- Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter
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IRVING, Texas – The draft is over and this weekend we will get to see the rookie class in person for the first time.
So many things to wonder, so little time to do it.
It’s time for Five Wonders:
I understand just about everybody getting riled up over the fact the Cowboys didn’t take a running back in the draft when it looked like a need. But I wonder why they were upset when the Cowboys passed on runners on the third day of the draft. Jay Ajayi was one of their targets. He went in the fifth round to the Miami Dolphins. Had he been there when the Cowboys picked in that round, I have a feeling they would’ve taken him. By most draft prognostications, Ajayi was a second- or third-round pick, so fans kept wondering why the Cowboys didn’t take him in the fourth or fifth round. There is serious concern about Ajayi’s knee, although it didn’t knock him off Dallas' draft board. We can all pretend to know what will happen in the future on these players, but the Cowboys weren’t the only team to pass on Ajayi. Had they picked him, maybe the draft grade would have been better, but that doesn’t mean the on-field production would have matched the grade.
Let’s stick with the running back spot for the second wonder, but it will be something I don’t wonder and do wonder. I don’t wonder if the Cowboys will sign a veteran running back. People want to link Ray Rice, who was a declining player before his off-field incident, and Chris Johnson to the Cowboys. Johnson has been a declining player for the last two years. I don’t see the Cowboys going that route, especially with how Jerry Jones talked up Darren McFadden after the draft. I do wonder if it is wise for the Cowboys to bank on McFadden, who has not averaged better than 3.4 yards per carry since 2011. Of course, he had a poor offensive line in front of him in Oakland and will see bigger holes with the Cowboys.
On the subject of draft grades, I think they’re unfair to do. They are popular, but I would also caution everybody to not take them seriously. That being said, if the Cowboys got Iowa defensive tackle Carl Davis in the third round, then the draft might have been a smash hit. I wonder if the Baltimore Ravens stole Davis with the 90th pick, one spot ahead of the Cowboys. For that matter I wonder if the Ravens stole running back Buck Allen from the Cowboys too. But Davis was among the Cowboys' top-30 visitors. They believe he can play the one and three techniques. Of all the spots on defense, nose tackle would appear to be the one most open for debate. I cornerback could get there depending on Brandon Carr’s future, which would put first-rounder Byron Jones in the mix.
The Cowboys have been able to rebuild their offensive line through the draft over the last four seasons with first rounders Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin. I wonder if that first-round magic can carry over to the third round. The Cowboys took Florida tackle Chaz Green in the third round and hope that he can serve as the swing tackle in 2015 and become a starter whenever Doug Free's time is done. Green shouldn’t have much difficulty surpassing what the last three Cowboys’ third-round offensive linemen have done. Robert Brewster (class of 2009) never played in a game for the Cowboys. James Marten (class of 2007) was never a factor. Stephen Peterman (class of 2004) suffered an injury as a rookie and was active for three games in 2005 before he was cut. At least he went on to have a productive career with the Detroit Lions.
I wonder if the veteran free-agent linebackers signed earlier this offseason are wondering what’s going on with the Cowboys adding two more linebackers to the mix in Damien Wilson and Mark Nzeocha. The Cowboys signed Keith Rivers, Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar. Brinkley received $2 million guaranteed. Gachkar received $1.2 million guaranteed. Not only did the Cowboys add two more linebackers in the draft, they also re-signed Rolando McClain. I don’t believe they are in jeopardy of losing a roster spot, but I know they came to the Cowboys to play real defensive snaps, not just backup or special teams roles.
This version of the Dallas Cowboys' Five Wonders takes a look at several draft subjects, such as passing on a running back.