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Revisiting The Draft Needs Of The Dallas Cowboys

I had a lot of fun taking a first look at what I thought were the draft needs and priorities for the Cowboys. It got a lot of attention and, most importantly, a lot of feedback. After digesting some of what I have read there and in the various and sundry other draft articles here on BTB and elsewhere, I am going to do a revised and expanded look at the draft needs, and start to put a little bit of strategy into the mix.

This is still all for fun, because as much as I would like to believe that Jason Garrett and the Jones family pore over my articles to benefit from my wisdom, I know that they don't have a clue who I am and could not possibly care less. But in our hearts, we all like to dream what we would do, sitting in the Dallas war room with the phone to the draft in front of us and the final call in our hands as the team goes on the clock.

So let me share what I would do, and how my thoughts have changed since I wrote the first article. Mostly, I'm hoping to get some other takes on things, and obviously there might be some chances to revisit this in the future, but that will depend on having something interesting to say. Which kind of puts it in your hands. After all, I'm doing this because of the 600+ comments the first look got.

And, well, because I want to.

Jump! Jump! Jump!

First, a quick review of my original "wish list" for the draft, based strictly on the Dallas picks as they currently exist.

  1. CB
  2. Pass rushing OLB
  3. G/C
  4. ILB
  5. QB
  6. DE or CB
  7. NT, DE (if CB in 6), or CB (if DE in 6)

You can already see how I tend to put some conditional things in there with the way I put the 6th and 7th spot.

I'm not going to redo the way I set the priorities, just note how my thinking has changed as go through each round.

First, I am no longer committed to a cornerback in the first round. I have developed a lean towards putting more priority on the pass rush than the secondary. In addition, this draft is considered to be very deep in cornerbacks, so the team is likely to still be able to get good value at this position in the second or third round.

Second, I am becoming more and more convinced by the David DeCastro proponents. He is by all reports a rarity, a guard that is deserving of a high to mid first round pick. In essence, he is going to become a key to figuring out the first two picks.

Let me put up a table to make it a little easier to follow what I am doing.

Round DeCastro available No DeCastro
1 DeCastro Best pass rusher
2 Best pass rusher G/C or CB
3 CB CB or G/C
4 DL or LB DL or LB
7 Defensive BPA Defensive BPA

If DeCastro is available, he is the number one pick. If he is not there, then the first round pick will be for the best pass rusher available. This could be a DT, DE or OLB, as long as he is high enough on the Cowboys board. What they take in the first or second round will drive the selection in round four.

Now, the second round follows from that. If the team got DeCastro in round one, then they should look for the best pass rusher left in the second round. If they didn't get Decastro, then they look for a guard/center or cornerback in round two. This is where BPA and need blur together a bit. A G/C would be the preferred choice here, but not if you have to reach past a good cornerback.

The third round is a cornerback, unless in the second column you went with one in round two. Then you go G/C here.

Now, the fourth round is based on what kind of pass rusher was picked in round one or two. If you got an OLB, you go DT/DE here. If you took a DT/DE, this round takes the best linebacker available. This can be an ILB or OLB, going with BPA here, if Anthony Spencer is still with the team. I would assume that if he has a new contract, it is because Rob Ryan has decided he is has value on the outside. If he is gone at this point, then OLB would probably be the priority here.

Fifth round is time to look for a developmental quarterback IF there is good value at this point, someone like Case Keenum out of Houston who has shown he can move the ball. If, however, the pickings at this point are slim, then the team should move to getting another cornerback. The same happens in the sixth round. If no QB looks good there, go best defensive BPA, and the seventh round just becomes a BPA choice, as far as the team can determine that late.

One caveat. The idea of BPA starts to get mushy as you get into the later rounds. This is to a certain extent a best guess. Sometimes, the team may get to the fifth or sixth round and see a player they think is a clear steal at that level, but more often, there are several players that an argument can be made for. Here, the needs of the team can drive the choice, but the staff should not reach or go for too much of a project.

My draft preferences are still for five defensive players and two offensive. This is without any idea of what free agents may have been signed to this point. That, of course, could totally change things if one or more of the team needs has been clearly answered. But without knowing this, those are my thoughts - today.

Tomorrow is another day, or so someone once said.

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