2014 NFL Draft Grades: Cowboys Win The NFC East

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

A look at the first draft grades published over the last few hours, and how the NFC East teams graded out.

Before we embark on a review of the draft grades the Cowboys received for their efforts over the last three days, some sound advice from Todd Archer and Jeff Sullivan:

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The Johnny Manziel meme won't die - Cowboys Draft Grades 2014
Pete Prisco, CBSSports NYG PHI WAS

B

They wisely passed on Manziel to take guard Zack Martin to solidify their line. I liked the trade up to get defensive end Demarcus Lawrence in the second as well. That was must-get in this draft. C+ B+ B-
Rob Rang, CBSSports NYG PHI WAS

B

It looked for a few minutes there like Jerry Jones might throw caution to the wind and nab Johnny Manziel but he exercised restraint and the smarter football choice, nabbing the ultra-safe Zach Martin in the first round. A day later, the gambler in Jones returned with an aggressive move to go get Demarcus Lawrence, a gifted pass rusher who fills a glaring hole with Demarcus Ware now with the Denver Broncos. With only Day Three picks left, the Cowboys are likely to only get special teams contributions from the rest of their class. I'm highest on the first three of them in linebacker Anthony Hitchens, wideout Devin Street and versatile defensive lineman Ben Gardner as quality developmental prospects. B- B+ C+
Mel Kiper, ESPN NYG PHI WAS

B

Give Jerry Jones credit: I don't think it's unfair to at least be tempted by the prospect of Johnny Football with that blue star on his helmet, playing in that football theatre. But Manziel isn't making Dallas a better team in 2014, and Tony Romo -- for all the derision -- is a really good QB when he gets protection. The Dallas offensive line with Zack Martin isn't just the strength of the team, it's arguably among the top few units in the NFL. They are going to be able to run the ball. I had Martin as high as the top 10, so that's not a bad pick. I can see why Dallas added Demarcus Lawrence where it did, but a third is pricey in this draft. Devin Street addresses the depth the Cowboys really do need at WR, and they used the run of 7th-round picks to pile up some lottery tickets at need spots like safety, defensive tackle and cornerback, where Terrance Mitchell at times looked a lot better than your typical late-rounder. His 40 time didn't help, but he could stick. The Cowboys mixed in that typical moment of aggression, but in some ways they were as disciplined as any team in the draft, and they took some good shots to hit needs. B B+ C+
Josh Katzenstein, Detroit News NYG PHI WAS

B

Martin was a great value to fill a need at No. 16, and the trade up with the Lions for Lawrence was a good move. The Cowboys found good value with their five seventh-round picks, but missed a chance to add another offensive playmaker. C C D
Charean Williams, Star-Telegram NYG PHI WAS

B

Trader Jerry stood pat at No. 16 — though he would have moved down had the Cowboys gotten a solid offer — but he made two trades in the next two days. The Cowboys were left without a third-rounder after finding two starters in the third round last year. They used seven of nine picks on defensive players to help the third-worst unit in NFL history. If they’re right on Lawrence, it was a good draft.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/05/10/5809940/grading-the-draft.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
B- C- C-
Matthew Fairburn, SB Nation NYG PHI WAS

B

The Cowboys could have made a risky and somewhat illogical choice by taking Johnny Manziel in the first round. Instead, they made the right choice by bolstering the offensive line with Martin in the first round. Dallas had to give up a third-round pick to go and get Lawrence in the second round, but they badly needed a pass rusher. Street provides solid depth at wide receiver, as does Hitchens at linebacker. Dallas still has a hole at defensive tackle, which can’t be addressed by seventh-round gamble like Bishop. B- C+ C+
Bryan Fisher, NFL.com: NYG PHI WAS

Good pick, good fit

We waited a long time between the second and third picks from the Cowboys, and they reached some for Hitchens, but he provides some size and much-needed depth. Trading up to get Street in the fifth gives Tony Romo another very talented, big wideout. It wouldn't be all that surprising to see a lot of those late-round picks make the 53-man roster. Rd-arrow-down_medium Rd-arrow-down_medium Rd-arrow-down_medium
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Burke & Farrar, SI.com NYG PHI WAS

B-

For the second straight season, the Cowboys went offensive line in the first round — but unlike Travis Frederick, Zack Martin wasn’t a reach. The former Notre Dame tackle can be a fantastic guard with a little finishing work. Boise State defensive end DeMarcus [sic] Lawrence will try to replace a more prominent DeMarcus (Mr. Ware), and he has the nascent tools to do so, though the second round might have been a slight reach. Outside linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Will Smith will reinforce positions needed as Dallas tries to move intelligently to a 4-3 this year, and Baylor safety Will Dixon could be special as long as he stays out of trouble off the field and plays with a bit more discipline on it. Seventh-round Oregon cornerback Terrance Mitchell might be the sleeper here. B C B+
Rainer Sabin, DMN NYG PHI WAS

B-

The choice of Lawrence overshadowed the first-round selection of Zack Martin, the Notre Dame offensive tackle expected to play guard with the Cowboys. Martin was considered a safe pick and should be a fixture on the line charged with protecting 34-year-old quarterback Tony Romo. Martin, Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens and Pittsburgh receiver Devin Street fill secondary needs for the Cowboys. Hitchens will serve as a backup option for middle linebacker Sean Lee, who has missed 18 games because of injuries since entering the league in 2010. Street fills the void left by Miles Austin, who was released in March. Overall, this class doesn’t have much star appeal but it supports the infrastructure the Cowboys have built. C+ B B
Eric Edholm, Yahoosports NYG PHI WAS

C+

The Cowboys moved up for Lawrence, which filled a massive need, and they made a handful of interestingly [sic] but hardly noteworthy picks thereafter. The two top choices should start immediately, but it's hard to tell if any of the other players will stick for long.
B C- C-

Of the ten graders here, four have the Cowboys with the best grade (NFL.com, SBNation, Star-Telegram, Detroit News) in the NFC East, four more have the Cowboys with the second-best grade (both CBSSports grades, Kiper, Yahoosports), and two more (SI.com, DMN) have them ranked third in the division.

Sum it all up, and the Cowboys rank first ahead of the Eagles, followed by the Giants and the Redskins.

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