The draft grades from ‘Draft Guru’ Mel Kiper Jr. are out, and one team that got a good grade is that of the Cowboys, who according to Kiper got an ‘B-‘ for their collection of players over the two days.
Here’s what he had to say:
The Cowboys had clear needs in this draft, and there were more than three. After Anthony Hitchens signed a big-money deal with the Chiefs in free agency, Dallas knew it needed to find a middle linebacker. After the Cowboys cut Dez Bryant earlier this month, they had to target a wide receiver, even with the signings of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson. They needed to figure out whether La’el Collins was going to stick at right tackle or move back to left guard. They needed a one-technique defensive tackle. And they needed a tight end, which looks even more pressing now with Jason Witten on the brink of retirement.
So I can see what Jerry Jones & Co. did on the first two days of the draft. I had Bama linebacker Rashaan Evans higher on my board, but I can’t deny Leighton Vander Esch’s high ceiling. The Cowboys see him as a Rolando McClain-type middle linebacker, who can be a playmaker against the pass and stick backs behind the line of scrimmage. Vander Esch surged up boards after the combine, but he only had one great year of tape at Boise State.
I see Connor Williams as more likely to move inside to guard, so that means Collins could stick at tackle. And that’s a good value at No. 50 — Williams looked like a top-15 pick in 2016, but dipped a bit on play and measurables — his arms are a little short. I said on Friday night that Dallas grabbing wide receiver Michael Gallup was one of my favorite picks of the third round. He’s an underrated player, but don’t expect him to replace Bryant. Dorance Armstrong Jr. (116) had an injury-plagued 2017 season but had 10 sacks in 2016. You trust defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli to get the best out of him. Dalton Schultz (137) isn’t going to replace Witten, but at least Schultz isn’t allergic to blocking. I thought Mike White (171) could have gone late in the second round, so that’s a good pick. If Bo Scarbrough can play special teams, that’s a good pick late in the seventh round.
Where was the defensive tackle, though? That’s still a weakness, and maybe Dallas can find a street free agent to play a role. And if Witten does retire, do they have a starting-caliber tight end on the roster?
Round/Pick Name Pos College
1/19 Leighton Vander Esch ILB BOISE STATE
2/50 Connor Williams G TEXAS
3/81 Michael Gallup WR COLORADO STATE
4/116 Dorance Armstrong Jr. DE KANSAS
4/137 Dalton Schultz TE STANFORD
5/171 Mike White QB WESTERN KENTUCKY
6/193 Chris Covington OLB INDIANA
6/208 Cedrick Wilson WR BOISE STATE
7/236 Bo Scarbrough RB ALABAMA
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