet.  The problem is there were a lot of really good backs on the board at the time: Pitt’s Dion Lewis, Eastern Washington’s Taiwan Jones, Miami’s Graig Cooper, Oklahoma State’s Kendall Hunter and Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers.  Why not wait until, say, the fifth round to grab Lewis and take Kenrick Ellis in the third?

Grade: C+

Round 4: David Arkin, OG, Missouri State

The theme of the Cowboys’ 2011 draft was selecting hard workers.  Arkin is an extremely hard worker who excels in pass protection.  I’ve stated before that I think the talent gap between Division I-A and Division 1-AA (or Division II) players is shrinking, meaning selecting small-school players can often hold value for teams.

Clearly I don’t know a ton about Arkin’s game and I need to find some tape, but I do know he’s a very smart individual with tremendous quickness.  Simply for being a small-school player who excels in pass protection at a position of need, I will give this pick a solid grade.

Grade: B

Round 5: Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo

You guys are going to end up loving this pick.  Mark my words: Thomas is going to be a starting cornerback in the NFL.  He has average size (5’10”, 191 pounds) but good speed (4.4-flat).  Most importantly, he has some of the most fluid hips I have ever seen.  His fluidity and change-of-direction are exceptional.  He played a lot of zone coverage at Buffalo, but I think he has all the tools to be effective in man coverage at the next level.   He needs to work on his press, but the skill set is there guys.

Again, this is another high-character guy who will work his tail off.  Jerry Jones has sometimes been criticized for dedicating entire drafts to one trait (the “special teams draft” of 2009, for example).  A “high-character, hard-working class,” though, is fine by me.

Grade: A-

Round 6:  Dwayne Harris, WR, East Carolina

Many of you are not going to like this pick as much as me.  Wide receiver is not an area of need for the Cowboys and Dwayne Harris probably wasn’t on your radar.  Harris is a Wes Welker-esque player, however, in that he is not very fast (4.55 speed), but his quickness, hands, and run-after-catch ability are all excellent.  With the ball in his hands, Harris is agile and very difficult to bring down in the open field.  He also has return ability, making him the third draftee in the Cowboys’ draft class to possess such a skill.

Harris’ largest weakness in my view is sub-par route-running.  A large majority of his receptions at East Carolina came on screens.  If he can learn to run a few intermediate routes well, however, I think he can be a future asset in the slot for the Cowboys.

Grade: B+

Round 7A:  Shaun Chapas, FB, Georgia

I have mixed opinions on this pick.  In the seventh round, you aren’t going to find an immediate impact player.  So why not take one with high upside?  That isn’t Chapas.  Fullback Chris Gronkowski wasn’t great in 2010, but how about just not putting a fullback on the field at all?  It would sure solve the play-calling problems from “Double Tight I.”

On the flip side, you upgrade a “starting” position.  Chapas is a good lead blocker who could certainly help the Cowboys in short-yardage situations.  He will make the team ahead of Gronkowski, in my opinion.  Good player at a position of little value.

Grade: C

Round 7B:  Bill Nagy, C, Wisconsin

Upgrading the interior line was obviously a priority for Dallas.  The idea is fine, but why not take a player with higher upside?  Nagy played his first game at center in 2010 and played in just three games in 2009 due to injury.

Grade:  C-

—————————————-

Overall Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Grade: C+

The average of the Cowboys’ eight picks turns out to be 82.3 percent, but I’m dropping the grade to a “C” because I think they missed on two crucial selections in the second and third rounds.  It isn’t that Bruce Carter and DeMarco Murray are bad players, but rather that the options still on the board, at least in my view, appeared superior.  It still remains to be seen how both players are implemented.

The main points I will take away from this draft are:

1) The Cowboys drafted primarily for value over need.  I’ve explained in the past why selecting the best player available can be disadvantageous to a team.

2) DeMarco Murray’s presence seals Marion Barber’s fate in Dallas.  Let’s hope the same is true of Marc Colombo (Tyron Smith), and even Keith Brooking (Bruce Carter).

3) The ‘Boys emphasized hard-working, high-character players in this draft, which is great.  This may be a draft class that appears poor in 2011 but turns out to be solid in a few years, as many of the prospects seem like the type to work as hard as possible to become great.  Every single one of these players has the potential to be a Sean Lee-like worker and leader.

