In 2004, the Cowboys snagged Patrick Crayton at Pick #216 in the 7th Round. In 2005, Jay Ratliff was Pick #224 in Round 7. In 2007, Doug Free was Pick #122 of Round 4, Deon Anderson was Pick #195 of Round 6, and Alan Ball was Pick #237 of the 7th Round.
Then, in 2008, Tashard Choice was pick #122 of Round 4 and Orlando Scandrick was pick #143 of Round 5. And in 2009, John Phillips was Pick #208 of Round 6.
At the very minimum, all of these players were useful contributors at one point or another, and most of them were players almost none of us had ever heard of going into the draft.
This is the nature of the talent collection business in the NFL. Everyone has an opinion on Days 1-2 of the draft, but by Day 3, attention spans shorten and fans find something else to do.
But for NFL teams, this is how the roster is fortified. You must find useful contributors here - not necessarily to start at first, but to show the ability to take the field in special teams and as a specialty substitute and help the cause. 45 man rosters on game day do not allow for passengers. Every player must serve a purpose.
Day 3 Additions:
Round 4, Pick 13 (110) David Arkin OL 6'5" 300 Missouri St.
Round 5, Pick 12 (143) Josh Thomas DB 5'10" 191 Buffalo
Round 6, Pick 11 (176) Dwayne Harris WR 5'10" 203 East Carolina
Round 7, Pick 17 (220) Shaun Chapas RB 6'2" 247 Georgia
Round 7, Pick 49 (252) Bill Nagy C 6'2" 302 Wisconsin
Given my complete lack of familiarity with players this deep in the draft, I defer to the people I trust at OurLads.Com for their insight on every player but Nagy, who doesn't appear to have made the cut of the hundreds of players they profiled. They rated 10 players from Wisconsin, and he wasn't one of them. I will try not to read too much meaning into that.
David Arkin - 6047 - 302 - 5.34 (40)
Four-year starter who is a high effort player that is strong at the point of attack. Two-time team captain. Competitive in his play. Plays on his feet. Was rusty early in the Shrine practices, but got better every day and played solid in the game. Pancaked Brandon Bair. Pulls and blocks on the run effectively. Long arms and big hands for the position. Works to finish and sustain his blocks. A natural guard for a run zone blocking team. Physical and intense in his play. Mentally tough to focus on his job. Can make mental adjustments on the move. Has the talent and natural ability to earn a roster position. He just needs the technique work and to elevate his pro physical skills. BP 25 reps. Fourth/Fifth Round
I suppose this tells us that as much as we think they liked Lehigh's Will Rackley, they must have thought Arkin was not far below him in their grading. They choose DeMarco Murray when Rackley was on the board, but then came right back in Round 4 and grabbed Arkin. Obviously, Missouri State gives many people pause, and so does the Cowboys reputation for finding OL players in the draft (Doug Free is a rare exception this decade), but there seems to be a quiet confidence that he will be able to work his way up the ladder at guard very quickly.
Josh Thomas - 5102 - 191 - 4.50 (40)
Four-year starter who majors in zone coverage. Quick and balanced with good agility. Good change of direction. Hip tightness that was evidenced in the East/West Shrine practices was not as pronounced at the combine. Looked smoother in his turns. Flashes short area cover skills. Better as a press corner in a cover-2 scheme. Struggles in off-man coverage. Loses the ball when covering deep. Competitive with good leaping ability. Will need to turn his game up a notch to play on Sundays. Vertical Jump: 38.5 Fourth/Fifth Round.
Another corner for the Cowboys to add to the ranks which is always a position of need. I do wonder about another "small corner" and one who is not thought to be very good in "off-man" which was really used heavily under Wade Phillips. I would like to think Rob Ryan is bringing in more of his press-coverage looks and perhaps Thomas can work his way into the mix. It is worth noting that this was the exact (pick #143) of Orlando Scandrick, so that is where the bar is for Thomas.
Dwayne Harris - 5097 - 200 - 4.55 (40)
Started 24 games. Conference USA MVP. Former quarterback. Average speed for a wide receiver. Ultra productive in his career with 268 catches. Still learning how to play the position. Not a big target. A slot type receiver. Plays "X" split end or in the slot. Used as a Wildcat quarterback. Good contact balance on the run after catch. Ball security is a problem with four fumbles in 2010. Needs work in route running. Rough week of practice at the Senior Bowl. Struggled to adjust to passes from a new quarterback. His hands were as inconsistent as his route running. Has injury history. His left foot broken twice. Vertical Jump: 34. Sixth/Seventh Round.
This of course is the spot in the draft where you start to consider a player because he can really contribute on special teams. And he does seem to possess ability as a return man, but it appears the Cowboys should have plenty of options for returning kicks - and with the new rules, that seems to be a minimized priority, anyway. However, with Harris, you cannot help but see how he was used underneath in East Carolina's offense as perhaps an indicator that the Cowboys would like him to challenge Kevin Ogletree as a slot WR option. Since Crayton's exit, the Cowboys have not really had an ideal fit for the slot/underneath game, and this should be a big part of any team's offense when they have Wide Receivers like Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, and Jason Witten that attract the safeties.
Shaun Chapas - 6021 - 247 - 4.91 (40)
Three-year starter. A West Coast offense type fullback who is a blocker first. A willing and productive blocker who can seal the edge. Good vision, feet, and functional strength to block in pass protection. An I-formation fullback who knows how to check and release to get into pass routes. Can catch all the flat and check down type passes. Ties up the linebacker on inside blitzes. Plays H-back where he can get a running start at the target. Can adjust on the run. Strong enough to run a defensive end up the field. Made a good wrap up tackle on an interception. Out of control at times. Plays on special teams and returns kickoffs. Bench Press: 23 reps. Sixth/Seventh Round.
Unless Jason Garrett has really changed his ways, this is a purely special teams choice. Fullback is a very underutilized element of his offense that would not warrant a pick in this draft unless they are already looking to replace Chris Gronkowski. But, even then, John Phillips' return gave them some versatility options there. I suppose this will be a battle in training camp to see if Chapas can make the team by showing he is worthy of playing on the units. I can promise you I did not anticipate a FB being taken in this draft.
And, with Wisconsin C/G Bill Nagy, there is very little to report from Ourlads. Actually, there is nothing. So, the Cowboys found someone late in the draft that they think nobody else sees. That is not an unreasonable premise, so we await the end of the lockout to see if they are right. This team does need OL depth.
I will try to post some video that I can find on these 5 players soon.