Sometimes, we all could use a mulligan. Or, perhaps, disappointment is just prelude to something much more satisfying. Whatever one's perspective, there is one thing all Cowboy fans can agree on: Dallas needed a rebound draft to follow up from what has so far been an unsatisfying (to be charitable) 2019 class. Plus, the absence of a first round pick a year ago made for bland mocks and capped the upside that could be hoped for from the rookies the team would land. As it turns out, 2019 as a whole did not offer the strongest first-year returns around the league either.
What a difference a year makes! With the NFL pre-draft and actual rookie selection event in the spotlight more than ever before due to the lockdown of the sports world, the fun and anticipation of everything associated with the draft was already dialed up. And once again, Cowboy fans could expect to see a projected pick offered for their team in even shallow single-round mocks. With the pool of players available perceived to be strong, notably with depth at some need areas for Dallas, the stage was set for a better go-around.
For the pick breakdowns, there are two traits of each selection that we can objectively take a stab at rating in the present: value, and fit. Value will be labeled poor/solid/strong relative to "market" expectations, and fit will assign unclear/good/great (there is no such thing as a "bad" fit coming out of the draft) ratings based on what we can project about scheme fit and/or how the player meets the needs of the team.
Want to check out past "unwrapping" editions? Click the links below:
The Draft Picks
Round 1, Pick 17 (overall): CeeDee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma
Sometimes, one needs to extend beyond the desired scale to paint the right picture; this is one of those times. 2020 offered a trio of top tier receivers, and while the three could be projected to go in any order Lamb was generally considered to be the first or second best. There was a chance that he would crack the top 10 overall, but the draft seemed to line up nicely for all three pass catchers to be snatched up by pick 15. As it turns out, many of the most receiver-needy franchises also needed OTs, and a strong foursome there combined with the Raiders surprisingly making Henry Ruggs III (the general consensus #3 WR) the first receiver off the board helped drop this bone fide blue-chipper into Dallas's lap. The team admitted that it never once experienced this outcome when executing its own practice drafts, which speaks volumes about the on-paper profit.
This would be "only" a "good" rating on the basis of the position need alone for Dallas. That part is simple: the Cowboys have two set-in-stone young starters at wideout - meaning that it wasn't a priority need - but in today's NFL a WR3 sees a lot of snaps and Dallas lost its 2019 occupant of the role, Randall Cobb. In a deep receiver draft, there was no need to force a selection for this too early, but it would have been a lost opportunity for the Cowboys to walk away without a solid or better investment here. What bumps the rating up to the top level is that Lamb's skill set specifically offers something that was missing from holdovers Cooper and Gallup. Both are adept at creating separation, which is the ideal trait for the ball-protecting Dak Prescott to exploit, but neither is particularly suited to winning contested or "high point" throws. Lamb appears much more capable in this aspect, and if that proves to be the case Prescott would have an automatic outlet option on all blitzes or straight pass rushes that penetrate before routes can fully develop. Rather than having to buy time in the pocket, Prescott can know where Lamb is at all times and what sort of throw if placed generally right would be safe from a defender. This kind of addition could have a transformative effect on the offense beyond the basic production it would offer, especially in terms of Red Zone efficiency thanks to adding a matchup advantage.
Overview: Plans change, OR, no way he's available at 17
All indications point to Dallas's pre-draft plan being focused on defense, turning to the other side of the ball only when the opportunity was correct. In fact, the Cowboys have a habit of laying out enough dots that, when connected, reveal its intended targets, and by Thursday night it was no secret that LSU edge rusher K'Lavon Chaisson was the apple of the team's eye with next-tier defenders such as Trevon Diggs (see below) serving as the contingency if Chaisson were off the board. But once the front office saw the #6 overall prospect on its board sitting there, the expectations and projections flew out the window. Few thought it could happen, and maybe it shouldn't have happened...and yet, it did.
