There are plenty of avenues the Dallas Cowboys could travel when using their first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and mock drafts are a way of guessing which way they will go. It’s still early in the process, though, and much can still happen to change the direction.
Perhaps the biggest potential sway of direction will be what the team does in free agency. Obviously they could bring in a player, say a defensive tackle or safety, that would push a potential need down the road, but just as similarly if they let somebody walk it will alter their needs.
The top three free agents for the Cowboys are unquestionably Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, and Byron Jones. Prescott’s deal will get done because, well, he’s a quarterback. Cooper will also likely get done because he is a key to the success of the team’s signal-caller, although he appears to be in no rush. All of that makes sense.
What the Cowboys do with Byron Jones will either settle cornerback for the foreseeable future, or vault it to the top of the team’s draft needs (it’s definitely still a need even if they sign him with questionable depth, not to mention both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis entering contract years). Will McClay’s comments at the Senior Bowl were very interesting regarding Jones, but we’re still about a month and a half from seeing what the Cowboys actually do.
Perhaps ESPN’s Mel Kiper is factoring in Byron Jones departing from the Cowboys in his latest mock. While many draft gurus have been projecting LSU’s Grant Delpit or Alabama’s Xavier McKinney to Dallas, Kiper went a different route - cornerback.
17. Dallas Cowboys
CJ Henderson, CB, Florida
Here’s a quick look at the Cowboys’ top free agents, which includes some true star power: quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Randall Cobb, pass-rushers Michael Bennett and Robert Quinn, and cornerback Byron Jones. Can they keep them all? Dallas likely has budgeted to pay up for Prescott and Cooper (it gave up its 2019 first-rounder for him), but Jones could be the odd man out on a team that is already paying top dollar at several positions. That means the Cowboys will need a cheap option as a replacement corner. With smooth hips and great recovery speed, Henderson is a natural cover corner with a 6-foot-1 frame. Safety is another position to keep an eye on, and Dallas could target Grant Delpit or Xavier McKinney.
The idea that the Cowboys are locked into paying Amari Cooper simply because they traded a first-rounder for him is not the way to run a franchise. You keep a player based on merit, and thayer based oere is more than enough reason to keep Cooper due to his abilities, leaning on the price paid for him as the only one would be silly, but it’s definitely possible that Jones is the odd man out as far as big-time contracts handed out in the coming weeks.
CJ Henderson has had his tackling questioned by draft experts so that isn’t exactly encouraging; however, you’re not necessarily drafting a corner to tackle as their number one priority if things go according to plan, but perhaps the Cowboys think different of his game.