Sports Outside the Beltway

2010 Dallas Cowboys Draft Grades

dallas-cowboys-starSo, how did the Dallas Cowboys do in the 2010 NFL Draft?  Most of us fans were concerned that the team came away without a big name offensive tackle or safety, widely considered the Cowboys’ biggest needs.  On the other hand, they clearly got great value with Dez Bryant and the first round and Sean Lee in the second.  But what about all those late-round picks most of us never heard of?

The team’s clearly better than it was Thursday morning, with another home run threat on offense and some terrific depth on defense.  The consensus seems to be that Jerry Jones and company drafted some kids with real upside but that Bryant may well be the only one to crack the starting lineup this year.

Which is likely all we should have expected.    The team is talented with no real holes among the starters, with the possible exception of safety and, with the release of Flozell Adams, left tackle.  But the draft was thin at tackle and, as usual, the best ones went off the board very early.  The marquee safeties were off the board when Dallas picked in the 2nd and it wouldn’t have made sense for them to pass up Lee, who they had rated as the 16th best player in the whole draft.

Unless they’re really bad teams or the Patriots, we always kill GMs after the draft.   Either they went for need and thus “reached” on talent or they went with the mythical “Best Available Player” and are excoriated for not addressing their needs.  They really can’t win.

Here’s what the “experts” say:

Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News, Pro Football Hall of Fame member:


The Cowboys drafted the NFL offensive rookie of the year in Bryant. But one pick does not a draft make. Sean Lee is the only other draft pick likely to have an impact from this class. Owusu-Ansah is an interesting developmental project.

1 (24) Dez Bryant WR Okla. St.
2 (55) Sean Lee LB Penn St.
4 (126) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah DB Indiana, Pa
6 (196) Jamar Wall DB Texas Tech
6 (179) Sam Young OT Notre Dame
7 (234) Sean Lissemore DT William & Mary

Mel Kiper, ESPN:

Dallas Cowboys The question for Dallas fans shouldn’t be about the talent of the players the Cowboys picked up early. The Boys traded up for Dez Bryant — in that case they slipped in just ahead of Baltimore, where Bryant would have been a huge score — and did the same for Sean Lee, a likely replacement at some point for Keith Brooking. But unless they do something in the interim, the Cowboys will head into camp with Doug Free as the best left tackle on the roster, and while the team likes Free’s potential, Tony Romo’s blindside protection is still a concern. Getting Akwasi Owusu-Ansah in Round 4 I liked. He could make the transition to safety.  Draft grade: B-

Tim MacMahon, ESPN Dallas grades each pick, which is rather odd:

Round: 1, Pick: 24 (Overall: 24) Dez Bryant, WR, Oklahoma State – The Cowboys took a calculated risk on one of the most talented players in the draft, and it didnt cost them that much to move up a few spots to get Bryant. While Bryants immaturity is a concern, he has the potential to form a Pro Bowl pairing with Miles Austin for years. He should make an immediate impact as a return man, and if he handles his business, its a matter of time before he gives Tony Romo another dynamic target. Grade A.

Round: 2, Pick: 23 (Overall: 55) Sean Lee, ILB, Penn State – Lee is a smart, tough linebacker who has the athleticism and instincts to be able to contribute in the nickel package as a rookie. He’ll learn behind Bradie James and Keith Brooking for at least one season before likely inheriting Brooking’s starting job at weakside linebacker. Concerns about his right knee (torn ACL in spring 2008) are the only reason Lee was available this late in the draft. A-minus

Round: 6, Pick: 27 (Overall: 196) Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, FS, Indiana (Pa.) – Owusu-Ansah is a project at free safety who could make an immediate impact as a kickoff returner. It will take time for him to make the mental leap from Division II to the NFL, but Owusu-Ansah could develop into the starting free safety within a few years. He has good size (6-0, 207), great speed (4.32 40 at combine) and excellent ball skills (10 interceptions in last two seasons). B-plus

Round: 6, Pick: 10 (Overall: 179) Sam Young, OT, Notre Dame – The 6-8, 316-pound Young started a school-record 50 consecutive games in an NFL-style offense at Notre Dame. He’s a smart, tough player who was considered an outstanding leader in college. He tends to struggle against speed rushers, so he won’t be able to play left tackle in the NFL. He will compete with Robert Brewster, last year’s third-round pick, to be Marc Colombo’s backup. B-minus

Round: 6, Pick: 27 (Overall: 196) Jamar Wall, CB, Texas Tech – Wall has subpar speed for a cornerback (4.55 40), but he’s quick, savvy, physical and is an excellent competitor. He spent three years battling Michael Crabtree in practice every day, which is a pretty good way to prepare for the NFL. He’s a solid special teams player. The question is whether he’s athletic enough to succeed in the NFL. B-minus