Round 2, Pick 51 (overall): Trevon Diggs, CB, Alabama
Diggs, the younger brother of Buffalo's Stefon, was part of a wide collection of second tier cornerbacks in this class. While there was only one consensus top dog (Jeff Okudah) and another who joined him as the pre-draft process moved along (CJ Henderson), there were as many as eight guys with similar, could-go-anywhere-from-middle-first-to-end-second-round grades. The Cowboys have proven very capable of exploiting these situations, landing one of the last guys in a broad single tier at a position (and thus better value) at CB in 2017 and both OL and WR in 2018, and it looks like it pulled the trick again in snatching Diggs later in the second round. Rumor has it that Diggs might have been next on Dallas's board at 17 after Chaisson, and somehow the Cowboys landed him an entire round after that. The only reason this isn't a totally "Great" value is because the consensus didn't fully concur with the Cowboys, not because Diggs came out clearly lower on average but because there was a diversity of opinions with this group and he has the inexperience to validate his lasting longer than most of his peers.
The chain-reaction fallout of the Lamb pick was that it rendered defense an even higher priority than it had been, seeing as it was the side with significantly greater need to open the draft, and with Byron Jones gone and multiple DBs only a year away from free agency CB was unquestionably the greatest need for the Cowboys. Diggs also brings length and press skills to the table, something that has been highly desired schematically by the Cowboys for some time and may continue to be a preference. The limiting factor on the fit grade here is that in losing Byron Jones the Cowboys opened a hole at CB1, one that could really only be filled in the draft if the team could land at least an instant CB2 and thus be able to field at least two solid starters. Diggs, by contrast, is a relatively recent convert from receiver to coverage guy and thus is too limited in his sum instincts and experience to pencil in as an immediate worthy starter. That doesn't mean he won't manage that after all, but the odds say that he'll be a top-snap non-starter in 2020 before ascending to full-time starter in 2021.
Overview: All the benefits of a trade-up without any of the heartburn aftereffects
Diggs would never have been a fully-satisfying pick at 17 due to limited value, but it was close enough to his range and the position enough of a team need that it would have worked. After a short move downward, to a pick in the 23-32 range? Better. But this outcome is almost too good to be believed. While Diggs was apparently not a top preference in this class's second tier, he was Dallas's, and rather than ending up with a corner with a similar grade who was a bit lower on the team board the Cowboys landed its guy despite waiting on him. Word has it that the team felt enough pull for Diggs to at least ponder a move up from 51, which makes this all the sweeter. A word of warning: do not let year-one expectations for Diggs go too far. With his length and Alabama pedigree, it is fair to expect Diggs to at least get into the depth snaps of the cornerback rotation, but as outlined above it is best to cap it there for 2020. His time as starter should come in 2021; if sooner, lean back and take a drink from the gravy boat!
Round 3, Pick 82 (overall): Neville Gallimore, Interior DL, Oklahoma
Once again, the Cowboys landed a guy who was a member of a peer group with pretty good size, and got him on the later side of said group's range. While talk of him peeking into the first round was probably never legit, Gallimore had "day two" written all over him, and he slide down three quarters of that way before the Cowboys eagerly scooped him up. And just as Diggs was an option for pick 17 overall, reports have emerged that Gallimore was under consideration at 51 even with Diggs still there. It was most probably not a serious consideration, but it sounds as if, pre-draft, the Cowboys would have been satisfied with landing Gallimore that round earlier to follow up a DB selection in the first round had things shaped up that way.
There is a general misconception that the broadly-defined "Defensive Tackle" is a singular type of position for big bodies and that's that. There are multiple roles for such guys, which is why "Interior DL" is catching on as a better broad label for the position. Even then, there are types of IDLs, and different schemes will look for somewhat different things even within those types. All of that is a roundabout way to introduce that the Dallas Cowboys have aimed and likely will continue to generally aim for two types of IDL: the smaller, quicker "3-Tech" who is suited to disrupt plays by attacking gaps, and bigger "1-Tech"s. Where the Cowboys depart from some is that they are virtually allergic to 1Ts who totally lack the quickness to offer some pass rush ability - those types have been devalued league-wide (see Leki Fotu going at 114th overall this year), but many teams are still willing to roster them. Some Cowboy fans have made the mistake of viewing the Poe addition as a departure from the past scheme fit, but it's actually fully in line with Dallas's desires given his exceptional quickness for his size. Perhaps the best label for Poe is a "hybrid 1T/3T", as in an IDL with a 1T body and size and a decent amount of 3T quickness. While its possible that the team is anticipating Gallimore as a pure 3T, more likely he is an example of the team's ideal hybrid 1T, and that makes him exactly what this team needs for the position long-term. As a bonus, Gallimore has the tools to potentially line up as a 5-Tech (aka 3-4 DE) for the three-man fronts Mike Nolan appears ready to mix in, and thus he offers potential role versatility.
