Dallas Cowboys 2024 NFL draft picks: Selection analysis

April 28, 2024

FRISCO, Texas — The 2024 NFL draft (ESPN, ABC, ESPN App) began Thursday night in Detroit and wrapped up Saturday.

Dallas Cowboys 2024 NFL draft picks - Selection analysis - ESPN

A look at each of Dallas’ selections:

Analysis of every pick | Updated depth chart

Round 1, No. 29 overall (via Detroit): Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

My take: You never want to be forced into taking a specific position in the draft, but the Cowboys almost had to come away with an offensive lineman in the first round. By trading with Detroit, the Cowboys cost themselves a chance to take center Graham Barton, who is more ready to play right away, but Guyton plays a premium position at tackle. He will need time to adjust to the pro game as well as likely a new position after starting just 15 games at Oklahoma with 13 coming at right tackle. Replacing a legend like Tyron Smith at left tackle would be difficult for any rookie but patience might be the biggest key when assessing Guyton as a rookie.

Is this pick for depth or does it fill a hole?: It fills a hole because the Cowboys’ in-house candidates — Asim Richards, Matt Waletzko and Josh Ball — are inexperienced as well. Guyton doesn’t believe it will take him long to get accustomed to left tackle. “I’ve done both,” he said. “I feel like either one I’m good at, and I’ll jump right in at left tackle and do whatever I can. … There’s no big difference for me. I feel it’s only flipping plays and flipping techniques. I don’t think it will be a hard job to do. I’m really excited for it actually.”

What we’re hearing about Guyton: He was not a visitor to The Star prior to the draft, but the Cowboys met with him at the combine and at his pro day. Guyton said he spoke with offensive line coach Mike Solari multiple times and felt a connection. “We’ve got a history of having guys that do things at a high level at that position and there’s some traits that definitely showed us that that was there,” vice president of player personnel Will McClay said. “You talk about athletic ability, and left tackles are usually more athletic, and this guy is an athletic guy — basketball background, some defense in his nature. So that way that he plays the game will add something to us as well.”

play0:42Marshawn Kneeland’s NFL draft profile

Check out some of the top highlights from Western Michigan DE Marshawn Kneeland.

Round 2, No. 56: Marshawn Kneeland, DE, Western Michigan

My take: While others see running back and linebacker as a need, defensive end is a need too, especially when factoring in the departures in free agency of Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler Jr., and with DeMarcus Lawrence in the final year of his contract. Kneeland had 13 sacks and 28 tackles for loss in his career, but never topped more than 4.5 in a season.

When will he be expected to get regular playing time?: It has to happen as a rookie. He fits a style that new coordinator Mike Zimmer likes in his defensive ends with his size, but he has work to do as a pass-rusher. The Cowboys have to replace 446 snaps from Armstrong and 270 snaps from Fowler. Sam Williams, a second-round pick in 2022, will get the chance he has wanted and get more action with Lawrence and Micah Parsons. After that, the pickings are slim, especially since last year’s fourth-round pick, Junior Fehoko, did not play a snap as a rookie.

play0:38Cooper Beebe’s NFL draft profile

Take a look at some of the best plays from Kansas State guard Cooper Beebe.

Round 3, No. 73 (via Detroit): Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State

My take: With Zack Martin potentially entering the final year of his time with the Cowboys, Beebe can be seen as a future starter at guard. There are some who believe he can play center, which is a need for the Cowboys even as they profess faith in Brock Hoffman. At Kansas State, however, he played every spot but center, although he saw time there in practices. He has the credentials as a two-time Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Will he start as a rookie? He might be given the chance if the Cowboys want to take a look at him as a center. On Thursday, executive vice president Stephen Jones was asked about the in-house center, Hoffman, who started one game last season: “Whoever comes to compete against him better bring their lunch pail, because he’s serious about it.” Beebe played right and left tackle and right and left guard and gave up just five sacks in 1,488 snaps. At 6-foot-4, 335 pounds, he has the size to play center, as well as the movement skills. But the fact that he has yet to do it might mean it is best to be patient.

play0:50Marist Liufau’s NFL draft profile

Relive some of the best highlights from Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau.

Round 3, No. 87: Marist Liufau, LB, Notre Dame

My take: The Cowboys signed Eric Kendricks in free agency, but linebacker was still a major need even with last year’s third-round pick DeMarvion Overshown coming back from a torn ACL. He started the final 25 games of his career at Notre Dame and had 44 tackles, six tackles for loss and three sacks. He was a pre-draft visitor to the Cowboys, which has been a precursor to the team selecting players in recent years.

Is this a pick for depth or does it fill a hole?: Maybe both as a rookie. Zimmer has Kendricks, whom he coached in Minnesota, to help teach the system to the young linebackers, like Overshown, Damone Clark and now, Liufau. He can help in coverage, which is important against the tight ends the Cowboys will see, but he will also have the chance to be a core special teamer. With the change in the kickoff rules this year, the Cowboys will have to have players who can cover a lot of ground. At the very least, that’s what he can do to help.

Round 5 No. 174: Caelen Carson, DB, Wake Forest

My take: The running back wait continues, but Carson was under consideration by the Cowboys at pick No. 73 when they took Beebe. He did not record an interception in each of his final two seasons and had just three for his career, but he had 42 tackles, one tackle for loss, eight pass deflections, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery last season. With Trevon Diggs coming off a torn ACL and Stephon Gilmore currently unsigned, cornerback was a need for the Cowboys even if they had re-signed Jourdan Lewis.

Round 6: No. 216: Ryan Flournoy, WR, Southeast Missouri State

My take: The running back wait continues as the Cowboys go with Flournoy, who performed well against better competition at the Senior Bowl. He is older, turning 25 in October, he caught 118 passes for 1,823 yards and 13 touchdowns in two years at Southeast Missouri. The Cowboys have CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks and Jalen Tolbert as their top three receivers and have a role for KaVontae Turpin and like Jalen Brooks’ ability. Martavis Bryant ended last season on the practice squad and will have a chance to show if he can recapture the ability he showed in Pittsburgh before a series of suspensions. At 6-2, 205 pounds, Flournoy has the size the Cowboys like in their receivers.

Round 7, No. 233: Nathan Thomas, OT, Louisiana

My take: At this point of a draft, it’s about traits. At 6-5, 334 pounds, he was a two-year starter. This is the third offensive lineman the Cowboys have taken, but the first on Day 3. The Cowboys have used picks on the final day on Richards, Waletzko, Ball, Matt Farniok and Tyler Biadasz since Mike McCarthy took over as coach. Only Biadasz, a fourth-rounder, developed into a starter. Thomas could have some position flexibility as a guard, too.

Round 7, No. 244: Justin Rogers, DT, Auburn

My take: Defensive tackle is a need. The Cowboys lost Johnathan Hankins in free agency and Mazi Smith, their first-round pick last year, did not produce much as a rookie and is coming back from shoulder surgery. A seventh-round pick does not prevent the Cowboys from looking at a veteran defensive tackle. Rogers is 6-3, 346 pounds, so he would have the size to help the run defense. At Kentucky and Auburn he had 94 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three sacks.