The NFL Draft is over. After months of anticipation, the action went by in the blink of an eye as these last three days have provided 32 NFL teams will a total of 262 new college prospects. The Dallas Cowboys collected nine of those players, playing seven different positions (eight if you count Tyler Smith as a guard). Yesterday, we went through the first three rounds of the draft and identified potential winners and losers from each of those picks. Today, we’ll go over all of Saturday’s selections and find out which players benefited or could be hampered by these new additions.
Here is a list of the Cowboys' Day 3 selections and draft grades courtesy of CBS Sports.
Winner: Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard
Zeke is the team’s lead running back and nothing the Cowboys could’ve done in this draft would’ve changed that. In the same breath, we can safely say Pollard is the team’s no. 2 back. Many expect that a change is coming at the position as Elliott could be a potential cap-casualty after the upcoming season and Pollard hits free agency, but it wasn’t clear when the Cowboys would start preparing for such an occasion. Running back was on the table as a position of (future) need, but the team chose not to address it.
The Cowboys can still draft a running back next year as it’s a position that hits the ground running, but at least we can say there won’t be a fresh new ball carrier in the mix this season. That should allow Elliott and Pollard another year with a good dose of reps to show their worth to whatever team chooses to employ them next season.
Loser: Dalton Schultz
The Cowboys hedged their bet at the tight end position by placing the franchise tag on Schultz. This gave the team the freedom to address the tight end if the right opportunity presented itself. The front office knew there was a group from this class that would fit nicely, and there were able to sneak in under the buzzer to acquire one of the last good ones in Jake Ferguson.
The Wisconsin tight end is a balanced player. He has some good pass-catching traits, and he’s also an effective blocker. While it may take a season for the Cowboys to have a good sense of what they have in Ferguson, having Schultz around will afford them the luxury of easing Ferguson into the mix. However, should the rookie work out, the team can feel better about moving on from Schultz when he hits the market in 2023.
Winner: Tyler Biadasz
Not only did the Cowboys pass upon the draft’s best center in Tyler Linderbaum, but the team didn’t select a center at any point in the draft. And even though they did draft two different offensive linemen, neither of them have center flex, so the team has added no new threat to take over the starting center position.
While he has a stronghold on the center spot, second-year guard Matt Farniok had a solid rookie year and does have center flex. He will enter the season as the team’s no. 2 center and create enough competition to keep Biadasz honest.
Loser: Josh Ball
A Day 3 pick last year, the big Marshall tackle never saw the field as he dealt with an ankle injury. With La’el Collins no longer in the mix, it is expected that Ball would be the team’s new de facto swing tackle by filling in on the right side if Terence Steele or Tyron Smith (Steele would move to LT) is unavailable.
With the selection of North Dakota’s Matt Waletzko with the team’s first fifth-round pick, the team has a new giant tackle who can compete for reps with Ball. Waletzko is still raw and needs time to develop, but his agility and intelligence make him an appealing candidate going forward.
Winner: Leighton Vander Esch
The Cowboys re-signed LVE to a one-year deal this offseason, and that move is looking better and better after the team wasn’t able to grab one of the stronger linebackers from the draft. There were plenty of opportunities as they could’ve had Devin Lloyd on Day 1 or Christian Harris, Nakobe Dean, or Chad Muma on Day 2, but they opted to wait.
Ultimately, the Cowboys chose to double-dip at the position with the selections of Damone Clark and Devin Harper. While Clark has starter potential, he will likely redshirt as he’ll be recovering from spinal fusion surgery to repair a herniated disk. And Harper is incredibly raw whose ceiling may be special team reps in 2022. All these factors point to a great opportunity for Vander Esch to show some consistency and ball out in a secondstraight contract year.
Loser: Kelvin Joseph/Nashon Wright
It’s safe to say that neither of the Cowboys' second-day rookie corners had the season they were hoping for last year. Joseph logged time in 10 games, but only started two of them. Wright played in 13 total games, but almost exclusively played on special teams with the exception of the 51-26 regular-season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Joseph has speed but doesn’t possess the typical size the Cowboys look for. Wright has plenty of size but is slow. The addition of Daron Bland offers the team a player that has both length and speed. While he still has plenty of work to do to make any real noise in this position group and isn’t currently a legit threat to threaten Joseph, it’s worth noting there’s a new player in the mix who can create some additional competition for reps.
Winner: Malik Hooker/Donovan Wilson
One of the positions the Cowboys ignored in this draft is safety. The layout of the draft made it challenging to grab one without reaching as the second tier (following Kyle Hamilton) all went from picks 31 to 48 while the third tier went 62 and 79.
The Cowboys may have known the distribution of talent in the draft which is why they retained the services of Jayron Kearse in free agency. The team also has Hooker and Wilson on the roster, but with no new faces, they have a clear path for plenty of playing time in 2022.
Loser: Quinton Bohanna
Last year, the team drafted the 360-pound Kentucky nose tackle in the sixth round to help shore up the middle of the interior defensive line. Bohanna played in 14 games where he logged roughly 20 snaps per contest. While it was a solid rookie season, it wasn’t enough to keep the Cowboys from going after Arkansas’ John Ridgeway in the fifth round of this year’s draft.
The Cowboys re-signed 1-tech Carlos Watkins and you’d expect him to remain the team’s starter. And while Bohanna has the edge for the backup nose job, Ridgeway should be vying for playing time as well.