It's only been a few days following the NFL Draft but optimism and anticipation for the next phase of the offseason to begin are at an all-time high. For the most part, you don't find too many people having much criticism for what the Cowboys' approach was in the draft. Whether their picks work out or not cannot be judged until a few years from now.
However, the Cowboys had a plan and they seemingly executed it pretty perfectly if you think about it. So, we polled the front page writers and we'll do the same for you. We want Cowboys Nation to sound off; who was your favorite Dallas Cowboys' draft pick and why? First up, the many front-page writers will give their thoughts:
DE Taco Charlton
Analysis: It takes a serious commitment to your goals and insight into your team's strengths and weaknesses to select a defensive end in the first round when better defensive backs were available. With the recent string of excellent draft picks on the offensive line, Jerry and Co recognize addressing needs is critical, albeit without going overboard (trading up for Morris Claiborne). In retrospect, this selection looks even better given the addition of a number of talented defensive backs in subsequent rounds.
CB Chidobe Awuzie
Analysis: He is an awesome talent that the Cowboys were fortunate to pick up in the second round. I would not have been disappointed had they taken him at 28 and to have a corner with his gifts still on the board one round later was a golden opportunity. Had Dallas passed I would be sticking needles in a Jerry Jones voodoo doll right now.
CB Chidobe Awuzie
Analysis: I thought he was a borderline first-round caliber prospect and arguably the second-best corner in the draft following the Sidney Jones injury, and especially after the whole Gareon Conley situation. He was in my top five going into Day 2 but I never thought there was a chance he'd be there, especially when Kevin King, who I thought was just about on par with Awuzie went at 33.
He may be the cleanest, most versatile corner in the draft with his ability to play outside, in the slot, blitz, tackle, support the run, play zone/man, he has started basically since he was a freshman and has no discernible injury history. The Cowboys haven't gotten this type of value in the second round (with no clear injury or character risks) in over a decade.
CB Jourdan Lewis
Analysis: When I first started watching his film, I was in awe of Lewis. He was so good at attacking the ball despite being a smaller guy that I was amazed that he would win so many battles. Of course, that one-handed interception against Wisconsin was certainly eye-catching. I was blown away that opponents only completed seven passes against him all season. If they were throwing at Lewis, 77% of those throws would not be completed. That's ridiculous.
When he didn't get an invite and with the news of the domestic violence ordeal, Lewis just fell off my radar. Fortunately, he didn't fall off the Cowboys radar and they put in the extra work to find out what type of kid he is. And this further exemplifies what it means from Jason Garrett's perspective of right-kind-of-guy. It's not just about finding boy scouts. Lewis has great quickness and smothers his man, but the most impressive thing about him is his ball skills.
He's smart and instinctive and watches the receivers eyes closely so he can turn around at the right moment. People balk at his height, but for a 5'10" corner to have the success he's had, that speaks volumes about his athleticism and ball skills. What a steal.
SS Xavier Woods
Analysis: For me, it is Xavier Woods. The key to really winning the draft is to get value at each position, and no player brought more value compared to where he was taken than Woods. The Cowboys were very lucky to have him make it to them after they elected to go Ryan Switzer in the fourth instead of Woods. Now he comes to Dallas with a very similar backstory to Anthony Brown, making it very easy to pull for him.
He brings a lot of attitude and some intriguing traits - including an incredible amount of torque when he changes direction, according to this video from Sports Science:
He was most likely drafted for his play, even though he is the lone draftee from a non-power 5 school. That's another underdog trait, and another reason to pull for him. It also likely puts a little bit of a chip on his shoulder as well (maybe they can get matching tattoos).
Of course, the temptation to pun with that is going to be a problem, but one that we can live with. The main thing is that Woods shows range, hits hard, and has a nose for the ball. I think he is going to prove to be a real steal in the sixth round.
