NFL Draft Grades 2011: Cowboys Draft Grades In A Snap Judgment

[Dave] - We now continue a tradition that is both fun and absurd, and that's grading the Cowboys draft immediately after it's over. Yeah, it's absurd, but so what? We all like to spout opinions, so we'll go ahead and do it. KD kicks it off below.

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[KD] - The 2011 NFL Draft has reached its conclusion, and there are now eight new Dallas Cowboys that will be making their way to training camp, whenever that is. At the midway point of the draft, the conclusion of Day Two, KD posed the questions 'what just happened, what comes next?' Well, now we know what came next for the brain trust of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that drafts cannot truly be graded until 3-4 years down the line. The patient fan understands that, yet we all feel the need to qualify the new evidence we've been presented. Even knowing it isn't in proper context, which is okay as well.  Let's take a look at how we, the BTB writers, snap to judgements about the 2011 draft haul.

KD's Draft Grade: B+ (88.3%)

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.

I've mocked Bruce Carter to the Cowboys and was told that he wouldn't be available in the fourth. You guys were right obviously.  DeMarco Murray grew on me overnight as I took stock of what it means. I think new head coach Jason Garrett is churning the position and both Marion Barber's and Tashard Choice's days could be numbered in Big D. I would have preferred going in a different direction with the 3rd rounder. I love the  Arkin pick for guard in the fourth. I wasn't familiar with Josh Thomas the corner, but reading up on him seems that he projects as an Orlando Scandrick type. Dwayne Harris is an interesting pick to add to the slot receiver competition and is considered a value according to a lot of boards.  I like the seventh round pick of a Wisconsin lineman that lost his position due to injury and their quality stock of linemen.

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OCC's Draft Grade: A-

[OCC] I said early on that I wanted two things from this draft: football playing dudes and more of a meat-and-potatoes approach. I think I got both. This draft gets an A- in my book.

Garrett (and make no mistake, this was Garrett running the show today) got some good football players with the right work ethic, the right attitude and the right skills. Tough, hard-playing and hard-hitting guys. No reaches, no splashes on flashy players.

We got athletic linemen. We got skill players who can be real playmakers. We got team captains. We got conference MVPs. And we got two players in the second and third round with first round talent: as late as Nov. 20, 2010, cbssports.com ranked Bruce Carter the No. 6 prospect in the Nation, DeMarco Murray followed at No. 10.   

I like this draft and where it’s taking us. I like how the roster is evolving with these picks. I do not like the Murray pick from a strategy point of view, and would have preferred to take a running back much later in the draft, mostly because I personally am much higher on Jones and Choice than the coaches seem to be. I understand the reasoning behind the move (as Carl Shelton wrote: "That position needed a serious upgrade. Barber is done, Choice is below average and Felix is injury prone"), but the fact that the Cowboys once again drafted a full-time RB probably means that my assessment of the Cowboys RBs is off.

I love the idea of getting a real fullback. Personally, I would have preferred Hynoski, but to be fair, that’s just because I’ve seen four minutes worth of youtube highlights on Hynoski, and have only started looking for film on Chapas in the last couple of minutes.

Now, the Cowboys didn’t address all their needs in this draft, and I didn’t expect them to. But the draft was just Part I of Garrett’s plan to get the Cowboys back into contention. Part II starts whenever free agency begins. Garrett was interviewed on ESPN today, and said that the Cowboys were looking to get a specific type of player, "coachable, football player" types. This should bode very well for Part II of Garrett's plan.

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Dave's Draft Grade: B-

[Dave] - 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.

I'm on board with the Tyron Smith pick fully, this was a great marriage of value and need. The top tackle in the draft at #9 works for me. This was the right pick.

The Bruce Carter pick could turn out to be a big steal. The guy has the talent, if he recovers from the knee injury, and he should, the Cowboys could come away looking very smart on that, especially post-Keith Brooking in 2012 and maybe post-Bradie James.

The DeMarco Murray pick wasn't my favorite. I understand what Garrett is trying to do, he wants a back who can catch, and one who is an athlete that can do a lot of things. I just think they could have waited and got a back later. Unless they think he's going to be a feature back at some point, this might have been a high price.

The small-school parade that followed has me a little nervous. David Arkin was a guy thought to go much later, and the Cowboys might have waited unless they knew someone else was hot on his trail. But I do like beefing up the interior line. Josh Thomas is an interesting pick at CB, he's athletic and aggressive, but he probably can't become more than a situational-player with his size. Dwayne Harris was very productive in college, so I love that, but we'll have to see if he can make his mark in the slot, doesn't look like he has the size or speed for the outside on a regualr basis.

A fullback! Guys who have followed the blog for a while know how much I like fullbacks, but I didn't expect the pick since John Phillips will return and Chris Gronkowski already on the roster. If Shaun Chapas can lay the wood in blocking, maybe I'll love this pick. Bill Nagy is a solid late-round choice.

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.

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