Getting to Know the 2014 Dallas Cowboys Rookie Class
The Cowboys were an intriguing team going into the 2014 NFL draft, as you never really know what Jerry Jones has up his sleeve until he makes his move at the last minute. Last year it was trading down to pick Travis Frederick at the end of the first round. This year, there were rumors that if Johnny Manziel was available when the Cowboys picked at #16, he’d be a Cowboys. Well, Manziel was there for the picking when it was the Cowboys’ turn, and everyone held their breath as Roger Goodell read the card: “With the 16th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys select Zach Martin, Guard, Notre Dame.” We all exhaled. Let’s go through the brand new Dallas Cowboys and see what Jones was able to get out of the draft.
Zach Martin, Notre Dame, OT – 1st round, 16th overall
Martin was a four-year starter at Notre Dame, and could replace Doug Free at right tackle if Bill Callahan sees fit. If not, he’ll slot in nicely at guard and will have an immediate impact for Dallas in making space for DeMarco Murray and even protecting Tony Romo. Martin was ranked by many as the best guard in the draft, and it was the safest pick the Cowboys could have made at the time. Along with Tyron Smith and Frederick, this young Cowboys offensive line could become one of the best in the game soon and the Romo-Dez Bryant combination could be quite lethal if Romo is given the time needed to find his man. Martin also won the 2013 Pinstripe Bowl MVP, an award not usually won by an offensive lineman.
DeMarcus Lawrence, Boise State, DE – 2nd round, 34th overall
The Cowboys moved up to get their man, picking who they had as the third-best pass rusher in the draft. Lawrence led the Broncos in sacks each of the last two years, bringing down a combined 20 in 2012 and 2013. Lawrence is 6’3, 251 lbs and is very athletic — exactly what the Cowboys were looking for with which to replace the departed DeMarcus Ware. With Spencer and Selvie back for Dallas in 2014, Lawrence may not be walking into a starting position, but he’ll definitely get his chance to make an impact early on in the season.
Anthony Hitchens, Iowa, LB – 4th round, 119th overall
This was a surprise pick for the Cowboys, with many projections having Hitchens falling to the last round of the draft or even becoming a free agent. The Iowa linebacker is 6’0, 240 lbs and played on the weak side last year for the Hawkeyes. Hitchens was the Iowa defensive MVP in 2013, starting every game and picking up 112 tackles, two sacks, an interception and two forced fumbles. He’s an aggressive tackler and goes for the big hit at time, but it only OK in coverage. Hitchens will likely need to make improvements before he ever sees the field at AT&T Stadium.
Devin Street, Pitt, WR – 5th round, 146th overall
This might have been the steal of the draft for the Cowboys, picking up the Pitt all-time receptions leader in the fifth round. He’ll likely slide into the third WR slot behind Bryant and Terrance Williams, sometimes lining up in the slot. Street is 6’3 and 198 lbs, but he’ll likely put on a few more pounds before the season gets underway. The Pennsylvania native was the captain of the Panthers squad, but did miss three games due to injuries to his ankle and shoulder that might have contributed to his falling in the draft.
The Cowboys also had four 7th-round picks that will compete to make the roster out of training camp:
Ben Gardner, Stanford, DE – 7th round, 231st overall
Will Smith, Texas Tech, LB – 7th round, 238th overall
Ahmad Dixon, Baylor, SS – 7th round, 248th overall
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon, CB – 7th round, 254th overall