It feels like yesterday when a innocent selfie turned into a fun and exciting project for the writing staff here at Blogging The Boys. You may remember back in 2016, we gave you an inside look into the Cowboys war room as our staff was able to transcribe most of the names that made up the Cowboys draft board that season (if you missed it, check it out).
Over the years, it’s been fun to revisit this board and evaluate how well the Cowboys did when they stacked their players. For example, we all know that Ezekiel Elliott was number one on their board, yet they were able to get him with the fourth overall pick. Injured linebacker Jaylon Smith was fifth on their board. The Cowboys were able to snag two of their top five players from that draft class, and both have been signed to long-term deals.
The board has been useful as it has explained why the team traded for Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Jihad Ward back in 2018. Or why they signed former New York Giants safety Darian Thompson last offseason, who turned out to be no. 3 on the depth chart for the Cowboys last year. All of that makes sense with the added knowledge of that leaked board.
Eventually, good things come to an end. The Cowboys have beefed up security when it comes to war room information as nothing has slipped through the cracks in recent years. And the new has all but worn off the 2016 board.
In one last attempt to salvage some scraps from this information, we’re going to take a look at some of the players entering free agency this year. Four years have come and gone, and most of the players from this draft class are now looking for second contracts. We have insider information that tells us what players the Cowboys liked at that point in time. Is it possible that info could provide us some clues as to who they’ll target in free agency? Let’s check out some of the players the team had stacked pretty high and see if Dallas might have a second chance to get their guy.
DE Emmanuel Ogbah
2016 board ranking: 34th
When the second day of the 2016 NFL draft began, most fans believed that an edge rusher would be coming to Dallas. Both Oklahoma State’s Emmanuel Ogbah and Clemson’s Kevin Dodd were still available, and the Cowboys were picking third that day. Unfortunately, both those players were the very next two guys selected as Cleveland and Tennessee hurt some feelings. The Cowboys selected Jaylon Smith with the 34th overall pick as groans were heard all across Cowboys Nation.
While Dodd only last a couple years in the league, Ogbah has been solid. He caught a break when a trade sent him from Cleveland to Kansas City, but that break ended abruptly when a torn pectoral muscle ended his 2019 campaign. That’s never good when you’re in a contract year, and Ogbah’s change of scenery was producing his best season yet.
If the Cowboys aren’t able to afford Robert Quinn, they might be able land this 26-year old for cheaper.
CB Kendall Fuller
2016 board ranking: 22nd
One thing that has always been puzzling about having a behind the curtains look at the Cowboys draft board is never understanding why the team passed on Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller. When the Cowboys were on the clock in the third round, Fuller was far and away the highest ranked player on their board. A meniscus tear that he suffered in the fall of 2015 hurt his draft stock as he otherwise was projected to be a first rounder; however, he ended up falling to the Redskins in the third round at pick 84th overall.
Fuller played well in his first two seasons with the Redskins as he had four picks in 2017, while only allowing a 56.7 passer rating. He was packaged with a third-round pick in the trade that send Alex Smith from Kansas City to Washington. The Chiefs moved him to safety, which didn’t really work out so well, but he put the Super Bowl game on ice with this play.
With the Cowboys losing Byron Jones in free agency, they’ll be looking to add help at a more affordable price. At 25-years-old, and being a slot corner ace, the Cowboys may not pass him up the second time around.
S Karl Joseph
2016 board ranking: 19th
After being selected 14th overall in the draft by the Oakland Raiders, the hard-hitting safety from West Virginia has been viewed as a disappointment. He’s never played a full season, and the Raiders had no interest in picking up his fifth-year option, so off to free agency he goes.
It’s hard to get a feel for the type of player Joseph is as he’ll flash moments where it looks like he’s legit. He’s a physical player who is known for his defensive stops, but he’s actually pretty good in coverage as well. Joseph is a solid player, no doubt - but for his draft price, he’s just never been able to take steps to the next level.
The Cowboys need help at safety and adding a player like Joseph would improve their roster. Prior to a foot injury suffered last November, Joseph was having his best NFL season. That’s a tough break for him, but it could end up being a nice break for the Cowboys who are always looking for find a great value signing in free agency.