What an off season. DeMarco Murray the Cowboys NFL leading rusher went to the rival Eagles for the money. Do I blame him? In a way no, an NFL career can be short and these guys want to get paid while they can. I get it, but on the other hand, the Eagles? Really?
Do I blame Jerry Jones for not getting Murray signed? No actually I don’t and trust me I am one who calls out Jerry when he earns it. I don’t serve the Jerry Jones kool-aid on this site but in this case, I think old Jerry got it right. Murray has a past of injuries and no one knows if he can keep up that highly demanding pace that he did last season (average of 25 carries/game), during a contract year.
Also he fumbled at times a little too often and in the Packers game, it actually hurt his team. Just sayin’. Sure most fans would like to have seen Murray remain in Dallas but not at any cost. Signing Darren McFadden from the Raiders may prove to be a good pick up to help replace Murray.
Looking at the 2015 draft, clearly Dallas has lots of room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball making it likely a priority. Specifically, their pass rush and pass defense need to get better.
NFL KEY STATS 2014 Cowboys Defense:
28th in sacks
14th in yards allowed a game.
7th highest in pass yards allowed
8th in fewest yards rushing
18th in points allowed
In the off season, Dallas signed DE Greg Hardy from the Panthers which should give the defense some real help at pressuring QBs an obvious area of weakness in 2014. Still I think it makes sense for the Cowboys to add defensive linemen in the draft.
CB Kevin Johnson Wake Forest
It’s not clear yet if Dallas will keep Brandon Carr who just hasn’t been a good fit in the 4-3, while often injured Mo Claiborne has proven to be pretty much a bust as a top 10 pick. It’s an area that needs improvement, as their pass defense ranked 7th in most yards allowed last season.
In Johnson. they pick up a prospect who is projected to go late in the first round. He has good size, good cover skills, and at Wake Forest he never missed a game with injury making him the opposite of Claiborne, in reliability. Johnson may be flying a bit under the radar . He is capable of playing man or zone coverage and while perhaps not a flashy first round pick, a solid football player which seems to be what Dallas seeks in the first round now days.
Johnson is a willing tackler with excellent ability to break on the ball. In the ACC, he played against top completion in receivers from Florida State and Clemson. With Johnson, the Cowboys pass defense improves.
2nd Round: RB Jeremy Langford Michigan State
With the departure of Murray, drafting a RB becomes more likely and while McFadden should help, no one can be sure that he will be the answer. They have Dunbar and Randle but they don’t represent the work horse back that Murray did. Picking up a RB the caliber of Langford in the 2nd round, could pay off in a big way.
Langford is a proven “work horse” back similar to Murray. He has been described as getting stronger as the game goes along and solid when asked to pass protect. In 2014 he rushed for 1,522 yards and 22 TDs while posting 12 straight 100 yard games against BIG Ten teams. At 6-0, 208, Langford’s running style will remind you of Murray as he displays power along with good speed. With a 4.4 time in the 40, he is actually quicker than the top ranked RBs in the draft.
In the highlights, you see him run with power, speed, follow his blocks, and he can shake and bake it to make a tackler miss when required.
Having Langford run behind the Cowboys stellar line, could make fans move on from losing Murray.
3rd round: DT Graddy Jarrett Clemson
Defensive tackle is a position I expect Dallas to draft and while there are some ranked higher than Jarrett, many of the top ranked ones will be off the board when Dallas picks in the first. Jarrett a 3rd round projection, appears to be a good fit in Marinelli’s defense displaying a quick twitch they look for in linemen.
He is 6-1, 304 pounds of run stop in the middle with enough explosiveness out of his stance to blow up plays in the backfield. In 2013, he had 83 tackles with 11 for loss. Not likely to get a lot of sacks himself but he could help free up DEs to get to the QBs. Jarrett would be an immediate contributor in Marinelli’s line rotation.
YOUTUBE HIGHLIGHTS (#50)
On video, Jarret appears athletic and light on his feet. Slips past blockers and does a nice job of finding the ball. Like his motor.
4th round: FS Gerod Holliman Louisville
The Cowboys just don’t have a ball hawk safety on their roster which is a critical piece missing from Marinelli’s Tampa 2 defense. In Holliman, they may find the missing piece. He set an FBS record with 14 interceptions. How’s that for a ball hawk safety? When the ball is in the air, Holliman always thinks he is the intended receiver.
Holliman could be a real difference maker in the Cowboys secondary.
5th round: WR Ty Montgomery Stanford
One move I actually didn’t like in the off season was allowing Dwayne Harris to sign with the Giants. Harris was one of my favorite players on the team because he “emptied his bucket” every game. He was one of the best special teams players in the NFL and in my view, under used on offense. I think he could make an impact with the Giants.
In the 2015 draft, I’m looking for a replacement for Harris and Montgomery represents a really talented kick returner. Montgomery is from Dallas and brings nice size 6-0, 221, and is very athletic. 2013 was a productive season for Montgomery as he earned consensus All-American honors as a kick returner, averaging 30.3 yards per opportunity. He also led Stanford with 61 catches for 958 yards and 10 TDs but in 2014, injuries limited his success.
Immediately Montgomery can help the Cowboys special teams as their best option at improving a lack luster Dallas kick off return game in 2014 (ranked 13th in KO returns last season). He could contribute to the offense as a receiver down the road perhaps.
(Two 7th round picks)
WR Jamarcus Nelson UAB
What Nelson brings can be summed up in one word, “speed”. He ran a sick 4.28 time in the 40 and that’s one thing a coach can’t teach, so why not see if this 7th round pick can help special teams? Nelson can bring explosiveness to the kick return game and could stretch a secondary deep to make them play honest.
Nelson is small and needs development as a receiver, but my interest in this pick would be what he can bring in the return game.
QB Shane Carden East Carolina
It seems I always have Dallas picking a QB late but they seem to never pick one at all. Weeden didn’t workout last season as Romo’s backup so the position could use depth. Carden leaves ECU after setting a whole bunch of passing records. Carden is from Houston and does a nice job of running the offense and finding the open receivers. Good leader who moves his team right down the field often.
Carden’s natural abilities may not impress that much but at this point in the draft, Dallas could find some decent depth and possibly a future contributor. This guy is worth a look and could at least make preseason games more interesting.
RECAP: Seven picks that address several areas. A better pass rush and a better secondary for the defense. On offense a possible future replacement for Murray at running back and a back up QB possibly for Romo. Then a couple guys who could improve the Cowboys return game a great deal on special teams while adding depth at receiver.