Morgan Epstein grades the Dallas Cowboys 2016 NFL Draft. Does Dallas have a bright future after drafting Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft?
4. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State A Grade
Many Cowboys fans think Jalen Ramsey should have been the pick here. At the same time Elliott is already taking first team reps from both Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris.
Elliott ran for over 1,800 rushing yards in back-to-back seasons. He can catch out of the backfield and he's a rookie that will have a hell of an offensive line behind him. He's a better running back than Gurley was and he has a much stronger offensive line than Gurley had. It wouldn't shock me if teams took Elliott in the first round of standard Fantasy Leagues. Elliott is just that good.
34. Jaylon Smith, MLB, Notre Dame B Grade
Jaylon Smith is a tackling machine that can pretty much start at any of Dallas's three linebacker roles. He has the tools to replace Rolando McClain in 2017 if he makes a full recovery and if McClain struggles.
McClain is in a contract year which is why Smith's status is unknown as to whether he starts at outside or inside linebacker. Right now, Smith just needs to take his time and get healthy. I'm giving this a B grade simply because the Cowboys got incredible value here even though they didn't get a guaranteed starter.
67. Maliek Collins, DT, Nebraska B- Grade
Dallas has a huge need at defensive tackle. Collins won't be an immediate starter and I felt like there were better players available at the defensive tackle position at this point in the third round.
101. Charles Tapper, LE, Oklahoma A Grade
With Charles Tapper and DeMarcus Lawrence suspended, I cannot see Charles Tapper on the bench. Right now Benson Mayoa, Ryan Russell, and David Irving rank ahead of Tapper on the depth chart. I think that changes by the start of the regular season as Dallas gets a solid starting defensive end in Charles Tapper.
135. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State B Grade
Dak Prescott was an excellent value pick at this spot in the fourth round. My issue with this pick is that Kellen Moore is ranked ahead of Prescott at the moment. Failing to beat out Kellen Moore for a backup job is a pretty big indicator that you are not the successor to Tony Romo and a red flag for Dallas. That being said this was a Day 3 pick so the Cowboys had nothing to lose by taking Prescott which is why this is a B grade.
189. Anthony Brown, CB, Purdue D Grade
Anthony Brown has good tape. He's listed as the seventh best cornerback on the depth chart so unless he stands out in training camp he could get cut thus making this a D grade.
212. Kavon Frazier, SS, Central Michigan A Grade
Kavon Frazier has the versatility to play both safety spots. Frazier is the backup strong safety to Barry Church another MAC safety that played at Toledo.
Church is dealing with an arm injury so Frazier is getting some first team reps in. Kavon Frazier will get an opportunity to start at safety if Barry Church struggles in 2016.
216. Darius Jackson, RB, Eastern Michigan D Grade
Dallas already took Ezekiel Elliott. This feels like a wasted pick with Jackson as a fourth string running back. He is somebody that is good enough to be on the Cowboys practice squad until Darren McFadden gets injured. Until then, he has no business on this roster which is why this pick gets a D grade.
217. Rico Gaithers, TE, Baylor F Grade
Rico Gaithers has no experience as a football player as he is a pure basketball player. Dallas has Gavin Escobar as a successor to Jason Witten so this gets an F grade.
Dallas Cowboys Team Grade: B- Grade
Dallas got a Pro Bowl running back with Ezekiel Elliott. They made some good picks and got great value in rounds 2-4. They didn't get immediate starters though and the Cowboys whiffed on their late round picks.
When you take all of that into account the highest draft grade you can give Dallas is a B-. Outside of Elliott the rest of their players are projects, but some of those products have huge potential.
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