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Cowboys News & Notes: Draft Grades - How Did The Cowboys Do?

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Latest Cowboys headlines: experts hand out their draft grades; is Jaylon Smith worth the risk?

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Now that the NFL Draft has ended, it is time for everyone to let us know how well the Cowboys did. If you're unhappy with the score, don't worry - there will be plenty of chances to earn extra credit to bolster the grade.

Cowboys' 2016 draft grades: Experts have mixed reactions, ranging from potential A+ to D - Staff, SportsDay
With the draft completed, it is now time to spend countless hours passing judgment on the teams choices. In what will be a common theme for the Cowboys, the final grade for this draft class will hinge on the luck of the Irish when it comes to that all-important nerve in Jaylon Smith's knee.

Doug Farrar, Sports Illustrated: A-

First pick: Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State (No. 4) Other notable picks: Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame (34); Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska (67); Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State (135)

If Smith is able to return from the knee issues that now hamper his NFL future, this is a lead-pipe A+. He was the best player in this class, and the Cowboys took a manageable risk in spending their second-round pick on him. There's no question that Elliott will help the Dallas offense return to form. Fourth overall is a high pick for a back, but Elliott does it all and does it well. Collins is a bit of a project, but he's a good athlete who will vie for a rotational slot early on. Oklahoma defensive end Charles Tapper is a more developed player who will be an asset against the run, with pass rush as a bonus attribute. Prescott is a big, mobile quarterback who has shown a lot of mental development over time, and he's in the perfect situation to continue to grow--as long as Tony Romo stays healthy.

5 sites grade 2016 NFL draft: Cowboys earn mixed reviews - Khari Murphy, Cowboys Wire
And there is plenty more where that came from.

NFL.com

Grade: B+

Thoughts: "I love Ezekiel Elliott as a player. There’s always concern when a running back is taken early in the draft, however, because of attrition at the position. Choosing Smith in the early second round was a gamble worth taking. Collins was pushed up boards more than his play indicated, but he does have the size and athleticism to be a factor inside. Tapper will give the team the power rush they’re looking for, although some Cowboys fans wondered if it should have been addressed earlier in the draft. Prescott was a solid pick as a backup, and maybe more if he continues to improve his accuracy. Dallas then found very interesting players from the MAC in Frazier and Jackson, as well as an intriguing prospect in Gathers."

Of course, not everyone shares that same warm, fuzzy feeling.

One draft analyst thinks the Cowboys just had the worst draft in the NFL -Staff, SportsDay

While the grades are all over the place when it comes to the Cowboys draft, one draft expert ranks the Cowboys the absolute worst of all the NFL teams.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports

Grade: C-

Analysis: I don't like taking backs high, so I ding the Cowboys for taking Ezekiel Elliott in the fourth spot, even if he's a good player. They also get two players -- Smith in the second and Prescott in the fourth -- who won't help right away. That's troubling. I did like some of their other picks, but not a great draft for me.

2016 NFL Draft Grades: Jaylon Smith and Dak Prescott Are The Keys To Cowboys Draft - One Cool Customer, BTB
The Cool One offers up several other draft grades to check out, as well as their grades of the other NFC East teams.

Former scout: The Cowboys succeeded in the first round, 'needed' to pick Ezekiel Elliott -Staff, SportsDay
For some people, the correct decision to take Zeke with the fourth overall pick won't be evident until the Cowboys are scoring touchdowns and winning games, all while Tony Romo is throwing for just 200 yards a game. But for others, their minds are already made up. Former scout, Pat Kirwan takes time to answer questions, including whether or not the Cowboys got it right with their first round pick.

If the Cowboys made the right selection:

"Man, I think they did the right thing here. You take Ezekiel Elliott. You can pretty much guarantee he's going to get 20 touches a game between his rushes and his receiving. I sat down with Ezekiel after his pick and he said 'Don't worry about the blocking. No one's getting to Romo, I'll take care of that.' Big smile on his face and there should be."

The Cowboys' first two draft picks had an interesting connection when their teams faced off - Staff, SportsDay
There is no shortage of passion when it comes to Cowboys first round draft pick, Ezekiel Elliott, but you might as well throw compassion on his resume too. Even the fiercest of competitors can still show a high level of respect when one of their comrades fall.

As most Cowboys fans now know, Smith suffered a devastating knee injury during the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1 of this year when his Notre Dame team faced off against Ezekiel Elliott's Ohio State team. While Smith was being attended to by the training staff after suffering the injury, Elliott was the only Buckeye to take the time to come over and check on him.

What drafted LB Jaylon Smith will eventual bring to Dallas Cowboys table - Shawn Kairschner, Cowboys Wire
There has been so much talk about how the Jaylon Smith pick was a wasted second round investment due to his injury, but what do the Cowboys stand to gain if he's able to come back healthy? The artist formerly known as rabblerousr let's us know what could be in store for the team in the future.

