It started early enough in the draft, the Cowboys making an aggressive move up and addressing one of their biggest needs on their team.
The question is, was it the right move, did they sacrifice too much in order to draft the top cornerback in the draft?
Let’s take a look at my 2012 Dallas Cowboys Draft Grade.
Here is what I have said about Morris Claiborne from day 1, he is a better corner technique wise than fifth overall pick last season Patrick Peterson, but he doesn’t have the same unbridled athleticism as Peterson, so the comparisons really aren’t fair.
Played strong in the LSU man coverage game, with elite quickness and reaction skills, which can be attributed to his playing WR through high school and coming to LSU as such.
Quick enough and strong enough to get receivers knocked off their routes early, and maintain contact with them throughout.
Being a former WR he has good ball skills and is effective with the ball in his hands when he does create a turnover.
Good and willing tackler, much like most LSU DB’s, and can come up and help in the run game.
Needs to get stronger, especially to achieve that lockdown label, since he may weigh 185lbs in pads.
Needs to get better at wrapping up, tends to go for the kill shot to many times instead of making the easy tackle.
Biggest thing is he needs more time at CB; he has all the tools, the size and the skills, but lacks experience.
In round 3 they were able to address the depth issues they have had along their defensive line with the addition of Tyrone Crawford.
Crawford is an athletic, big, long armed kid with a great muscular build and room to grow in weight.
He has a good first step out of his stance, a solid punch, and good bull rush capability off of the edge.
The issues with Crawford is he is raw, needs to learn how to use his length to his advantage, and needs to develop some sort of pass rushing repertoire. He isn’t the most instinctual player at this point either, but that again stems from his lack of time.
He needs some time and will be nothing more than a rotational player to begin with, but he has solid developmental talent that can lead him to be a really solid pro down the line, when we actually get around to grading the draft.
Next the Cowboys were able to take one of my favorite prospects in the entire draft, Kyle Wilber.
A hybrid OLB pass rusher that has excellent timing and speed off the edge. Is a well built kid, with a lean frame that has room to grow at the next level.
Is more of a finesse pass rusher, as he lacks the strength to bowl over blockers, and struggles against the run.
Will be a situational LB early in his career, but with added weight and strength could work himself into a three down LB.
He is the perfect pass rusher to pair with DeMarcus Ware and will be good on special teams, and Rob Ryan will definitely get the most out of the athletic Wilber.
Admittedly I was a little surprised by the Cowboys second round 4 selection in safety Matt Johnson.
While he has a strong build, good instincts and is a very heady leader, he isn’t the athletic safety the NFL is trending towards.
He doesn’t have great top end speed, and may not be able to cover the entire field as a safety, but I do like his natural feel for the game.
Should come in as a back up and special teams ace while splitting time in the secondary to figure out what position best suits him on game days.
In round 5 the Cowboys finally addressed their need for depth at the WR position with Danny Coale.
Coale is a big, physical, wide receiver who displays good route running and a real willingness to go over the middle.
He lacks elite athleticism and will have to carve out a niche as a possession receiver in the league as he doesn’t offer much more than that.
The Boys will most likely use Coale all over the field to back up at multiple positions and on special teams, because that is the only way Coale will see time on the active roster.
Keeping with the offense the Cowboys added tight end James Hanna in round 6.
Hanna is a rare athlete at the H-Back position, and will need time to develop his immense ability and let it translate on the field.
Exceptional speed, good catch radius with soft hands, and is a willing learner.
Has no sense of route running, lacks ideal size and bulk to be an inline blocker and doesn’t exactly have the greatest instincts on the field.
He has some special potential, and as a sixth rounder, this could be an eventual steal if the Cowboys are able to develop him properly.
The Cowboys ended their defensively orientated draft by taking linebacker Caleb McSurdy in round 7.
McSurdy looks to be a guy who will have to do a lot to make the roster. He is very limited athletically, and projects best case scenario as no more than a two down linebacker in the Cowboys defense.
Overall: The Cowboys are an easy team to hate, and lately there hasn’t been much to hate. They struggle year to year to find the playoffs, or even win in the playoffs.
They have become a shadow of their former selves, but the last couple of seasons I think they have draft well.
This year, they did a Great job, addressing their huge needs in the secondary with Claiborne, along the defensive line with Crawford, and with a pass rusher opposite Ware in Wilber.
If one of the Coale, Johnson, Hanna or McSurdy can find their way into playing time you could be talking about something special this year, but for me, I really liked what they did and they did a Great job.