The student news site of Wakeland High School

Wakeland Access

The student news site of Wakeland High School

Wakeland Access

The student news site of Wakeland High School

Wakeland Access

NFL Draft 2024: How the Dallas Cowboys improved their team

The draft started on April 25, and finished on April 27, 2024. After having a quiet offseason in terms of contract extensions and free agent signings, the Cowboys were expected to be very strategic with their draft picks. 

The Dallas Cowboys concluded their 2024 NFL Draft, with eight selections that aim to address key areas of need within their roster. Entering the draft, the Cowboys had needs in the following positions: Offensive line, linebacker corps, defensive backfield, defensive line, and running back. 

First three rounds of the draft

The Cowboys’ first-round pick, Tyler Guyton, an offensive tackle from Oklahoma, is seen as a versatile player who can effectively play on both the right and left sides of the line. Guyton’s selection earned an A+ grade from Sports Illustrated’s NFL Draft Tracker, highlighting his potential to excel at left tackle long term. Todd Archer from ESPN said that Guyton “fills a hole,” possibly taking over as the starting left tackle after Tyron Smith’s departure. 

In the second round, the Cowboys selected Marshawn Kneeland, a defensive end from Western Michigan. Kneeland showcased impressive athleticism at the combine and recorded 12.5 sacks and 28 tackles for loss over 37 games. His athletic ability suggests he could develop into an elite pass-rusher, learning behind Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence. Mel Kiper Jr. from ESPN said, “selecting Kneeland this early was a bit of a stretch, defensive end was not a priority for the Cowboys.” 

The Cowboys addressed their offensive line problems by drafting Cooper Beebe, an OL from Kansas State. Beebe was a two-time Big 12 Lineman of the Year and a first-team All-American. He will likely start at the center position next season and provides excellent depth at various positions along the offensive line. 

Final rounds of the draft

The draft of Marist Liufau, a linebacker from Notre Dame, in the third round adds depth and potential to the linebacker corps. Liufau’s athleticism and tackling ability make him a promising addition to the team. With a weak linebacker room and the kickoff rule change, Liufau should get some playing time. ESPN said Liufau is, “an aggressive and tough player,” which gives him potential. 

The selection of Caelen Carson, a cornerback from Wake Forest, provides depth at the cornerback position. Carson’s physicality and ability to play press coverage make him a valuable asset to the team’s secondary. With the departure of Stephon Gilmore and possible departure of Jordan Lewis, Carson offers potential to fill in the gap in the secondary. Vice President Stephen Jones said that Carson “is an exciting player with plenty of potential.” 

The draft of Ryan Flournoy, a wide receiver from Southeast Missouri State, brings athleticism and size to the receiver corps. His speed and agility could make him a contributor on special teams. At 6-2, 205 pounds, Flournoy has the size the Cowboys like in their receivers, and although he turns 25 in October, the Cowboys like the potential he has. 

The Cowboys selected Nathan Thomas, an offensive tackle from Louisiana, in the seventh round. Thomas provides additional depth to the offensive line and could develop into a starter in the future. Thomas will not be a day one starter, as he needs to develop and grow before he gets some real playing time. 

The draft of Justin Rogers, a defensive tackle from, Auburn, adds depth to the defensive line. Rogers’ athleticism and strength suggest he could develop into a rotational player along the defensive line. With the departure of key defensive players this offseason, Rogers may need to fill in a gap. 

Post-Draft Analysis 

The worst decision of the draft was not selecting a running back.  The Cowboys were expected to take a running back early in the draft, with the departure of Tony Pollard. When asked why a running back was not picked, vice president  Stephen Jones said, “it just felt like every time the situation was there for us to make a pick and do the right thing, it wasn’t at running back.” The running backs on the roster before the draft were Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaghn, and Royce Freeman. None of these backs are true staring running backs. The Cowboys did recently re-sign Ezekiel Elliott, but he is nearing the end of his career and is not as productive as he used to be. The running game this year will take a committee style approach as opposed to having one clear starter, a break from a tradition the Cowboys are known for. 

Overall the Cowboys were plenty productive and efficient in this years draft, filling many weak positions. They were able to add depth and shore up positional needs, but the weak running back room lowers the draft grade. The Cowboys will rely on their selections as they compete to be the top team in their division.

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