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Cowboys Spend First Three Draft Picks Fixing A Depleted Defense

Jerry Jones went on record as wanting a War Daddy, but the front office seems to be laying the groundwork for something even bigger.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys pretty much telegraphed their intentions heading into the 2017 draft. Their pre-draft visit list was filled with pass rushers and defensive backs. They stuck to their guns, and stayed put with their draft picks, and have managed to re-stock a defense that was a trouble spot after free agency.

For starters, there was Taco Charlton. While he may or may not be the "war daddy" pass rusher that Jerry Jones envisioned when he addressed the media after the 2016 season, he is a man who can get after the quarterback.

The guy in the incoming class may not have the experience of his counterparts, but what he lacks in that area he makes up for in both size, 6'6" and 277 pounds, and in violence along the line of scrimmage. He takes the battle to his man and fights his way through blocks to get into opponents backfields. He might be raw but Charlton is driven to make his mark as he showed in his senior year at Michigan. Charlton is a defensive player whose stock is on the rise and the sky could be the limit.

Charlton is an ascending prospect with the size, length, athleticism and pass-rushing potential that NFL general managers dream of. What you see today might not be what you get. While his production coming out of college will be modest, he could become a substantially better player as a pro if he's committed to the weight room and willing to absorb coaching. High-impact defensive end with all-pro potential is his ceiling. His floor is solid starter.

At an absolute minimum the Cowboys now have a solid defensive end in house to build a front around. With Rod Marinelli and Leon Lett around to coach him up and the old 'drill sergeant' also providing the motivation it stands to figure that  Charlton should get closer to the ceiling than he will be to his floor.

With an attempt to shore up the pass rush already addressed, the front office turned toward another major concern. The team addressed its need in the defensive backfield with back to back selections at cornerback.

When there is a defensive back that some experts had a first-round grade on who is still sitting on the board at #60, you don't look a gift horse in the mouth. You make the pick and run with it. That is just what Dallas did when they selected Chidobe Awuzie.

He was a four-year starter in a major conference during his college career, and there is little to suggest that Awuzie will not come into the NFL and make a similar mark for himself. One thing that will excite fans is that not only is he a downfield cover guy, Awuzie is also dangerous as a blitzer. For a team with pass rush issues, this gift could turn into a godsend.

Chidobe is a bigger corner, he stands an even six feet tall and tips the scales at just over 200 pounds. This matches what Dallas likes to have in their outside cover men. To that frame he also adds a high degree of athletic prowess that will allow him to chase his man around the field, something that some of his predecessors in Dallas found themselves being taken to the woodshed for their inability to do well.

Sticky man-cover corner who possesses the reactive athleticism and foot quickness to maintain coverage responsibilities around the field. Awuzie's combination of size and speed pairs well with his instincts providing him what he needs to compete downfield.

Expect Awuzie to come into camp and start competing for snaps early on. He might not move into the starting lineup right away but you can figure that second-year man Anthony Brown is going to have to keep elevating his game to avoid losing some snaps to the new guy in town.

Mo Claiborne and Brandon Carr are now memories so Orlando Scandrick can expect to be the full time guy on one side of the field. That leaves open the slot corner position that he manned so well for the Cowboys.

That is the opening a player like Jourdan Lewis will be looking for. His size will relegate him to the slot role in Dallas. At 5'10 inches and 175 pounds he is not the prototype corner that the Dallas staff looks for on the outside. What he brings to the table is athleticism and a passion to succeed in the game. That makes him perfect to pair opposite the Cole Beasleys of the league.

Lewis has demonstrated an ability to get in the hip pocket of his man and stay there. If it was not for the lack of size causing match up issues against bigger receivers, Jourdan would find himself in a position to match up well with anyone he faced. As it is he will have the opportunity to come into camp and make a name for himself.

His ball skills are top notch, although teams rarely threw in his direction at Michigan. As my colleague at the Wolverines site told me when we discussed Lewis, that was because he made them pay when they looked his way. NFL quarterbacks who try to force the ball in on the tight coverage Jourdan provides will soon find the Cowboys heading the other direction with the pigskin.

Jourdan Lewis might not be the ideal match up for the top receivers in the pro game, but he is going to do his part to shut down opponents plans B & C.

"If he were bigger he would go in the first round. Love everything about the way he plays. He's cocky and tough and doesn't take any (expletive) from anyone. And sub-package teams will love him because he won't kill you against the run." -- Director of scouting for NFC team

Through three rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft the Dallas Cowboys have managed to address both of the team's biggest concerns and they have brought in some guys who are true ballers. This year's class has talented athletes who are at worst just a hair below being considered first-round talents. The trio will be able to contribute early on and will gain valuable NFL experience. They may not gel immediately into the Cowboys defense but it will not take long for the Class of 2017 to deliver on the promise.

Jerry Jones and his staff have done a good job with the draft capital that they have thus far. They are assembling a group of talented go-getters who have demonstrated through their college careers that they are driven to success at a high level of competition. The Cowboys defense will soon stand ready to unleash on the offenses of the National Football League.