Overview: A beast-traits guy who might just be scratching the surface
"Big Canada" has seen steady progress since drawing major recruit attention despite his north-of-the-border origin. Given his raw status when first arriving on campus, he took a redshirt year; from there he began as a reserve in playing-year one before ascending to starter for the majority of the second half, began year two as a starter before missing a couple of games and remaining as a reserve upon return, saw a big jump in production as a full-time starting junior, and finally continued to progress and produce senior year. It's worth highlighting that he spent a lot of time as a more pure NT and carried an extra 25 lbs on his frame earlier on, and the jump in his impact appeared to coincide with his drop in mass. All that speaks to the possibility of a very high ceiling. Better yet, Gallimore carries a combination of Poe-like traits and a McCoy-type personality (right on down to sharing McCoy's alma mater) and motor, and thus he'll have ideal role models to learn from. It's easy to imagine McCoy taking the rookie under his wing as a pet project.
Round 4, Pick 123 (overall): Reggie Robinson II, CB, Tulsa
The value train continued to chug along for the Cowboys at the start of Day Three with this selection. Robinson wasn't an astonishing slide or anything, but many opinions had him graded significantly higher and thus while he surely was lower on some team boards it would have only taken one other good-fit team to see him gone. Repeating the 2020 Cowboy draft theme, some deeper mocks placed him around or even smack dab at Dallas's third round pick; it's not a pure profit move, but the value lined up at cost or better. Robinson's weaknesses have kept him from ever being anticipated as a high pick, but he's been a near-full starter since his redshirt freshman season and thus has been on the general radar.
If we're looking at this purely from a shorter-term starting CB angle, it isn't a completely smashing fit, but Robinson checks a number of additional boxes - the sort you like to see checked from a mid-round pick. First, Dallas is definitely in the market for DB depth, and his selection adds to the unit's numbers. Second, some see Safety potential in him, and that possible versatility improves his chances to helping out for now and eventually hitting. Third, he offers strong potential in special teams between strong tackling ability and a history of blocked kicks, giving him a very good shot at carving an early-career role in that area of play if he doesn't immediately contribute on defense. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Robinson is a scheme-specific talent that would be a terrible fit for some but profiles as a press-cover outside CB that exhibits what the Cowboys appear set to want under Nolan. His "spider graph" of measurables is a fun one, as he brings upper percentile size and plenty of length; while he lacks short-area quickness and thus likely won't ever see work in the slot, he has speed, explosiveness, and even a top-end bench press that helps validate his tackling projection.
Overview: Never let one failed attempt discourage from going back to the well when the payout would be worth it
A year ago, the Cowboys took a mid-round shot at a similar CB prospect, Mike Jackson. Jackson was an even more extreme version of Robinson, with loads of height and length and physicality, but very stiff quickness and short-area mobility for sticking with receivers. At the point in the draft he was taken, it was worth a lottery ticket shot on a guy who might display a complete lack of NFL traits or if he could stick might need some time to be playable, and indeed Jackson was sent to the practice squad before eventually being poached by the Lions. Robinson isn't far off from Jackson, but seems to be a little less absolute in his strengths and weaknesses, and also might be of more immediate help on specials. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!
