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Cowboys news: Cornerback or bust? Mock drafts are pointing in that direction for the Cowboys

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Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

2021 NFL mock draft: Panthers, Washington, 49ers get QBs - Dane Brugler, The Athletic

Dane Brugler’s latest mock (3.0) just came out, and who does he have the Cowboys picking? Well, I’m glad you asked...

10. Dallas Cowboys — Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama

The Cowboys could go Rashawn Slater here or possibly a front-seven defender, but cornerback is currently a weak spot on the roster and Surtain would be a natural fit in Dan Quinn’s scheme. With a Pro Bowl father, he was groomed to play the position at a high level would be an immediate starter in Dallas playing alongside his former Alabama teammate Trevon Diggs.

Best-case, worst-case scenarios for all 32 NFL teams - Anthony Treash, Pro Football Focus

PFF determines best- and worst-case outcomes for all 32 teams this offseason.


Best-case: Caleb Farley is there at the 10th overall pick

Worst-case: They re-sign Chidobe Awuzie to start opposite Trevon Diggs once again

Finding a corner to start opposite Trevon Diggs in 2021 is the top priority for Dallas this offseason. Finding a cornerback tailor-made for man coverage in Dan Quinn’s defense would be the icing on the cake. Farley didn’t play a lot of press man in college at Virginia Tech, but he has the physical tools needed to thrive in this type of defense. Before opting out of the 2020 season, Farley allowed one or fewer catches in seven of his 11 starts in 2019 while intercepting four passes and breaking up nine en route to a 26.8 passer rating allowed and a 90.5 coverage grade.

Trevon Diggs Needs Help as Cowboys Build 2021 CB Depth Chart - Jess Haynie, Inside the Star

Adding a new corner in the draft would give last year’s rookie investment some help.

Dallas could very well use their 10th-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft to land an elite CB prospect. One or both of Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II may be there when the Cowboys are on the clock.

Both Farley and Surtain are big-bodied prototypes who would pair nicely with Trevon Diggs in the starting lineup. While Dallas has several potential uses for their 1st-round pick, this is one spot where few should find cause for complaint.

But the top three at cornerback isn’t the only concern. Dallas may also need to look at depth as the likes of Deante Burton, Rashard Robinson, and Saivion Smith aren’t exactly inspiring.

A potential underrated loss would be if veteran C.J. Goodwin were to leave this offseason. One of the best special teams players in the league, Goodwin has done more to affect games the last few years than most backups.

We could see last year’s 4th-round pick, Reggie Robinson, move back to CB after Mike Nolan’s regime converted him to safety. But no matter what secondary position he plays, Robinson may help replace Goodwin’s special teams duties based on his athleticism and past work from college.

Clearly, cornerback is a big topic for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021. They appear to have struck gold with Trevon Diggs but are now dealing with the lack of development from previous draft picks. This could lead to a lot of player movement this offseason.

Dallas Cowboys Draft: Cornerback in the first round or bust? - Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat

If the Cowboys are looking to the draft to find an immediate starter alongside Diggs, it better happen pretty early.

If the Cowboys are going to use a top-ten selection on a cornerback, it has to be one that can start beside second-year defensive back Trevon Diggs and veteran Anthony Brown. Dallas could also choose to re-sign one of their pending free agents to act as a bridge player for any incoming rookies.

If the Cowboys decide to use a first-rounder on a corner, the choice appears to be between Farley and Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II. Both prospects come in at 6-foot-2 and at a weight hovering just over 200-pounds.

In 2019, Farley racked up 20 total tackles, 12 pass defends, and four interceptions in 10 games. While Surtain, who didn’t opt out this past season, recorded 37 combined tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, nine pass defends, and one interception in 13 games last year. Both also posted defensive touchdowns in their respective seasons.

In case you missed it...

Cowboys 2021 mock draft roundup: One name returns to dominate the mocks - Dave Halprin, Blogging The Boys

If recent mocks are any indication, cornerback could be in the cards for Dallas for pick 10.

In our weekly mock draft roundups, the same names keep appearing; that will tend to happen when you pick near the top of the round. But out of those names, one particular player is dominating the mocks for the Cowboys at pick #10. That guy is Caleb Farley, cornerback out of Virginia Tech.

