When it comes to the NFL draft, hitting on your first two picks is the easiest path to success. That is when most of the blue-chippers are available and the guesswork tends to be less than later in the draft. If you got a first-round pick and a second-round pick, you certainly don’t want to mess up either.
The Cowboys hold the #10 pick and the #44 pick in the draft. Most expect the Cowboys to go corner at #10, either Patrick Surtain II or Jaycee Horn, unless one of the top talents like Kyle Pitts or Penei Sewell falls to them which could change the equation. Once that pick is done, they can then plan their second-round options.
NFL.com recently tried to identify each team’s ideal top two picks in a realistic scenario. So it was like a mock draft while trying to slot in the best fit for each team using their first two picks. Note: some teams had two first-round picks so they used both picks as their two ideal fits.
For the Cowboys, the first-round pick is just as you’d expect. The second-round pick, though, is up for debate.
Round 1: No. 10 overall — Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Round 2: No. 44 overall — Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan
Seeing a technically sound, tough-minded press corner like Surtain around at No. 10 overall will make owner Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy very happy. The Cowboys signed veteran Ty Nsekhe to bolster the offensive line depth, but after witnessing the effect of multiple injuries up front in 2020, a value pick like Mayfield (who could line up at right tackle or guard) in Round 2 would make plenty of sense. Guard Connor Williams was a similar pick in 2018 and is scheduled to become a free agent after the season.
It’s hard for anyone to argue with Patrick Surtain as the pick at #10 for the Cowboys. With Pitts, Sewell and Rashwan Slater off the board, the Cowboys had a choice between Surtain and Horn. In this scenario they take Surtain.
In the second, they are given an offensive tackle, Jalen Mayfield. Mayfield certainly is a good value at the pick as he’s been projected as high as a fringe first-rounder. But there are many projecting him as best suited to right tackle in the NFL. As long as La’el Collins stays healthy, he should be the Cowboys right tackle for some time to come. If the Cowboys are selecting an offensive tackle this high, you’d probably want him to be Tyron Smith’s replacement. Additionally, with Ty Nsekhe in the fold, and offensive tackle being such a deep position in this draft, they might have gone with a defensive player instead.
They could have taken either Jevon Holland or Richie Grant at safety. With Damontae Kazee signing only a one-year deal, the Cowboys still need depth at safety and a plan for down the road. Either of those players might have fit the bill. They could have also picked up Alim McNeil at defensive tackle if they wanted. There were also several edge players on defense that were available in that range.
With what happened at offensive tackle last season, you can see the appeal of going offensive tackle early in the draft. But if Smith and Collins return as expected, and Nsekhe is the swing tackle, a pick at offensive tackle might not even see the field this year. To pick one this high, you probably want to be sure he can project to left tackle.
Meanwhile, a safety, a defensive tackle, an edge rusher or even a linebacker might see some time in the rotation this year. That might be a more ideal fit. The value of Mayfield is strong, but balancing that against what Dallas really needs is the question.