Trevon Diggs was a step in the right direction.
“I feel like the sky is the limit,” Diggs said late last season before finishing with team highs in interceptions (three) and pass deflections (14). “I’m going to take myself where I want to take myself. I got the ability to do exactly what I’m trying to do and exactly what I want to do.”
While one season does not predict long-term prosperity, Diggs’ performance shows he is on track to achieve something the Cowboys have not had enough of this century: second-round success.
For all of the attention the Cowboys’ first-round pick, No. 10 overall in the 2021 NFL draft (April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, on ESPN and ESPN the App), has garnered this offseason, a team’s successful draft is determined by the entirety of its selections. A second-round pick has to not only be a starter, but also develop into a cornerstone player, which means a significant second contract most of the time.
The Cowboys definitely need to hit on their first-round pick.
In six days and approximately 12 hours, the Dallas Cowboys will go on the clock with the 10th overall pick and an opportunity to add one of the best players in the NFL Draft on either side of the football. There are several directions the front office could go with the pick, but the most important thing is they can’t miss on this pick.
The first round has been mostly great for Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay over the last decade, save for a few decisions. Oddly, each on the defensive side of the football. When the Cowboys draft defense, it’s an adventure.
Their decision to trade up for Morris Claiborne in the 2012 Draft might have worked out differently if not for the injury history and that’s neither the team’s or the player’s fault, but they didn’t get the return on their investment with that selection.
In 2015, they selected Byron Jones. It took several years to figure out how best to utilize Jones and then the Cowboys opted not to retain him after his rookie contract expired and Jones became the highest paid cornerback in the NFL in the 2020 offseason. Jones was good for the Cowboys and one of the best corners in the league his final two years. But I can’t help but wonder what could have been if they stuck him at corner to begin with and let him grow.
In 2017, the Cowboys needed to add some help at defensive end and they did so in the form of Michigan EDGE rusher Taco Charlton. Charlton never seemed to mesh well with Rod Marinelli and couldn’t figure it out enough to get on the field with much consistency or have much of a consistent impact. He was released before the end of his rookie contract and landed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Without even considering who was selected after Charlton in that draft, this is easily one of the worst draft decisions the front office has made.
Will the Cowboys move around in this draft with 10 picks?
FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys have the No. 10 pick in the April NFL Draft ... and we’ve got your Cowboys Draft Tracker for 2021: Check back often as we keep you up-to-date on Cowboys Mock Drafts from all over the internet, including the ones we do here at CowboysSI.com.
APRIL 23: Do this job long enough, and not only (hopefully) do you get good at gathering details to report ... you also get good as covering your butt in case the details turn out to be wrong.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is good at his job.
The Dallas Cowboys aren’t expected to trade up from 10th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, per Rapoport, who also smartly adds, “Smokescreens abound, but ...’’
And here’s an example of a “but’’: While Rap focuses on moving/not moving from No. 10, with tight end Kyle Pitts as Jerry’s “sugarplum,’’ we have it on fairly good authority that Dallas and Detroit (at No. 7) have visited - with cornerback Patrick Surtain among the conversation pieces.
A look at what the Giants media thinks that Dallas might do in the draft.
Defense, defense, defense.
With Prescott under center, Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield and a wide receiving corps of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper, the Cowboys are largely set on offense. Tackle Tyron Smith and guard Zack Martin will provide protection for Dallas up-front, leaving most of the holes on the defensive side of the ball.
The Cowboys drafted Trevon Diggs in last year’s draft but they need someone who can line up on the outside corner opposite the former Alabama standout. There is a chance that wide receivers DeVonta Smith and/or Jaylen Waddle are still on the board when the No. 10 overall pick comes around. This is where Dallas needs to exercise restraint and prioritize its defensive need.
Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II has the ability to make an immediate impact at the NFL level. He was a three-year starter with the Crimson Tide, lining up at right cornerback in Nick Saban’s man-heavy scheme. Surtain allowed just four touchdowns and 46.1% completions in 41 career games.
The other option, depending on how the board shakes out, is South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn. A three-year starter at South Carolina, Horn was a left cornerback in former head coach Will Muschamp’s defense. His production in college was mostly limited to one breakout game against Auburn, but he will also likely make an immediate impact in the NFL.
The Cowboys are lacking depth all-around at the safety position. Former starter Xavier Woods signed a deal with the Minnesota Vikings this offseason and veterans Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse have only been signed to one-year deals. Targeting a safety in the early rounds will help fill both a long-term and short-term need for Dallas. Particularly in the second round, Richie Grant, Trevon Moehrig or Jevon Holland are all strong candidates.
Joseph Ossai at 75 is the dream.
The 2020 season may not have gone the way most Texas Longhorns fans would have hoped, but there were a few bright spots. One of them was Joseph Ossai, who put together an All-Big 12 campaign as one of the league’s top defenders.
Ossai turned himself into a legitimate NFL Draft prospect in the process, declining his final year of eligibility at Texas to go pro. There are plenty of NFL teams that could use the help of a true pass-rushing specialist like Ossai.
In the latest mock draft from NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter, Ossai is projected to stay close to home.
Reuter has the former Longhorns pass rusher going to the Dallas Cowboys in the third round of next week’s draft as the No. 75 overall selection. In three seasons at Texas, Ossai totaled 165 tackles, 30 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
But by far his best season came last year for the Longhorns. Ossai, on his way to earning first-team, All-Big 12 honors, racked up 55 tackles (15.5 for loss) with 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. During Texas’ overtime win at Oklahoma State, Ossai finished with 12 tackles (six for loss), three sacks and a forced fumble. His fourth-down sack of Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders in overtime clinched the win for Texas. 2020 season may not have gone the way most Texas Longhorns fans would have hoped, but there were a few bright spots. One of them was Joseph Ossai, who put together an All-Big 12 campaign as one of the league’s top defenders.
Playing the value: Carlos Basham at 44 or Cameron Sample at 138 for the Cowboys in the 2021 draft - Connor Livesay, Blogging the Boys
Boogie Basham or Cameron Sample?
That’s where Tulane EDGE/DL Cameron Sample comes into play. A name that’s not quite being talked about enough.
Like Basham, Sample is a bigger-build EDGE that also possesses the ability to reduce down inside on obvious passing downs. Sample is a high-effort, explosive pass rusher, who also has high-quality run defense reps off the EDGE for Tulane. Let’s compare Sample’s Pro Day metrics as well:
33 1/8” arms (49th percentile)
37” vertical (87th percentile)
116” broad jump (46th percentile)
23 reps on bench (56th percentile)
4.79 40-time (42nd percentile)
4.48 short shuttle (31st percentile)
7.39 3-cone (26th percentile)
As the numbers would suggest, Basham is the more flexible athlete showcasing more bend-ability off the EDGE with a bit more agility, but when you dive into Sample’s tape, you can make the case that he plays with more agility than his short shuttle would suggest. Another thing that’s intriguing about Sample is he actually ended up with a higher “high quality productivity” grade, which is a metric I use when doing grades to determine how much of a player’s production was considered high-quality (good pass rush moves vs unblocked sacks/TFL, etc).
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