The Cowboys' 2012 draft class takes a hit

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
4:20
PM ET
The news of fifth-round pick Danny Coale being knocked out for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee today brings the total number of Cowboys' 2012 draft picks injured for an extended period to three.

Of the seven draft picks, seventh-round linebacker Caleb McSurdy (Achilles), and now Coale, a wide receiver, are lost for the season. Fourth-round pick Matt Johnson, a safety from Eastern Washington, has battled hamstring injuries all season and hurt his back rehabbing from a hamstring pull. Johnson has been kept on the active roster all season until Saturday when the team placed him on IR designated for return. Johnson won't be eligible for any regular-season games. The Cowboys would have to reach the postseason in order for him to play. It's hard to believe the Cowboys would use Johnson in a playoff game without playing in any regular-season games.

Cowboys officials kept telling the media that they like Johnson's playmaking ability and that he has practiced well when healthy. But he can't stay healthy.

McSurdy, Coale and Johnson didn't play a down this season. McSurdy was hurt in training camp, Coale was on the practice squad and Johnson was kept on the active roster despite his health issues.

The only two players who made an impact from this class were first-rounder Morris Claiborne, who was an instant starter, and third-round defensive end Tyrone Crawford, who is getting significant playing time in passing situations. Sunday against Cleveland, with Kenyon Coleman out for the season with a torn triceps, Crawford should see more snaps.

Fourth-round pick Kyle Wilber, an outside linebacker, has gotten spot duty on defense and seen time on special teams. Sixth-round tight end James Hanna from Oklahoma has some ability in the passing game and is improving in the run game. With John Phillips nursing an ankle sprain, Hanna could see more playing time.

Next season, Hanna most likely moves to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jason Witten, so that's good news. Crawford will get significant playing time at end behind Sean Lissemore, and Wilber, depending on where Anthony Spencer goes in free agency, might be a starter. Maybe.

The Cowboys can't control when injuries occur to their team, but the youngest portion of the roster, the draft picks, is where some of your future is held.

We're not saying this draft class is a bust, but it's hard to get excited about the future when three picks will enter training camp in 2013 coming off injuries and the team still unsure what they have in them.
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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