The Dallas Cowboys will be picking 17th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. After finishing the season with an 8-8 record, they finished tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears; however they have the weakest strength of schedule (0.479) between these teams, so they were awarded the 17th spot in the draft.
It’s nice to have a first-round draft pick this year as the mid-season acquisition of Amari Cooper in 2018 meant fans had to wait all the way until the 58th overall pick last year before the Cowboys were able to select a player. With a pick on Day 1, there is going to be some really good talent available for Dallas, but who should the team go after?
Looking at the talent layout for first-round candidates, there are several players from Alabama that could fall in the vicinity where the Cowboys pick. Whether they are elite talent that slides or the perfect combination of best available and need, there are four Crimson Tide players who could end up being targets for the Cowboys this year. Alabama has a long history of sending players to the NFL, and it’s not surprising to see so many of them projected to go in the first round. Former Alabama running back Derrick Henry is flat out tearing it up in the playoffs this year, and technically, the Cowboys first-round pick last year is an Alabama alum as that is where Cooper played college ball.
Let’s take a look at four Alabama stars who are potential draft candidates for the Cowboys.
Xavier McKinney, S
The Cowboys didn’t participate in the Minkah Fitzpatrick sweepstakes this season as the Miami Dolphins were in fire sale mode, but they could end up getting another Alabama safety who’s got a little bit of Fitzpatrick in him. McKinney is a very good athlete who is a strong open field tackler. He explodes through his target, and can be very effective off the edge as a blitzer. He doesn’t have elite burst to be a star in coverage, but he’s very instinctual and has demonstrated he can make plays in the passing game.
McKinney had a great junior season last year in his first year as a starter, racking up 95 total tackles, including 5.5 for losses. He had four forced fumbles, three sacks, and three picks, including one he returned for a touchdown.
In what seems like an ongoing theme for Dallas each year in the draft, safety remains a big need for the team. With Jeff Heath an unrestricted free agent and Xavier Woods on the last year of his rookie deal, the Cowboys need to come up with replacements real soon.
Check out some highlights of McKinney (video clips taken from JustBombsProductions).
Trevon Diggs, CB
While Stefon Diggs continues to produce 1,000 yard seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, the time is approaching for his little brother to make his impression in the NFL. Trevon is one of the top corners coming out of the draft this year. He’s a smart player who can be physical jamming receivers at the release. At 6’2” he’s got good size and shows good make-up speed to recover and break up passes at the last second. There’s some development that still needs to be done, but the traits are there for him to be a good NFL corner.
Diggs had a strong senior season with three picks, including one returned for a touchdown. He also had eight pass break ups and recovered two fumbles. He spent his freshman season as a wide receiver and was used as a punt/kick returner his first two years with Alabama.
With both Byron Jones and Anthony Brown entering free agency, the Cowboys need to address the cornerback position in this draft. Whether it’s on Day 1 or later, this team would be wise to spend draft capital to revamp the position and grabbing one of the top corner talents like Diggs would be a great start.
Check out some highlights of Diggs (video clips taken from JustBombsProductions).
Jerry Jeudy, WR
Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb are regarded as the top two wide receivers in this draft, and it’s wishful thinking to expect one of these guys to still be available at 17. Of course, we don’t know what the teams ahead of Dallas are thinking. A couple years ago, many expected Calvin Ridley and D.J. Moore to be gone when Dallas was on the clock at 19, yet both were still available.
Jeudy is coming off of back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons at Alabama, which former stars like Cooper and Julio Jones didn’t even do. He has outstanding footwork and is an exceptional route-runner. His sharp cuts, and consistency creating separation makes him a great target for quarterbacks.
The Cowboys may not be looking to go wide receiver at 17, but if they’re in the business of collecting top talent, Jeudy shouldn’t be ruled out should he slide to them in the first round.
Check out some highlights of Jeudy (video clips taken from Harris Highlights).
Henry Ruggs III, WR
If the Cowboys miss out on Jeudy, they may still have an opportunity to add the electric speedster, Henry Ruggs. With 4.2 speed, Ruggs is a flat out burner who can be a nightmare in space. But don’t typecast him as a pure speed guy as he has strong hands and does a great job hauling in contested catches. He’s nowhere near the route-runner that his Alabama teammate is, but his aggressive nature to make plays would be a nice weapon for any NFL offense.
Ruggs has been consistent over the past two seasons with 40+ catches for 740+ yards each time. He’s caught 18 touchdown passes in that span and has put up an impressive 17.5 yards per catch in his career, which is a higher average than Jeudy. A player like Ruggs would be a sensational complement to Cooper and Michael Gallup, and would give the Cowboys one of the best receiving groups in the league.
Check out some highlights of Ruggs (video clips taken from JustBombsProductions).
Are there any of these prospects you’d like to see the Cowboys select with their 17th overall pick?