Offensive tackle Tyron Smith, who has Hall of Fame aspirations, is off to a great start and is just 23.
How they did: In Jason Garrett’s first full season as head coach they did something Jerry Jones never did before: selected an offensive lineman in the first round. In Tyron Smith, they have one of the best left tackles in football. The third-round pick, DeMarco Murray (No. 71 overall) had his first 1,000-yard season in 2013 and was added to the Pro Bowl.
Landing wide receiver Dwayne Harris (No. 176 overall) in the sixth round is also something of a coup. He needed time to develop, but he is a valuable return man, special teamer and is a quality receiver with some big-play ability. Bill Nagy (No. 252 overall) started as a rookie at guard, but that might have said more about the state of the line in 2010 than his ability.
Pivotal pick: Like Sean Lee in 2010, the Cowboys took an injured linebacker in Bruce Carter (No. 40 overall) with the idea of being patient for a payoff in 2012 and beyond. Carter started the year on PUP and played mostly on special teams as a rookie, but appeared to blossom in 11 games in 2012 before an elbow injury ended his season. He has the athletic ability to be one of the better weakside linebackers in a 4-3, but he had a poor showing in 2013. If he can find the form the Cowboys thought he had, then this draft goes from good to great.
Best pick: The Cowboys passed on a chance to pick up first- and second-round picks from the Jacksonville Jaguars to select Smith. He played right tackle as a rookie and moved to left tackle in 2012. It took some time, but the payoff came in 2013. When Smith arrived he said his goal was to make the Hall of Fame. That is a lofty standard, but if he can string together more seasons like last year, then he could end up in Canton, Ohio, one day. The best part is that Smith does not turn 24 until December.
Worst pick: The Cowboys thought they were getting a small-school gem in offensive lineman David Arkin when they took him in the fourth round (No. 119 overall) out of Missouri State. He was a starter on the first day of training camp in part because of the end of the lockout, but he never made a dent before he was cut last season. He was one of the harder workers and was willing to play center as well, but he never showed the strength and power needed to play on the interior.