In the second round, Dallas selected Defensive End Demarcus Lawrence out of Boise State. He is expected to start immediately in 2014, and was drafted specifically to replace departed defensive end standout DeMarcus Ware.
In the fourth round, the Cowboys selected Anthony Hitchens. He is expected to contribute early and help shore up the linebacker position, which has been a trouble spot for the team in recent years due to injuries.
In round five, the ‘Pokes took Wide Receiver Devin Street out of Pittsburgh. It is no secret that the team has suffered at the position in recent seasons. Dez Bryant had problems getting open because the team had no other down field threat. Jerry Jones is hoping the selection of Street will change that.
Dallas had no picks in rounds 3 and 6, but they had 5 selections in the seventh and final round of the draft on Saturday. In order, they selected Defensive End Ben Gardner from Stanford, Linebacker Will Smith from Texas Tech, Safety Ahmad Dixon, Defensive Tackle Ken Bishop and Cornerback Terrance Mitchell.
On the surface, it looks as though Dallas addressed some major concerns. The question is will all of these picks turn out to be what they are expected to be? SELDOM is that ever they case with EVERY player any team selects in the Draft, but even if the majority do become contributors in the near term, they could be just what is needed to push the Cowboys from mediocrity back to a perennial playoff team.
Team Owner Jerry Jones was asked in his final press conference Saturday night after the conclusion of this year’s Draft how much better the team will be this year.
“Well we didn’t expect this time last year; we didn’t expect to have happen what we had happen with attrition and injury and one or two other things, and our defensive line. So when I was sitting here last year I didn’t expect that and didn’t realize that. Relative to where we played last year, we’ve had a very impactful draft. We actually have had an impactful offseason, relative to the way we play. Y’all were a party too and witnessed a team that just flat was bankrupt in the defensive line last year. You can give all the excuse in the world as Bill [Parcells] used to say you are what you are. But we are better just simply because we are ready for it this year, and we have numbers that we don’t have to be bringing people in. We do have a couple people we’re adding, but that’s not the nature of how we were bringing people in and making do during the year last year. So just our numbers that you see here, as well as hopefully, the players we brought in that we didn’t have last year plus a little luck on injury. You’d like to see Spencer have some success in his rehab, and certainly [Tyrone] Crawford. We’re better. And consequentially, when I look over at the offense, we haven’t taken a step back on offense at any place and matter of fact, without being trite; we’ve gained on it in my opinion. For me, I feel better tonight than I did when we quit playing last year. To me that isn’t just optimism for me. I do, factually, can look down here and say we’re a better team than we were this time last year as reality would have it.”
Coach Jason Garrett was asked how he felt about the defensive line after the team’s selections. “We feel much better about that. It started with free agency when we signed [Jeremy] Mincey and [Terrell] McClain. We feel like that was a good start for us. We definitely felt like our front seven, finding some impact players and finding some numbers to create competition and depth was really one of our objectives this offseason because we felt that all through last year. I thought our team did a really good job, our organization did a really good job dealing with the different injuries, bringing guys in. I thought the coaches handled it well, the players handled it well. That’s not the way you want to operate. You don’t want to bring guys in on Wednesday and they play 30 snaps on Sunday. We did that over and over and over again. Injuries are a part of it. We’re not making excuses, it’s just our way as an organization of saying we need to make sure we don’t get ourselves in this situation again. We made a concerted effort, starting with free agency, and certainly here the last couple of days, to make sure we address that. You’ve heard me say a lot that games are won up front. We feel really good about the development of our offensive line, and today I felt like we made some strides in developing our defensive line, and hopefully we’ve improved there and can play better, really throughout our whole defense.”
It will be interesting to see how things pan out when the 2014 regular season begins. Cowboy’s fans are just hoping to see an improvement that gets their team back into the playoffs after the regular season ends. They have been close the last 3 seasons, but failed to get the job done in “win or go home” games on the final Sunday of the regular season in 2011, 2012 and 2013. There is no doubt it is time to buck the trend and get back into the post season tournament!