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Could the Cowboys draft look like 2017 all over again, only with better players this time around?

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Could it be deja vu all over again for the Cowboys?

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL Draft is just a few weeks away, and before we know it, all these mock draft exercises will be gone. Trying to figure out who the Dallas Cowboys will select with their draft picks is always entertaining. The brain-trust inside The Star tell us they’re looking to take the best player available, but we have no idea how they have these college players stacked.

While we don’t have that type of inside knowledge, we do have the benefit of seeing all of the Cowboys free agent activity this offseason. This may provide a little bit of a hint as to how the team sees things falling into place for them in the draft. Their biggest moves this offseason include: re-signing WR Amari Cooper, adding DT’s Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, as well as signing S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

These are good moves, but the team still has some gaps on their roster due to the losses of two of their best defenders - Byron Jones and Robert Quinn. Both those guys proved to be too far out of the Cowboys price range, but the team hasn’t made much of an effort to replace them. Sure, they signed a couple guys, but CB Maurice Canady and recently added DE Aldon Smith (who has hasn’t played since 2015) aren’t expected to be the answer. Why hasn’t the team done a little more to address these positions?

It’s possible the answer to that question lies within the draft, and the Cowboys may already be preparing for that. Maybe they are high on a player like DE K’Lavon Chaisson or CB C.J. Henderson and believe they have a good shot to select one of them with their 17th overall pick. Landing Chaisson there would be great for Dallas because there aren’t many strong edge rushers in this draft.

The same is not true for corners as there are good ones all along the top 100 players of the draft, meaning ideally they could land an edge rusher early and then look to add a cornerback on Day 2. With so many good options, it just feels like a first-round caliber corner will still be there at pick 51. In fact, the talent is so deep that it might behoove them to double-dip at the position to collect as much of the good talent as they can in the draft. With both Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis in the final year of their contract, grabbing a couple starting caliber corners from this draft would give them a leg up on addressing some of their potential roster holes next season.

And speaking of a position that is deep, there are many wide receivers to choose from spread out all over the draft. There should be some great value picks in each round, even as late of Day 3. This may be one of the factors in why they make a stronger push to keep Randall Cobb.

What would you think of a draft haul that looked like this:

Round 1: DE K’Lavon Chaisson

Round 2: CB A.J. Terrell

Round 3: CB Damon Arnette

Round 4: WR K.J. Hill

In this scenario, the Cowboys get in on the best of something right before it dries up. That’s how you want to run your draft - get in on the good eats before the talent drops off with the next tier.

Dallas took a similar approach back in 2017. While they had a huge need at cornerback after losing both Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne in free agency, they knew the draft class was deep, so they waited. And instead, they took one of the top remaining edge rushers on their board. They had the right idea, but just took the wrong player. As expected, the team was able to find two good corners in the second and third round with Awuzie and Lewis. If they just would’ve taken T.J. Watt instead of Taco Charlton, it would’ve been an A+ draft.

In that same draft, the team took wide receiver Ryan Switzer in the fourth round. If they scored K.J. Hill that late in this draft, that would be a nice get for the Cowboys as he would fit in nicely with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.

It may not inspire confidence to try to mirror a draft that many fans would like to forget, but things could work out differently if the team takes better players. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, the 2017 draft wasn’t as atrocious as you might think.

Recently, Adam Rank from NFL.com did a 2017 re-draft exercise, and while Charlton ended up being a complete bust, the Cowboys actually have two players that were selected in the first round. Rank chooses safety Xavier Woods 27th overall as well as cornerback Chidobe Awuzie 31st overall. Those two players have been solid fixtures along the Cowboys secondary the past three seasons.

Who knows what direction the Cowboys will go this year, but it wouldn’t be shocking if their draft started having a familiar look to it.