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Dallas Cowboys 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Dallas Cowboys 2014 Draft: The Good, the Bad and the Baffling

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    Everything you're about to read should be qualified by the fact that it takes several years to fully assess a team's draft performance. Still, with the 2014 NFL draft in the books, we have a chance to reflect on each of the picks the Dallas Cowboys made in order to make an initial determination regarding how it appears they might fare. 

    Here, we attempt to do exactly that. 

List of All 2014 Draft Selections

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    Here's a complete look at who became a Cowboy over the last three days: 

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

The Good

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    We start with the picks we liked:

    Zack Martin, OT, Notre Dame (1st, 16th overall)

    While we thought the Cowboys should have been thinking about taking a pass-rusher in this spot, Martin is a safe, versatile addition. And by picking him, the Cowboys have proven to us that they’ve become much more disciplined and aren’t giving up on Tony Romo and the current incarnation of this squad.

    They didn’t go with the sexy pick, Johnny Manziel, and they didn’t reach for a DeMarcus Ware replacement with Jadeveon Clowney, Khalil Mack and Anthony Barr off the board. Instead, they took someone who can help keep Romo clean as a starting guard from the get-go, and who should be a long-term replacement for Doug Free at right tackle.

    Devin Street, WR, Pittsburgh (5th, 146th overall)

    He’s a mature, experienced former team captain who was consistently productive at Pitt, and the Cowboys could use one more receiver to push Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley now that Miles Austin is toast. In that respect, the fact that Street can play in the slot is big.

    Speaking of big, the kid is 6’3”. He lacks bulk but there is time for him to build that frame. So it’s a nice pick, but trading up for him was a little odd. Still, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because Street has potential.

    Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford (7th, 231st overall)

    Could Gardner be the next nobody defensive end that Rod Marinelli turns into gold? It’s possible. He wasn’t even invited to the combine but excelled at Stanford’s Pro Day, according to Rob Rang of CBSSports.com. Hard to challenge this pick. 

    Ahmad Dixon, SS, Baylor (7th, 248th overall)

    Dixon might not be polished, and he's a little stiff, but this is a tremendous value pick at a position of need. B/R's Matt Miller had him as a third-round pick, and many mock drafters had him just as high. Watch for him to compete with J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath and Matt Johnson. 

    Ken Bishop, DT, Northern Illinois (7th, 251st overall)

    He visited them leading up to the draft, so this is no big surprise. Hard to hate on a seventh-round compensatory pick, but he has a chance to be a specialist in run defense, and there’s an opportunity to make this team if Rod Marinelli loves you. The Cowboys need depth right along that defensive line.

    Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon (7th, 254th overall)

    See above regarding seventh-round compensatory picks. If we had a "neutral" category, Mitchell would be there. Still, this looks like a nice value pick at a position they hadn't addressed thus far. Matt Miller had him going in Round 5, and Nolan Nawrocki thinks he could earn a No. 4 corner spot

The Bad

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    We continue with the picks we didn't love...

    Anthony Hitchens, OLB, Iowa (4th, 119th overall)

    Hitchens was expected to be a sixth-round pick, according to his own agent. NFL.com's Nolan Nawrocki wasn’t even sure he’d be a seventh-round pick

    The Cowboys did need to add some talent at linebacker, but this was a weird spot to pick a guy who is likely to be a backup for life, especially in what is perceived to be such a deep draft. They didn’t have a lot of non-seventh-round picks in this draft, so it was strange that they reached for Hitchens instead of taking a safety or defensive tackle in this spot. 

    Will Smith, OLB, Texas Tech (7th, 238th overall)

    Smith is a little on the small side and probably won’t make the roster. I mean, his stats as a senior at Texas Tech were nice, but he doesn’t look like a top-46 guy at the NFL level. Why not take Michael Sam instead?

The Baffling

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    And we wrap it up with the picks we sort of hated...

    Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State (2nd, 34th overall)

    This isn’t necessarily a knock on Lawrence, because the Cowboys had to address the defensive line in Round 2 after not doing so with that first-round pick. The problem is that I think Jerry Jones gave up too much in trading away a fourth-rounder in order to move up 13 spots here.

    Lawrence might have been available in their regular 47th spot, and similarly rated pass-rushing specialists Kony Ealy and Scott Crichton were. That makes this a silly pick, even if Lawrence does pan out.

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