Do you remember when the Dallas Cowboys selected Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL Draft? Of course you don’t because that never happened. The cool heads of the Cowboys front office turned in the card that delivered them the best guard in the league, Zack Martin. The Cowboys would go on to win three divisions over the next five seasons whereas the Cleveland Browns would go on to win just 11 games over their next four years. Manziel was out of the league two years later. What a nightmare that could have been.
The Cowboys have built a strong team by making smart draft decisions. They did get a little antsy and trade up for Morris Claiborne in 2012, but for the most part - they’ve been knocking it out of the park come draft time. Mistakes happen and they could even happen to Dallas. Recently, Bleacher Report identified one mistake each NFL team must avoid in the 2019 NFL Draft. Here is what they came up with for the Cowboys:
Dallas Cowboys: Not Getting Ezekiel Elliott Some Help
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott won’t turn 24 until July. Even so, the Cowboys can’t bank on their workhorse at all times. They should prioritize selecting a backup at some point during the 2019 draft.
Between the regular season and the playoffs, Elliott touched the ball a whopping 433 times last year. Backups Rod Smith and Darius Jackson were ineffective during the regular season and non-factors in the postseason. Tight end and defensive line may be more pressing needs, but the Cowboys can’t ignore running back entirely.
Getting Zeke some help is certainly important, but is that the biggest mistake they can make? Let’s examine three possible missteps the team could make this April.
Trading away third-round pick to move up
The Cowboys have a lot of money to reinvest in their star players. One of the reason this is all possible is the team’s success in replenishing talent through the draft. The Cowboys don’t have a first-round pick thanks to the Amari Cooper trade. While the team scored big on that deal, the only downside is missing out on that cheap rookie deal.
Not having a Day 1 pick puts even more of an obligation to collect as many good players as they can. It might be tempting to trade quantity for quality, but taking home a good haul of players is important.
Packaging their third-round pick with their second would only allow them to move up to the middle of the second round. This isn’t the area where a first-round graded players is going to fall. Just remain patient and pick your player at 58. Somebody good will be there. Not only that, but the team has done a great job of putting their third-round picks to use lately.
- 2016 - Maliek Collins, key starter
- 2017 - Jourdan Lewis, starter his rookie season; key reserve.
- 2018 - Michael Gallup, emerged as a starter late in the season.
Don’t reach for a tight end
Finding a talented tight end in the draft would be great. And this could very well be the draft to do that as there are a handful of top tier talents available this year. If the stars align perfectly, then the Cowboys could be in business. Elite players like T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant, and Irv Smith Jr. are players that could be the new crop of talented tight ends to enter the NFL.
It’s tough to say where the line will be drawn, but if the Cowboys miss out on the stars, they shouldn’t panic. The worst thing they could do is miss out on one of the top guys and then just settle for the next best option. If they start pulling from the next tier of players, they might as well wait until the third round as there’s likely to be a comparable player available at 91. This approach worked out nicely for them last year when they were patient with the wide receiver position. Landing Michael Gallup was great value as he can hold his own with the receivers selected in round two.
The Cowboys don’t prioritize need when it comes to premium draft capital, so the odds are good that the front office doesn’t act in haste. Tight end is a position the team should look to upgrade in the draft, but they have to go about it the right way.
Don’t forget to grab a defensive tackle
The Cowboys had Vita Vea and DaRon Payne in for pre-draft visits last year. While both those guys were gone before the team picked, the Cowboys could have addressed the defensive tackle later in the draft, yet a defensive tackle was never selected. Da’Shawn Hand was also a pre-draft visit and he was taken in the fourth round.
The Cowboys have needed help along the interior defensive line for quite some time, but the last draft resource they spent on that position was Joey Ivie, who was selected in the seventh round of 2017. Ivie wasn’t even good enough to make the team.
There are some good defensive tackles in this year’s draft. They don’t have to use their second-round pick on one. They don’t have to use their third-round pick on one either. But it would be nice to invest in a young player that has a legit chance to compete for playing time in the middle. Both Maliek Collins and Antwaun Woods are entering the last year of their contract and the Cowboys would be wise to add more talent to this position group.
What do you believe would be the worst mistake the Cowboys could make in the upcoming draft?