Last year around this time, Dallas Cowboys fans were turning their attention to the draft. The Cowboys were 4-8 at this point in the 2015 schedule, and were about to drop four consecutive games to close out an abysmal season. The draft couldn’t arrive fast enough. This year, at 11-1 and already in the playoffs, the draft seems like a distant point in the future, with little relation to the here and now. We got a playoff run to worry about first.
Still, on a Saturday afternoon with limited college football to watch, let’s contemplate the draft of those college players. Not specifically individual players, there will be plenty of time to talk about everyone’s favorite pet cat for the draft later (meaning in the comments). Instead, let’s talk about needs. If you asked any fan what the Cowboys need in the next draft, just about all of them would say Dallas needs a pass rusher, or two, or three. The Cowboys need help on defense, but they really need help getting after opposing quarterbacks.
Unlike last year, when the Cowboys were sitting with the fourth-overall pick in the draft, this year you can expect them to draft later in the first round. If everything goes as planned it will be very late in the first round, maybe even last! The downside of winning is the fact that the players you covet, specifically talented edge rushers, can be pretty much picked over. You can be reaching for players that you hope will make good. Well, it turns out the Cowboys are a little bit lucky in this regard.
The 2017 draft just happens to be stocked with talented edge rushers according to the draftniks.
1. Is this draft better on offense or defense?
[Mel] Kiper: This is a defensive draft. It's incredibly strong there -- 15 of my top 25 prospects are defenders, including eight of the top 10. And it's deep too, with pass-rushers and defensive backs galore. On offense, this draft is lacking in premier talent at positions that are usually picked in the top five: offensive tackles and quarterbacks. There just isn't much there.
12. If my team needs a ______, we're in luck in this draft.
[Mel] Kiper: Pass-rusher. The class is littered with talented rushers -- for both a 3-4 and 4-3 scheme. The next-deepest positions: tight end and center.
The 2017 NFL draft should be loaded with talented edge defenders who can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
...trust me in the 2017 NFL Draft there will be pass rushers SIGNIFICANTLY higher rated still on the board at the same point in the draft. How can I be this confident?
As I began to dig into the tape and study of these outside edge rushers, I was floored. These guys aren’t ‘try hard’ guys that have ‘excellent motors’ or are ‘powerful guys with very little athletic upside.’ No, these guys in the 2017 NFL Draft are guys that are fast-twitch, athletic freaks, guys that can play either on the right side, left side, or as OLBs in a 3-4 system. I’ve already seen 10-12 edge rushers that have borderline 1st round grades, and I’m absolutely convinced they can be 10+ sack a year guys. Many of them will drop into the 2nd round and possibly even 3rd round.
A premium has been placed on edge rushers for decades, but rarely have they been as coveted as they are now, and this draft class has a stockpile of standouts.
What seems clear already is that this is going to be a good year if your team needs defensive help. There are a handful of potential top-10 edge rushers, with a solid group behind them.
Music to our ears. Everybody thinks the 2017 draft is filled with pass rushers, and for a team desperate for help in that area, and likely to be picking later in the top few rounds, that means everything.
Now, feel free to discuss guys you’d want Dallas to go after.