2011 Dallas Cowboys Draft Review
Part three of Matthew Postins’ series reviewing the Dallas Cowboys last four draft classes
By Matthew Postins
After three years we have a clear picture of how good, how bad or how incomplete the Dallas Cowboys’ 2011 Draft really was. This is the third in a series of article in which we’ll review the last four Cowboys’ drafts, as NFL personnel executives will tell you that a NFL Draft cannot be truly judged for three seasons.
First round: OT Tyron Smith, USC
In 2013: Smith had a breakthrough third season for the Cowboys, growing into one of the game’s dominant left tackles. Smith ended up with his first Pro Bowl berth and his first All-Pro selection (second team). Smith was called for just four penalties in 2013, less than half of the penalties he was called for in 2012.
Looking ahead: There is no doubt Smith is now the Cowboys’ long-term answer at left tackle. Now the Cowboys have to get Smith signed long-term, as he’s a free agent in 2015.
Second round: LB Bruce Carter, North Carolina
In 2013: Carter slid over to weak side linebacker in the 4-3 alignment implemented by defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and had an inconsistent season. At one point Carter was benched for spotty play, but eventually regained the job. He finished with 73 tackles and 3 passes defended.
Looking ahead: Carter has one more year left on his rookie contract and the Cowboys will have to decide after the 2014 season if Carter is worth signing to a second deal. Right not it’s 50/50, as Carter alternately frustrated and impressed during 2013.
Third round: RB DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma
In 2013: Without question Murray enjoyed his best season as a pro, even though he missed two games with an injury. Murray rushed for 1,124 yards – his first 1,000-yard rushing season – and scored 9 touchdowns. He also added 53 receptions. Murray was underutilized in 2013, but that wasn’t his fault. He made the most of his opportunities. He was one of three backs in the NFL’s top 20 in rushing to average at least 5.0 yards per carry, and he had far fewer carries.
Looking ahead: Like Carter, the Cowboys face a choice on Murray after the 2014 season. Unlike Carter, however, the Cowboys could let Murray go and hand the job to their fifth-round pick of a year ago, Joseph Randle. The Cowboys may approach Murray about an extension or let him play out the final year of his deal. But if Murray has another year like he had in 2013, he might be unaffordable.
Fourth round: OG David Arkin, Missouri State
In 2013: Arkin made the final roster but was released in October. He was signed by the Miami Dolphins and played one game.
Looking ahead: Arkin never played a regular-season game for the Cowboys in more than two years. It’s safe to say he never panned out.
Fifth round: CB Josh Thomas, Buffalo
In 2013: Thomas spent his third season with the Carolina Panthers.
Sixth round: WR Dwayne Harris, East Carolina
In 2013: Harris was the Cowboys’ primary punt returner and kickoff returner for the full season. He earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week two different times. Against Washington he put up the third-most return yards in team history, finishing the game with 222 return yards, along with a kickoff return and a punt return over 85 yards, with one going for a touchdown. Harris also became one of the Cowboys’ top special teams tacklers and scored twice as a wide receiver. Harris was in the Top 3 in both kickoff return average and punt return average.
Looking ahead: Harris enters the final year of his deal with job security and a firm role with the Cowboys on both special teams and at wide receiver. This was one late-round pick that certainly panned out.
Seventh round: FB Sean Chapas, Georgia
In 2013: Chapas is no longer with the Cowboys.
Seventh round: C Bill Nagy, Wisconsin
In 2013: Nagy did not play in 2013.
Overall: This draft looks a little better now that Harris is a steady contributor, along with Smith and Murray. Half of the Cowboys’ eight picks are still with the franchise, which is a solid percentage after three seasons. Smith is a keep, no doubt. But the key is whether the Cowboys see Carter, Murray and Harris as players that deserve a second contract. The Cowboys have failed to identify those players of late, but if that trio proves to be worthy of new contracts, that would go a long way toward shoring up this franchise’s depth.