Round 4, Pick 146 (overall): Tyler Biadasz, C, Wisconson
Many mid-round prospects are taken there because that was always their perceived value, while others rose from being completely off the radar. Biadasz was neither; instead, his steadily impressive career had him positioned as a projected potential top Center off the 2020 board as of a year ago. Why did he slide all the way to the final pick in the fourth, then? Surgery before the 2019 season, a seeming step back year (albeit award-winning), and some continued health questions remaining during this unprecedented pre-draft period lacking in the usual medicals added up to Biadasz going later, even though most seemed to still feel that he had plug-and-play possibilities and a perfectly solid future starter profile.
A the risk of cheapening what is meant to be a rarely-used category label, a value prospect really doesn't line up in every way better than this and thus "max" gets used a second time. Dallas found smashing success the last time it turned to an established Wisconsin Center, and that man's (Travis Frederick's) sudden retirement meant that the Cowboys were in the market for another at the position. The team wasn't really in a place to make a high-end investment there, and yet a prospect who could at least be in the backup mix while also competing to start could be a real boon. Enter Biadasz, whose unwavering, career-long strong play in the running game means he can be expected to handle at least that much early in his career. As a childhood farm boy who seized the starting role and never relinquished it after first stepping in after redshirting, Biadasz's entire career coincided with that of RB Jonathan Taylor, who went 41st overall to the Colts. As with most every OL prospect from his program, he is less battle tested in the pass-blocking department, but that could as much mean that he has untapped potential to handle that side of his position as it could be a weakness.
Overview: A classic "how did he ever go so late?" profile
When a disappointing season yields consensus All-America recognition and the first Rimington award (nation's best Center) in school history, one has to wondering whether the scouts have gotten a little too caught up in the imperfections of a prospect and missed the woods for the trees. Perhaps Biadasz is too close to a finished product, maybe he never polishes away a tendency to lunge in his blocks, or perhaps his strength and anchor end up too ordinary and susceptible to power defenders. But that could be true of a Center taken in even the early rounds. It's asking too much to pencil him in to the team's starting role in 2020 and perhaps ever, but it easily could happen - and that is all that could really be asked here.
Round 5, Pick 179 (overall): Bradlee Anae, Edge, Utah
One more for good measure, it seems. Anae is not a prospect without notable limitations, but he did so much so well that he had quality mid-round pick written all over him. His lack of quick twitch and bend around the corner as well as top athleticism and size would have made it hard to justify an early round selection, but he was so productive, polished, and relentless on the edge that the fourth round seemed to be his floor. Instead, the Cowboys snatched up a projectable prospect very much in the lottery ticket portion of the proceedings.
As noted above, Anae isn't quite the ideal pure edge pass rusher, and he also is a bit too undersized and lacking in anchor to consistently hold his spot in the run game. On the other hand, he has done a lot of damage from the outside in ways that many superior talents do not, such as with his set of rush moves and aggressive hand usage. He also simply keeps coming and coming on plays, and so he'll do something positive if given an opportunity - which is exactly what the Dallas defense looks to provide on the opposite side of Demarcus Lawrence. With talk that Anae might be best suited as a standup edge in a 3-4, even if he can't quite cut the mustard as a 4-3 DE he could rotate in on 3-man-front looks - and he might also fit nicely as a SAM LB on the minority of snaps that see one take the field for the Cowboys.
Overview: It takes little imagination to see this pure football player find his place on the team
While it's unclear whether Anae has what it takes to ever become a full-time starting defender, he's noted as the kind of player coaches love. His effort and technique alone should be enough to carry the day when matched against tired blockers, meaning he should be at least the right kind of card to have up one's sleeve ready to play on key mid-game snaps. He should be able to exploit unpolished blockers who are unable to leverage their physical advantages and also shows a trained ability to strip the ball. Anae could be the sort of limited-snap player who puts up an abnormally high highlight-to-snap ratio.
