A look at how their picks are doing after rookie camp and mixing it up with some veterans in OTAs. Going in the order they were picked during the draft.
1. Guard Zack Martin:
The Cowboys immediately moved Martin from tackle which he played at Notre Dame, to guard. Martin started off OTAs with the biggest play so far when he pulled out on a screen pass and crushed LB Sean Lee in open space. Unfortunately Lee was losing his footing a little before contact with Martin and he suffered a season ending knee injury with a torn ACL.
Martin has lined up at both left and right guard and even took a few turns at center as the coaches try to diversify his skill set on the line. But all indications are, Martin will start at right guard for Dallas. So far, the news has been that Martin looks very comfortable at guard and is picking things up quickly.
I look for Martin and center Travis Frederick to work well together in the middle of the line. Just got to make sure the big fella doesn’t hurt any more of the Cowboy defenders in preseason.
2. DE DeMarcus Lawrence:
The Cowboys wasted little time in seeing what Lawrence has got by sending him up against all pro tackle Tyron Smith. And word is, Lawrence has held his own against Smith which is a good sign for sure. In fact this battle has been one of the better ones during OTAs and should be fun to watch during preseason camp.
The rookie Lawrence showed up with some pass rush moves in his arsenal and the Cowboy defensive line coaches are developing more of them for Lawrence. Some scouts have been surprised at the strength he has displayed in going against the very large Smith.
I look for Lawrence to start at right DE for Dallas.
3. LB Anthony Hitchens:
Hitchens was drafted as an insurance policy for the often injured Sean Lee but no one could have known that Dallas would have to cash in that policy after the first OTA when Lee suffered his injury. Dallas quickly took a look at Hitchens at MLB but recently, have been playing him more at the weak side LB where he played at Iowa. Hitchens appears to be learning things quickly and I think he will see action at both LB positions during camp.
Hitchens does have some developing to do in pass coverage.
4. WR Devin Street:
Dallas has had Street line up outside and in the slot receiver spot during OTAs. Street has had some drops during workouts and has looked sharp at times too. The word seems to be he has developing to do before being ready which one would expect this early. He will likely be expected to play at multiple WR spots to provide depth.
I would compare Street to Terrance Williams who as a rookie last season, came on as the season progressed. Street will get better in time and find his groove eventually in the Dallas offense.
5. DE Ben Gardner:
Gardner has been sitting out of workouts with a sore hamstring. The Cowboys seem interested in not only playing Gardner at DE, but also give him a look inside at DT. Unfortunately so far the only look he is giving them is on the stationary bike on the sidelines.
6.LB Will Smith:
Losing Lee makes picking Smith look even better and while he has been quiet in camp so far, many think he will shine when the guys put their pads on and start the tackling. Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus has described Smith as struggling to get through the traffic at first but showed significant improvement quickly. Watching Smith on video of college play, he definitely shows a real nose for the ball and when the preseason games begin, I think Smith will capture fans attention.
Smith played at the “Will” LB spot in college but Dallas will likely move him around to all the LB positions during camp to determine where he fits best.
7. Safety Ahmad Dixon:
Dixon sat out of rookie camp with a hip strain suffered during the Senior Bowl. During his time at Baylor, Dixon only missed starting one game. The word “learning” comes up often when discussing Dixons play in OTAs but the injury has slowed progress.
I view Dixon as more of a big hitting, run support safety with just OK cover skills and I believe that is going to prove to be the case this season.
8. DT Ken Bishop:
Bishop has looked impressive in OTAs and it appears Dallas will line him up as a one technique DT. After the draft, I referred to Bishop as a “poor man’s Timmy Jernigan” and I’m sticking with that comparison.
Coach Marinelli will build a rotation of players for the DT positions and I definitely look for Bishop to be in that rotation.
9.CB Terrance Mitchell:
After missing practice time back at Oregon finishing school, Mitchell had a couple good practices during recent OTAs. He has shown some maturity to his coverage skills for a rookie in preseason. He figures in the mix to battle BW Webb and Sterling Moore to make the roster.