In the blink of an eye, the NFL Draft is over and now all eyes turn to training camp later this summer. The Cowboys had six draft picks in rounds four through seven. Dallas filled big needs in a few roster spots and that’s all that matters. That being said, there is a lot to break down and grade here from day three of the draft. Let’s get to it, shall we?
Round Four, Pick 129: Jake Ferguson, TE, Pick Grade: B-
The first pick of the day for the Dallas Cowboys was Wisconsin tight end, Jake Ferguson. Dallas was in need of tight end depth and they got it. With Dalton Schultz playing only on the franchise tag, there needed to be other options. Ferguson was an All-Big Ten player last season and will be worth the pick. I give this grade a B- due to lack of speed and blocking ability is spotty against larger defenders.
But overall, he is a pretty good blocker and an even better pass catcher. He finished last season with 145 receptions for 1,618 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is not a speedy tight end but rather a reliable possession catcher. This might be a bit of a stretch but I think he could become another version of Jason Witten. Reliable possession guy who gets first downs but also knows when to lower the shoulder and block. I hope Ferguson pans out because the Cowboys might need him sooner rather than later.
Round Five, Pick 155: Matt Waletzko, OT, Pick Grade: B-
The second pick of the day came in round five with the 155th pick overall. Dallas had four picks in the fifth round. The first went to Matt Waletzko, an offensive tackle out of North Dakota. At first, I was seriously questioning why we took another O-lineman but depth is never a bad thing. At 6’8, 312 pounds, Waletzko is a monster both size and length-wise. He can play well, in short, are blocks but lacks speed for large movement.
The only other downside is that he has room to get a bit stronger. Crazy to me that a guy this size lacks strength but hey what do I know. I think he has All-Pro potential if he pans out correctly and could start at some point. The drafting of Tyler Smith in round one and Waletzko in round five could prove Dallas would be okay moving on from guys like Connor McGovern. There is plenty of room for improvement and opportunity rather quickly for Waletzko.
Round Five, Pick 167: DaRon Bland, CB, Pick Grade: B
Next, Dallas decided to switch back to defense by taking cornerback DaRon Bland out of Fresno State. While cornerback was not an extreme need, again depth is never a bad thing. Bland brings incredible route recognition skills and speed. He is one of the more versatile cornerbacks in this draft class. With guys like Trevon Diggs to teach him, Bland could be starting by the end of the season. I give this draft pick a B grade simply because we do not know where exactly Bland will fit in right away.
As I said before, having too many cornerbacks is never a problem. It is important to note that current Cowboys cornerback Kelvin Joseph could face discipline under the NFL personal conduct policy. If Joseph misses time then Bland could see playing time. He needs some grooming but overall I see Bland being a helpful draft pick for the foreseeable future. I give this draft pick a B grade simply because we do not know where exactly Bland will fit in right away.
Round Five, Pick 176: Damone Clark, ILB, Pick Grade: B
Next, we have another defensive pick that could play well for Dallas. Clark would’ve been picked a round or two earlier had he not had surgery in the offseason. Clark brings a pretty well-rounded game to the NFL. His only issue would be his coverage abilities but that can be improved.
However, Clark’s spinal infusion surgery will likely see him get nowhere close to the field this season. That being said, using a fifth-round pick on him makes that issue less of a worry. Clark had 135 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, four pass deflections, and one interception in 2021. That kind of stat line is worth waiting for. Get him healthy and eventually, he will be playing weekly.
Round Five, Pick 178: John Ridgeway, DT, Pick Grade: C+
While the final pick of round five bolstered the defensive line, Ridgeway lacks true pass-rushing abilities. He can control blockers but he also lacks burst and closing speed which could be an issue. However, he is a solid run defender and brings some size Dallas has lacked recently. He was credited with 39 tackles, four tackles for loss, and two sacks for the Razorbacks. These stats proved he was ready for the SEC but only time will tell if he is truly NFL ready. I give this grade a C+ because he lacks those pass-rushing abilities and needs to improve but he brings depth which is important.
Round Six, Pick 193: Devin Harper, LB, Pick Grade: C+
Finally, we have the last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft for the Cowboys. If you did not figure it out, Dallas picking Harper is for depth purposes considering Damone Clark likely won’t play this year. Harper lacks coverage ability due to his size. However, Harper has incredible sideline-to-sideline speed and tackling abilities.
In his only as a starter, he had 96 tackles, six sacks, ten tackles for loss, and 15 quarterback pressures. Until Harper proves he can adjust his coverage abilities, his role might stick to a quick sub player. I give this grade a C+ because once again, his role is unclear. Dallas has plenty of talent at linebacker but Harper could be helpful as a sub or fill-in player throughout the season.
Which draft pick will play the most this season? Comment below and join the discussion!
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