Day two of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Dallas Cowboys have three new players for the roster. Here is a summation of what they have added, and a look at what they can still look to accomplish with their remaining four picks and the UDFA signings to follow.
Pick 28: DE Taco Charlton, Michigan
There was a lot of controversy surrounding the pick for fans. Many thought there were better options still available, and the much ballyhooed “process” seemed to be violated in the war room. But all indications from post-selection interviews were that head coach Jason Garrett was leading the charge to take Charlton.
It seemed that the pick was in some respects a case of playing it safe. Rather than go for a player that might have a higher ceiling, such as fan favorite T.J. Watt, the Cowboys opted for one with a very good floor, has the ability to play three downs, who fit a lot of the profile they prefer, and who comes from a 4-3 scheme. Being so late in the round made it very unlikely they would get a surefire star, so solid was the criteria here. Charlton also brings strong character and very good health, and with his relative lack of experience as a pass rusher, he should also have a lot of room for improvement with the coaching staff.
Dallas certainly invested heavily in the defensive line with their first-round pick. And the strategy involved in taking him included the way the talent was falling in the draft. The second day options at defensive back looked better than the remaining pass rushers. And the team also was taking into account the availability of second-year player Charles Tapper, who missed his rookie season due to injury. That means Charlton is not their only addition to the pass rush group, so they may not be as dependent on him making an immediate impact as they might have been. Now they will have to see how he fits on the field.
Pick 60: CB Chidobe Awuzie, Colorado
For a while, it was looking bad for the Cowboy’s draft strategy as the run on cornerbacks and safeties continued deep into the second round. But as Dallas’ turn drew near, a few key players from their invite list were still there, and they took perhaps the best of the remaining options with Awuzie. He has played all over the secondary and has a reputation as a hard hitter. And unlike the questions about the value of the Charlton pick, there seems to be a belief that Awuzie is a good value at his spot. He confirmed in an interview that the coaching staff had talked to him about playing corner, slot, and safety, and he is ready to go however they want to use him.
#Cowboys drafted my 43rd best player at pick No. 60. Thumbs up from me.— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 29, 2017
Our own Joseph Hatz agrees, and had Awuzie as one of his top five options for the second round, and Michael Sisemore also had him as a top target for the round in his post on best remaining players for Dallas to pursue.
The Cowboys stuck with their plan to go pass rush/defensive back with the first two rounds, and the second of the two makes the combo plate look better. (Awuzie’s nickname is Cheeto, so the food jokes are just gonna keep coming.) After years when the defense was seen as being neglected, they put their draft capital heavily on that side of the ball.
Pick 92: CB Jourdan Lewis, Michigan
And the stocking of the defense continued with an unexpected name in Lewis. He had a recent arrest for a domestic violence issue, which caused him to slide. But if the team has done a good job, they have grabbed a very good value with Lewis.
Lewis is the highest ranked CB but did not think investigation had cleared him yet. Was considered by many teams a late 1st before arrest.— Birddog26 (@Birddog26) April 29, 2017
As it was, he was ranked on various boards from the mid 40s to the mid 60s overall, and the CBS board had him as the tenth best corner in the draft, right behind Fabian Moreau, who went to Washington. He represents a bit of a risk because of the DV situation, but he is a very talented player who would likely project to the slot as his primary role. He brings a lot of attitude to the job as well. That may have something to do with the reports that the Cowboys were shopping Orlando Scandrick for a trade.
This is a remarkable turnaround for the secondary, which was seen after free agency as the biggest weakness for Dallas. Now they are willing to part with their veteran leader, and that may still come into play tomorrow. What is clear is that the Cowboys have gone hard to address the issues on defense.
What needs remain?
The big needs have been filled, with what looks like some real talent, especially in the secondary. There are still at least four picks to make, so what is left for the Cowboys to go after?
Quarterback - Dallas still has only Dak Prescott and Kellen Moore on the roster, so they may be looking for a developmental/backup level talent. The seventh round may be the sweet spot for this, locking up an arm they like so they don’t have to go into the UDFA market for him.
Offensive tackle - While they have Chaz Green and Byron Bell to compete to take Doug Free’s spot, they still might want to look for another option. It is a weak class there, but they still may find someone they want to look at.
Tight end - They resisted using one of their top three picks, but they still have some concerns about the depth behind Jason Witten, with James Hanna and Geoff Swaim coming off injury and Rico Gathers still very much an unknown quantity. This might be a priority for the fourth round.
Safety - Awuzie can play safety, and of course they have Byron Jones and the GOAT, Jeff Heath. But they may also want to get another safety. If the can find a player that fits their profile, they might want to pick him up late. And Stephen Jones said after the third round that there were still safeties the team liked on the board.
Wide receiver - Probably the least likely of all these positions. They usually go for wideouts for camp as UDFAs, especially with the strong group they already have in the room. But they might see one they feel is a still, especially in the sixth and seventh.
Running back - They may elect to go the UDFA route here, but there is a good chance they are looking for someone as a possible replacement for Alfred Morris.
Double dipping - They’ve already taken care of that at cornerback, but they will almost certainly have their eyes open for a pass rusher or even an interior defensive lineman that may slip through to the late rounds.
The big rounds are done, but don’t forget that they found Anthony Brown in the sixth round last year, so they are good at ferreting out talent others overlook. We will keep you up to date as the final picks roll in.