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Dallas Cowboys 2011 NFL Draft Grades


The Dallas Cowboys surprised no one with their first pick in the 2011 NFL draft. While their first pick was predictable and the team made a few good value selections, Dallas’ draft left a lot to be desired from the fans. The Cowboys did address holes along their offensive line early and often, but they ignored some key positions. Below is a complete breakdown of the Cowboys 2011 draft class.

First round, 9th overall: Tyron Smith, OT, USC

Everyone and their mother saw this pick coming. Jerry Jones has a habit of making his man crushes known whether it be the likes of Felix Jones, Dez Bryant or most recently Smith. He is a raw, athletic offensive tackle who will most likely start immediately at right tackle. Tony Romo should fall in love with him because Smith is excellent in pass protection. The big question is: Will he ever fulfill his potential?

It is risky to take a guy in the top ten based solely on upside. In fact, Dallas was trying desperately to trade down when they were on the clock, but they were unable to get a deal done. When all was said and done, they passed on guys like Prince Amukamara and a NFL ready tackle like Anthony Costanzo in favor of Smith. It was the ultimate risk-reward move.

Pick Grade: B-

Second round, 40th overall: Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina

The Cowboys surprised a lot of people with the selection of Carter. Immediately people were wondering why a team with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer would draft another outside linebacker, however, the team plans on moving him to the inside. It is going to be really interesting to see how Carter makes the transition to inside linebacker. He is a very talented player, but Dallas again took a risk in drafting a guy in the early rounds who will have to change positions.

Pick Grade: C

Third round, 71st overall: DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma

We are beginning to have a common theme with the Cowboys. The selection of a running back in round three was a real head-scratcher, but Jerry Jones sort of hinted pre-draft that the team could go in that direction. Jones said the running back would have to be special in order for the Cowboys to pick him and Murray is just that.

With Marion Barber on the outs, Murray is a do-it-all back that has a real shot at challenging for the starting position from day one. He is a big play threat and incredible out of the backfield. Murray brings added value to the special teams unit and will provide the team with a solid backup if/when the injury proned Felix Jones goes down. Many may question the move, but I love it.

Pick Grade: B+

Fourth round, 110th overall: David Arkin, OG, Missouri State

Dallas added another offensive lineman in the draft, but unlike Smith, Arkin plays with a real mean streak. He is the kind of guy who plays through the whistle and could eventually be groomed into a starter. Arkin may come from a small school, but don’t let that fool you. He is just as tough and capable as the players who were available in this round from the top programs.

Pick Grade: B

Fifth round, 143rd overall: Josh Thomas, CB, Buffalo

The Cowboys finally decided to address their secondary in the mid-rounds. Thomas has exceptional coverage skills and unlike Mike Jenkins, he will not be afraid to come up and make contact. Thomas will easily make the roster and should have Orlando Scandrick looking over his shoulder from day one. He should be able to step in and help out the team in nickel and dime packages and will prove to be great value in the fifth round.

Pick Grade: A

Sixth round, 176th overall: Dewayne Harris, WR, East Carolina

Like running back, wide receiver really wasn’t a glaring need, however, the Cowboys found a guy in Harris who could be groomed into their future slot receiver. Harris is a versatile guy that had over 100 catches and 10 touchdowns in his final year at the collegiate level. He’s very productive and will immediately contribute on special teams. I fully expect Harris to be the teams third wideout within two years.

Pick Grade: B+

Seventh Round, 220th overall: Shaun Chapas, FB, Georgia

Chapas is an exceptional blocker and fills a big need for Dallas. He’ll see playing time early in his career and the starting job is likely his to lose. Chapas can quickly become Felix Jones and DeMarco Murray’s best friend.

Pick Grade: B+

Seventh Round, 252nd overall: Bill Nagy, C, Wisconsin

I understand that the Cowboys wanted to address their offensive line even more, but center was really not a position of need. With Andre Gurode and Phil Costa, Nagy will face an uphill battle to even make the roster. Yes, it was the teams last selection in the draft, but it seems like a wasted pick.

Pick Grade: D-

Overall: The Cowboys started off with a very predictable pick followed by a couple of head-scratchers, but when you look at their rookie class as a whole they got a lot of value as the draft went on. Their mid-round picks could be immediate contributors and that is really what you need to advance in the league. If Smith fills his potential, this draft class should be excellent, but since he is a boom or bust guy that holds me back from giving the Cowboys an even higher grade.

Overall Grade: B

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