Under Review: How Good Was 2018 Draft Class?

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Before we turn the page completely on this season, let’s go back and recall some of the best moments, players, games and individual plays that made the season so memorable. Let’s also start focusing on the offseason plans and try to see how the Cowboys can take the next step in 2019.

The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com have put together a 10-part series – Under Review – which continues today with the biggest surprise of the 2018 season.

Bryan Broaddus: Working on the draft the way I do for DallasCowboys.com, I had a feeling that the 2018 draft class for the club had real possibilities. It appeared very early that they had a plan in what direction they were going with their first overall selection in Leighton Vander Esch. As much as I would have liked it to have been Derwin James or Calvin Ridley going with the linebacker was the correct move. It worked out for them extremely well in that not only did Vander Esch play well but it elevated Jaylon Smith’s game as well. The club got sizeable contributions from Connor Williams, Michael Gallup and Dalton Schultz as well. The guy that was inactive the entire season was Mike White and I was just as high on him as I was of the group I just mentioned. You never know what you’re going to get by drafting a quarterback but it’s a bad business to be in because you never know when you’re going to hit on that guy.

Rob Phillips: It took one season for Leighton Vander Esch to continue the Cowboys’ run of first-rounders with All-Pro credentials. LVE is now the fifth in six years. I believe Connor Williams will be fine at guard. He just needs a full offseason to add weight, just as Tyron Smith did after his first year with the club. The biggest steal might be getting Michael Gallup in the third round after considering him in the second. He got more confident and assertive as the year went on. He’s exactly what this offense needs: a speedy option on the outside to complement Amari Cooper. The Cowboys have some pieces in place to really stretch defenses moving forward.

Mickey Spagnola: The Cowboys hit this one out of the park. Given how valuable Leighton Vander Esch became, leading the team in tackles and earning Pro Bowl honors while replacing the injured Sean Lee, that second-round pick Connor Williams grew into a solid starting left guard by time the playoffs came around, that receiver Michael Gallup ended up a starter and soared the second half of the season and that fourth-rounder Dalton Schutz eventually became the starting tight end after Geoff Swaim’s season-ending wrist surgery, what more could you ask for from a draft class. Oh, and let’s add this: The Cowboys used their first fifth-round pick to trade up in the 2017 draft to select Xavier Woods in the sixth round. He only became their fulltime starting free safety, essentially five starters in five rounds of the 2018 draft.

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