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Draft Central | 2024

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Marshawn Kneeland to Cowboys as 2nd-Round Pick


FRISCO, Texas — It was Tyler Guyton getting the call in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at the hand of the Dallas Cowboys — solving their dilemma at left tackle in the wake of losing Tyron Smith to the New York Jets in free agency — and Friday evening presented an opportunity for three picks after trading with the Detroit Lions to land the 73rd-overall pick.

But as they went on the clock with the 56th-overall selection, their second-round pick turned into a call to defensive end Marshawn Kneeland out of Western Michigan.

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

Three things to know:

  • Second-team All-MAC (2023)
  • Convert from tight end to linebacker, to defensive end
  • First team all-state selection as a high school senior

It's also key to note that he graded at a 9.08 on the Relative Athletic Score index.

Kneeland is a flat-out athlete.

With a run on positions that all but wiped out some top names the Cowboys had their eyes on, they opted to go to a less-heralded need on the roster by grabbing a defensive end — Kneeland entering the mix as someone who can counter the loss of Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler to the Washington Commanders in free agency; more so the former, considering the impact he'll be looked to have on special teams as well.

His play was stout enough to earn honors as a second-team All-MAC talent last season at Western Michigan, finishing that campaign with a career-high in tackles (57), sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (7.5), (2) forced fumbles and quarterback hurries (8).

The 6-foot-3, 267 lb. pass rusher has a frame that's ready-made for the NFL, and with a high motor to go along with it. He can bull rush, speed rush and effectively set the edge in run defense — all attributes the Cowboys can certainly benefit from.

He isn't the most athletic in his class, and will look to learn from Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence to refine his hand work, but makes up for his coachable opportunities with a notable work ethic and determination to win on every snap, often disrupting plays in the opposing backfield.

They attacked the position sooner than most would have considered, but the Cowboys believe they have their guy to tandem with Sam

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