Round: 7, Pick: 27 (Overall: 234) Sean Lissemore, DL, William & Mary – Lissemore has attributes that remind the Cowboys brass of another recent seventh-rounder, All-Pro nose tackle Jay Ratliff. Like Ratliff, the 6-4, 298-pound Lissemore has the potential to play all three spots in a 3-4 front, has a relentless motor and moves well (4.81 40) for a big man. That doesn’t mean the Cowboys expect Lissemore to become a Pro Bowler, but they are intrigued by his potential. Grade B+

Rob Rang, and CBS Sportsline:

Dallas Cowboys: B- Jerry Jones was known to be very high on Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant, and as suspected he traded up to get him when the talented wideout began to slip. Bryant is the playmaker the Cowboys thought they were getting when they traded for Roy Williams, but in trading up to get a weapon for Tony Romo, the team may have lost its chance at getting a tackle who could protect their Pro Bowl quarterback. The Cowboys relied on aging free agents Zach Thomas and Keith Brooking at inside linebacker the past few years, but did add the steady Sean Lee in the second round. Of the Cowboys’ third-day selections, small schoolers Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (cornerback) and Sean Lissemore (defensive tackle) have the athleticism worthy of developing.

Chris Burke, NFL Fanhouse:

Dallas (Day 1: B+; Day 2: B+): Consistent, if nothing else, over the first two days with WR Dez Bryant (No. 24) and LB Sean Lee (No. 55). The Cowboys then stole CB Akwasi Owusu-Ansah (No. 126). We’ll have to wait and see after that. A lot of people are high on OT Sam Young (No. 179), but he was awful in pass protection at times for Notre Dame. Final Grade: B+

Somebody at Fox Sports without a byline:

Dallas: With the uneven play of Roy Williams, owner Jerry Jones wanted a playmaker opposite Miles Austin and he moved up in the draft to get Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant, who will wear Michael Irvin’s No. 88 jersey. Bryant’s upbringing and the fact that he lied to NCAA investigators about his involvement with Deion Sanders got him suspended troubled some teams, but not the Cowboys, who will build a support system around him. Jones claims that he won’t trade Williams or Patrick Crayton to make Bryant’s transition easier. Penn State’s Sean Lee was the most instinctive linebacker in college football last season and the only concern about him is if he can keep himself healthy. Several teams wanted Lee, but the Eagles traded a pick with Jones in order for him to become a Cowboy. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is a big, athletic cornerback from tiny Indiana (Pa.) State. He’s coming off an injury, but he’s expected to be ready for training camp. The Cowboys didn’t address their needs on the offensive line, but there are big hopes that either Doug Free or Robert Brewster, a third-round pick last year, will fill Flozell Adams’ spot at left tackle. Grade: B

While he didn’t hand out grades, Sports Illustrated‘s Tony Pauline calls Dallas’ selection of Dez Bryant with the 24th pick a steal: “For all his off-the-field issues, there’s no denying Bryant’s talent on the field. It was worth a roll of the dice by the Cowboys to trade up to select Bryant late in round one. If he matures as an individual Dallas will have another star on their hands.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports.

Best pick: I love the move to trade up to get Sean Lee in the second round. He has the talent to start in a year or two.

Questionable move: I like it, but some will say trading up to get Dez Bryant was questionable. That’s because of character, not talent.

Third-day gem: Sixth-round pick Sam Young was a quality starter at Notre Dame. He doesn’t have great feet, but neither does right tackle Marc Colombo.

Analysis: Their first two picks really make this draft. Bryant and Lee will be contributors right away. Did you see the way the Cowboys reacted when they landed Bryant?

Grade: B-

Jarrett Bell, USA Today:

Grade: C

Analysis: Dallas Cowboys: They hope they’ve landed the next Randy Moss after moving up three slots in the first round for Dez Bryant, considered the draft’s best receiver. Bryant, though, fell because of questions about his maturity. Inside linebacker Sean Lee might be a hit. But Dallas didn’t draft a left tackle, increasing the odds of Flozell Adams re-signing.

Joe D of The Landry Hat:

Grade: Incomplete

Analysis:   This draft was not about filling voids; it is about confidence. The year the Cowboys traded down with the Cleveland Browns (who took Brady Quinn), the Cowboys organization showed confidence in Tony Romo. This year, the Cowboys are showing confidence in Alan Ball (or Mike Hamlin) and Doug Free to replace Ken Hamlin and Flozell Adams. It also may show a lack of confidence in Roy Williams. While experts certainly had their checklist of voids on the Cowboys roster, the Cowboys felt quite differently. If the Cowboys were drafting in the top 5 of the first two round, the first two picks would still be identical. Dez Bryant (a top 5 (or 10) talent) and Sean Lee (#16 on the Cowboys draft board). They may be polar opposites in regards to character, but both project as being contributors in the rookie year, and assuming a greater role in subsequent years.

