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Point-counterpoint: Offense or defense, which has the biggest needs in the draft?

With the way the Cowboys season is going, it’s time to start looking towards the draft.

NFL: NFL Draft Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys season to this point hasn’t been anywhere near what was expected. With both the season-ending injuries on offense and lesser, but still limiting, ones to important players on the defensive side of the football, one would assume that the Cowboys 2020 season is on life support, if not already over. So maybe it’s time to start looking toward the 2021 NFL draft and positions of need for this Cowboys team.

Our Terence Watson and Tom Ryle do just that. And in typical fashion, they come up with different conclusions.

Terence: In my opinion it’s the offense that is in need of the biggest upgrade next season, starting with the offensive line. Whether it be the left guard position manned by Connor Williams or the left tackle position manned by Tyron Smith, the Cowboys need help up front. Smith has on average missed three games each of the last five seasons which is usually indicative of a player’s body wearing down. Then you have Williams who on a healthy offensive line has been the weak link for this unit. Now add the fact that Smith and Travis Frederick are no longer there to cover up his mistakes and help his blocking and Williams’ weaknesses have really been highlighted.

The Cowboys also have a problem when it comes to depth along the offensive line. Connor McGovern was suppose to be a reliable backup that can come in and at one point was seen as a possible replacement for Williams at left guard, but when he came in for his first start of the season McGovern showed that that depth along the offensive line could still be needed.

Tom: Wait, Tyron Smith didn’t retire. He is supposed to be back, and when he is able to go, he still is one of the best OTs in the league. As for Williams, I am no tape grinder. But some I trust maintain that he has been getting better the past few weeks, partly due to Tyler Biadasz settling in and being a real asset at center.

I think the offensive line will be fine if they can all get heathy next season. Some depth would always be welcome, but not to the extent of making it a priority. For me, the defense is where those draft picks are needed. And we are looking at the usual suspects, safety and defensive tackle, to top the list. Maybe this is the year that Jerry and Stephen Jones finally overcome their inability to spot Keyser Söze and go after those positions. I am mildly encouraged that they got Neville Gallimore in the third-round last year, but we still are dreaming of taking a safety with a premium pick. This would be a great time to do so, since the draft picks are going to be high and plentiful, with at least an opportunity to get more with some trading back. Load up and then empty the magazine, but take your best shots on defense.

Terence: First let me say, love The Usual Suspects reference, second while Smith is still one of the best in the league his position, he’s still becoming a guarantee to miss three games each season. Maybe we can flip him for a first- or second-round pick depending on how he’s still seen in the NFL but if we don’t, we will fall back into the cycle that has hurt the Cowboys for years and that’s keeping players that are starting to decline. And yes I know it’s not a guarantee that the Cowboy would be able to find a replacement in the draft but it is possible. Take a look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their offensive line that was put together in just two season. The same could be said for the Indianapolis Colts offensive line who are see as one of the most talented and mean offensive lines in the league, so it can be done and I do trust Will McClay to find those players in the draft.

Now might be the best time to make this move with this team looking to have a top 10 pick in the upcoming draft and we all know that the best offensive linemen go very early in the draft.

Tom: I think Tyron is still good for a season or two, even if he misses three games. I just think the team will be better overall with heavy defensive investment first. I would not object at all to getting a tackle later in the draft, but I’d rather task McClay with finding one the way he did Biadasz. And we are talking about a swing tackle, not a plug and play starter.

And don’t overlook Brandon Knight. He was looking good before he also was injured. He might well be a candidate to eventually replace Smith. I just think they have more already in the bank there than they do on defense.

Not only do they need defensive tackle and safety help, they could also invest in another good corner. Depending on what happens with Aldon Smith and Dorance Armstrong, it might not be a bad idea to go after another EDGE, either. Just no off-ball linebackers before round five or so, please.

Let me put one caveat on this, and that is the first-round pick (or, maybe, a couple of them) should be open for a truly outstanding player at just about any position, except quarterback and, for me at least, running back. CeeDee Lamb was exactly that, and he has worked out quite well. If there is just about anyone else that fits that bill, then we should be happy if the Cowboys pull a trigger on him.

Otherwise, we just have to agree to disagree. And hope that, whichever way the team goes, they get it right.


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