The 2021 NFL Draft is just a month away, and before we know it the Dallas Cowboys will have selected a fresh young crop of college prospects. It’s always a fun time of the year for fans who love the draft process; they never know exactly whose name is going to be called on draft day. We all have our grocery list of favorite players that we are crossing our fingers for, and the mystery of the unknown is what makes it so exciting.
While there are a lot of different ways the Cowboys can go, there are some things about this draft that can provide us with some clues as to what might go down. The method with which the Cowboys go about the draft, the landscape of talent, and just the positioning of their picks are all pieces of the puzzle, and it’s our job to collect those pieces and speculate potential outcomes. Certainly, it’s a tall task to get inside the minds of the brain-trust at The Star, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try.
With that in mind, here are three rules the team would be smart to follow in next month’s draft.
BPA at 10 no matter what
We talk about best player available so nonchalantly at times and that can create a lot of debate. Obviously, teams want to pick the most talented player remaining as no team wants to settle for a lesser capable player just because they play a position of need.
For the Cowboys, any player on the defensive side of the ball would be fantastic for them. Unfortunately, this particular draft is front-loaded with offensive stars. This puts the team in the precarious situation of either settling for the best defensive player available or choosing once again another premiere offensive talent. In that scenario, the Cowboys must be prepared to pull the trigger on the offensive star.
For example, here is my personal board of the top five players in this draft:
It’s safe to say that we are going to see the usual quarterback sweepstakes that take place early in the draft. In fact, the San Francisco 49ers have already shown their hand by trading to the no. 3 overall spot to secure the quarterback they want. We don’t know exactly how many QB’s will be taken off the board by the time the Cowboys are up, but expect a handful of them to be gone.
What that all means is that some other offensive stars have a great chance to fall. Players like Penei Sewell, Kyle Pitts, and Ja’Marr Chase won’t address any of the team’s most pressing positions, but these guys are amazing talents. If they all happen to be gone and the consolation prize is cornerback Patrick Surtain II, that’s fine. He’s definitely worthy of the investment. However, the team shouldn’t just select him because he fills a huge need if any of these offensive stars are still on the board.
Prepare to go OT on Day 2
Recently, NFL.com put together a four-round mock draft and had the Cowboys taking Surtain II with the 10th overall pick. Interestingly enough, when Dallas was back on the clock at 44, they went the following direction:
This was a very realistic selection because it highlights an important element of the landscape of this draft. Similar to cornerbacks last year (there were eight CB’s selected within the top 51 picks, with Trevon Diggs being CB8), there is a huge talent pool of offensive tackles to choose from early in this draft. The Draft Network has eight offensive tackles ranked within the top 53 players.
The interesting thing about this is how much variation there is when it comes to how these players are evaluated. It’s entirely possible that an offensive tackle the Cowboys have ranked in the 20’s is still there available in the second round. If that happens, that’s huge steal for Dallas. And if that player isn’t the top player on their board and the team goes another direction, it’s also possible that the Cowboys are faced with a similar situation in round three. Because of this talent rich class of offensive tackles, there’s a reasonable chance the Cowboys come away with one of them by pick 75.
Trade away some of that draft capital
The Cowboys were awarded four compensatory picks this year as a result of losing some key free agents last offseason. Thank you Byron Jones, Robert Quinn, et. al. This gives the Cowboys a grand total of ten draft picks next month.
The Cowboys shouldn’t plan on drafting 10 players. Between all those picks and a new crop of priority free agent signings, that’s a lot of darts to throw. Instead of using all those picks on players, the team would be better served to package up a couple of them to move up in the draft. Here are the team’s ten picks and their respective trade value according to Draftek.com:
Using these values, the Cowboys could do an assortment of moves to slide to a certain player they want. For example, they could:
- Package pick 44 with pick 99 (460 + 104) to move to move up to pick 34 (560)
- Package both their 3’s (215 +104) to move back into the second round at pick 59 (310)
- Package both their 4’s (64 + 37) to move back into the third round at pick 100 (100)
These are just to name a few.
The Cowboys may also decide to trade away some of that late-round draft capital for future picks. A sixth-rounder this year could net them a fifth-rounder next year. Considering the Cowboys won’t be benefiting from a great pool of compensatory picks next year as they are this year, this would be a nice way to dispense the wealth.