Meet the Cowboys’ 2024 NFL Draft class: Grades for all 8 picks

May 5, 2024

Jerry Jones in the middle, Tyler Guyton, Marshawn Kneeland, Coach Mike McCarthy around him, Dallas Cowboys wallpaper in the background

In the intense NFL Draft, each pick carries immense expectations and hopes. For the Dallas Cowboys, the 2024 NFL Draft presented an opportunity to recalibrate and strengthen their roster for the challenges ahead. Armed with eight picks, the Cowboys set out to target critical areas for improvement while also enriching their squad with depth and talent. Now, as the dust begins to settle and evaluations commence, let’s delve into each selection and analyze the Cowboys’ performance in this year’s draft.

Cowboys’ 2024 NFL Draft Strategy

Following Tyron Smith’s departure to the Jets in free agency, the Cowboys found themselves without a left tackle. This amplified the urgency to secure a replacement. While Tyler Smith could potentially fill the gap by shifting from left guard, the Cowboys were eyeing a first-round tackle from the formidable 2024 class to fortify their offensive line. They got exactly that.

With tackle being the primary concern, positions such as center, linebacker, and running back closely trailed in terms of priority. Dallas sought upgrades, particularly at the linebacker position. They craved greater size and proficiency in run defense. Moreover, the departure of Tyler Biadasz to the Commanders highlighted the pressing need for a new center. Additionally, after witnessing their interior defensive line struggle in the playoffs, bolstering the defensive tackle position emerged as another imperative for the Cowboys. Running back was also viewed as a priority. However, the Cowboys left the draft without any additions to their backfield.

Jerry Jones, Cowboys, 2024 NFL Draft

Here we’ll look at the Dallas Cowboys’ 2024 NFL Draft class and provide our grades for all of their 8 draft picks.

Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Grade: B

Tyler Guyton emerges as a prospect for the future. Hailing from Oklahoma, he showcased his prowess as a right tackle, safeguarding the blindside of his left-handed quarterback. Despite excelling in size, speed, and physicality, Guyton requires refinement in technical aspects like hand technique and footwork. However, there’s optimism surrounding Guyton’s development. This is especially true as he transitions to left tackle in Dallas.

Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan

Grade: B

Opting to retain their pick at No. 54, the Cowboys secured Marshawn Kneeland from Western Michigan. This initially raised eyebrows among those fixated on immediate needs. However, Kneeland’s selection makes sense upon closer examination. With key depth departures in free agency, Kneeland’s stature and prowess as a dominant force in run defense and pass-rush scenarios add solidity to Dallas’ EDGE rotation. Sure, he lacks flashy pass-rush moves. That said, Kneeland’s presence as a tone-setter aligns well with the Cowboys’ defensive ethos.

Western Michigan defensive lineman Marshawn Kneeland (DL41) works out during the 2024 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State

Grade: A

In a potential draft steal, the Cowboys snagged Cooper Beebe with the No. 74 pick. This was acquired from the Lions. Renowned for his academic and on-field excellence at Kansas State, Beebe’s versatility adds intrigue to the Cowboys’ offensive line. Yes, uncertainties persist regarding Beebe’s role, whether as a successor to Zach Martin or Tyler Biadasz. Still, his presence promises an intense training camp battle, indicative of Dallas’ commitment to fostering competition and depth.

Marist Liufau, LB, Notre Dame

Grade: B

With the No. 87 pick, the Cowboys opted for Notre Dame linebacker Marist Liufau. They want to capitalize on his size, speed, and coverage prowess. Standing as the draft’s final viable linebacker with starting potential, Liufau’s 34-inch arms enhance his ability to disrupt passing lanes. He has also shown physicality in run defense. His selection bolsters Dallas’ linebacker corps. He promises versatility in middle and strong-side linebacker roles.

Caelen Carson, CB, Wake Forest

Grade: A

Despite a wait till the fifth round, the Cowboys’ pick at No. 174, Caelen Carson, emerged as a surprising gem from Wake Forest. Carson’s proficiency in press-man coverage and contributions in run defense align seamlessly with Dallas’ defensive philosophy. With Mike Zimmer’s endorsement, Carson’s selection adds depth and reliability to the Cowboys’ cornerback rotation.

Ryan Flournoy, WR, SE Missouri State

Grade: C

At No. 216, the Cowboys opted for Ryan Flournoy. He possesses size and versatility. However, Flournoy’s past knee injury and age raise concerns regarding his immediate impact. That said, his potential to contribute as a wideout or slot receiver aligns with the Cowboys’ preference for versatile offensive weapons.

Nathan Thomas, OL, Louisiana-Lafayette

Grade: C

Despite initial puzzlement, the Cowboys’ selection of Nathan Thomas at No. 233 reinforces their commitment to fortifying the offensive line. Transitioning from left tackle to guard, Thomas’ physicality and play strength offer promise within confined spaces. That said, challenges in open-field scenarios persist.

Justin Rogers, DL, Auburn

Grade: B

Closing out their draft with Justin Rogers at No. 244, the Cowboys secured a physically imposing defensive tackle from Auburn. Rogers’ aptitude for clogging run lanes enhances Dallas’ defensive front. This pick underscores their emphasis on physicality and gap control.

Looking Ahead

In conclusion, the Dallas Cowboys’ 2024 NFL Draft class embodies a meticulous approach to roster enhancement. They blended strategic selections with an eye toward future development. From Tyler Guyton’s potential as a cornerstone left tackle to the unexpected gems found in later rounds like Caelen Carson, each pick contributes to the team’s overarching vision of sustained success. Sure, immediate impacts may vary. However, the Cowboys’ commitment to fortifying key positions and fostering competition bodes well for their quest to reclaim dominance in the league. As training camp approaches and the rookies integrate into the team, anticipation builds for the unfolding chapters of their NFL journey. With each player bringing unique strengths and aspirations to the table, the Cowboys’ draft class stands poised to leave an indelible mark on the franchise’s storied legacy.