After a quiet free agent period, the Dallas Cowboys entered the 2013 NFL Draft with the opportunity to improve their football team and get younger. The goal of every draft is simple, get good football players and leave the draft with a better team. In essence, the Cowboys managed to do that and along the way they solved some needs, but also left some holes open.
If you wanted this franchise to answer every need with just six picks, well then you were going to come away disappointed. It's nearly impossible to do that, so we shouldn't expect even the best drafting teams to accomplish that feat.
The Cowboys accomplished some of their goals and found value along the way. While this isn't my favorite draft class in recent years, this year's haul is a solid one and the players acquired have the potential to all become contributors or starters.
It's extremely difficult and premature to grade a draft class this early, but the grading process is common in the NFL community. Even though we won't know how successful or unsuccessful a draft will be for a few years, I always follow up with my own grades.
B.W. Webb: A
Cornerback wasn't a position of need for the Cowboys, but they decided to invest their fourth-round pick into a prospect who has the ability to become a starter down the road and contribute early on in packages and in the slot. The NFL has become a passing league, teams need to have quality athletes at this position and a lot of depth. Just a few years ago, this team was in serious trouble at cornerback, but they have totally changed that and now are very strong in that area.
As for the players the war room passed on, there were a lot of quality prospects available in the fourth and fifth rounds. One of the selling points of this draft class was the depth, and you can see that was evident just by scrolling down the list of names drafted that late.
- Phillip Thomas: Dallas had already drafted a safety earlier in J.J. Wilcox, but adding another ballhawk would've been interesting. Now he's a Washington Redskin, so we'll find out soon enough if passing on Thomas was a smart or bad move.
- Khaseem Greene: An athletic linebacker who probably would have made sense here in our new Dallas-2 defense. The Chicago Bears selected him, seeing that he was a good fit for the Tampa-2 defense they run.
- Johnathan Franklin: Surprising that he fell this far, but the Cowboys passed on the talented running back and did eventually find a good value at that position later in the draft.
- Marcus Lattimore: I won't lie, this would have been a good spot to take him, but can the Cowboys afford to spend a draft pick on a player who can't help them win right away? Time will tell if Lattimore was worth the investment for the 49ers.
- Jesse Williams: Obviously Dallas didn't like any of the defensive lineman in this draft class. Williams may never produce a lot of statistics, but he definitely could have provided depth to the defensive line.
Webb is an interesting selection and a great value in the fourth round.
While he lacks height (5'10") and is on the small side (184 pounds), Webb is a dynamic athlete who tested well at the combine. His 4.51 40 yard dash is good, but his short-area quickness is elite. His short shuttle time of 3.84 was the best time for any player tested at the combine this year. Also his 40.5 inch vertical demonstrates he has explosiveness.
At William & Mary, he thrived in zone coverage. Webb is a smooth athlete who has excellent footwork and his athleticism jumps off the tape. His ball skills are tremendous and he also has the awareness and instincts to capitalize on mistakes. After recording eight interceptions as a freshman, teams decided to stay away from him. Webb can go up high and get the football, but he can also jump routes and make plays with his hands.
The only thing that can hold Webb back from performing at a high level in the NFL is that he didn't play against the best level of competition and comes from a small school. During his time at the Senior Bowl, Webb did step up and played very well against some quality talent from across the nation. His limited experience in man-to-man coverage is also something to watch for, but he hid play in some man at the Senior Bowl and did very well in it.
For a smaller corner, most assume Webb wouldn't be physical enough to play outside in the NFL and would be strictly a slot guy, but I believe he is much more than just that. Had he been a few inches taller, then we are looking at a second or third round pick, but because of his size Webb dropped to the Cowboys in the fourth. Webb doesn't shy away from contact and is a very solid tackler.
The Cowboys love versatility and Webb offers them a lot. Obviously he is going to be a cornerback for them in the slot or on the outside, but it wouldn't shock me to see him play some safety. His athleticism, ball skills and tackling ability all relate to the safety position. He's also an excellent punt and kickoff returner, but his speed could allow him to play the gunner role on special teams.
Lastly, this also means Orlando Scandrick is finally receiving some competition. I thought extending Scandrick was a smart move, but he's never developed into the type of player his athleticism warrants. His coverage ability is on point, but his awareness and ball skills are not good. Scandrick seems to be out of position to make a play and has trouble looking back for the football.
With Webb coming in, Scandrick is in trouble down the road. It's likely Scandrick will still play a valuable and important role with Dallas in 2013, but he needs to step his game up. If he doesn't, then Webb has all of the tools the Cowboys are looking for.