Grading a draft a mere hours after after the last pick is generally frowned on by the more hardcore football fan who knows that drafts can't really be graded until three to four years after the fact. But like the site of an accident, many people also find it hard not to look once such a grade is published.
If the review is good, you cling to it and hope that it will carry over onto the field when the season starts. If it is bad, you can simply shrug it off and say it doesn't matter anyway and post-draft grades are for the weak-of-mind.
Regardless, what the grades do is - to some extent - they capture the general feeling about a draft immediately after it is over. In this post, we'll look at four writers who have submitted their grades for the Cowboys and others already. Rick Gosselin gives the Cowboys a solid "B" and gives the Cowboys the best grade in the NFC East. Charean Williams from the Star-Telegram gives the Cowboys a "B", Mel Kiper hands the Cowboys a "B-", Pete Prisco from CBSSports has the Cowboys with a "B-" and Adam Caplan from Foxsports grades the Cowboys with a "C+".
Rick Gosselin of the DMN gives the Cowboys the best marks in the NFC East: "B"
"The Cowboys had a superb third day of this draft. Harris is a Kelvin Martin clone and the arrival of Arkin and Nagy will help Smith make the offensive line deeper and more competitive. Murray can solve a running back riddle."
Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram thinks the Cowboys should have addressed more needs: "B"
"Move over, Marc Colombo, Keith Brooking and Marion Barber. The future has arrived. Smith, 20, is the youngest player in the draft and will start from Day 1. Carter, because of his knee injury, has steal potential. Murray is one of the draft's top kick returners, and Harris can return kicks, too, filling a big need. But the Cowboys didn't get a DE or a S, arguably their two biggest needs."
ESPN's Mel Kiper gives the Cowboys an overall grade of "B-" for their 2011 draft. Kiper hands out a 'needs grade' and a 'value grade,' then combines them for the final grade. The Cowboys get a B- for filling needs, and a C+ for value.
"Summary: While I thought Dallas might trade down off No. 9 and get more value at the tackle position a little later in Round 1, Smith made a lot of sense at No. 9, and the Cowboys showed conviction with the pick. He could be the solution for them at left tackle if he develops, or perhaps gets moved to the right side for now.
After that, it got a little confusing for two rounds. Dallas went linebacker and running back in Rounds 2 and 3 before targeting more pressing needs at corner and guard in the following two rounds. Dallas got good value later, but never took a player that seemed like a steal at the position. Harris is a guy who might continue to develop at wideout."
ESPN's Todd McShay also has a few choice comments about the Cowboys draft, but doesn't hand out a grade:
"Best move: Tyron Smith in the first round: The Cowboys stayed put at No.9 overall and got the best available player at one of their top need positions in OT Tyron Smith, who can step in on the right side and be an upgrade over Marc Colombo from Day 1. Smith has the tools to play left tackle but would need time to adjust his footwork on the left side, so this works out perfectly for the Cowboys and Smith."
"Most questionable move: Bruce Carter at No. 40 overall: Where Dallas got Carter is not the issue. The problem trying to find a fit in the 3-4 scheme of new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. To me, Carter is the classic 4-3 weakside linebacker and it's hard to figure where he will play in a 3-4. Is he a weakside inside linebacker' Adding to the questions is the fact that Dallas took LB Sean Lee in the second round a year ago."
ESPN's John Clayton doesn't offer an overall grade but thinks the Cowboys made the best move in the NFC East:
BEST MOVES: The NFC East was starting to become Jurassic Park for offensive linemen. The Redskins and Cowboys let their offensive lines get too old and paid the price. The Giants are on the verge of doing the same. The Cowboys made the best moves, taking Tyron Smith, the 6-5, 307-pound offensive tackle from Southern Cal in the first round, and Missouri State guard David Arkin in the fourth. Smith’s selection was the best. Outsiders thought the Cowboys would jump at the chance to fix last year’s problems at cornerback, but Jones rightfully looked at 2010 as off seasons for talented cornerbacks Terence Newman, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. Whether Dallas plays Smith at left tackle or right is irrelevant. The Cowboys are younger at tackle with Doug Free, their top priority for re-signing, and Smith.
Pete Prisco from CBSsports is not a fan of the DeMarco Murray pick: "B-"
"Best pick: I like the pick of Bruce Carter in the second round. He is coming off an ACL injury, so he might be limited in 2010, but he has star potential if on the field.
Questionable move: Taking DeMarco Murray in the third round was a strange move with all the other needs they have.
Third-day gem: Sixth-round pick Dwayne Harris is a steal. He will make their team and be a good slot receiver.
Analysis: They added a starter in tackle Tyron Smith and then filled in some holes, though I think they could have gone in another direction when they picked Murray."
Adam Kaplan from Foxsports echoes a popular sentiment and thinks the Cowboys should have addressed more needs: C+
Analysis: The Cowboys might have gotten a steal with Carter in the second round. He’s still coming back from ACL surgery, but should help the team more in his second season. They failed to address their weaknesses at safety and cornerback.
Before the draft everybody was saying the Cowboys need to get back to BPA. The Cowboys, by their own accounts, followed their board and now everybody is up in arms about the Cowboys not drafting for need.
Funny how those things go.