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NFL Draft Review: Cowboys grade highest in NFC East

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The Sports Network
5/13/2014 1:50:40 PM
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Dallas Cowboys

1 (16) - Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame; 2 (34) - Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State; 4 (119) - Anthony Hitchens, OLB, Iowa; 5 (146) - Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh; 7 (231) - Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford; 7 (238) - Will Smith, OLB, Texas Tech; 7 (248) - Ahmad Dixon, SS, Baylor; 7 (251) - Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois; 7 (254) - Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon

Top Picks Analysis: Even the guy who always makes the wrong decision -- Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones -- made the right one this time as team passed on the sizzle (Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel) and took the steak, Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin.

Martin was one of the safest picks in this draft and can play any position on the offensive line. With Tyron Smith at left tackle, Travis Frederick at center and now Martin, probably at left guard, the Dallas offensive line, which was one of the worst in football two years ago, is now an undeniable strength.

Jones and his sycophants were back at it in the second round, though, acting like they won the Super Bowl when they traded up in the second round to get pass rusher Demarcus Lawrence but what are the odds he produces like the other DeMarcus that the Cowboys let walk?

Best Value Pick: Fourth-round linebacker Anthony Hitchens is short but was real productive at Iowa and the Cowboys have virtually nothing at the position outside of Sean Lee.

Questionable Calls: Giving up a third-round pick to get Lawrence was shaky. There are just too many needs of this team to be so cavalier with premium selections.

Summary: The worst-case scenario for Dallas is Johnny Manziel turning into a future superstar but Jones is the house in regards to that bet. It's certainly possible Manziel succeeds but he will have to overcome plenty of road blocks. Meanwhile, the odds say Martin turns into a 10-year starter in north Texas.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: QB Dustin Vaughan, West Texas A&M; P Cody Mandell, Alabama; TE Evan Wilson, Illinois; G Ronald Patrick, South Carolina; S Ryan Smith, Auburn; DT Chris Whaley, Texas; DL Andre Cureton, Cincinnati; LB Joe Windsor, Northern Illinois; LS Casey Kreiter, Iowa; WR L'Damian Washington, Missouri; RB Ben Malena, Texas A&M; FB J.C. Copeland, LSU; DE Davon Coleman, Arizona State; QB Kolton Browning, Louisiana-Monroe; OT Jarrod Pughsley, Akron; RB Glasco Martin, Baylor; OT Josh Aladenoye, Illinois State; CB Jocquel Skinner, Bethel; S Marvin Robinson, Ferris State; LB Keith Smith, San Jose State; LB Dontavis Sapp, Tennessee; CB Dashaun Phillips, Tarleton State; TE Jordan Najvar, Baylor; G Brian Clarke, Bloomsburg

New York Giants

1 (12) - Odell Beckham, WR, LSU; 2 (43) - Weston Richburg, OC, Colorado State; 3 (74) - Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse; 4 (113) - Andre Williams, RB, Boston College; 5 (152) - Nat Berhe, SS, San Diego State; 5 (174) - Devon Kennard, OLB, USC; 6 (187) - Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame

Top Picks Analysis: The Giants went receiver over offensive tackle by selecting the fast-rising Odell Beckham, Jr., perhaps the most versatile option among the draft's deepest position.

Beckham has the speed to be a terror outside the numbers and the route-running skills to be an impact from the slot. With Victor Cruz already dominating inside for "Big Blue," however, it's likely Beckham at least starts as an outside receiver.

In the second round New York GM Jerry Reese reached for Colorado State center Weston Richburg, a solid player who figures to upgrade a need position but it's tough to justify Richburg as one of the top 43 talents in this draft.

Third-round run-stuffer Jay Bromley, meanwhile, projects as the replacement for Linval Joseph, who left for Minnesota in free agency.

Best Value Pick: Fourth-round running back Andre Williams is a big, powerful runner who projects as an East Coast weather back, although he must improve on his receiving skills to become more than a complimentary player.

Questionable Calls: The Giants certainly need to get younger and more athletic on the offensive line but taking Richburg as early as they did reeks of prioritizing need over talent on the draft board.

Summary: The Giants seemed to go into this process with the intent of plugging holes and that is rarely a good idea in today's scouting world. Beckham was a solid choice but things got away from Reese after that.

FINAL GRADE: C

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: DL Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina; DE Emmanuel Dieke, Georgia Tech; LB Dan Fox, Notre Dame; DT Eathyn Manumaluene, BYU; DE Kerry Wynn, Richmond; TE Xavier Grimble, USC; S C.J. Barnett, Ohio State; LB Justin Anderson, Louisiana-Lafayette; S Thomas Gordon, Michigan

Philadelphia Eagles

1 (26) - Marcus Smith, OLB, Louisville; 2 (42) - Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt; 3 (86) - Josh Huff, WR, Oregon; 4 (101) - Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida; 5 (141) - Taylor Hart, DE, Oregon; 5 (162) - Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford; 7 (224) - Beau Allen, DT, Wisconsin;

Top Picks Analysis: Philadelphia traded out of No. 22, enabling Cleveland to select Johnny Manziel. Four spots later, the Eagles took Louisville linebacker Malcolm Smith, perhaps the biggest reach in the first round of the 2014 draft.

