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Some final NFL Draft thoughts - can Cowboys capitalize on unpredictable year?

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It’s almost here, and it looks like it may be kinda weird.

NFL Draft
Who walks the stage when Dallas picks? Lots of possibilities.
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

The 2018 NFL Draft is almost here. And while Jerry Jones spoke a lot about the Dallas Cowboys having “clarity” going into the first round, that is only in terms of some specific things about the approach for his team. For the league as a whole, “murky” is much more accurate. As has been noted before, this is shaping up to be one of the least predictable drafts in a long time. Here are some random thoughts on how that, and how it all may affect the Cowboys.

The Cleveland Browns are playing things close to the vest, and that could throw a lot of teams a curve.

For the past several years, the first pick of the draft has been down to one or two names. But that is hardly the case this year, as noted at the SBN NFL umbrellas site.

We’re all pretty sure Cleveland’s going QB at No. 1, though there’s always a small chance they do so at No. 4 instead. If the Browns take a QB first, it could be any one of four guys, per the reporting.

This should be a pretty fun Thursday night, even if the drama is partly the result of (1.) the Browns appearing to be set on picking a QB, (2.) this draft having a bunch of potentially suitable QBs, (3.) no one agreeing on the standout QB in that group, and (4.) the Browns being all over the place for the past 25 years or so.

The belief is that there will be a lot of quarterbacks taken early. That assumes that a lot of other teams are not blowing smoke, but given how success in the NFL still hinges on quarterback play, and how many teams are not in good shape there, it still seems reasonable to think that. Many believe that four will be taken in the first six to ten picks (Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Rosen), with Lamar Jackson a wildcard that could well go before Dallas’ first scheduled pick at 19. And there are even some rumbles that Mason Rudolph may be a sleeper that some team may also want early (and he’s been working out with some guy named Tony Romo before the draft).

All that is simply great for the Cowboys. They have no need for a quarterback in the early rounds, and every one taken pushes someone else of value down to them. Now add in that Saquon Barkley is expected to go very early (with the Browns, who own picks 1 and 4, and the New York Giants at 2 the usual suspects), and it just gets better.

Is Vea destined to land in Washington?

One of the most frequent things seen in mocks for some time now has been Vita Vea going to Washington at pick 13. That is not a pleasing thought. Having him lined up across from the Cowboys twice a year would not only be a problem for the offense, but would inevitably inspire thoughts of what might have been if he only slid in range for Dallas. But a lot of people, like Eric Galko, are convinced he will wind up with their NFC East rival.

Scott Linehan will probably get one pick to make.

Also from Galko, it looks like a certainty that QB Matt Linehan, son of the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator, is a lock to wind up in Dallas. And while he is a good UDFA candidate, the Cowboys have that seventh-round pick, which is not even worth much for trade purposes. A prediction: The team will take Matt with that pick as a favor to his dad, unless they take some other QB earlier. It doesn’t really hurt them, and they need more arms for camp as well as a PS candidate at the position.

At least there will be someone in the organization that Scott loves more than Kellen Moore. I think.

Keep those grains of salt handy.

We all want to know who the Cowboys covet with the 19th pick. Just remember that this is the time of lying in the NFL. Having said that, here is one view.

All are names that have been linked to the Cowboys (despite the mention of Vea and Washington above). What is disturbing to some (me, especially) is the lack of an offensive lineman in that trio. The biggest problem Dallas has to fix is left guard, and I will argue it isn’t even close.

So maybe the team is planning on getting their guard a bit later. But . . .

See a problem? Let’s hope someone is wrong or just being fed bad info.

The runs will be crucial for the Cowboys.

We already expect the QB run early, but what other positions will also start to fly off the boards? As mentioned above, interior OL is not a good one. OTs, however, would be good for the Cowboys. Wide receiver is hard to say, since there looks to be talent throughout the draft, but an early run could force their hand on day two if they don’t go that way in the first round. Running back and cornerback, on the other hand, would be great positions to see have early runs, since like QB, those are not priority needs for Dallas. Oh, and maybe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will grab a kicker early again. (OK, probably not.)

It’s just as important to have the right positions go slowly. Defensive tackle, for instance, would be a great one to see some talent hanging around longer than expected. It is a likely one, as well, since many teams are not as big on spending high picks there. That could also come into play at linebacker. To be honest, the prediction above about guards and centers going so early runs counter to recent trends, so maybe we won’t see that.

The real problem is that we don’t know. But we will soon find out.

Finally, the rock solid lock.

Much of the fan base is going to be greatly disappointed in whatever the Cowboys do. Some may love it, but given the wide range of opinion about what they should do, it is inevitable that the class, especially the premium picks on days one and two, will elicit howls of rage, rending of clothing, and gnashing of teeth.

It’s Dallas, after all.