The 2012 NFL Draft came and went April 26-28 with the Dallas Cowboys addressing most of their needs.
The so-called experts have graded the Cowboys draft anywhere from a C-minus to an A. These grades are basically based on what the grader thinks about the player's skills, how that translates to production in the NFL and where they "should" be drafted.
When players are selected ahead of where some commentators think they should be taken, heads start shaking and questions about a draft strategy abound. I read a lot of articles and followed Twitter feeds during the draft to find out what the experts had to say.
I'm not going to rip any particular analyst because they all apply their craft differently. Some guys have an offensive lineman slated to go in the second while another might have him going in the fourth. What is important is how the team values the player, how they grade him and how he could potentially fit into their scheme.
I can't say I loved all of the Cowboys' selection, but I didn't see anything wrong with them either. Here are my thoughts on the players.
Morris Claiborne, CB
Some hated that the Cowboys spent two draft picks on one player when the team had other needs. I loved the aggressive move. The secondary was the weak link on the defense and Claiborne was definitely worth the pick.
Tyrone Crawford, DE
The defensive line accounted for 10 ½ of the team's 42 sacks in 2011. Jason Hatcher led the way with 4 ½. Crawford will have the opportunity to make an impact on the edge with his quick burst off the line-of-scrimmage, something Dallas has lacked the past couple of years.
Kyle Wilber, OLB
Dallas needed another pass rusher opposite DeMarcus Ware and they got it in Wilber. I don't expect him to replace Anthony Spencer because his run defense isn't his strength. But, he does a good job putting pressure on the quarterback.
Matt Johnson, S
I think this is the pick I love the most based on video that I've watched of Johnson. People knock him because he played at a small school, but if you listen to his interview with the media, he chose Eastern Washington over Washington and Oregon because he wanted to play ball with his twin brother. But, film doesn't lie. Johnson flat out gets to the ball and then lays the wood once he gets there. He almost broke EWU's interception record by recording 17 during his career. He'll see action this year, but I think he'll be the starter in two to three years.
Danny Coale, WR
ESPN's Todd McShay raved over Coale and without really saying it suggested that the Virginia Tech receiver will have a very productive season. I see Coale as a slot receiver in the mold of Wes Welker. He's fast, has great hands and played four seasons with the Hokies. His yards per game increased every year and has a little experience as a returner.
James Hanna, TE
I was hoping Dallas would draft a tight end, but I didn't think it would be one with Hanna's skill sets. He's more of a receiving tight end with good hands and speed: ran a 4.49 40. I'm not saying I don't like the pick, but not the type of player I was expecting at the position. With that said, I'm sure he will spend a lot of time in OTAs and training camp polishing his blocking ability.
Caleb McSurdy, LB
With Sean Lee, Dan Connor and Bruce Carter manning the middle, McSurdy will as some depth, but this was a special teams selection, as were a few others. This Montana product is a very good tackler and has a way to work through traffic to get to the ball, an attribute needed on special teams.
I was hoping to see an offensive lineman come off the board for the Cowboys during the draft, but it didn't happen. The team said during the press conference that they felt they got their man when they announced Memphis guard Ron Leary had signed with Dallas as an undrafted free agent. They said he was graded out as a fourth round pick, but felt they could still get him after the draft. It was a gamble, but it worked.
Head coach Jason Garrett said in the team's press conference after the draft that all of the players they selected possess the characteristics that he wants his players to have. In my research of these players, Dallas didn't miss the mark on any of them.
John Ingle is a graduate of the Midwestern State University Mass Communication program with an emphasis in journalism. He is a life-long Dallas Cowboys and football fan dating back to the late 1970s and has had covered the Cowboys as a journalism intern during two training camps at MSU. Follow him on Twitter @inglejohn1973.