As we put this year’s draft in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to look at the work the Cowboys put in to replace some holes on their roster. Did they do enough or are there plenty of things left to address?
Heading into this year’s event, we posted an article the day of round one talking about the importance for the Cowboys, and especially the duo of Stephen Jones and Will McClay, to produce some hits after a bad outing in 2019. The Cowboys had also made a few tough decisions that would shape their offseason to-do list.
They decided to not pay Byron Jones, their top cornerback, and he bounced right to Miami on a huge deal. The Cowboys also couldn’t match the Bears on another big deal for 2019 sack-leader DE Robert Quinn. Though Mike McCarthy wanted a chance to reunite with WR Randall Cobb, his offer from the Texans was also too rich for Dallas. Last but not least, Travis Frederick, the multi-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl center decided to hang up his cleats. The Cowboys attacked the defensive tackle and safety position in free agency by bringing in three talented veterans, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Still, there was plenty of work left to do at cornerback, defensive end, safety, receiver, and both interior lines.
Patience and trust in the evaluation ended up being the most significant focus for the Dallas Cowboys throughout the three day draft process. If this draft class for the Cowboys turns out to be as good as the experts say it is, it will be because of what the team did versus what they didn’t do. A recap below:
- Starting in round one, the Cowboys selected OU’s star WR CeeDee Lamb, many expert’s top receiver in the class. Lamb was sixth on the Cowboys draft board and had no business being available. Instead of taking LSU DE K’Lavon Chaisson, who would fill a more pressing need, the Cowboys decided to take the better football player. Now, they roll into 2020 with an even more potent offense than they had before.
- The Cowboys heavily considered drafting Alabama CB Trevon Diggs at 17, had they been wiped out of their top targets. Diggs was one of those fringe prospect that had a late-first/early-second-round grade on him. Instead, they patiently waited for him at 51. Diggs is immediately in the mix to start on the outside, and all signs point to that happening.
- Again, the Cowboys took the best player on their board in DT Neville Gallimore out of Oklahoma. Another prospect that could have easily been gone in the second round but the Cowboys were fortunate enough to grab a round later than projected.
DAY THREE (ROUND 4-7)
- A double-dip for cornerback Reggie Robinson from Tulsa. A skilled press corner with ball skills and high upside as a potential future starter. The Cowboys feel good enough about Robinson to let him hit the ground running and believe he could end up taking snaps in sub-packages. By year’s end, there is no telling how far Robinson may rise on the depth chart.
- At 146 overall, the Cowboys strike a trade with their NFC East rivals to acquire a top center prospect with an injury issue that dropped his stock. Tyler Biadasz started 41 games center for the famed offensive line factory that has become Wisconsin. The Cowboys are looking forward to getting Biadasz to compete for the starting center position with Joe Looney and Connor McGovern. Some draft experts had Tyler Biadasz in their Top-100, the Cowboys strike again with major value.
- When the Cowboys were on the clock at 179, they had to be shocked to see Bradlee Anae still sitting there. Anae came off a lackluster combine performance but his production for one the nation’s top defenses in Utah was hard to ignore. Anae may not be the most impressive athlete but he wins at the point of attack with a detailed pass rushing plan and supreme intelligence. Anae was ranked 89th on Dane Brugler’s Top-100 and the Cowboys landed him with the last pick in the fifth round. Once again, the value favors the Dallas Cowboys.
- They finished up the draft with a Mike McCarthy special, find a young quarterback to develop, and the Cowboys took James Madison’s Ben DiNucci.
What the Cowboys did on draft weekend with their first five selections was brilliant. Each one of those five guys are projected to contribute at various levels of this football team. Whether it’s a starting role or not, each player will have a role and they are certain to blow the 2019 class out of the water in terms of production.
So, what’s left to do for the Cowboys? The answer is whatever they see fit. They don’t have to press for a veteran pass rusher, another cornerback, or perhaps a safety. The Cowboys don’t need much if anything at all on the offense except locking up their quarterback on a long-term deal. Maybe they take a peek to see if they can get a few contributors to battle for special teams positions. The Cowboys really can add whoever they want at any position and it would make sense but this draft class has covered them at most positions that needed immediate addressing.
When looking for a brief summary that encapsulates what the Cowboys accomplished on draft weekend, look no further than this:
Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay said he and Mike McCarthy hit it off immediately when McCarthy said to him: "Players over system."— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) April 28, 2020
McClay: "Well, that rung a bell with me right away. We have a great relationship. We talk all the time."
The above statement by Will McClay, the Cowboys lead in the scouting department, perfectly shows you what the strategy was during this draft. Teams that draft well do so by keeping the integrity of their draft boards intact. It’s a very hard thing to do for a lot of football clubs because it requires thinking outside the roster needs sometimes. Fortunately, for the Cowboys, they were able to line up their strategy with their needs and come away with incredible perceived value all at once. The odds of pulling this off has to be very small but the Cowboys were in the right frame of mind, at the right time, to just let these chips fall right into their favor.