NFL Draft Review: Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys headed into the 2015 NFL Draft with many positions on both sides of the football needing to be addressed. One position that Dallas was expected to rebuild was running back. With the departure of DeMarco Murray, and the addition of the injury-prone and unreliable Darren McFadden, the Boys were expected to select a running back in the draft. However, through seven rounds, Dallas didn't select one. However, Dallas would fill many of its other gaps, especially on the defensive end. The Cowboys would end up with eight new players on their roster. Here's a review of their picks and the impact these players could possibly have on their team.
Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut (Round 1, Pick 27 (27))
At 6-1 & 199 pounds, Jones is just the right size for a corner. He has an above-average height, but is on the lighter side in terms of his weight. Jones made his mark in the NFL Combine, when he set a world record with a broad jump of 12-feet, three inches. Jones is known to be not exactly the most physical corner, but he is capable of playing both press and off coverage. What makes him a good fit for the Cowboys is that he is a very reactionary athlete, and is a player that can make an impact right away. He plays his assignment and hasn't been known to be a problem in his time with Connecticut.
Jones is a player that can have an impact right away. In a couple years, he could possibly be the best, or second best corner on Dallas' defense next to Orlando Scandrick. With the two best RBs off the board, the Cowboys looked toward defense, and toward upgrading the secondary that has haunted them for years. Jones has already impressed in workouts, showing off incredible athletic ability and hands.
Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska (Round 2, Pick 28 (60))
The Cowboys took a big risk here with Gregory, but it could really pay off if he develops into the player he has the potential to be, and if he stays out of trouble. Gregory can surely prove to be the best pass rusher in the entire draft. In his time with Nebraska, he led the conference in tackles for loss (19) and sacks (10.5) as a sophomore in 2014. He finished with 17.5 sacks in his two years there, which ranks ninth in school history. However, he's the only Husker in the top ten in sacks to play less than three seasons, making his feat even more incredible.
There's a lot of diversity with Gregory. It seems at first while looking at his physique that he can play linebacker, but he's too talented of a pass rusher to not play defensive end. He is extremely explosive and has a nice burst to his play. Overall, Gregory could be a great fit for Dallas, as long as he stays away from off-the-field issues. Dallas' pass rush was non-existent at times last season, and Gregory will have plenty of opportunities to improve that aspect of the Cowboys defense, playing opposite of Demarcus Lawrence (eventually Greg Hardy when he returns from suspension).
Chaz Green, OT, Florida (Round 3, Pick 27 (91))
With Jeremy Parnell on his way to Jacksonville, Dallas needed to fill a void at the backup position, so they looked to Chaz Green in the third round. Green is listed at 6' 5" and 314 lbs, meaning he fits right in with the Cowboys enormous offensive line. Green is an athletic player, with good footwork and pass-protection skills. His all around skills need to improve, but he has the ability to develop into a player for any position on the offensive line. Green may have to improve his muscle and upper body strength, but he can turn out to be a solid player.
Green especially provides Dallas with depth, and various amount of options to explore at the o-line. He would fit right in with the Cowboys other stand-out offensive linemen, and could eventually start on the ride side.
Damien Wilson, LB, Minnesota (Round 4, Pick 27 (127))
This pick was the most intriguing for Dallas, and maybe not in a good way. At this point in the draft, Dallas could've chosen to select a running back, but instead they decided to go with Damien Wilson. Wilson was projected to be a 6th or 7th round pick, and scouts have noted that Wilson doesn't possess anything to really make him an "outstanding player." He has average speed and average athletic ability, but is a player that will fill the stat sheet.
If anything, Wilson can provide more depth for the Cowboys at an already crowded position. With Sean Lee returning, but still very injury-prone, and the return of Rolando McClain after a very impressive NFL return, Wilson could find it hard to find a role on Dallas' defense. He could eventually be on special teams if Dallas gives him the opportunity.
Ryan Russell, DE, Purdue (Round 5, Pick 27 (163))
Unlike Wilson, Russell doesn't fill up the stat-sheet all that well. In his last three years at Purdue, Russell only totaled up 8.5 sacks. What he does have over Wilson is the potential to grow more as a player. With an exceptional amount of physical traits, if Russell learns to employ them in game situations, he'll be able to frustrate many NFL teams.
Russell has a low NFL ceiling, but he still looks the part of an NFL player at his position. He will provide some depth for Dallas at the defensive end position, but there are no guarantees that he'll make the roster, let alone play any sort of role.
Mark Nzeocha, LB, Wyoming (Round 7, Pick 19 (236))
Laurence Gibson, OL, Virginia Tech (Round 7, Pick 26 (243))
Geoff Swaim, TE, Texas (Round 7, Pick 29, (246))
La'el Collins, LG, LSU (Undrafted)
The whole NFL was shocked to learn that the Dallas Cowboys had signed undrafted free agent La'el Collins. Collins was a first-round talent, but was removed from the NFL Draft. H was named second-team All-America by the A.P. as a senior, and he won Jacobs Blocking Trophy as the top offensive lineman in the SEC. Collins was nothing but a steal for the Cowboys, as he could eventually pan out to be the best new player for the Cowboys starting in 2015.
Collins lacks athleticism, but plays with a mean demeanor and can start right away at the guard position in the same power-running game Dallas employed last season. The ongoing investigation into the death of his ex-girlfriend Mills was unresolved before the NFL draft. Otherwise, Collins was bound to be a first round pick. Dallas may have struck gold.