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2022 NFL Draft Grades: Cowboys’ Day Two grades are all over the place

A quick review of Day Two draft grades for the Cowboys

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NFL: NOV 21 Cowboys at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Information asymmetry is a term used in contract theory and economics to describe situations where one party has more or better information than the other.

Two parties sharing such an information asymmetry are NFL teams on one hand and fans and draft media on the other hand.

Over the years, fans and draft pundits have created ever more complex schemes, strategies and outright fantasies about what they think NFL teams should do. Draft preparation is no longer about trying to predict what teams will do, today it is much more about telling teams what they should to do - and then criticizing them for failing to follow whatever mock draft or big board somebody concocted.

Underlying all of that is an inherent distrust in the scouting competence of NFL teams, all 32 of which have infinitely more information about draft prospects at their disposal than any draft pundit out there. But when has that stopped anybody from loudly proclaiming that his or her team MUST draft this or that prospect, OR ELSE!

So every year we wonder whether the Cowboys know exactly what they are doing (“Dude, highly unlikely!”) and may eventually look like geniuses, or whether this just your big dumb team trying and failing to outsmart everyone else once again (“I told ya they should have drafted J.J. Watt!!!!”)?

Only time will tell.

Here’s a quick look at some of the media grades that have come in so far for the Cowboys picks yesterday.


56. Cowboys: Sam Williams, EDGE, Mississippi

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Grade: A

The Cowboys needed to improve their speed and burst in getting to the QB minus Randy Gregory and this is an ideal pick with solid value. Williams is also strong, athletic and smart, using a variety of power and finesse pass-rush moves to get to the quarterback.

Chris Trapasso, CBSSports: Grade: A-

Heaviest hands in the draft at EDGE. Serious bull rush too. Needs to use a hands a bit more frequently. Thick. Burst is good but doesn’t play to the long speed he showcased at the combine. Some off-field concerns. Fills a need.

Christian D’Andrea, For The Win: Grade: B+

Williams ran a 4.46-second 40 at 261 pounds, so he’s clearly got the athleticism to be an effective NFL edge. He came into this draft as a sleeper despite a 12.5-sack campaign in 2021 and 22.5 sacks over his three years in Oxford. He might be a passing-down-only guy to start his career, but he can bring immediate value to the Dallas defense at a position of need.

Kevin Hanson, SI.com: Grade: B+

The Cowboys lost Randy Gregory this offseason, and Williams will give their pass rush a boost. Williams is a liability defending the run, but he has the potential to be a valuable situational rusher early on for the Cowboys due to his outstanding athleticism. He ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine with 1.52 10-yard split, and he finished 2021 with 12.5 sacks for Ole Miss.

Chet Gresham, DraftKings: Grade: B

Williams will replace Randy Gregory and has the talent to do so. He has had off-field concerns though and is a bit risky

Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report: Grade: C

Edge-defenders make their money by rushing the passer. Ole Miss’ Sam Williams excels in that department.

The first-team All-SEC defender ranked among the top five overall last season with 12.5 sacks. He did so without much help, too. According to SIS Football, Williams racked up 40 pressures and 9.5 sacks when the Rebels rushed only three defenders. Both numbers led the country.

As noted, Williams doesn’t have a clean history. However, his ability to rush the passer isn’t in question. He can take pressure off of Parsons. Or better yet, Williams can win his one-on-one matchups whenever opponents key on Parsons and slide protection his way.

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Grade: C

For the second straight year, the Cowboys used a high pick to take a player with significant character concerns. Williams has great power-rushing ability, able to blast through blockers like few rushers in this class. He’s a bulldog of a player with top-50 talent, but the worries about some past off-field incidents remain worries.

Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Grade: C

Williams (6-foot-4, 261) had 12.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss last year. He’s a top-three athlete among edge defenders in this class.

But there are serious concerns with Williams. He was suspended from the Ole Miss program in July 2020 following an arrest on felony sexual battery. The charges were later dropped.

Once again, the Cowboys take a gamble on a player with serious off-field concerns.

Luke Easterling, DraftWire: C

Definitely a need pick for the Cowboys, but feels like a bit of a reach, considering some of the other pass rushers who are still on the board. Williams is a talented defender who can get after the quarterback, but needs to improve as a run defender to be a full-time starter.

PFF Pick Grade: Below Average

Ole Miss’ Sam Williams has an insane get-off for an edge product who stands at 6-foot-4, 261 pounds. His 4.46-second 40-yard dash ranked 98th percentile among players at his position, but his play strength is massively lacking. He earned a career-high 78.1 PFF grade this past season but needs to develop counters in the NFL if he’s going to consistently create pressure on the quarterback.

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: No grade

The dynamic pass rusher from Ole Miss is a spectacular sack artist with elite first-step quickness and burst. Williams has a natural feel for rushing the passer, and his exceptional sack production could translate into monster numbers for him as a situational pass rusher.