4) The Cowboys are clearly confident they can acquire a starting free safety in free agency.  With the weakness of this draft class, I think passing on a safety was fine.

Like this post? Share it with others:
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Reddit
  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Netvibes
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati

No related posts.

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

25 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 2011 Draft Grades: Did ‘Boys Find Value?

  1. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    JB you’re a kind guy,

    I give them a solid C (w/ a leaning toward C-).

    The drafted good people, I think, given that Smith, Carter and Murray have talent. But of these good people taken 1st through 3rd, only one projects to start next year – Murray may not start ever given the youth of FJ and TC. All the rest are unfamiliar to me so I’m not sure as to what the Boys saw in them.

    It wasn’t all bad, however, as I like the FB pick. I do think they could’ve gotten a betterFB prospect like Anthony Sherman (who went to Az). Dwayne Harris is OK but coud’ve gotten more value in Kealoha Pilares who played both RB and slot WR at Hawaii (he went to Carolina).

    So, agree there’s talent in them there picks…just picked at the wrong time.

    As long as these picks allow Dallas to drop lots of salaray and compete better in free agency, then this draft grade will go up.

  2. bW says:

    I mentioned this on another website…but thought I’d ask here….

    any chance that Choice is the guy that the Boys will get rid off instead of Barber?
    It seems to me that JG preferred an injured MB3 over a healthy TC.
    I know money is a factor but I just don’t think JG thinks much of Choice…if playing time is any indication.

  3. JJ says:

    JB-

    I was initially feeling exactly the same way but I’d give higher grades to Arkin and I’ve watched Dwayne Harris for a while and think he could be a slot beast. I want to hear more about the Carter pick because they really felt he was a first rounder that slipped due to injury and Brooking/James are nearing the end. As for Demarco, there were times watching him that I thought he was Superman and other times I believed he had a reserved spot in the infirmary.

    The thing I like about Capas was that he was the GA captain and that’s saying something about his work ethic. I’m not suggesting he is Moose but so much of playing FB is WiLLINGNESS and he seems to have that AND smarts.

    Maybe my slight optimism is just a cover up for my concern that this draft could just be a great OT and role guys…not sure. I still maintain that we need playmaking DEs. That’s with the notion that Free Agency brings DBs.

  4. Rick says:

    I think Dallas has filled just about every offensive need imaginable via this draft. Right tackle obviously stood out as a huge need, but they also needed depth in the interior line, a running back to replace Barber, and even a fullback. I can’t come up with another real offensive need they had. This offense is loaded.

    Having said that, there’s another side of the football. Dallas selected two defensive players this draft, and I’ll set the over/under for combined snaps they played at 200. I think Bruce Carter and Josh Thomas will both end up being good values for where they were selected, but neither will provide an immediate impact. This team is still very questionable in the Front 3 and Back 4. Hopefully free agency can help fix that.

  5. Rick says:

    BW- There is a 0.001% chance that Barber is on the team next year. The only reason that it isn’t a 0% chance is because, theoretically, they could cut Barber, trade Choice, and re-sign Barber as the 3rd runner.

    I’m thinking Choice gets traded whenever the league year starts. He’s entering the last season of his contract, and, with Felix and Murray on roster, it won’t make sense from Choice’s standpoint or Dallas’ standpoint for him to re-sign. Getting compensation for him, even if it’s no more than a 5th round pick, is better than watching him walk. Also, BW makes a great point in that Garrett never seemed to like using Choice. There’s no sense in having him on the roster any longer when he isn’t going to be used.

  6. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Rick, interesting thoughts on Choice.

    I’m not sure why Garret isn’t higher on him – maybe it’s that he’s vocal. I certainly think he did well enough for a 4th round pick, especially when the pressure was on him as the only back vs. the Steelers 2 years ago. Now that many of you have mentioned it, there’s not a whole lot of sense in keeping 3 RBs of the quality we have. I’m somewhat concerned though about both FJ and DM durability.

    At this point, the only way to keep Barber is to restructure his contract. If I were him, I might but would ask to try free agency first.