Round 7, Pick 231 (overall): Ben DiNucci, QB, James Madison
Value: Poor (lottery ticket)
As is a common occurrence at this stage, don't let the "poor" label fool you into thinking that this is actually a bad pick. The seventh round is seen by many franchises as the time to take your undrafted-free-agent-level prospects whom you also suspect you might lose to someone else, and some post-draft reports have noted that DiNucci had the eye of multiple other teams. His is the sort of name that isn't expected to get drafted at all, but the Cowboys apparently didn't want to lose him
Cooper Rush might be taking more lumps these days than he deserves, but it's hard to look at him as a long-time reliable backup. The Cowboys were certainly in the market for a guy whom the media couldn't present as a threat to Dak Prescott's job but has the tools to hold the fort when needed, and that is what DiNucci seems to be bring to the table. He doesn't have a big arm or physical tools and doesn't come from a major program (having transferred from Pittsburgh to James Madison halfway through his college career), but he did show accuracy and moxie in a bit statistical senior season. This is the epitome of a developmental QB prospect - best indicated by the fact that he didn't even have a Wikipedia entry as of the start of the draft.
Overview: A stated-mission accomplished for Mike McCarthy
McCarthy has a history of working with developmental passers, and finding another in this draft season (with a pick or as an UDFA) was a stated goal of the team leading into the proceedings. In the mold of former great Tony Romo, DiNucci has the look of someone who in even only a year will garner "who the heck is this guy?" status when he makes the roster as a backup and gets cut from countless Madden franchises...only to go on and actually hold his own, or better, if and when called upon. That, or his draft selection will be his professional highlight!
Notable Undrafted Free Agent Pickups
This is not an exhaustive list, but rather highlights some of UDFA names more worth recognizing:
Francis Bernard, LB, Utah - a former BYU player who had his troubles and seemingly has overcome them in putting up a significant senior season. His play recognition and movement to the tackle got enough attention to make him draftable in the eyes of some in the media; if he can develop technique to handle his weaknesses, he could become a quality depth piece while providing some special teams work in the meantime.
Rico Dowdle, RB, South Carolina - one of a handful of RB stabs by the Cowboys among the undrafteds, Dowdle is a very typical fit for Dallas's RB scheme thanks to a NFL body, good burst ahead, and most especially vision. He has a number of weaknesses to his game, including a lack of ability to elude tacklers, so if he wants to make it he has to prove that he can exploit holes giving to him by the blocking in front of him.
Sean McKeon, TE, Michigan - you've heard this one before, as McKeon is straight out of the Geoff Swaim mold, a block-first guy with size and the ability to find soft spots for catches. He looks like a developmental guy at best given power limitations in his college career, so he might be ticketed for the practice squad.
Aaron Parker, WR, URI - Parker won't win with speed or separation, but he can attack to the ball and win contested catches. In very Cowboy fashion, he appears to offer strong blocking ability for the position, potentially setting up on the second level or even as a "big slot" piece. If Noah Brown's time has finished, this could be a replacement.
Terence Steele, OT, Texas Tech - this could be an OL version of Reggie Robinson II, as Steele brings height, length, strength, and even straight line athleticism to the proceedings, but has questionable agility, bend, etc. This is a pure RT type who likely has little nuance to his career possibilities; if he can improve his technique to the point that his weaknesses in recovery and such don't hold him back, he could be a long-time quality player, and if his weaknesses are as they appear to be he'll probably wash out without even seeing much practice squad time.
Overall Draft Class Summary
Just as winning the offseason isn't even worth the paper the accolades end up printed on, putting up a consensus top-graded draft class guarantees nothing. That being said, it's a nice feeling for the fans to see that their favorite team is receiving praise, and that does suggest positive outcomes in the seasons to come.
What portents best about Dallas's class is that the team has never seemed particularly concerned with following the media's idea of a smart draft plan (usually little more than "take the best available player at your biggest need first, then your next-biggest need second, etc etc") or taking the public's top guys. For good or ill - and in the time of Will McClay and Stephen Jones joining with Jerry Jones, it has been quite a bit more the former than the latter - the Cowboys have their own grades and plan and stick with that. To have another such Cowboy class align so well with perceived needs and player grades could point to an even safe happy outcome here.
