2012 Dallas Cowboys Draft Review
Part two of Matthew Postins’ series reviewing the Dallas Cowboys last four draft classes
By Matthew Postins
After two years we’re starting to get a picture of how good, how bad or how incomplete the Dallas Cowboys’ 2012 Draft really was. This is the second 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: CB Morris Claiborne, LSU.
In 2013: Something went wrong from the start for Claiborne this season and it was injuries. Claiborne battled them all season, including hamstring injuries that stole several games from his sophomore season. Additionally, Claiborne made some noise about the style of defense the Cowboys were trying to employ, specifically Monte Kiffin’s Cover 2. Claiborne seemed to have trouble adapting to the zone schemes employed by Kiffin’s scheme, and while the Cowboys went back to some man principles as the season wore on, by then Claiborne’s fits and starts to the season kept him from having a significant impact. Claiborne had just one interception in 2013, matching his total in 2012. Claiborne did not take a step forward in 2013, which is what the Cowboys were hoping for.
Looking ahead: Year 3 is a key season for Claiborne. The Cowboys need Claiborne to stay healthy, play consistently and start creating some more turnovers. If he doesn’t improve next season then he starts to look like a disappointment, given the fact that the Cowboys traded up to get him.
Third round: DE Tyrone Crawford, Boise State
In 2013: Crawford blew out his Achilles the first day of training camp, setting off a chain reaction that led to the Cowboys using nearly 20 defensive linemen in 2013.
Looking ahead: Crawford was a major part of the Cowboys’ plans in 2013, so losing him was devastating, especially after losing Anthony Spencer shortly afterward. The Cowboys need a healthy Crawford in 2014.
Fourth round: LB Kyle Wilber, Wake Forest
In 2013: The Cowboys started the season by transitioning Wilber from outside linebacker to defensive end, as the Cowboys moved to the 4-3. It seemed an
odd fit, given Wilber was just 246 pounds. But Wilber showed improvement in 2013, going from 5 tackles in 2012 to 44 tackles and 2 sacks in 2013. He also forced a fumble and recovered two fumbles. Plus, late in the season when the Cowboys lost depth at linebacker Wilber was able to transition back to an outside linebacker role and held his own.
Looking ahead: Wilber’s versatility may just pay off for Dallas, now that he’s shown he can play multiple positions in the scheme. It would be better for his development if the Cowboys could keep him at one position. Linebacker feels like a better fit. He’s just too underweight to play end in the 4-3.
Fourth round: S Matt Johnson, Eastern Washington
In 2013: Johnson missed the entire 2013 season due to injury. He missed the entire 2012 season as well.
Looking ahead: It’s a make-or-break year for Johnson. The Cowboys have gotten no return on their investment here. They love Johnson’s talent and upside, but he has to get healthy.
Fifth round: WR Danny Coale, Virginia Tech
In 2013: The Cowboys released Coale before the start of the regular season. He never played a regular-season game for Dallas.
Sixth round: TE James Hanna, Oklahoma
In 2013: Hanna became the Cowboys’ No. 2 tight end, serving mostly as a blocking tight end in running situations while catching 12 passes for 73 yards. The Cowboys drafted Gavin Escobar in the second round of the 2013 Draft, but Hanna was clearly the better option when two-tight end sets were called upon.
Looking ahead: The Cowboys went away from the two-tight end sets they wanted to run as the season went on, mostly due to the emergence of wide receiver Terrance Williams. Hanna will compete with Escobar for playing time in 2014. Right now Hanna doesn’t look like a tight end of the future.
Seventh round: LB Caleb McSurdy, Montana
In 2013: McSurdy was released before the start of the regular season.
Overall: This draft is starting to look shaky and it could go either way depending on what happens in 2014. Two picks have been released. One pick spent one season on injured reserve and another has spent two years on injured reserve. Claiborne is the only player that has seen consistent starts. Wilber feels like he’s entering a period where the Cowboys’ decision on where to play him could make or break his future with the team. The Cowboys need a resurgent Claiborne and a healthy Crawford or this class goes south.