  7. moses says:

    I know that Ty Smith was rated high. I can understand the choice but I m not thrilled. Grade B
    Carter as LB in the 2nd. Injured and possibly out for the whole year.
    Grade D
    Murray -RB in the 3rd. Hated the pick. He is another Felix. Well is Jones gonna pan out or are we hedging that bet?
    Grade D-
    Arkin OG – could have had Ijalana. Need pick but don’t know anything about him – Grade Inc
    Thomas CB – just saw a quick report. It said that he can be overly aggressive and poor instincts but it is a need
    Grade B-
    Harris WR – we had Amendola that went to the Rams. Not a need or a particularly great player but a 6th rounder
    Grade C
    Chapas – FB – not a need area
    Grade D
    Nagas – C – a constantly injured player
    Grade F

    There is a gamesmanship to the draft. The whole idea is to get the most number of the highest rated players.
    Could the Cowboys have made the trade in the 1st round and still got a top notched player, possibly even Ty Smith but with an extra pick?
    Was there a big risk that Carter could have gone in the 2nd? Was he a 4th rounder that we fell in love with and overpaid for him?
    This draft was run like a novice. We overplayed our hand in the 1st and did not get additional value that we could have had.
    There are 2 boards that we have to worry about. One is our own. The other is the other teams. If Carter, for example, was rated as a 4th or 5th rounder we could have gotten better value, i.e. our draft could have had Carter and Ijalana.
    Overall grade is D

  8. Vince_Grey says:

    Overall, I give this draft a C+, maybe a B- if all of these guys make the team, which I think is a very good possibility.

    The Carter pick was one I hated at first, then grew to really like. A risk? Absolutely, but one I think is a good one overall. Guys with ACL surgeries tend to come back stronger than ever these days. And Lord knows we need more speed and athleticism with our ILB group.

    The Murray pick is the one I have the most problem with. Not the guy as much as the round, but if this guy turns into a highly productive player then all is forgiven. Agree with Rick here: Everyone thinks this spells the end for Barber, and while that’s probably true, this guy’s talents more equate to what Choice brings to the table, and we all know Garrett does not like Choice for some reason. I’m just saying, don’t be shocked if it’s Choice that’s gone. Or both and they grab another RB in FA. If Tashard does make the team in 2011, I wouldn’t bet a plug nickel on him being here in 2012.

    The Harris kid is a stocky sonofagun ain’t he? 5’10″, 203? That’s pretty solid, especially for a slot receiver. Kid puts on a few more pounds, he could play RB for gosh’s sakes.

    I like that we took 3 OL overall, including maybe, hopefully, Andre’s eventual replacement, but NO D-linemen in a D-lineman heavy draft? Hmmm.

    The bottom line is, the Cowboys didn’t go “splashy”, didn’t make a bunch of trades, and went for value, high character, high motor players. I really can’t see any negatives with any of that.

    Could they have maybe picked different players in different slots? Of course, but we’ll just have to see if it’s them or us who’re the smarter draft geniuses in a few years.

  9. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    How many LBs is that picked by Dallas in the 4th round in the past 10 years?

    2010 – Sean Lee, 2nd round
    2009 – Jason Williams, 3rd round (the Boys very 1st pick that year)
    2008 – No LBs picked until 6th round
    2007 – Anthony Spencer, 1st round
    2006 – Bobby Carpenter, 1st round
    2005 – Demarcus Ware, 1st round; Kevin Burnett – 2nd round
    2004 – None
    2003 – Bradie James, 4th round
    2002 – None

    I realize that making the switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4 in 2005 w/ Parcells, but of the now 8 LBs picked in 10 years, only 1 has been to the Pro Bowl. Bradie James and Anthony Spencer are certainly solid players but Kevin Burnett was not re-signed after Keith Brooking was picked up as a FA.

    Now, we have Carter, who is supposedly a top 15 talent but fell due to injury. Dequan Bowers was mocked by Mel Kiper as the #1 player on the board in Feb and he was drafted in the 50s due to injury. The smells of Dallas reaching to me…

  10. Rick says:

    It’s not fair to compare Bruce Carter to Da’Quan Bowers. First, players often recover from ACL tears and are just fine. Bowers’ knee is potentially very, very serious. It might be degenerative. Also, Bowers was a pretty poor fit in a 3-4 (though I suppose the same could be said of Carter).

