The Dallas Cowboys are set to make their first selection in the NFL Draft in two weeks time, but we still don’t have a feel for exactly who they are going to target first. In the past, the Cowboys have telegraphed strong indications pre-draft of the player they would be selecting like they did with Tyron Smith back in 2011, or accidentally revealed their entire draft board after the draft like they did in 2010, 2013 and 2016. Problems like that have since been rectified, and with the new coaching staff in the building, the possibilityof systemic change is almost a certainty.
The only thing we know for sure about this coaching staff’s approach to the upcoming draft is that they want to take the best players on the board regardless of scheme fit. Fans need to prepare to have players traded and players selected to replace positions once thought of as a position of strength. Or even taking players with a less than stellar past as well as taking players at a position of need late in the draft.
With that said, here are four bold scenarios that could shock most Cowboy fans.
#1 The Cowboys trade back in the draft for a center
The shocking retirement of Travis Frederick sent shock waves through Cowboys Nation, leaving many wondering how the Cowboys were going to replace the All-Pro center. Many have suggested that his replacement would be someone currently on the team, either Joe Looney or second-year offensive lineman Connor McGovern who’s returning from injury, as the front-runners. But what if the Cowboys have a different plan, what if the plan is for Looney and McGovern to battle with Connor Williams for left guard/backup interior linemen positions.
So who would the Cowboys get to play center you ask? Well that would be LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry III. In a stunning move, the Cowboys trade back in the draft just like they did when they selected Frederick in 2013 and take Cushenberry III to lead and direct the offensive into the future. Addressing a major need along the offensive line while also acquiring picks to reload at other positions of need.
#2 The Cowboys double down on defense
We all know that the Dallas Cowboys have needed a safety for a long time and with the departure of cornerback Byron Jones they now are in need of a cornerback as well. The Cowboys have the ability to take a high value cornerback with the 17th pick in the draft, but if they wait until the 51st pick in the second round, they may not get a starting caliber safety to help solidify a position that has been a weakness in the past. So if they are to get that quality safety they are going to have to trade back into the later part of the first round to do so.
In this bold prediction, the Dallas Cowboys select Florida cornerback C.J. Henderson with the 17th overall pick in the draft and then making a trade with the 49ers to get back up to the 31st pick and select Minnesota safety Antoine Winfield Jr. Nolan likes to have a safety/linebacker hybrid on his defense and that’s the perfect role for Winfield Jr. who can boost this defense with high football IQ, his ability to cover tight ends, and stop the run in the box.
#3 The Cowboys trade up for a space-eating, offense-wrecking defensive tackle
The NFL has turned into a run and gun league and defensive coordinators have come to the realization that to stop these offenses you need to have a defensive tackle in the middle of their line with the ability to push the pocket and move the quarterback off their spot. Last season you saw the Cowboys defensive tackles routinely pushed back or out of the play entirely. There is a lot of talent in the draft if you’re looking for a nice rotational player, but there are three players at the position in the draft that can wreak havoc inside, and can be linked to the Cowboys.
The bold prediction here is that Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown slides far enough in the draft that Jerry Jones gets the itch and moves up to grab the best defensive tackle in the draft to create a devastating middle line group with Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, shoring up the position that could never hold up in the past.
#4 The Cowboys trade back and draft a wide receiver
After the huge contract that Amari Cooper just received and the breakout season that fellow receiver Michael Gallup had, you would think the Cowboys would be happy with their playmakers on the outside. Well think again, after the loss of Randall Cobb who accounted for 55 receptions, 828 yards and three touchdowns, the Cowboys are in need of a receiver to threaten the middle of the field alongside tight end Blake Jarwin. The Cowboys do have options in house to fill the role, but you have a new coaching staff and who knows what McCarthy thinks of these players.
So with the final prediction, the Dallas Cowboys trade back from the 17th pick in the draft and select Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. Adding him to the receiver group gives McCarthy the ability to create mismatches anywhere on the field depending on what the defense is giving them. He can play outside allowing Cooper or Gallup to play the slot, he can also play in the slot creating mismatches using his size to his advantage.