The Dallas Cowboys, with the opening pick of the 6th round of the 2008 NFL Draft (via the Miami Dolphins in the Jason Ferguson trade) is Middle Tennessee State defensive end Erik Walden. Not a position of need, by any means.
Given that this was the 167th pick in the draft, that’s no great surprise, although ranked players — including safeties and offensive linemen, positions of ostensible need for the Cowboys — were still available.
UPDATE: Albert Breer reports that Walden “is not even listed in the Pro Football Weekly draft guide.” Given that he’s only 6-2 and 237 pounds, bets are that he’ll be converted to linebacker. Because the Cowboys so desperately need more of those.
One of Breer’s commenters supplies this, via CNNSI:
40 Time: 4.75
BIOGRAPHY: Moved into the starting lineup as a freshman and has played both defensive end spots as well as outside linebacker the past four years. Senior-year totals included 46/8.5/2 with one interception. Posted career-high numbers of 48/14.5/11.5 as a junior when he was an All-Conference selection.
POSITIVES: Aggressive defender who makes plays all over the field. Gets depth on drops, displays good range, and stays with assignments. Forceful up the field, plays with good leverage, and chases hard to make plays. Displays a good degree of quickness in his game as well as a closing burst of speed.
NEGATIVES: Marginally strong at the point and struggles against blocks. Limited skills making plays in reverse.
ANALYSIS: Walden possesses the size and speed to play at the next level. His ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage will get him consideration as a pass-rushing linebacker in a 3-4 system.
PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent
Scouts, Inc. agrees:
Walden excels at getting to the quarterback and has experience lining up at linebacker and end. This is the second pick in a row on which we feel Dallas has reached; Walden isn’t big enough to hold his ground at defensive end position and his speed will make it difficult for him to be effective in coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
The pick just makes no sense. This is probably a guy available as an undrafted free agent and at a position where, unless he’s truly phenomenal, he has no chance of making the squad.
Meanwhile, some ranked safeties and offensive linemen — and project quarterbacks — were available.
Man, I’m hating this draft. It looks like Bad Jerry is back and in charge of the draft room. At least, unless I’m missing something after 97 trades up and down the board for no apparent reason, the Cowboys are done for this year.
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