I can’t remember being so out of touch with what the Cowboys are going to do in the first round of the draft. So many things could happen that wouldn’t surprise me. The Adoree Jackson rumor seems to be picking up, but where do these rumors come from? Is there a mole inside The Star? I can’t imagine information this important getting leaked before the draft.
Will the Cowboys take a defensive end in the first round or will it be a cornerback? That’s been the biggest conundrum regarding the draft over the last two months. Here are five thoughts as we enter the 2017 NFL draft.
#1 Sleeper War Daddy?
Thought one: The Cowboys will have a couple edge-rushing options they are hoping for at pick 28. Takkarist McKinley and Charles Harris are the two players who float my boat. But if the Cowboys don’t grab a defensive end in the first two rounds, people should focus their attention towards Youngstown State’s pass rusher, Derek Rivers. While Jordan Willis gets praised a lot for his athleticism, Rivers isn’t too shabby himself.
Watch how quickly this kid gets around the edge.
Two strong defensive backs followed by an edge rusher with some upside isn’t a bad way to start the draft.
#2 Watt You Talkin’ Bout Willis?
I can’t for the life of me muster up enough love to justify taking T.J. Watt or Jordan Willis with the Cowboys first-round pick. Watt, in particular, has drawn a huge amount of interest in recent weeks from a lot of respectable people who follow the Cowboys, but it’s not coming from here. His one year body of work isn’t as bothersome as the reason for it - two knee injures. But even with two good knees, he’s got a lot of things going on that are scary. His lanky frame brings visions of getting tossed around like a rag doll from NFL tackles. A guy that tall needs more bulk. But the biggest drawback is not having great snap anticipation or the quick twitchiness that is needed to get around his blocker. And Watt doesn’t swat. His hand usage needs improvement so that he doesn’t become wasted once the tackle gets into his body.
Watt’s potential is intriguing, but not enough to invest the 28th overall pick in him. Should the Cowboys end up taking Watt, I will flip my switch in a hurry and be his biggest fan. If Rod Marinelli loves him, then just like that...so do I. But until that happens, I’m not hot for Watt.
#3 Get Back In The Dance
Day two will be a huge day for Dallas. They will have a couple important decisions to make on Friday, but it would be even nicer if they would have a third decision. The Cowboys need to try to trade some future draft capital for an extra pick this year. I touched on this last month and I’m still a big proponent of it.
What would be great is if the Cowboys can score themselves an extra pick in the top 100. One way to achieve this is to trade away some of next year’s draft equity. That’s not a practice I would normally subscribe to, but there are some good reasons to give it a good look this draft. One of those reasons is the nice compensatory return the Cowboys will bring in next year. Having so many of their own free agents sign for sizable deals means the Cowboys will get some good comp picks in 2018.
While technically it is impossible to trade picks you don’t have yet, the Cowboys have a real good idea that they’re coming. What they can do is trade actual picks instead. The Cowboys 2018 draft picks are going to be loaded as they should have over 10 picks to work with. Why not use some of that draft capital to try to snag an extra third round pick?
Even if they can’t get back into the early part of the draft, even working a deal to get a fifth-round pick could be valuable.
#4 Rico Suave
This draft is deep with tight end talent and it seems like an ideal place to look for Jason Witten’s successor, yet I am not even slightly interested in any of it. That’s because the Cowboys already have him on the roster.
It’s like when Happy Gilmore learned to putt. Somebody is getting better.
Who knows, maybe that Rico Gathers pick turns out to be a gem to where it could save that otherwise dreadful 2016 draft the Cowboys had. Fingers crossed.
#5 Be Ready To Have Your Mind Blown
Something freaky is going to happen, but we just have no clue what it’s going to be. Dallas will do something that people won’t stop talking about, whether it is met with strong criticism or garners a lot of praise. What if the first four rounds go down like this?
Round 1 and 2: your favorite edge rusher and defensive back (in any order).
Round 3: CB Sidney Jones, Washington
Round 4: CB Gareon Conley, Ohio State* (see discussion below)
Could you imagine the upside potential of the Dallas defense down the road? The Cowboys could draft mascots the rest of the way and it would still be such a ridiculous haul for 2017.
*People are comparing the Gareon Conley situation to the La’el Collins situation a couple years ago. In this case, sources around the NFL seem to believe that Conley will be drafted at some point, perhaps as early as the third round. You can bet the Cowboys will have their best guys on it.
Make no mistake about it, this Conley situation is a very serious one. Teams don’t avoid a player like the plague for just anything. There is so much that is unknown about this situation and the team that does take a chance on him could have it blow up in their face. Even if he ends up being completely exonerated of any wrong-doing, it’s going to take some time for the truth to come out. And in the meantime, that’s a lot of drama for his new team to have to deal with. After the mess with Greg Hardy and even the ongoing charade with the Ezekiel Elliott investigation, it might seem ludicrous that the Cowboys would entertain such an idea. But rest assured, the Cowboys will do some leg work here and come up with a best play.
Those are my final thoughts. What is the biggest thing lingering on your mind as we creep up on the big event?