IRVING, Texas –The NFL Draft has come and gone just like that.
The Cowboys were scheduled to get seven players but ended up with eight, thanks to a last-minute trade in the seventh round.
So as the rookies get ready to come to Valley Ranch this weekend for the start of a three-day minicamp, let's take a closer look how these new players can fit into their roles, along with their overall chances of making the team.
Ryan Russell5th round, DE, Purdue
Russell was the second defensive end drafted by the Cowboys last weekend, along with Nebraska's Randy Gregory. Russell is more of a left defensive end who should get plenty of opportunities to shine, despite now joining what seems to be a crowded position. He needs to make sure he can stay healthy and take advantage of his reps because there will be stiff competition along with guys like Ben Gardner and Jack Crawford on that left side for the backup roles to Jeremy Mincey. His fifth-round status will undoubtedly give him an edge if it's close.
Mark Nzeocha7th round, LB, Wyoming
The Cowboys obviously like the upside and potential of Nzeocha, who not only suffered a knee injury midway through last year at Wyoming, but only has about four years of football experience. He's still learning the game, so that, coupled with his injury, lowered his draft stock. From a production and motor standpoint, the Cowboys have to like the starting point of Nzeocha, who figures to be a special-teams player right away, with the chance to provide some depth at linebacker. The position now looks a bit crowded with the likes of Jasper Brinkley, Andrew Gachkar, Cam Lawrence and Will Smith all vying for backup roles.
Laurence Gibson7th round, OT, Virginia Tech
At this point in the draft, you're just looking to find some traits the Cowboys can work with to develop. The offensive tackle position, even with the drafting of Chaz Green, remained thin and that's why Gibson has a shot to stick around. No backup tackle already on the roster has ever played in a game, so Gibson and Green won't be too far behind in terms of competition. Gibson has some experience playing both sides of the line, which is always valuable when trying to earn a roster spot.
7th Round, TE, Texas
While the Cowboys surprised many by trading a sixth-round pick next year to get back into the draft for Swaim, it's actually a position of need, at least in terms of needing backups. Swaim has a chance to compete with James Hanna for the third spot, especially since Hanna is entering the final year of his contract and there is a chance the Cowboys will be looking down the road at that backup spot. Swaim didn't get many chances to catch the ball at Texas, but his college tape didn't look bad. He's got a few nice catches on the reel and has a big enough frame to develop into an adequate blocker. The Cowboys obviously didn't feel confident that Swaim would pick the Cowboys in free agency, so made the move to go and draft him instead.
On Monday, we listed the Cowboys' first four picks of the draft. (LINK)