Unfortunately, it’s going to feel like time is standing still as the slow grueling monotony of the offseason goes into full effect. With so much time our hands, we’ll be spending the next couple months researching the draft as we try to pick out what players are best for this Dallas Cowboys football team.
Before we get into the heavy lifting that comes with all that analysis, it’s always fun to take a step back and look at this new draft class to see what it has to offer. There will be many great players in this draft, but will they be the players the Cowboys need? Looking at the rankings from the good folks at The Draft Network, we can break things down and get a sense of which players might be available when the Cowboys are on the clock. For this exercise, we will only focus on the first three rounds (picks 17, 51, and 82) as things get much more difficult to predict as we go deeper into the draft. Here are five things to know about the layout of talent when it comes to the Cowboys position needs.
1. Hold your breath for a defensive tackle
Based on the layout of talent, things aren’t orientated so nicely for Dallas if they are hoping to land one of the better defensive tackles. In each of the first three rounds, there will be some good options, but they could all go before the Cowboys are on the clock. Javon Kinlaw would be great to have at 17, but will he last that long? Ross Blacklock and Justin Madubuike could go early in the second round before it gets to Dallas. And Raekwon Davis would be a nice option with pick 81, but will drop that far?
On the plus side, if any of these candidates slide in their respective round, that could be a nice steal for the Cowboys. Good things come to those who wait, but it’s going to be stressful watching these players come of the board. The Cowboys could somehwat alleviate this problem ahead of time as the free agent class of defensive tackles looks plentiful, so that could be an avenue to explore instead of the draft.
Strategy: If he slides, pounce! Otherwise, it could be a big ol’ whifferoni on landing a big man in the middle.
2. Safety options are available in each round
There is really not a specific round that shows up as more desirable to select a safety. There are a couple options in the vicinity of where the Cowboys pick in each of the first three rounds. Top guys like Xavier McKinney or Grant Delpit may last to 17. The next two guys, Ashtyn Davis and Antoine Winfield Jr., have realistic shot to make it to pick 51. And even the next two guys after that, Kyle Dugger and Brandon Jones hover around the Cowboys third-round pick.
Strategy: Stay the course. Let your guy come to you.
3. There are some nice CB and WR options on Day 2
As with almost every draft, the talent at both cornerback and wide receiver is plentiful on the second day of the draft. The Cowboys could certainly go after one of the top corners like LSU’s Kristian Fulton or one of the Alabama wide receivers, but they may be better served waiting. Similar to what they did in 2017 to land Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis or 2018 to get Michael Gallup, there are a lot of good options on Day 2.
Strategy: Be patient, but try to come away with a corner by the end of Day 2.
4. They should make other plans at tight end
This is not a good draft if you’re hoping to find a top talent at the tight end position as the top player on the Draft Network’s board is ranked no. 64. The Cowboys shouldn’t even be sniffing at tight ends in this draft until round three.
While there are some solid options later, if the Cowboys want to get a day one starter, they may need to look elsewhere. That doesn’t mean they should go out and overpay a player like Eric Ebron, but they could dabble a little in free agency. Or maybe they can pull off a low-cost trade for a player like Hayden Hurst as the emergence of Mark Andrews gives the Baltimore Ravens a surplus of talent at the position.
Strategy: Need to find a reliable blocker somewhere, but they shouldn’t have to spend any pricey draft capital to accomplish that.
5. Always be ready to take a quality edge rusher
You can never go wrong collecting pass rushers which is probably why the Cowboys have selected one in each of the last six drafts, including two guys last year - Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. The team should keep looking and there will be some good players to choose from. They don’t have to necessarily take one early as they can address other needs first, but if a guy they really like is still lingering around in the third round, he could be a great get.
Strategy: Like Dorance Armstrong and the JJ’s from last year - the Cowboys may not go into the draft looking, but a player may be too good to pass up.