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With patience, the Cowboys scored value with almost every pick in the 2018 draft

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A look at how the Cowboys waited for the draft to come to them instead of chasing it.

NCAA Football: Air Force at Colorado State Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys had a great draft as they were able to collect a group of talented players who can step in and contribute at a position of need for this team. In some instances, they caught huge breaks when certain players fell to them. Those types of things can happen, and if you just trust your board and be patient you’re going to come away with some good football players. As my colleagues indicated yesterday, NFL.com says that seven out of the nine draft picks have a chance to become starters. It’s a nice draft haul.

What makes this draft especially good is that the Cowboys got several players at great value. In many cases, they would end up with the last player left in a tier of players, essentially giving them a comparably talented player as the first player in that same tier taken much higher in the draft. In some cases, they got comparable talent but a round or two after the projected value.

Let’s examine some of the Cowboys draft selections and see where got great value.

First Round

While Leighton Vander Esch may not have been the top player on your draft board, he certainly was for the Cowboys. That’s really all that matters here. The scouts loved him, the coaches loved him, and he was an easy pick for the team at 19.

The tier breakdown is as follows:

In this case, the Cowboys didn’t get the last player left in the first-round tier as Rashaan Evans was available as well. All things being equal, the Tennessee Titans got slightly better value for their linebacker getting Evans at 22, however, when it comes to first-round players - all things aren’t equal. The Cowboys were very happy to see Vander Esch still available when it was their turn to pick.

Another thing to notice about this linebacker class is how much variation there was in the evaluation of the players outside of the first round. Some teams reached early and took third-round players in the second round. And some second-round players slid all the way to the third round. Of course, this is all subjective and fall on the shoulders of the scouts evaluating the talent for each team, but there appeared to be a lot of uncertainly when it comes to all the Day 2 guys. With Vander Esch, the Cowboys stand a great chance to get a strong playmaker.

Second Round

If you’ve heard Connor Williams being talked about as one of the steals of the draft, this next tier groupings is going to make a lot of sense.

The Cowboys got help when a couple second-round graded players were taken in the first round by the Detroit Lions and Cincinnati Bengals. That just seems way too early for Frank Ragnow and Billy Price when so many other good interior linemen were on the board. And to help even further, a couple third-round guards were taken early in the second round as well. All in all, eight potential guard prospects were taken ahead of Williams, which allowed the team to capitalize on him falling to 50.

Fans who were hoping for a guard at 19 or a trade-back to set themselves up for one late in round one, didn’t get what they wanted. But they got the next best thing. They got the last of the first-round caliber interior linemen in the draft, and they got him at a great price.

Third Round

Even though finding a quality receiver was near the top of our wish list, there were too many great players from other positions still on the board in the first two rounds of the draft. Wide receiver had to wait, but that didn’t mean the Cowboys lost out on one of the good ones. They were still able to grab Michael Gallup at 81.

By now, many of us are very excited about what Michael Gallup brings to the team. Maybe Gallup isn’t your favorite WR in the second-round tier, but he’s very comparable and to get him in the third round when all these other guys went in the second round is great value.

Fourth Round

It’s really tough to stack edge rushers because you have some players who are defensive ends in the 4-3 scheme and others who are outside linebackers in the 3-4 scheme. I don’t know where Dorance Armstong stacks up with the other guys selected, but I do know these two things:

  • The war room erupted when he slid to them in the fourth round. Of all the great picks I watched them get during draft weekend, no player had the war room more animated than Armstrong.
  • The Cowboys actually considered trying to move back in the third round in order to make sure they got him. While they opted to take their chances and be patient (which allowed them to also take Dalton Schultz next), they coveted him enough to make them think long and hard about trading away some draft capital to get him.

They obviously love the guy.

Fifth Round

It had been rumored that the Cowboys could dabble in drafting a young quarterback to develop, but most of us figured this meant a really late round/undrafted free agent player. With so much talk about how QBs would be flying off the board, Day 1 of the draft certainly didn’t disappoint. Five quarterbacks were taken in round one. If teams were wanting to shop around with some quality quarterback prospects, it appeared as if they’d have to do it early.

Suddenly, the market for quarterbacks went dry and the next tier of players started falling.

Mason Rudolph, Kyle Lauletta, and Mike White were the three best quarterbacks after the first-round guys and Dallas was able to get one of them at pick 171 in the draft. Rudolph was taken almost 100 picks before him. The Cowboys got the last player from this tier at a super bargain.

Additionally, both Cedrick Wilson and Bo Scarbrough were considered bargains by many observers, especially Wilson.

It’s not uncommon to have players fall in the draft where a team will get a great deal. But for Dallas, there were several times in this draft that they were able to just get in before the buzzer sounded on a tier of players, and they were able to get a player a round later (or more) than he should’ve been available.