  11. Rick says:

    Final note: I’m perfectly happy with what Dallas did in Round 1 and 4-7 (I would’ve liked to see Deandre McDaniel and Deunta Williams in Round 7, but I have to think those guys went undrafted for a reason).

    Obviously, it was Day 2 that Dallas frustrated me. The guys I wanted in Round 2 that were available consist of Martez Wilson, Brandon Harris, Ben Ijalana, Mikel Leshoure, and Rahim Moore. The guys I wanted in Round 3 that were available consist of Curtis Brown, Kenrick Ellis, Taiwan Jones, John Moffitt, and Will Rackley. I’ll compare Carter and Murray to those guys. Hopefully Dallas made the right picks.

  12. Diesel says:

    Missed on the 2nd pick? They weren’t even close. Rahim Moore was the pick there and we blew it. Blew it.

  13. JJ says:

    I listened to the press conference and I must say I accumulated the following that helped sway me a bit:

    1. Stephen Jones is savvy and a smart man. He may not be the salesman Jerry is but he may be a far better GM.
    2. Garrett is running this team similar to Jimmy Johnson and it’s gong to be his way. We all measure drafts by ratings, etc and get upset when it appears someone is missed but this draft gives me hope. Why? Because the 2009 draft was laced with Wade’s guys. These are Garrett’s types of guys and I, for one, like the ideals he espouses. He and Dom Capers are friends and he watched how Green Bay picked “their guys” and through great injury still won a Super Bowl.
    3. Suddenly, I find myself thinking that Demarco which I thought was a pick to replace Barber may now be the feature back. For some reason, Choice is not a Garrett guy. There must be something we don’t see.
    4. I was down on the LB pick up front but, again, they are looking for speed guys that can tackle. Last year the Cowboys were abused in the middle of the field in the passing game…maybe this pick will go well and, perhaps, we are just leery of what we’ve witnessed as so aptly depicted by Tyrone.
    5. Jerry is at his best when he has Generals running the show. I really believe the Garrett is not a puppet and Stephen is gaining more authority each year. This is a good thing because with guys like Wade and Campo, too much Jerry is a bad thing.

    Finally, Moses, while i see your points, I think the decisions are much better than you may think. The Oline is much upgraded. I think many will be surprised by the WR. I’m UCF fan and am telling you that Murray has upgraded the WR spot. ILB is better than it has been and I do believe that Coach Ryan will get more out of Butler, Jenkins, Brent, Ratiliff and some of the players that were injured (Lissmore, AOA, etc.) I also firmly believe that the Cowboys will improve the secondary through FA, however, my biggest and strongest concern remains at DE…can’t get that one out of my head.

    In the meantime, we can hope that Bennett, Dez and the others that may not subscribe to Garrett’s philosophy will be in for a rude awakening.

  14. Rick says:

    Diesel- Rahim Moore is not that good. I see a 3rd round talent on tape, and I think Bruce Carter will be a better player. You might regret the position now, but we’ll see who came out better 3 years from now.

  15. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    Let’s say that Dallas went out and drafted Blaine Gabbert w/ their #9 pick (who was available). Then, with # 40 they drafted Kyle Rudolph the TE out of Notre Dame (who was available). Then, at 71 they drafted Leonard Hankerson – WR from Miami (again, who was available).

    Absurd right? Why – they’re all projected to be good players?

    The fact is that the draft is FULL of good players – players who could probably make any NFL team. But, not all players make good draft selections because of their position AND when they are drafted. Dallas doesn’t need a QB, a TE or any WR before the 5th round – so the absurdity of the above proposed hypothetical is obvious.

    But, given Dallas’ most pressing needs of RT, FS, DE/NT, and OG which ones got addressed with picks that have the greatest chance of producing high quality starting material? One. Only one. Their very first pick – and even that pick was thought to be somewhat of a stretch. Drafting not only includes knowing your needs but also taking educated guesses about when players will be available – we did a poor job of that this year.

