It has been a couple of weeks since the NFL Draft, but the good feelings have not worn off for the Dallas Cowboys. The team was extremely pleased with the players they selected. The fan base seems to be somewhere between giddy with excitement and stunned with disbelief that it actually happened.
The only thing we don’t know is if this class will live up to the hype and expectations. That is always a bit of a concern when things look almost too good. With no football activities until some unknown point in the future, all we have to support the contention that this was at least a contender for the best draft haul of the year is to check and see what outside observers have to say.
One of the most well-known names in draft media is ESPN’s Todd McShay. He has been doing this stuff for longer than most. He just put up an article detailing the five teams that saw the biggest improvements in the draft. And you can count him as another fan of the picks from Jerry’s yacht. Topping his list of five teams is your Dallas Cowboys.
What a tremendous opening two nights of the draft for Dallas. And it started at No. 17 overall. Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was nothing short of a gift for the Cowboys there. He’s just so good after the catch, and he’s a strong route runner with great instincts. The Cowboys’ offense led the NFL with 431.5 yards per game last season, and now Dak Prescott has Lamb alongside Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and Ezekiel Elliott. That’s a nightmare for defensive coordinators.
Then Dallas came back on Friday with cornerback Trevon Diggs out of Alabama, followed by defensive tackle Neville Gallimore, Lamb’s Oklahoma teammate. Diggs brings versatility, ball-hawking and tight press-man coverage skills. He’s likely a starter as a rookie and helps pad the free-agency loss of Byron Jones in a secondary that has struggled. Diggs had three interceptions for the Crimson Tide in 2019, while the Cowboys managed just seven — tied for the lowest total in the NFL.
Gallimore is explosive in the middle of the defensive line. His tape was a bit inconsistent, but the 304-pounder ran a downright silly 4.79 in the 40-yard dash at the combine and flashes the ability to drive offensive linemen back and get off blocks. I expect him to play in some form of rotation and show off his playmaking traits.
The Cowboys didn’t get an edge rusher with an early pick, but fifth-rounder Bradlee Anae has upside. He won’t be the fastest or most athletic pass-rusher on the field, but I love his technique and he plays with a ton of effort. The Utah defensive end ought to contribute on special teams, too.
While safety will remain a concern, Dallas took care of some other big needs while also taking some of the top talents on the board. The Cowboys were able to land instant-impact contributors with a lot of potential.
From hiring Mike McCarthy to landing Andy Dalton, the moves by the Cowboys have almost all been getting really good reviews. The draft stands out, however, because there were so many picks that looked to be high value. Over half are viewed almost universally as absolute steals.
That doesn’t mean you can start your Hall of Fame campaign for any of these rookies, of course. Draft pedigree is really important until that first play on the field. And then it is all about what you do.
There is something else, however, that may be just as significant as the eventual on-field performance. That is how the draft process for the Cowboys is indirectly getting praised. That is certainly implied when you see things like “top talents on the board.” The preparation and planning in Dallas absolutely went very, very well. There had to be more than a little luck in how the draft played out to make the selections possible, but the eventual results showed that the team executed their plan almost flawlessly.
We must be ready for a player or two to under-perform our likely over-inflated expectations. But the volume of high value picks means that the Cowboys should get more than one impact contributor from this draft. More importantly, this draft, the first of the McCarthy era, offers a lot of reasons to think the team has found a groove, one they may be able to duplicate in the future. That alone is justification for praise.