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Cowboys start the draft with three great players, but what is next on Day 3?

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The Cowboys are off to a great start to the draft, but they still have a lot of work to do.

NCAA Football: Indiana at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

It’s like deja vu all over again.

Some people are saying the selection of Leighton Vander Esch feels just like the Taco Charlton pick last year. Is that how it made you feel? For the second year in a row, the Dallas Cowboys used their first-round draft pick on a talented defensive player who has one year of quality play on his resume. They went after another defensive guy who has amazing athletic ability for a player his size. They took a player who would have two other players currently on the roster ahead of him on the depth chart, including a young, early second-round investment ready to wreak havoc (DE DeMarcus Lawrence and LB Jaylon Smith) as well as a veteran player with a high financial cost (DE Tyrone Crawford and LB Sean Lee). And whether by design or coincidence, they grabbed a player at a defensive position group whose talent level would drop off like a cliff once they got passed the first round. So, in a way, it makes perfect sense that many fans drew comparisons between the Cowboys last two first-round selections.

And just as it was with Taco, the initial reaction of “meh” has a lot to do with the fact that the Cowboys didn’t pick “our guy.” That’s certainly the case for me, but also - it’s more than that. It also has a lot to do with the inability to be one of those teams that capitalized big on a player dropping. Here are the things that attributed to my initial reaction of the Vander Esch pick:

As you can see, most of this stuff is of no fault of the Cowboys front office. It’s not their fault Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James didn’t somehow become the steal of the draft for the Cowboys. Other teams are going to get great players too. That’s just how it works.

But as unexcited as I initially was to get Vander Esch, I was equally ecstatic for what happened on Day 2. What a great day of drafting that way. It all started with the selection of offensive linemen Connor Williams from Texas. If you were following the BTB big board, you could see clearly that he was a talented player that slipped through the cracks as he was ranked 26th on the board. That’s outstanding value at 50. In fact, if the Cowboys would have traded back in the first round to get Vander Esch only to turn around and trade up to get Williams, I would be standing on a table pronouncing how remarkably brilliant the Cowboys front office was. Of course, that didn’t happen, but the draft haul is the same and that makes me feel great.

Once a couple of our potential third- or fourth-round targets at linebacker (Darius Leonard 36th overall and Fred Warner 70th overall) went off the board way too early, I was so relieved that the Cowboys were able to get a player like Vander Esch early.

The Cowboys 2017 season nose-dived after losing Sean Lee and Tyron Smith to injury. The “next man” up philosophy willed them to an 9-7 record, but let’s face it - those are some impressive men to replace. Well, by pick 50 - the Cowboys took two giant steps to ensure they don’t go through that craziness again as both Lee and Smith now have fresh young talented insurance policies.

And if the value of Williams didn’t excite you enough, the team was able to wait out the run of wide receivers and still come away with a great one at pick 81. Colorado State’s Michael Gallup is a player who is good enough to come in right away and compete for a starting WR job in Dallas. Dez Bryant may be gone, but the team now has two new players in Gallup and Hurns who are great at getting themselves open. That is super-outstanding value. Just ask Jeff Cavanaugh.

The Cowboys picked three players in the top 35 of Cavanaugh’s board so he was super excited.

Just as round one felt more like a shoulder shrug, the Cowboys responded with a bang on Day 2. That is eerily similarly to how things went last year when they were able to get Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in rounds two and three respectively. Man, the Cowboys front office have been killing it on Day 2 recently.

And the best part is - this thing is far from over. The Cowboys still have seven picks left for Day 3. Now, there is going to be some wheeling and dealing going on, but look for the Cowboys to come away with more players we will be excited about. Some of my favorites remaining that could fill needs are defensive tackle Tim Settle and tight end Ian Thomas. Getting one of those guys would just be epic for me at this point. There are also a couple “double-dip” options that intrigued me as both wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown and linebacker Josey Jewell would be fantastic value at this point in the draft. There are also some good running backs still on the board in Nyheim Hines and John Kelly.

Which player’s names are you hoping the Cowboys call on Day 3?