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How the Cowboys can be helped by the teams picking ahead of them

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If Dallas stays at 17, the cupboard probably isn’t going to be as bare as some worry.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Some things are as predictable as the sunrise. For the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL Draft, that includes the worries that by the time they go on the clock in the first round, all the good players will be taken. While the question remains of taking the right guy when their time comes, the odds are still very good that talent that fits the needs of the team is going to be there. We’ve already had a couple of looks at this, such as the survey of mocks by One Cool Customer and Danny Phantom’s calculation of odds, but the fretting persists. So here’s another examination. This time, the focus is on the teams ahead of the Cowboys in the first round, and just what their needs are.

Of course, a projection of the needs is about as subjective as whether Pop Tarts should be toasted or not. (Yes, that’s been a thing on Twitter lately.) And there’s certainly more than one out there. But for this exercise, let’s use a fairly recent article on that at NFL.com. We’ll look at the top two needs listed for each team. While many have similar needs as Dallas (which are EDGE rusher and cornerback in the article, and those seem valid) this chart goes with positions that the Cowboys are not likely to draft, because every player taken at one of those is going to push some player they should want down. It also includes wide receiver, because that is one position that the consensus holds is very deep. Dallas may consider WR themselves, but with the depth, they would be wise to hold off until day two. The top two needs are included, because teams may have to go with a second need if they don’t see the right player there at most desired position.

Other teams’ needs

Position Biggest need 2nd biggest
Position Biggest need 2nd biggest
QB 3 0
OL 5 5
LB 0 1
RB 0 1
TE 0 1
WR 4 0

Quarterback is something that the Cowboys are not going to touch because their focus is on getting that deal done with Dak Prescott. With three teams ahead of them needing to find their field general, this is all good. There is a joker in the deck as well. The New England Patriots may be in the market to replace Tom Brady in the first round and might want to trade up from 23 to the top half of the draft if they worry about their guy getting taken. The Pats don’t have a second-round pick, but do have three third-rounders that they could offer. It is hard to say just who might be interested, but Bill Belichick has a history of talking other teams into trades, and you can never dismiss the idea when he’s involved.

Offensive line is another place where it is hard to see the Cowboys investing a first-round pick, even with the retirement of the great Travis Frederick. They have what appear to be good options to find a starting center with Joe Looney and Connor McGovern already on the roster. It is interesting to note that there are ten teams that have the position group as their first or second need, because it looks like there are only about five that would merit selection in the top half of the first round. If one or more teams reach a bit here, it would be great for the Cowboys.

Speaking of reaching, those teams that might consider TE, RB, or LB would all really help the Cowboys if they went with one of those. They are all positions that can be considered a reach high in the draft. Teams do overdraft all the time. It also should be mentioned that LB Isaiah Simmons is thought by many to be a top ten level talent, which could tempt someone to grab him before the Cowboys get their turn.

As mentioned, the wide receiver class is deep, and historically, first round WRs don’t pan out all that often. Still, teams keep going for them, and there is no reason to expect this year to be any different.

If you just stick with the first needs listed here, that is potentially twelve players taken at positions that the Cowboys should not mind seeing gone before they get on the clock.

It also might make the idea of trading back more attractive.

While this might not go at all the way this indicates, it is not at all unlikely. As we all know, this is a unique year in the draft, with teams forced to rely much more on video as team visits and most pro days were shut down. That just means surprise moves are probably more likely, and those could work in Dallas’ favor as well.

We’ll know for certain in less than a week, but don’t worry too much. The Cowboys should have some good options. Now they just have to take the right one.