New Cowboys draftees ready to pitch in
IRVING, Texas -- Friday evening, the Dallas Cowboys didn't get the best player at a certain position; instead, they got the best players on their draft boards.
Dallas made two selections on Friday, getting linebacker Bruce Carter from North Carolina in the second round, with the 40th pick overall, and Oklahoma running back DeMarco Murray in the third round, the 71st selection.
Carter, who started in 44 of 49 games for North Carolina, is coming off a reconstruction of his knee that caused him to miss working out for teams. But famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews has cleared Carter to start working out. He might not be ready to practice until the middle of training camp.
Murray, who rushed for 1,214 yards his senior season, was the highest-rated player on the Cowboys draft board in the third round. He also went through some injury issues, but most of those came when making special-team plays.
"Our definition of a second round player is they have to be ultimately and quickly a starter and we view him potentially that at some point," owner Jerry Jones said.
Former Cowboys coach and Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer was called to give the team his assessment of what Murray is and he was impressed.
Cowboys officials said they are not concerned about Carter's knee and don't expect him to enter the starting lineup in 2011. Carter, who played outside linebacker in college, will move to the weakside linebacker spot in the 3-4 defense behind Keith Brooking.
Jones said Brooking will be on the roster in 2011.
Carter will also be asked to play special teams. At UNC he blocked seven kicks, six punts and one field goal and returned four blocked punts for a 7.75 average.
"I was able to get my hands on a couple of blocks and just help my team out any way I can," Carter said. "Just give a great effort and that is one of the things coach [Butch] Davis taught us just to go out and give everything you got, you never know what could happen."
Carter's knee injury pushed him from a potential first round selection to a second or third round pick. Several teams voiced concern to Carter about his knee, especially with him unable to work out to prove to those teams he can eventually get on the field, which proved frustrating.
"It was frustrating, you hear it over and over again," Carter said. "But it is something you just have to deal with it and explain it and not get frustrated with. You just have to go out there and tell it like it is."
Murray is projected as the No. 3 running back who can also return punts, though he's never done it in a regular season game. Some in the organization believe Murray can push Tashard Choice for some significant playing time this season.
Jones has said he wants the No. 3 back to participate on special teams, and Choice struggled at it the last two seasons.
Murray said he will embrace the role of playing on special teams.
"The last time I made a tackle was the Senior Bowl," Murray said.
A big question regarding Murray was his durability. He missed the last two games of his redshirt freshman season with a dislocated knee cap and endured other injuries including a knee problem toward the end of his 2010 season.
"People always want to mention that," Murray said. "I missed four games in four years and that was in the beginning of my career and had no problems after that and I definitely bounced back and carried myself well. I'm 100 percent."
Saturday, the Cowboys have five picks remaining, including two in the seventh round.
Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.