The final day of the NFL Draft always seems to fly by. After the snail's pace of the first round and then a slight increase for day two, the league managedto squeeze more selections into the final afternoon that they did in the opening days. As I have said before, the entire spring get-together is a crap shoot and rounds four through seven feature more gambling and less reward than the first three rounds. Of course there is a little less risk as well. With that being said, let's look at how the Dallas Cowboys hope that the final day's work will play out.
Round four saw the team return to the defensive side of the ball after a brief walk on the wild side in round three. Dallas invested in Minnesota linebacker Damien Wilson to bolster a linebacking corps that has been plagued with injuries over recent seasons. To further build Rod Marinelli's defense the front office went back to the well in the fifth round, by selecting defensive end Ryan Russell, another Big Ten talent from Purdue. By this time, even the least observant among us could not fail to notice that Dallas was totally committed to strengthening the side of the ball where they struggled most in 2014.
With no selections in the sixth round, the Dallas war room turned its attention to the seventh round. The Cowboys entered the day with two picks in the final stanza and by the time things were done, Jerry had done a bit of horse trading and the team had made three more selections. The defensive influence continued with the Cowboys selecting another linebacker. Wyoming's Mark Nzeocha will join the group coached by Matt Eberflus. The festivities concluded with a couple of new talents for Scott Linehan to work with. Dallas added another offensive lineman, Laurence Gibson out of Virginia Tech and Texas Longhorn tight end Geoff Swaim to the mix
What Should We Expect This Season?
Expectations vary depending on how late a player was selected on day three. Everyone in this group will have a primary role with the Dallas special teams unit. In addition, both Wilson and Russell will be expected to make some impact with the defensive unit. Both will be called upon to deliver some quality snaps in rotational roles and their responsibilities should increase somewhat as the season rolls on. For the final round selections, this is going to be developmental time. Their role, if they are active on game days, will be as "teams" players. They are projects for the future. They could also find themselves spending their entire first season on the practice squad. This is especially true for the two offensive players.
And What Does The Future Hold?
Regardless of how much each of these players can provide in 2015, any significant contributions they make will more than likely be later in their careers. The fourth- and fifth-round guys will be expected to learn and develop with an eye toward becoming reserve/rotational pieces over the next few seasons. They are in Dallas to provide the NFL depth that Jason Garrett continues to preach about. Both have the potential to carve out roles for themselves in the Dallas defense.
The seventh rounders find themselves in a somewhat different but similar situation. Nobody really expects a seventh-round selection to become a star in this league, but it does happen. Hard work can help these players carve out a niche for themselves and from there anything is possible. Dallas has found hidden gems in the seventh before and will likely do so again. Only the three players selected on Saturday can decide if they are going to put in the effort needed to make that a part of their future. Knowing the level of effort that the Dallas front office puts in to finding RKG's, it seems likely that they have people who are going to make that commitment. Now let the chips fall where they may.