Owusu-Ansah was drafted in the fourth round. According to Dave Campo, he is as athletic as some of the top safeties in the draft. How quickly can he acclimate to the safety position? Are the Cowboys getting a workout wonder, or a small school gem?

Richie Whitt, Dallas Observer:

The good news: The Dallas Cowboys likely drafted the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year and a linebacker who will signal the end of the Bobby Carpenter era.

The bad news: The Dallas Cowboys still don’t have a play-making free safety or any depth along the offensive line.

The Cowboys picked only six players over the three-day NFL Draft, fewest in 10 years. After Dez Bryant and Penn State linebacker Sean Lee, they selected safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Notre Dame offensive tackle Sam Young, Texas Tech cornerback Jamar Wall and defensive tackle Sean Lissemore.

Hard not to call the draft a success when the Cowboys (who began with picks No. 27 and 59) nabbed two players rated among the top 16 on their draft board.

And with Bryant, the Cowboys not only have a more talented team, but an arsenal of offensive weapons that rivals the group that won three of four Super Bowls in the 1990s. Granted, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Irvin are Hall of Famers, but quarterback Tony Romo can now hand the football to Felix Jones, Tashard Choice and Marion Barber or throw it long to Miles Austin and Bryant or short to Williams and Jason Witten. So stockpiled is Dallas’ lineup that receivers Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd are seeking trades.

The Cowboys are a better team, with players who will make positive impacts right here, right now. But they failed to address their two most glaring needs.

Add it all up and I give Dallas’ draft an A-minus. You?

Pat Kirwan of and Sirius NFL Radio:

Jerry Jones didn’t listen to his draft board the year Randy Moss came out, but he did this year and moved up for Dez Bryant. The Cowboys don’t overreact in the draft like they used to, but they failed to draft a tackle, and as a result, re-signing Flozell Adams seems like a good idea. Zane Beadles would have been ideal in the second round, but he went 11 picks before Dallas selected. They did wisely move up to grab LB Sean Lee in the second round. He can play either inside spot and will eventually replace Keith Brooking. A kicker and a safety are still needs to be addressed.

Bucky Brooks, also of

Dallas Cowboys: B+

Jerry Jones is a noted wheeler and dealer, and his aggressive ways resulted in the Cowboys landing a terrific draft class. The team traded up a handful of spots to land one of the most talented players in the draft in Dez Bryant, and used a similar ploy to get Sean Lee in the second round. Both players have the potential to be all-stars at their respective positions and will make contributions very early in their careers. Throw in the addition of draft sleeper Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, and the Cowboys’ draft class will play a major role in their Super Bowl run in 2010.

More to come as more are posted. Some publications are adhering to their old formula of publishing draft grades on Monday, even though the draft ended a day early this year.

Related Stories:
Recent Stories:

I think Dallas did a good job picking up Dez Bryant and Sean Lee. I think they will make a great impact on the Dallas team on and off the field. Akwasi Owusu-Ansah will make a good impact on defense as safety and Sean Lee. What i am not happy about is Dallas not getting a quarterback. Dallas has relyed on Keith Brooking and Zach Thomas for protection. Tony Romo is a potential starter but you can not rely on him being healthy and staying away from injury. There are alot of great defensive players out there that will hurt him and probobly want to. That is my point of view overall I think Dallas did a good job. Heres my rating on Dallas draft. B+

Posted by bob mcgriff | April 25, 2010 | 01:00 pm | Permalink

bob mcgriff- Romo has potential to be a starter??? Are u high? Tony Romo was one of the top QB’s in the league last year. Without him, we have no chance at all. He is without question our starting QB and he is not at all an injury risk. He took every single snap last season and has only missed 3 games since he became the Cowboys starting QB in 2006. (due to a broken finger)

Posted by Stokley | April 27, 2010 | 06:47 pm | Permalink

I’m concerned over the lack of addressing the offensive line. Yeah, the Cowboys have a lot of promise in Doug Free and I guess time will tell, I just wish they would have addressed it earlier in the draft. Having said that I’m happy with the Dez Bryant pick and also pay attention to the late pick of Church out of Toledo. I watched this kid play and dominate in the MAC. He’s a sleeper…watch for this kid, he’s a stud.

Posted by Shane | April 29, 2010 | 09:10 pm | Permalink

RSS feed for these comments.

Comments are Closed


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.