Todd Archer, ESPN: No grade

Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn attended Ole Miss’ pro day to see Williams, who was also among the Cowboys’ top-30 visitors at The Star. He had 12 sacks and 16 tackles for loss last season and was a first-team All-SEC pick. He had some off-field issues, including a sexual battery charge that was eventually dropped but had him suspended from the program. With Randy Gregory gone, the Cowboys can put Williams in the pass-rush mix with DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr. as a rookie and hope he can be a bigger part as he gets more experienced. It’s the second straight year the Cowboys have used their second-round pick on a player with off-field issues, doing so with cornerback Kelvin Joseph a year ago.

88. Cowboys: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Grade: A

The Cowboys get back some wide receiver depth after trading Amari Cooper and not bringing back Cedrick Wilson behind CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. Tolbert is another intriguing big-play threat with his size-speed combination and could start in time in 11 personnel outside.

Christian D’Andrea, For The Win: Grade: A-

No commentary added

PFF Pick Grade: Very Good

While there is concern with the competition level and being a one-trick pony, this late into Day 2 is very good value for Tolbert. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound wide receiver was one of the top deep threats of 2021. He was responsible for 646 deep receiving yards this season, the fifth-most in the FBS. Tolbert was the go-to guy in South Alabama’s offense, and he made the most of those opportunities by generating 3.16 yards per route run. His deep speed and ball skills will be a good addition to the Cowboys’ receiving room.

Kevin Hanson, SI.com: Grade: B+

With Amari Cooper no longer on the roster and Michael Gallup recovering from injury, the Cowboys add a playmaker to their receiving corps. A savvy route-runner with natural hands, Tolbert has had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Jaguars as he led the Sun Belt in receptions (82), yards (1,474) and yards per reception (18.0) in 2021. Tolbert is my 60th-ranked prospect.

Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report: Grade: B+

Tolbert was a one-man show for a sub-.500 Group of Five program. He served in the same role two years running, which is a testament to his talent level.

The Dallas Cowboys needed a quality third target. After trading Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns, Dallas still had CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. James Washington hasn’t done much over the past two seasons to be handed anything by his new team, so Tolbert will immediately push him while working on the outside as a vertical threat.

Luke Easterling, DraftWire: B+

After losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr. this offseason, the Cowboys needed another receiver who can impact the game right away. Tolbert is an underrated target with an intriguing blend of size and athleticism.

Eric Edholm, Yahoo Sports: Grade: B

We liked Tolbert more than some other analysts, and we admit his inconsistent hands are a cause for concern. But turn on the Tennessee tape and you’ll see that he can get on top of safeties and has been highly productive the past two seasons. He’s sort of a poor man’s Marvin Jones.

Chet Gresham, DraftKings: Grade: B

Tolbert is from a small school, so didn’t have to face the best defenses, but he looks the part of an NFL wide receiver and the Cowboys need receiver help after losing Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson.

Sheil Kapadia, The Athletic: Grade: B

Tolbert (6-foot-1, 194) had a prolific college career, catching 178 balls for 3,140 yards and 22 touchdowns while averaging 17.6 YPR. He ran 4.49 and tested out as an average athlete among wide receivers.

Tolbert’s best chance for success will be to carve out a role as an outside receiver who can stretch the field vertically. At this point in the draft, Tolbert was a reasonable selection for Dallas.

Chris Trapasso, CBSSports: Grade: B-

Older prospect who’s a fun vertical threat because of his ball-tracking ability and deceptive speed. Quality, not spectacular routes and not a major YAC weapon. Feels like a good complementary type and that’s what he’ll be asked to be in Dallas.

Bucky Brooks, NFL.com: No grade

The ultra-productive pass catcher is a classic WR1 prototype with strong hands and rapidly improving route-running skills. Tolbert might need a little time to acclimate to the pro game, but he has all of the tools to develop into a solid starter early in his career.

Todd Archer, ESPN: No grade

Tolbert was under consideration at the No. 56 pick when they took Sam Williams, so to get him at No. 88 is a bonus. With the trade of Amari Cooper and the loss of Cedrick Wilson, the Cowboys needed to add a receiver — especially with Michael Gallup coming off knee surgery. Tolbert had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at South Alabama, including 1,474 yards and 82 catches with eight touchdowns in 2021. While he is from a small school, he had seven 100-yard receiving games last season, including 143 yards against Tennessee. He is considered a polished route runner for a younger player and he can go up to get the ball. The Cowboys have veered off their Power 5 path with two non-Power 5 school picks among their first three selections.


Chad Reuter of NFL.com gives the Cowboys an B+ for their first three rounds:

The Cowboys took a shot on the upside of offensive lineman Tyler Smith in the first round and then gambled on Williams’ speed and bend on the outside, despite some off-field concerns. Tolbert is a downfield threat and was a much better value in the third round than several of the receivers selected in the second.


Now that you’ve had a (short) night to sleep over it, how do you feel about the Cowboys’ Day Two draft haul?