Perhaps what speaks best to the Dallas draft process is that the Cowboys once again exploited the sweet spots for various positions. CB was a gigantic need and DT a fairly high priority, and yet Dallas was far from locked in to those at 17. CB saw consideration, but it could have been S, LB, Edge (the most likely one)...and, of course, the position of the actual pick, WR. Dallas likely identified the second round as a safe zone for landing a value new member of the secondary, and the numbers game suggested that some quality DL choices would be there in the third round. The way the Biadasz selection came about was also promising - Dallas intended to wait only for the right value and didn't force a reach on its board in the third (Cushenberry instead of Gallimore) or fourth (Biadasz instead of Robinson), but then became aggressive when needed to move up and snatch the target Wisconson lineman.
Only time can tell whether the picks thrive or at least satisfy, but for now need and value have matched up in rare form. The team needed to replace Cobb, and did so in more exciting fashion than any pre-draft prognostication would have accepted. The secondary needed quality and numbers, and the Cowboys doubled tapped the key CB spot with the lesser of the two potentially offering safety flexibility. The veterans Poe and McCoy needed depth behind them to handle injuries and youth to offer sooner-or-later replacements, Center very much could have used another option in the mix, and the Edge needed a a piece in case suspensions did not dissolve away...bingo, bingo, bingo. Even the hope of a cheap QB who just might pan out under guidance came to pass. Teams have more upgrade opportunities than picks and thus not every single box could get filled in, but 2020 class on paper covered about as many bases as possible. Now it's up to the players and coaches to turn promise into results!
-There was the usual concern by fans about the good-value options drying up ahead of pick 17, but that always seemed unlikely. Recent history has pointed to 17 being a sweet spot in the draft for catching a talent sliding not due to red flags but simply because of the draft numbers game and the slightly zig-instead-of-zag preferences of some of the teams in the 10-15 range. The odds favored a good-value/good-fit prospect (e.g. Chaisson) still being on the board, as actually occurred...but as a bonus, a true blue chip, consensus-top-15 prospects also hung around to the pick. Better pick 17 value: 2018's Derwin James, and 2020's CeeDee Lamb? Ready? Fight!
-Referencing the selection of Lamb, NFL.com's Jane Slater called it (not in a negative way) "a very decadent pick on an extravagant boat, and that is just so on brand for the Cowboys". Point taken for the boat at least, but what it is about the Dallas Cowboys that leads media members into switching off their logic circuits? There was a time when the Cowboys liked the "splash" move and the team will still talk over such things, but these days the franchise is actually rather boring when it comes to building its roster. Going with LVE over lazy-mock WR in 2018, stringing three first round OLmen over four drafts together, minimal major outside free agent spending, sticking with a Head Coach for an extended period when firing him would be a huge news item and be a perfect fall-guy move to take the heat after any given disappointing season...the team is building up quite the track record. To that point, Dallas pretty obviously chose Lamb for the most crusty-old-school of reasons: he was clearly the team's top-rated player, too much so to be overridden by need. Sure, it just so happened that this top-rated player lines up at a glamor position, but that's just coincidence...right?
-The Cowboys saw a string of consecutive classes without a single pick in the top four rounds that didn't originally belong to the team snapped at five (previously, Demarcus Lawrence in 2014). Amusingly, Dallas managed this in precisely the most bare minimum way possible, trading up to the final fourth round compensatory pick to take Biadasz, but fourth round is fourth round. How long will the streak continue, when limited to just the first two days of the draft?
-Speaking of the Biadasz pick, it is remarkable that the Philadelphia Eagles enabled it to happen by being Dallas's trade partner. To be sure, the Eagles got fine "chart" value by landing a 2021 fifth round pick at the cost of only dropping down 18 spots, but if Biadasz pans out to be at least a quality starter that return won't matter. Considering that studies indicate fifth round picks yield barely any better than sixth and seventh round picks, the Eagles are probably patting themselves on the back for bringing in what is in actuality an overrated haul, while the actions of the Cowboys for some time now indicate that it is consciously willing to sell off those particular pieces. Given that the move up landed a target prospect, and that the Cowboys have a very weak recent history with fifth rounders, and that Dallas is slated to receive a full collection of compensatory picks next year, well, it was really no loss as far as the team is concerned.