The Cowboys defense certainly needs help, and with Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis entering free agency, cornerback becomes a position of need. That has brought Farley and Patrick Surtain, the consensus top two corners in the draft, into the Cowboys’ orbit in many mocks. Five out of ten of our mocks have Farley as the pick.

Cowboys’ biggest free agency needs: Who’s staying or going? - Jon Machota, The Athletic

The Athletic’s Jon Machota takes a look at the Cowboys most pressing needs entering free agency and offers up some potential targets.

1. Safety. It would likely make this list every year over the last decade. The Cowboys went into last season with hopes of starting Xavier Woods alongside veteran Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, whom they signed to a one-year, $3.75 million deal last March. Clinton-Dix was released before the start of the regular season. Woods and Donovan Wilson, a sixth-round pick in 2019, played most of the safety snaps in 2020. Woods was on the field for 84 percent of the defensive snaps, second-most behind linebacker Jaylon Smith. Wilson played 56 percent. Darian Thompson played 43 percent. Wilson is the expected 2021 starter at strong safety. The Cowboys will likely be looking in free agency and the draft for their starting free safety.

Key names to target: Justin Simmons, Anthony Harris, Marcus Williams, Marcus Maye, Malik Hooker, Keanu Neal. There are several options that will come at several different prices. Simmons, Harris, Williams and Maye will likely be too expensive. Hooker, the 15th overall pick in 2017, suffered a torn Achilles in September, so he might be a little more affordable. Neal has only two interceptions in five seasons, but new Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the Falcons head coach when Atlanta drafted Neal in the first round in 2016. He has suffered a torn Achilles and a torn ACL in the last three seasons.

Key names who might leave: Woods is an unrestricted free agent. He could return if they feel he’s the best option at the right price. What seems more likely is that the Cowboys will sign a veteran free safety and use a third- or fourth-round pick on a player to hopefully develop into the future at the position. The Cowboys drafted Woods in the sixth round in 2017. He played in all 16 games his rookie year, starting four. He played at least 86 percent of the team’s defensive snaps over the last three seasons.

Pitfalls the Cowboys need to avoid in the 2021 NFL draft, like reaching for a defender at No. 10 - John Owning, Dallas Morning News

The Cowboys front office would be wise to heed these warnings from DMN’s John Owning.

Reaching for a defensive player at No. 10

The Cowboys’ defense has more holes than Swiss cheese, so it would be easy for them to become fixated on a defensive player with the 10th overall pick. Unfortunately for them, this draft class is dangerously thin on defensive players at the very top.

While cornerbacks Caleb Farley and Patrick Surtain II sit atop most Cowboys wish lists, there’s a real chance both are gone by the time Dallas goes on the clock. This would put the Cowboys in quite a pickle if they’re too focused on improving the defense at No. 10.

To me, there’s not a defender in this class worthy of the 10th overall pick outside of Farley and Surtain.

Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, who’s occasionally been mocked to Dallas early in the draft process, doesn’t have the high-level instincts that would be necessary for me to comfortably select him at No. 10.

Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is too raw when it comes to taking on blocks and processing information from the box to be worth it (although I’ve fallen in love with his coverage ability and versatility).

Miami edge defender Jaelan Phillips is a “pet cat” of mine and has tape that would normally make him a real option at No. 10, but his injury history is scary. I’m no doctor, but drafting someone who the UCLA medical staff suggested should retire from football less than three years ago is just too risky with the 10th overall pick.

Former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus has told stories over the years about how Jerry Jones and Co. have fallen into the trap of “window-dressing” their board by selecting a player based on need rather than taking one of the best available. Reaching for need can be warranted at times, but because there are larger clusters of prospects with similar-ish grades later in the draft, there’s too much risk in doing that at the top. If the player filling a need was really worth the selection in the first place, the team wouldn’t need to “reach” because he’d already have a grade worthy of the draft slot.

The Cowboys shouldn’t allow themselves to fall into that trap this year. They have to be prepared to take the top-rated prospect on their board at No. 10, even if it’s an offensive player.

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