IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys had eight selections in the 2015 draft. Here's a closer look at how their picks have contributed:
2015 draft class:
Starters: Byron Jones (4 starts), La'el Collins (5), Geoff Swaim (1)
On the cusp: On the week the Cowboys inducted Darren Woodson into the Ring of Honor, they put Jones in the starting lineup at safety and had him play the nickel spot, the same roles Woodson filled so well in his career. Jones was a cornerback when he was drafted, but the Cowboys kept open the option of him playing safety. He has done a good job covering tight ends, like Rob Gronkowski, and is a willing tackler. He has shown nice range, and coordinator Rod Marinelli said he can't remember a rookie defensive back making such a favorable impression. The Cowboys never really replaced Woodson, whose last year was 2003, but Jones is the closest to a long-term answer.
Undrafted free agents they like: It's difficult to call Collins an undrafted free agent considering his status leading into the draft, but he has started the last four games at left guard and helped solidify the running game. He still has a lot to learn but has the physical abilities to dominate. Lucky Whitehead had a key kickoff return against the Philadelphia Eagles and has been used more offensively as the weeks have gone on. David Irving signed as an undrafted free agent with Kansas City but the Cowboys poached him from the Chiefs' practice squad. He has the look of a solid rotational player and spot starter if he develops.
My take on class: It's easy to like everything about Jones, and while Collins might not be a draft pick, he figures to be a long-term solution, too. Gregory's ankle injury really hurt his development, and he will be the key to this class' long-term success. If he can be a difference-making pass-rusher, then the Cowboys hit on three first-round talents. The class has not been able to contribute much because of injury (Green, Nzeocha) or opportunity (Swaim, Wilson). But to grade the first nine games, it's a C, with the chance to improve greatly.
Mel Kiper's take on class: They have to be thrilled with Jones, who was one of the more versatile defenders in the draft and lived up to that billing in Dallas. He'll make some mistakes, but he's been solid. Collins wasn't technically drafted because of off-field questions, but he's a first-round talent they courted, and so far, so good. The big question is can Gregory become a player, or was he way too rich a risk in Round 2? We might find out this season. Remember, he wasn't just trying to change his life off the field; he also needed a lot of physical growth to hold up.