Just a few weeks ago, it became public knowledge to anyone who watched the Combine that only a few edge rushers stood out. Of course, Myles Garrett remains the odds-on favorite for the first overall player selected but what about the guys that will be in reach when Dallas selects?
As good as Jordan Willis (top Combine performer & second DE in SPARQ) performed, nobody thinks he’s a true first-round selection as he's a bit raw but talented. Tyus Bowser and T.J. Watt may also be a bit rich at 28 though they stood out as well. After them, everyone fell well below their anticipated Combine performances.
It certainly seems as if folks are backing away from edge rushers as of late. Despite the evident need for the Cowboys to find a more dependable edge presence, these results have surely dampened Cowboys’ fans and draft enthusiasts from feeling confident in an edge rusher at 28.
When you’re picking 28th, you’re typically drafting a second-round talent anyway, although guys like Dane Brugler and Bryan Broaddus have gone as far to say that this draft offers up the most first-round talents they’ve seen in a while. Brugler has 25 guys ranked in the first round when the norm is actually 15-18 in most drafts.
With that said, Broaddus and Brugler were also not as impressed with the edge rushers not named Garrett. Before that Combine, we drafted Charles Harris to the Cowboys at 28 twice. Now, it seems as Harris is not as near the athlete as we first thought and certainly doesn't fit that SPARQ profile that O.C.C. has shown the Cowboys to value when selecting players.
The question is: How much do we value the SPARQ and Combine scores? If we value them a lot; the Cowboys could be in trouble finding their 'War Daddy', if that's the plan. This year's draft is even harder to predict than last year's when the Cowboys possessed the fourth-overall pick.
They need help all over the defense; be it cornerback, edge rusher, safety and even linebacker could be mentioned. They need bodies in their secondary just to fill out the roster. Cornerback is perhaps the deepest position in the class. Safety has some intriguing prospects but it's hard to see this team valuing the position enough to draft it early having already spent a first-round pick on Byron Jones.
Though there are some interesting linebacker prospects, Dallas is super confident in Sean Lee, Damien Wilson, and the recovery and debut of Jaylon Smith. That leaves edge rusher as a big question mark. So, what do you do? Are you scared to draft any of those potentially available edge guys at 28? Knowing how valued the position is, teams will surely take some chances.
The longer you wait in this draft, the more likely you hurt the chances of getting that 'guy' you truly need. Jerry Jones has said he will be aggressive to find that ‘war daddy’ but what does that really mean? They will meet with a ton of guys between now and draft day. We know that the draft is where they plan on upgrading the position.
Dallas would love to rely on their own guys but they still know that the talent level must be upgraded. Charles Tapper (back issues), DeMarcus Lawrence (back issues), Randy Gregory (suspended for 2017), Benson Mayowa (limited exposure), Tyrone Crawford (shoulder issues), Damontre Moore (off-field issues) and David Irving (limited exposure) all have question marks. So, they have the bodies at defensive end, it's just hard to rely on them due to various reasons.
As hard as it is to feel super confident, the Cowboys should address this position early. They've had luck in their first rounds in the past several years, taking players that were undoubtedly among the best or the best at their respective position.
Seeing how edge rusher will likely be a gamble for anyone that doesn’t get Myles Garrett, you most likely need to find your guy early. If you don't, the worry is that you may be left with guys with traits but in need of a ton of development.
Though the confidence is sky-high with Rod Marinelli and his abilities to turn guys like Terrell McClain (injury prone) and Mayowa (led team with six sacks) into quality starters, It's time to upgrade the talent pool. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the right time to get Marinelli a more mold-able talent at the edge position instead of relying on him to make chicken salad out of you know what.
Will Dallas defy the results of these Combine and SPARQ scores for an edge rusher in the first round? Or will they decide to be safer and take a corner or offensive player? It’s the question of the century right now and there are so many ways to go for this team.