-This draft could be an all-time Eagle stinker, or a case of getting the last laugh, in the history of this NFC East rivalry. First, the Cowboys scooped up Eagle target Lamb and left Philadelphia to take a receiver from the next tier...while their fans cursed. Then the Cowboys landed another value/need combo piece (one that might have also been in the Philly crosshairs, though who knows?) just ahead of the Eagles, who promptly broke the internet by taking Jalen Hurts...while their fans rioted. And then the Eagles handed the Cowboys a target need prospect...while many Eagle fans at that point completed the seven steps of grieving. If the Dallas players disappoint while the Philadelphia players thrive, the tables will turn badly, but if the projected outcome for these bear the expected fruit Eagles fans might never live this one down (and heck, they surely would make sure that the team's front office never lives it down).
-One last item on the Biadasz pick...maybe every other draft, there is a prospect who catches my personal eye as my top Cowboy target given fit, upside, and expected price. My all-time top guy in this category was Dak Prescott, and so far the returns have been pretty decent there. This year, while I was hoping for any one of the broad-but-weaker-than-usual top group of Centers (sans Ruiz, the one clear true top guy....so, Hennessy, Cushenberry, Biadasz, or Harris) to still be on the board in the third day, it was Biadasz who seemed like the fated perfect fit between the Wisconsin connection, his recent status as a much higher prospect, and the understanding that he had dropped for reasons that a year from now could be ancient history. It feels good to I.D. an ideal mid-round pick and then see your favorite team actually land him...and the revel would be even stronger should he actually pan out. Does the status of the pick as a fourth round comp choice, the same as had been the case for Prescott, clinch the future here?
-Speaking of Prescott, this draft class might every-so-gently lean his long-term negotiations to the finish line. The media loves to speculate that various little items (such as the rise in Prescott's franchise-tag-based 2020 salary, which doesn't mean much given that it still falls under the expected average of his anticipated upcoming deal) changes leverage and especially likes to argue that the Quarterback has gained added leverage, but the fact is that the team wants the player and the player wants the team, weakening the impact of any leverage on either end. Yes, Prescott knows that other teams would want him badly if he were on the open market...but at the same time, does he really want to push things to the point that he could prematurely lose out on the offensive supporting cast the Cowboys have assembled? Doubtful. Watch for a compromise deal to be reached close to, but ahead, of the July 15th deadline.
-Consider for a moment that Gallimore was 22 years old last season and thus is set to be a 23 year old NFL rookie. This is very much typical of the position, given frequent redshirt seasons and college careers that run through senior years in order for the players to fully fill out. According to PFF, here are the current ages (rounded to a tenth of a year) of the IDLs in the draft, in order of their PFF prospect ranking: 22.5, 22.0 (Derrick Brown), 22.4, 22.4, 23.2 (Gallimore), 21.8 (Ross Blacklock), 23.2, 22.9, 22.8, and so on. On top of that, most of the lower-graded IDLs are 23 or older, with one hitting 25.7.
Why does this matter? You've probably sniffed this one out: Trysten Hill is currently 22.1 years old, and thus was 21.1 when drafted a year ago. His rookie self would easily be the youngest guy in this class, and needing technique development relative his peers to boot. He was no polished Derrick Brown, an exceptional IDL prospect even despite his fairly young age specifically because he is special. Meanwhile, the only (barely) remaining 21-year-old in the bunch, Blacklock, is disruptive attacking gaps with plenty of quickness...but shows an inconsistency, need for technique work, struggles to hold his gap when not attacking, and can end up too often on his back. Sound familiar?
None of this promises anything for Hill, but don't forget that he would have been near the very bottom end of the position's age range had he waited one more year and been a part of this class. How much of a difference would another year of physical growth, technique work, and playing experience have meant for his draft profile and first-year impact? How about two more years, as would have been the case had Hill been allowed to transfer as attempted (and then blocked by his coach/school), resulting in a sit year before then another season of playing time and evolution. Would we have ended up looking at a totally different - and even more appealing - 23.1 year-old Trysten Hill, 2021 DT prospect out of Nebraska? We'll never know, but this seems like good cause to reserve judgement for at least one more season before actively looking to kick him to the curb.