However, Philadelphia's second-round pick, Vanderbilt WR Jordan Matthews, probably made up for it.

In fact if you are an Eagles fan, you might want to consider Matthews, a big receiver who is a tailor-made fit for a Chip Kelly offense, the Birds' top choice and Smith as the second option.

"He'll fit in beautifully in Philadelphia and in Chip Kelly's offense," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said when taking about Matthews. "He makes tough catches. He has a big body. He ran faster than a lot of people anticipated (4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine)."

Matthews also excelled catching bubble screens at Vandy, something featured heavily in Kelly's offense. On the downside Matthews needs to show a little more consistency catching the ball after accumulating 10 drops in his final college season.

Smith has potential as an edge rusher but carried a second- or third-round grade depending on who you are asking. The narrative in Philly is that the Eagles were scared Washington would take him early in the second, an interesting spin because the Eagles didn't seem to mind when DeSean Jackson bolted to the Beltway.

Third-round receiver Josh Huff is a Kelly acolyte from Eugene, a former running back who is another guy who excels with manufactured touches. Unlike Matthews, though, Huff will do little else.

Best Value Pick: Sammy Watkins' brother Jaylen was the first pick in the fourth round and is a versatile cornerback who will add to the team's depth and help on special teams.

Questionable Calls: Smith was an undeniable reach at No. 26 overall and a sign the Eagles were caught off guard by the players picked between 22 and their choice.

Summary: A .333 batting average will get you into the Hall of Fame in baseball buy anytime you go 1-for-3 with your premium picks in the NFL Draft, you are in deep trouble and that's what Philadelphia's effort looks like on first impression.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: OL Josh Andrews, Oregon State; TE Blake Annen, Cincinnati; OL Karim Barton, Morgan State; WR Kadron Boone, LSU; TE Trey Burton, Florida; RB David Fluellen, Toledo; CB Josh Fulton, Alabama; OL Kevin Graf, USC; OL Donald Hawkins, Texas; RB Henry Josey, Missouri; DT Wade Keliikipi, Oregon; S Daytawion Lowe, Oklahoma State; DE Frank Mays, Florida A&M; WR Quron Pratt, Rutgers; K Casey Spear, Vanderbilt

Washington Redskins

2 (47) - Trent Murphy, OLB, Stanford; 3 (66) Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia; 3 (78) - Spencer Long, OG, Nebraska; 4 (102) - Bashaud Breeland, CB, Clemson; 5 (142) - Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane; 6 (186) - Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor; 7 (217) - Ted Bolser, TE, Indiana; 7 (228) - Zach Hocker, PK, Arkansas

Top Picks Analysis: This time it hurt.

Talented Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson became the eighth player, and quite possibly the best, taken by the St. Louis Rams with the picks acquired from the Robert Griffin III trade with the Redskins.

Of course, offensive tackle also happens to be a major need position in the nation's capital these days. The 'Skins had some lesser options at the position when they finally got around to picking at No. 47 overall in the second round but passed on former Alabama star Cyrus Kouandjio, likely due to concerns over his balky knee, along with Virginia's Morgan Moses in favor of Stanford edge player Trent Murphy, who figures to be stick behind Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan on the depth chart.

"This will be interesting to see how he's used," NFL Network draft analyst Charles Davis said of Murphy. "He's not an explosive dynamic pass rusher but he's relentless."

The Redskins finally addressed their shaky offensive line in the third round by getting Moses, who fell to them at No. 66, and Nebraska guard Spencer Long.

Best Value Pick: Moses doesn't have great feet but a lot of scouts had him rated as a potential first-round or early-second-round selection. His long arms and strength make him tailor-made for the right tackle position.

Questionable Calls: Murphy's arrival signals the long-term prospects of Orakpo staying inside the beltway after this season are virtually nil. That said, Murphy isn't expected to be a major contributor until 2015 and it's tough to sell that narrative in a year when you don't have a first round pick.

Summary: A 3-13 disaster of a team without a first-round selection really shouldn't be taking luxury picks.

FINAL GRADE: C-

Undrafted rookie free agent signings: LS J.R. Carr, Tennessee; RB Silas Redd, USC; WR Cody Hoffman, BYU; QB Tommy Rees, Notre Dame; WR Rashad Lawrence, Northwestern; OT Chris Davenport, LSU; DB Justin Blake, Hampton; WR Lee Doss, Southern; DT Robert Thomas, Arkansas; WR Kofi Hughes, Indiana

Witten, Romo and Free (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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