While the Dallas Cowboys did not have a pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, there were many a Cowboys fan hopeful that the team could still land a key contributor. Ultimately they chose defensive tackle Trysten Hill and things weren’t exactly great throughout his rookie year.
Earl Thomas (Baltimore Ravens) was supposed to be an option in free agency. Juan Thornhill (Kansas City Chiefs) and Taylor Rapp (Los Angeles Rams) were just two of the options that Cowboys fans crossed their fingers for in terms of the draft. Still, though, the organization went with Hill in a pick that reminded many people of the team’s first-round choice just two years prior.
It was during the 2017 NFL Draft that the Cowboys took Taco Charlton with the 28th overall pick. Many people were clamoring for them to take TJ Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers) who has gone on to become a star, meanwhile the Cowboys ultimately released Charlton before the first half of his third season was even over. To call the pick a miss would be very kind.
What if the 2017 Draft was re-done, though? Who would Dallas take? It’s not TJ Watt, but it’s likely going to make you sad that it didn’t ultimately happen.
The Cowboys land safety Budda Baker in Adam Rank’s 2017 Draft re-do
As mentioned, if given the choice that the Cowboys had at the time it’s common sense to say that they would be better off drafting Watt, but what if the entire first round was re-done? NFL Media’s Adam Rank performed this exercise and obviously a lot of things across the league are different.
In this exercise, Pat Mahomes goes first overall to the Cleveland Browns, Watt ultimately goes inside the top 10 to another fellow AFC North team in the Cincinnati Bengals, you get the idea here that the whole result is very different. This means that the available players at pick number 28 where the Cowboys were is very different and as a result Rank has Dallas addressing the safety position with current Arizona Cardinals safety Budda Baker.
DALLAS COWBOYS: 28TH OVERALL
Original pick: Taco Charlton, DE.
Baker was actually drafted: by the Cardinals in Round 2 (No. 36).
The Cowboys had a need at safety in this draft and landed Woods in Round 6. They would have happily taken him here, as well, but were usurped by the Chiefs. I’ve always considered Baker a good player. He was fourth in the NFL last year in tackles (147) and really improved under Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph. He has yet to have an interception, which is fine, because I feel like the Cowboys would find a good use for him.
Baker was a Pro Bowler last season so he is obviously worth having. Missing on Charlton has proven to be very costly for the Cowboys so if they drafted Budda there then they would obviously look very different today.
To be fair, if this exercise was indeed reality then the Cowboys would look more different than just having Baker over Charlton. Rank has two players that the Cowboys did draft in 2017 going in the first round, Xavier Woods and Chidobe Awuzie.
Xavier going to Kansas City.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: 27TH OVERALL
Original pick: Traded to the Bills (Tre’Davious White).
Woods was actually drafted: by the Cowboys in Round 6 (No. 191).
Woods is a good NFL player who is coming off his best season. He’s good in coverage and, again, is just a solid NFL player who would have helped soften the blow of losing Eric Berry to a ruptured Achilles in September. But I understand the frustration this exercise would cause a Chiefs fan, going from Mahomes to Woods. That has to be kind of a letdown. Like if you went to a comedy club to see Bill Burr, but instead it was me headlining. So, I get that.
Awuzie going to Atlanta.
ATLANTA FALONS: 31ST OVERALL
Original pick: Traded to the Seahawks, then the 49ers (Reuben Foster).
Awuzie was actually drafted: by the Cowboys in Round 2 (No. 60).
Blowing a huge lead in the Super Bowl is going to make you want to go out and splurge on defense. In reality, the Falcons did that when they traded up for Takkarist McKinley. Which I thought was a good move at the time. But here, we’re going with Awuzie, who has been extremely solid in coverage for the Cowboys. He’s not the second coming of Deion Sanders (oh, wow, that works as a callback for both the Cowboys and the Falcons), but he would be pretty nice right here.
Chidobe Awuzie didn’t have a stellar season for the Cowboys in 2019, so it is likely hard for people to believe how he could have gone in the first round. He has been a fine cornerback three years in, he just hasn’t been a top-of-the-league guy, although he will need to be now that Byron Jones is gone.
While the focus of the do-over is Dallas landing Budda Baker the reality is that they did have an opportunity to draft TJ Watt when they took Taco Charlton. Watt heading a class that also featured Woods, Awuzie, and the not mentioned but very good Jourdan Lewis surely would have been a solid group.