    I keep hearing Dallas stole Carter in the 2nd – why steal a player we won’t need for a year w/ a pick that high when you haven’t addressed more pressing needs? Ijalana, Gilchrist, Brandon Harris and Rahim Moore all went after Carter in the draft. Were they all graded so low as to go with a guy who hasn’t played football since Nov due to injury and will have to learn a new position when he finally makes it to camp? Martez Wilson didn’t go until 1 pick after Demarco Murray – both he and Carter probably would’ve been available for Dallas in the 3rd round. I understand that hindsight is 20/20 but at this point, Carter will need to be a pro-bowl caliber player to make up for the fact that Dallas spent a pick on him that SHOULD have gone to the O line or CB.

    The true value of this years draft was in the late part of the 1st round to the VERY early part of the 2nd. The Browns, 49ers and Saints knew that and therefore traded back into up to greatly enhance their team. Had Dallas traded up from 40 into the late 20s, all sorts of DEs, NTs and CBs would’ve been available.

  16. Cypherlocks says:

    You know they argued that we made a mistake taking Ware over Merriman a few years ago. How many of us are glad we took D-Ware? You know with these drafts it’s really hard to tell how most of these guys will pan out. We’ve seen undrafted and late round guys develop into big time players. On the flip side we’ve seen 1st rounders completely bust. In both scenarios it leaves experts, coaches and fans scratching their heads. So I’m kinda indifferent about the draft because of that. I mean I’m excited for the Boy’s as always but we really don’t know until those young fellas hit the field if they’re going to be any good. Even then it takes time for some of em to figure out how to be productive at the Pro level. Anyways that’s my 2 copper pieces. It’s great to be a Cowboys fan. Always fun and unpredictable.

  17. paul says:

    Drafting Carter is more important than one might think. He was drafted out of a good spot not #1 like bobby “it not a mullet” carpenter. Besides Keith Brooking is getting old. I know he is not “going anywhere”. But he wont be playing, he will end up as the Linebackers coach BEFORE the start of this season….Just watch

  18. Rick says:

    Yo, Jonathan, I just thought of something. It’s fair to say that Dallas may produce as many as 4 or 5 starters from this draft but will get almost no immediate impact, right? Well, with the lockout preventing rookies from receiving playbooks, doesn’t that mean that no team will get significant immediate impact from their rookies?

  19. Vince_Grey says:

    Cypherlocks – Excellent point about Merriman. Most fans thought Dallas was insane picking Ware over a “sure thing”.

  20. A few thoughts here…I think the biggest thing we learned from the Cowboys’ draft is that the team really believes the problems on the defensive side of the ball last year were due to something other than a lack of talent. They have a ton of confidence in Rob Ryan to do the job (as do I). . .although I still though they should have acquired at least one defensive lineman.

    Tyrone’s hypothetical draft scenarios show that drafting PURELY the BPA is ridiculous. If the Cowboys had Cam Newton rated one spot ahead of Tyron Smith, does anyone truly believe they should have taken him?

    As to Rick’s point–I was just talking to someone about this today. I think it’s a fair assessment and I’m not sure how much the Cowboys factored it into their draft strategy. The good news is all of their draftees are high-character, intelligent individuals. They will stay out of trouble and pick up the playbook quickly whenever they return, giving them an advantage over teams who drafted morons.

    Overall, I am seeing the philosophy on all of the picks except Carter. Talented player no doubt, but I just thought there were better options on the board (including Martez Wilson who can play inside and is more developed as a pass-rusher).

  21. Rick says:

    I’m starting to understand the Carter pick, actually. When I watch him on tape, I like his tenacity, coverage ability, and sideline-to-sideline play, but really stands out is his speed. The guy is one of the fastest linebackers I’ve ever seen.

    It seems to me that Dallas has been repeatedly abused due to lacking athleticism in the middle of the field. Hopefully Carter brings an end to that.

  22. starred4life says:

    When Dallas passed on Ijalana, I have to interpret that to mean they really like someone to replace Kosier or Davis (most likely Davis). It would be unimaginable that they pass on Ijalana in the second and Rackley/Moffit in the third, unless they felt they had someone ready to step up. Who that is, I don’t know.

  23. Pingback: 2011 NFC East Draft Grades: Which Team Did Best? | Dallas Cowboys Times

  24. Steve A says:

    Looking back now re-reading this, you must feel like a HUGE DEEEEEEK…..Your ANALyst was HORRIBLE DUDE!

  25. Mike says:

    It’s tough predicting how rookies will play, nobody thought murray would be a star…dont sweat it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>