The 2016 NFL draft is still 98 days away, which means countless mock drafts and months of hand wringing about dozens of prospects. But there's a way to significantly shorten that process, which comes to you courtesy of Gil Brandt, who in one fell swoop narrows down the Cowboys' choices to two prospects.
Gil Brandt, former Vice President of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960 to 1988, isn't just anybody, and his voice still carries a lot of weight for many Cowboys fans and the folks at Valley Ranch, so his championing of Joey Bosa and DeForest Bruckner has got to raise some eyebrows.
Speaking on a Dallas Morning News podcast, Brandt suggested that to reach the playoffs in 2016, the Cowboys would need to pick a player with their top pick that would be an immediate contributor and not sit behind Tony Romo for a few years. And Brandt sees that immediate contributor as a defensive player.
I would say they need more players on defense. I think they're OK [on] offense, but I think they need more players on defense.
Arguing that the talent gap between the first-round players and later-round players is largest for defensive linemen, Brandt suggested that the choice for the Cowboys at No. 4 will probably come down to two defensive ends, Ohio State's Joey Bosa and Oregon's DeForest Buckner.
"One is very angular. Joey Bosa is a taller, thinner guy whose father was a No. 1 pick in the draft and is represented by the same man that represented his father. Buckner is represented by an agent in New York and is a very, very competitive player and is dominant. He was dominant at Oregon. It's one of those things where you pick your poison, because I think they're both good and it just depends on who you like better or who your coaches feel are better."
The Cowboys have already invested their last two second-round picks in edge rushers, so following up those picks with a high first-rounder for another defensive lineman may feel a bit much. But after investing heavily into their offensive line, the Cowboys today perfectly understand the benefits of winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. And while they are in a position to win that battle consistently on offense, they have failed to do so on defense. Adding a blue-chip talent to the defensive line might just be the ticket for the Cowboys to own the line of scrimmage on offense and defense.
And from there, anything is possible.