Reviewing the Dallas Cowboys' 2012 NFL Draft with One Year in the Books

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistJanuary 24, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 02:  Cornerback Morris Claiborne #24 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates while crossing the goal line to score on a fumble recovery as quarterback Nick Foles #9 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on at Cowboys Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

They say these things take time. They say you need three, four, maybe even five years to fully and properly assess how a team fared in a particular NFL Draft. But we're an impatient society, and so while we aren't drawing any overwhelming conclusions yet, we're prepared to issue a progress report on how the Dallas Cowboys made out last April at Radio City Music Hall.


Round 1, Pick 6: Morris Claiborne (CB, LSU)

Claiborne was considered to be the top defensive player in the draft, but he stood little chance of making a run at the defensive Rookie of the Year award because he was slow to get into a groove after being injured for much of the offseason and lacked consistency throughout the 2012 campaign.

I wouldn't call Claiborne a disappointment, but considering that the Cowboys essentially used their top two picks on him, he certainly didn't exceed expectations as a rookie. Opposing quarterbacks completed nearly 70 percent of their passes thrown his way, and he surrendered four touchdowns.

Grade: B-

In a perfect world...I don't think the 'Boys are regretting this pick at all, but I do believe they'd have been better off staying put and drafting a guy like Chandler Jones and holding onto their second-round pick to take someone like Casey Hayward, who had a better rookie year than Claiborne. 


Round 3, Pick 81: Tyrone Crawford (DE, Boise State)

Crawford had a quiet rookie season as expected, but he was active each week and did a solid job spelling Marcus Spears, Kenyon Coleman and Jason Hatcher. 

Grade: B-

In a perfect world...there aren't many other options here and the Cowboys believe in Crawford. They stick with him.


Round 4, Pick 113: Kyle Wilber (LB, Wake Forest)

Wilber played in 10 games, mainly on special teams. He struggled when he was thrust into the regular defense, but he was also out of position due to injuries inside. Playing behind DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer isn't easy, so I'm not ready to give him a grade just yet. 

Grade: N/A

In a perfect world...they draft potential nickel corner of the future Brandon Boykin here. This especially applies if they don't take Claiborne earlier. 


Round 4, Pick 135: Matt Johnson (S, Eastern Washington)

Johnson has been plagued by hamstring and back problems since becoming a Cowboy. The team likes his ability to make plays, but he's barely even been able to practice thus far in his career. You hate to hold injuries against a guy, but I doubt they'd draft Johnson again in this spot. 

Grade: F

In a perfect world...assuming he slides 22 slots, they draft Wilber in this spot instead.


Round 5, Pick 152: Danny Coale (WR, Virginia Tech)

Injuries prevented Coale from being able to grab a prominent role within the receiving corps. Instead, Dwayne Harris and Cole Beasley stepped up. Beasley was undrafted but might have been the team's best rookie in 2012. Coale's no longer on the roster.

Grade: F

In a perfect world...they take cornerback Alfonzo Dennard instead. Hayward, Boykin and Dennard give them options opposite Brandon Carr, especially if Mike Jenkins moves elsewhere. 


Round 6, Pick 186: James Hanna (TE, Oklahoma)

Obviously Hanna and John Phillips both took a backseat to Jason Witten this year, but Hanna didn't fare too badly for a sixth-round rookie. Seven of his eight catches and 76 of his 86 yards came in the final four weeks of the season, which is a very good sign. 

Grade: B+

In a perfect world...they still take Hanna here. 


Round 7, Pick 222: Caleb McSurdy (LB, Montana)

He missed his entire rookie season due to injury and now has a slim chance to make the 2013 roster as Dallas switches to a 4-3 defense, especially with Sean Lee and Dan Connor already at inside linebacker. 

Grade: N/A

In a perfect world...they take Vontaze Burfict instead. He went undrafted due to character concerns but lit it up as a rookie linebacker in Cincinnati


If they could go back in time...

Round 1, Pick 14: DE Chandler Jones
Round 2, Pick 45: CB Casey Hayward
Round 3, Pick 81: DE Tyrone Crawford
Round 4, Pick 113: CB Brandon Boykin
Round 4, Pick 135: LB Kyle Wilber
Round 5, Pick 152: CB Alfonzo Dennard
Round 6, Pick 186: TE James Hanna
Round 7, Pick 222: LB Vontaze Burfict