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Thursday, January 12, 2012
Mel Kiper: Cowboys' draft a C-plus

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- In April, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper gave the Cowboys a B-minus for their draft. Now that the season has ended, Kiper has downgraded it to a C-plus.

You have to be an insider to read all of the grades here, but here’s what he wrote about the Cowboys:
Summary: I said then that I liked the conviction Dallas had to get younger on the offensive line, stay at No. 9 and take Tyron Smith, even though that was no home run in terms of value. Still, that pick turned into a win for the Cowboys. Smith, who started all season as a 20-year-old, played on the right side, but all indications are he could develop into a blindside tackle if they find it necessary to move him there. The grade rises if he can. Right now, a right tackle isn't your goal with a lineman taken at No. 9 overall. Bruce Carter’s NFL script is still unwritten, but DeMarco Murray obviously was a great value in the third before he went down for the year. Murray's injury, incidentally, is why it's hard to ever say a great running back out of the third round is a "steal" -- RBs land in the third because you expect them to get hurt. It's just reality. There isn't much else here so far. Dwayne Harris flashed in the preseason but wasn't a factor. Aside from Smith, the best rookie was kicker Dan Bailey, but alas, he wasn't drafted and thus can't be factored in here.

My take: I would’ve kept it at a B-minus maybe even given it a B because you knew going into the season that Carter was facing a redshirt season because of the knee injury. Murray changed the Cowboys season and he didn’t suffer the type of injury that labels guys as “injury prone.” This was a fractured ankle. He’s largely right about the rest of the draft class, but Bill Nagy was a starter before he got hurt. Now, did he earn the starting spot or was it a case of him being the best of a “meh” lot?

I think too much is put into the left and right tackle breakdown. Look at the six games the Cowboys play against NFC East foes: the left and right tackle have to block some hellacious pass rushers. Washington has Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. The Giants have Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. The Eagles have Trent Cole and Jason Babin. You better have top-flight tackles on both sides to exist.

By some accounts, Smith was among the best tackles in the game as a rookie. That seems like pretty good value at the No. 9 pick.