WR Ryan Switzer
Analysis: I'll make the case for the very dynamic receiver and new weapon for Dak Prescott, Ryan Switzer. He was one punt return for a touchdown away from setting the new All-Time NCAA record, he'll have to settle for tying it. Switzer makes the Cowboys' offense even harder to defend and gives Derek Dooley his favorite thing, another mismatch. Teams like the Patriots find themselves very successful at finding the little guys, turning them into mismatches, and killing defenses with it.
If the Cowboys run five wide receiver sets, they can literally be a lethal injection of poison with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer. You can put Beasley and Switzer in the slot at the same time and make defensive coordinators cry. I love that the Cowboys not only found perhaps a dangerous addition for the offense but a more consistent weapon on special teams. Field position is so important and the Cowboys just got that much more dangerous.
The most important piece to this addition is how much he'll help a young developing quarterback in Dak Prescott. Dak's a high-percentage thrower who knows how to keep the offense ahead of the chains. Having another wrinkle in a gadget player like this just does more than we can imagine for Prescott and the offense.
DE Taco Charlton
Analysis: I was a little surprised at the amount of criticism for this pick. He has the size, length, power and athletic ability to excel at defensive end. He keeps blockers at a distance with long arms and has already shown a decent spin move. He has the frame to be durable, can play all three downs and doesn't have any character issues. He also has position flexibility. The Cowboys needed help at pass rush and they got it. Once Charlton was put in the right scheme at Michigan for his senior season, he excelled. He’s already predicted to be, at minimum, a solid starter, and no one thinks he's anywhere close to reaching his full potential. Good value for a 28th pick.
WR Ryan Switzer
Analysis: So why did I pick Switzer? Partly because he wasn’t getting enough love. But mostly because these short, quick receivers can be quite valuable weapons in the NFL. I've written numerous articles using Pro Football Reference's Approximate Value metric. Look at some of the AV numbers put up by these types of players. Wes Welker, 110 career AV, with six seasons in a row of 16, 13, 14, 11, 17, and 15. Only Michael Irvin among Cowboys' receivers is higher. (Jason Witten is at 108, and will pass Welker this year.) Julian Edelman, 50 career AV, with seasons of 12, 11, and 9. Danny Woodhead, who's base is as a running back (something Switzer was in high school), 41 AV, with seasons of 10, 10, and 9. Cole Beasley, who led Cowboys receivers last year with 9 AV, one more than Dez Bryant because of Bryant's injury.
Switzer will have a hard time getting playing time at first, with several receiving options ahead of him, so he will have to start by reviving a moribund punt return game. But if the Cowboys give him a chance and use him - he could prove better at the Cole Beasley game than Cole Beasley, because he's better after the catch, and is more of a big play threat. That likely comes from his background as a running back. Watching him run, he has no wasted movement, juking guys with subtle head and shoulder moves while maintaining full speed as he knifes through defenses. People are talking about running 10 formations - one running back, no tight ends - with Switzer and Beasley in the slots and Dez and Williams outside. Just another Dallas formation where teams will be between a rock and a hard place.
DE Taco Charlton
Analysis: In the lead-up to the draft, I liked him more than Takkarist McKinley and more than Charles Harris but didn't expect him to fall all the way to No. 28. In mid-March, I had done a review of 25 mock drafts which suggested the odds that Taco Charlton would be available for the Cowboys was just 36%, while the odds for McKinley (52%) and Harris (84%) were better. Additionally, Charlton was the only one of the three to emerge as an A-quadrant player, so I had resigned myself to the idea that the Cowboys would pick a corner in the first, simply because there would be no quality pass rusher available at the bottom of the first round.
Much to my delight, the draft reversed my mental ranking of pass rushers, and Charlton fell all the way to the Cowboys. I don't know how successful Charlton will be in the NFL, but I do know that he has a better chance than most to be. He has a big-conference resume (suggesting premium competition), terrific production in his one year as a starter (an indicator for potential), and the size, length, and athleticism (indicating the ability compete at the NFL level) that NFL general managers dream of.
Alright, you’ve got our favorite picks, we’re ready to hear yours. Go ahead and vote in the poll and we look forward to your responses.
Which Dallas Cowboys’ Draft Pick Is Your Favorite?
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