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Cowboys draft: The balance between “best player available” and fixing the defense

We keep hearing that this is a BPA draft for the Cowboys and not about need, but is that really true?

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Let’s assume that everything goes according to plan in the draft for the Dallas Cowboys and Patrick Surtain II gets past the potential minefield of the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, and Denver Broncos. The Cowboys get their guy. Great, but what’s the plan after that? What’s the strategy if another player they have a first-round grade on is falling? Are they prepared to move up and get them, or will they sit tight and focus on another position of need?

This team continues to say that they will not be drafting for need and the plan is always the best player available. The problem with that answer is the abundant talent on the roster on offense, and the lack of talent on the defensive side. They need talent on defense to allow the high-powered offense to get on the field and put up points instead of trying to dig them out of holes created by a Swiss cheese defense. So this draft is going to be one of their most important drafts in a long time because it will be one that can really get this defense on track, essentially making this a draft for need and not the best player available.

Either way, this team has to be preparing themselves to address their next target after pick #10, but what is that target? Will it be offensive line thanks to aging players and injury concerns, the defensive line because of a lack of talent at defensive tackle in this draft, or defensive end after a potential run on the position? Maybe it will be safety so they can finally address a position that’s been a need for years now and never addressed properly.

We know that director of player personnel Stephen Jones has said that he isn’t worried about the offensive line and he believes that tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins are expected back healthy, and the same goes for guard Zack Martin. They have also signed tackle Ty Nsekhe which is a very underrated free agent signing for the Cowboys.

It could be a diversion for other teams, but if we take Jones at his word and the Cowboys really believe that about the offensive line, then what’s left in the big needs department is defensive line and safety. Both are in dire need of an infusion of talent. There’s more talent that can be found in the draft at safety and defensive end that the Cowboys would be able to draft in rounds three and four, but that doesn't mean they are going to wait. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn might see that he needs a ball-hawking free safety manning the middle of the field, or a pass rusher that can add depth, but also can start if either DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory go down with an injury.

It’s going to be interesting to see how they want to approach this because the second-, third-, and fourth-round picks are going to give them players who can potentially come in and make an immediate impact on this defense.