If you go back through the history of MVP’s in the NFL, an overwhelming percentage are quarterbacks. We get it, quarterbacks are important. Because of how valuable it is to have a good quarterback, being able to land one can be quite the challenge. It is a problem that has vexed many teams.
The Cowboys experienced that first hand after Troy Aikman retired and before Tony Romo showed up. Teams will try all kinds of things in hopes of landing their star QB, including some early-round investments in the NFL draft. There was a time not too long ago where the availability of potential franchise quarterbacks in the draft was a rare commodity. Every year, there might be one or two players who really caught the eyes of teams in desperate need of a new signal-caller. As you might expect, those teams typically had to pay a heavy price to jump up in the draft to grab their guy. But if a team can find the right guy, it makes it all worth it. Two years ago, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles both struck deals to move up to the top of the draft in order to select Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. Both those quarterbacks ignited their offenses this past season and helped their respective teams get into the playoffs.
Of course, the 2016 draft didn’t just produce good quarterbacks at the first and second overall spots in the draft as the Cowboys were able to get Dak Prescott in the fourth round and he went on to have a record-setting year for rookie quarterbacks. Good quarterbacks are out there, but it’s up to the teams to find them.
And that’s exactly what several teams tried to do last year as three quarterbacks were selected within the first 12 picks of the draft - Mitchel Trubisky (Chicago), Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City), and Deshaun Watson (Houston). Oddly enough, it was the third QB selected, Watson, who started to take the league by storm last year before suffering a season-ending injury. Overall, 10 quarterbacks were selected in last year’s draft and six of them started games last year.
The crop of players in the 2018 draft class looks to offer another wide selection of potential NFL starting quarterbacks. Players like Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield have already surfaced quite a bit in first-round mocks. And Louisville’s Lamar Jackson is another player who could surprise people with an early selection.
There are several teams that need a quarterback. The Cleveland Browns, New York Giants, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, and Arizona Cardinals all could be on the lookout for a new QB in the draft. All of those teams pick ahead of the Cowboys.
If there is a run on quarterbacks, that could open the door for one of the Cowboys first-round graded players to slide to 19. Which players do you think could fall to Dallas?
Where planet player and need intersect
It may be silly think a player like Derwin James could be available, but who really knows how the draft will play out? In 2012, Cowboys fans were targeting safety Mark Barron at a possible selection at 14, but Tampa Bay selected him seventh overall. Similar to Barron, James is going to be in high demand for teams wanting a star safety.
Derwin James' closing speed is incredible. pic.twitter.com/JefManF7dl— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) February 12, 2018
Take the talented defender and run
The Cowboys linebacker group is probably one of the biggest mysteries this offseason. With Sean Lee’s health, Jaylon Smith’s recovery, and Anthony Hitchen’s place of employment all up in the air - how can one assess this group properly?
Well, don’t try. Instead, if there is a talented linebacker that falls into their lap when they are on the clock, just make the pick and don’t look back. Regardless of how things shake out, the Cowboys will always be able to find a place on the team for a player like Roquan Smith.
#UGA LB Roquan Smith & #Hokies' Tremaine Edmunds, two likely targets for the #Raiders in R1 of the 2018 NFL Draft, both ranked in the Top-3 in defensive stops among draft-eligible P5 LBs in 2017.— Austin Gayle (@AustinGayle_PFF) February 16, 2018
READ: https://t.co/FYlYO4a4Mt pic.twitter.com/BMoSVh66RB
A treat in the middle
The Cowboys wouldn’t squander a first-round pick on a 1-tech defensive tackle, would they?
Just because they haven’t done that in the past doesn’t mean they won’t do it now. Thanks to a leaked draft board from 2016, we all got a great view of how they felt about certain players. As it turns out, five of their top 28 ranked players were defensive tackles, including a handful of 1-tech candidates. Maybe the team doesn’t have anything against the position, but the stars just haven’t aligned their way in past drafts? This could be a time where it finally falls right into place.
Wouldn’t you love to have this guy?
Washington DT Vita Vea (@VeaVita) Career Highlights #PurpleReign— JustBombsProductions (@JBP_Official) February 14, 2018
Vita Vea is a dominant force. At 6'5 340 lbs, he's a handful for offensive lineman. He makes an impact on plays even when he doesn't get the tackle.
Full Video : https://t.co/alkfN62hSx pic.twitter.com/AS4dRcUMh8
Or this guy?
A possible blue-chipper falling in the draft could be a positive side-effect from a run on quarterbacks early. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. It’s always possible that teams throw us a curve ball and back off from taking that many QBs early. After all, just because a quarterback is taken early doesn’t mean he’s got what it takes to make it in the NFL.
Today's reminder of the unpredictability of the draft:— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) February 13, 2018
The first 4 QBs drafted in 2012 threw 0 passes in 2017.
The 5th QB in 2012 was so bad, Houston gave up a second-round pick to get rid of his contract.
The 6th, 7th and 8th QBs were Russell Wilson, Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins.
Will they proceed cautiously or will things get crazy and quarterbacks start getting plucked off the board? The answer to that question will have a big impact on what’s available to Dallas when it’s their turn to pick.