Smith is a rare three-down talent with the capability to excel as a sideline-to-sideline run-and-hit defender, a superb cover man against back and tight ends alike, and the tenacity and timing to be a disruptive pass rusher (he has experience with his hand on the ground as an edge rusher). He has suddenness and twitch that, combined with his superfast processing speed and recognition skills, allows him to be dynamic in pursuit, closing ground in a flash and arriving with bad intent. He is a physical tackler who blows up runners and punished receivers after the catch. Moreover, he’s a posterchild for the "Right Kind of Guy"; Notre Dame head coach calls Smith the best player he has ever coached.

Different name, same great stuff.

Cowboys 1st and 10: Between the mind and body, pick your problem - Matthew Postins, Scout
Some fans are sick and tired of the Cowboys gambling with premium draft picks. The team continues to take chances in the second round. But the last two drafts have offered up two completely different scenarios. Matthew Postins from Cowboys HQ examines each of these risks.

1. Which would you rather take a chance on in the second round — a player with a serious injury or a player with serious personal issues? That's the question the Cowboys have been asking themselves the past couple of years.

This year's second-round pick, linebacker Jaylon Smith, comes to Dallas with what appears to be impeccable personal credentials. It's been impossible for me to find a documented personal issue. But Smith comes with a left knee that was surgically repaired just four months ago, after he tore two ligaments, including the ACL, at the Fiesta Bowl. There's nerve damage and the time needed for the peroneal nerve to regenerate will likely keep Smith off the field in 2016.

Last year's second-round pick, Randy Gregory, didn't come to Dallas with physical issues. But he came to Dallas with personal issues, which influenced his fall into the second round. He reportedly suffered from bi-polar disorder, though Gregory didn't characterize it as such and his agents refused to comment on draft night. But what was documented was a positive test last February for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine and Gregory's admission that he used marijuana in college. Now Gregory will miss the first four games of this season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Cowboys wanted to double-dip in 2nd round, also draft Oklahoma State DE Emmanuel Ogbah - Brandon George, SportsDay
While Jaylon Smith was on the Cowboys radar all along, the plan was to go after another defensive player first.

The Cowboys wanted to draft Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah with their third pick of the second round and then trade up and back into the middle of the second round to then draft Smith as well. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was asked Saturday if he wanted Ogbah early in the second round of the draft Friday night. "Yeah, but it doesn't mean we still wouldn't have tried to get right back and get Smith," Jones said.

Ogbah was a popular choice over here at BTB and to come out of this draft with Elliott, Ogbah, and Smith would have made a lot of fans really happy.

Is this the same Jerry Jones? Cowboys owner couldn't close deals in draft; how rare is it? - Brandon George, SportsDay
There's one thing you can always count on in a Dallas Cowboys draft and that's Jerry loves to move around. Last year, many of us where surprised when there were no deals made in the first couple days (the only trade was a 7th round deal with San Francisco to acquire Geoff Swaim). But this year, they did one better - no trades. Are the wheeling and dealing days of Jerry Jones nearing an end?

Even for a man who still carries around a flip-phone, Jones knows how to work a call. Since he bought the Cowboys in 1989 he's made a whopping 64 draft-day trades.

Let this sink in: Of the 253 players selected by the Cowboys since 1989, 101 were chosen with picks obtained in trades.

But it wasn't for a lack of trying.

Jones was certainly aggressive during this draft. The Cowboys wanted to double-dip in both the first two rounds. They drafted Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott fourth overall Thursday night and then offered their second- and third-round picks in an effort to trade back into the first round to draft Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.

The Cowboys undoubtedly had their targets, but they continue to exercise great patience and not overextend their resources for that "must have" player.

Scout’s Eye: From Zeke To Gathers, Detailed Scouting Reports On All 9 Picks - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership
While the first two picks seem to draw a lot of contention, there hasn't been much dispute about the quality of the Cowboys third round pick. Bryan Broaddus gives a scouting report of all nine picks, including the team's new defensive tackle.

Maliek Collins DT, Nebraska (6-2, 300) 5.06

Some initial quickness and pop. Rip move to free. Have seen him use a club move as well with some power to buy some space. Can put some pressure inside the pocket. Can hold his ground. Fights his way through double team. Can attack the outside shoulder. Plays with some lateral quickness. Does a nice job of chasing the ball. Can use on the twist. Plays with some upper body power. There are snaps where you see him walk the blocker back. Can get some penetration. Really good when he is on the move and avoiding the low block. Needs to work to extend hands. When he doesn’t do that he will have trouble getting off blocks. Would like to see him redirect better when he clears himself in the pocket rushing. Gets push with power. Helps in the twist due to his ability to get push. See him in the Cowboys scheme as a three technique or under tackle.