Grading the Dallas Cowboys 2012 Draft Class

By John Loop
Staff Writer

Jerry Jones surprised every one last Thursday when the Cowboys and the St. Louis Rams swapped picks to allow Jones and company to take LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at pick number six. Along with their next two days of picks, here is a recap of all of Dallas’ draftees.

First Round (Sixth overall) – LSU CB Morris Claiborne – A big jump to sixth overall helped the Cowboys secure the Tigers cornerback. According to owner Jones, Claiborne was the organization’s second rated prospect behind Andrew Luck, who went first to the Colts. What is even more amazing is the fact that Claiborne never made a single appearance at Valley Ranch, and had not been in contact with team personnel. The trade was quite unexpected, but the Cowboys did manage to emerge after giving up their second round pick (45th overall) unscathed.

Third Round (81st overall) – Boise State DE Tyrone Crawford – Crawford is what the Cowboys settled for at 81. The former Broncos defensive lineman will provide some more size to the Dallas front three. Crawford played in a much under-appreciated Bronco defense (Sound familiar, Cowboys fans?) . It is now known that he is the biggest “project” of all of the Cowboys picks.

Fourth Round (113th overall) – Wake Forest LB Kyle Wilber – Wilber joins a linebacking rotation that includes DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Victor Butler, and Alex Albright. After the losses of Brady James to the Texans and the doubtful re-signing of veteran Keith Brooking, this group will need Wilber to step up in any way he can.

Fourth Round (135th overall) – Eastern Washington S Matt Johnson – Leading up to the draft, the Cowboys were zeroed in on selecting safety Mark Barron from Alabama in the first round, but Johnson was always considered a mid-to-late-round possibility because he fills a need. The ballhawk was a four-year starter with a career 17 interceptions. Seeing all of those sure interceptions pass through Mike Jenkins’ and Orlando Scandricks’ hands, and watching them get torn apart by opposing receivers was enough to make Jerry splurge on a DB in the latter rounds.

Fifth Round (152nd overall) –  Virginia Tech WR Danny Coale – ESPN draft guru Todd McShay did not include Claiborne’s on his “Rookies that will have an Immediate Impact” list, but did include Coale’s. The 6 foot Hokie star caught 60 balls for a little over 900 yards and eight touchdowns. He is “in the mix“, according to head coach Jason Garrett, for the third receiver spot. Coale will also be a weapon in the punt return game.

Sixth Round (186th overall) – Oklahoma TE James Hanna – The Flower Mound product will give the Cowboys a solid option at the third tight end spot. But there is only one problem. Dallas has only three tight ends with guaranteed contracts on their roster. Pairing Hanna with perennial All-Pro Jason Witten and fellow 2009 sixth round pick John Phillips will hopefully yield a trio of weapons for Tony Romo and the Cowboy offense come September.

Seventh Round (222nd overall) – Montana LB Caleb McSurdy –  The Big Sky Conference’s defensive player of the year with 117 tackles, 3.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles, McSurdy is another player who got himself drafted because of his work on pro day. After running 4.97 at the combine, scouts were moving on. Then he posted a sub 4.7 at his pro day. With Oklahoma tackling machine Travis Lewis going with the next pick, maybe the Cowboys could have gone in a different direction.

Draft Grade: B-