I had a chance to ask Josh Sanchez of The Landry Hat a few questions about the Dallas Cowboys 2011 draft, here is what he had to tell me about how the ‘Boys fared:
AI: What were the best selections of the 2011 draft for your team?
JS: You have to like the addition of Bruce Carter as an edge rusher and the fact that Dallas finally took the time to address offensive line needs. However, in terms of value, my favorite selection was ECU receiver Dwayne Harris in the sixth round. Harris is a versatile guy that had over 100 catches and 10 touchdowns in his final year at the collegiate level. He’s very productive and will immediately contribute on special teams.
AI: How do you rate the job of your organizations front office/scouts/coaching staff?
JS: Overall, they did an above average job. Tyron Smith was a bit of a reach and Jerry went with the flashy pick in the third round in DeMarco Murray instead of going to a bigger need. The one thing that was consistant with the Cowboys draft strategy this year is they got guys who can contribute at multiple positions. Only one or two of these guys may be stars, but most of them could develop into solid contributors.
AI: What positions still need to be addressed in free agency?
JS: Dallas waited until the fifth round to select a defensive back, so that is definitely still an area of concern. The team has been linked to former Raiders corner Nnamdi Asomugha, so he could be a possibility and you have to believe they will look at a safety. The Cowboys also need to sure up depth at defensive end. Three contributors at that position are free agents.
AI: Biggest sleeper draft choice?
JS: Dwayne Harris as previously mentioned. He can develop into a stud at the slot position within two years.
AI: Your biggest fear heading into the 2011 season surrounding the state of your team?
JS: I worry that the team didn’t get a player with their top ten pick who is able to contribute right away. Tyron Smith is still very raw and I’m worried he will struggle right off the bat. The team would have been better off getting a veteran tackle.
AI: Besides tremendous size and speed, what will Tyron Smith bring to the table for the Cowboys? As an underclassman and two year starter, will he be mature enough to plug right into the lineup?
JS: Smith’s athleticism and upside are his biggest strengths. He’s also versatile enough to play right or left tackle. Even though he is raw, Smith appears to be better than any option the team currently has at right tackle, so the plan is to plug him in there right away and hope he can develop into the left tackle of the future.
AI: Everyone pretty much had Dallas pegged as Smith’s new home, why is that and was there a backup plan if he didn’t fall to the Cowboys?
JS: Jerry has a habit of making his targets public knowledge, whether it be Felix Jones, Mike Jenkins or Dez Bryant in recent years, those players were linked to Dallas from early on in the draft process and he has one everything in his power to snag them — including trading up for two of the players. If Smith wasn’t there for Dallas, they were going to try to trade down for a guy like Anthony Costanzo or JJ Watt.
AI: A RB in the 3rd round — which of Dallas’ backfield trio should be most concerned?
JS: Without question, Marion Barber. Many believed he was on his way out of Dallas before the draft and the selection of Murray all but sealed the deal.
AI: How is Tony Romo’s injury doing?
JS: All indication is that Romo is doing great. He has said himself that he’s feeling a lot better and he has been helping to lead player workouts. On top of the offseason workouts, Romo has been out swinging the golf clubs so he better be fully healed.