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NFL Personnel Evaluators Say Taco Charlton And Chidobe Awuzie Among Biggest Steals Of 2017 Draft

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Four NFL evaluators polled by ESPN like the top two Cowboys draft picks.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Rookie Minicamp Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Mike Sando spoke with "four NFL personnel evaluators for their favorite steals in each of the seven rounds" of the 2017 NFL Draft. No Cowboys players were listed as "the steal of the round", but the Cowboys top two picks also received consideration from the evaluators.

The evaluators chose tight end O.J. Howard (pick No. 19) as the biggest steal in the first round, and tackle Cam Robinson (pick No. 34) as the biggest steal in the second. Also receiving votes from the evaluators were Taco Charlton (pick No. 28) in the first round and Chidobe Awuzie (pick No. 28) in the second.

The Cowboys picked at the bottom of each round, so adding a "steal" with their first two picks certainly helps to boost the value of the draft class.

At the same time, we need to keep in mind that like many draft analysts we like to poo-poo for their post-draft evaluations, these evaluators grade the pick relative to their own evaluation of each draft prospect, and just because a player was drafted later than where he was ranked on each evaluator's big board doesn't automatically make him a steal.

Sando explains the reaction of the four evaluators when they saw O.J. Howard "drop" in the first round:

That came as a big surprise to those in the league who thought Howard should be a top-10 selection, including an offensive coordinator who thought Howard was the best offensive player in the draft, with no marks against him in terms of health or off-field issues.

By picking Howard 19th, NFL teams collectively decided that Howard was not a top-10 prospect, regardless of where he ranked on the boards of the four NFL evaluators Sando polled.

Needless to say, the Cowboys don't care where a player is ranked on someone else's board. According to numerous reports, the Cowboys only had one player with a first-round grade (running back Dalvin Cook) left on their board when they picked Charlton, so they did pretty well by their own reckoning. Similarly, Stephen Jones said after the draft that Dallas had Chidobe Awuzie, "rated higher than the other corners that were left after the first round."

For the Cowboys, that certainly counts as a steal.