Well, the Cowboys didn’t draft a cornerback like we all thought. Both Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain II were taken before Dallas got on the clock, and a small trade down led to Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons becoming a Cowboy. At the end of the night, Dallas now has four picks in the second and third round, all in the top 100. So who are the best remaining players they could target?
There are still some cornerbacks on the board
The Cowboys didn’t get their first-round corner, but fans shouldn’t fret just yet. Asante Samuel Jr. from Florida State had been getting buzz as a potential late-first round pick, yet he’s still available. At 5’10”, Samuel may not fit the profile that Dan Quinn is looking for in his defensive scheme, but he’s a playmaker with a similar NFL pedigree that both Horn and Surtain possessed.
Beyond that, there is Ifeatu Melifonwu of Syracuse, Tyson Campbell of Georgia, Kelvin Joseph of Kentucky, and Paulson Adebo of Stanford, all of whom could be a target with one of those first two picks the Cowboys have on Friday. Each of them offers plenty to like, but it’s likely that any of those prospects would prompt Dallas to look over the remaining free agent pool, which includes veterans like Casey Hayward and Richard Sherman.
All of the defensive tackles are still out there
This defensive tackle class was widely talked about as being pretty weak, but it was still a shock to see none of them be selected in the first round. Christian Barmore of Alabama was the consensus top defensive tackle, and I made my case for the Cowboys to select him in the first round plenty of times. He’s still available, but likely won’t be for long. If Dallas wants him, they may have to trade up, which they have the flexibility to do so now after trading down in the first round.
Beyond Barmore, there are several other defensive tackle prospects that make sense for Dallas. Washington’s Levi Onwuzurike and USC’s duo of Marlon Tuipulotulu and Jay Tufele all fit the profile of good run-stuffers who offer some upside as interior pass rushers. Ohio State’s Tommy Togiai and NC State’s Alim McNeill are two big 1-tech prospects that have been connected to the team before. Additionally, they could spend one of their later picks on Friday on LSU’s Tyler Shelvin, Florida’s Tedarrell Slaton, or Florida State’s Marvin Wilson, all of whom would provide some much-needed size in the trenches.
As it stands, Dallas is likely going to look for a secondary player first, but the fact that no defensive tackles were taken in the first round adds possibilities for them.
All of the safeties are available too
The Cowboys don’t need a safety as bad as they need a cornerback, and there’s still no evidence that they’ve evolved on their stance of not taking safeties early anyway. But if they have, the good news is that all of these safeties are still on the board.
There had been some talk about Dallas possibly trading down for TCU’s Trevon Moehrig before the draft, but the consensus top safety in the draft is still available. Moehrig is the ideal type of centerfield safety for this scheme, and Dallas would undoubtedly be thrilled to get him. Like Barmore, though, they may have to trade up to get him.
Oregon’s Jevon Holland and UCF’s Richie Grant are two other potential options in the second round, while other guys like Indiana’s Jamar Johnson, Syracuse’s Andre Cisco, and USC’s Talanoa Hufanga are potential options in the third round.
Plus, one unicorn
The Cowboys didn’t get the unicorn that some fans wanted in Kyle Pitts, but there is a defensive unicorn who shockingly slid out of the first round. That would be Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who’s listed as a linebacker but played both slot corner and safety for the Fighting Irish in a hybrid do-it-all role. Some had even moved JOK above Parsons as the top linebacker in this draft, so it was definitely a surprise to see three linebackers go in the first round and none of them being Owusu-Koramoah.
Would Dallas really take another linebacker right after drafting Parsons? Likely not, but JOK is not just a linebacker, and they could realistically use him in a hybrid role in the secondary just as Notre Dame did. It’s still improbable, but few expected the Parsons pick too.
Not many EDGE options
It wasn’t a heralded EDGE class this year but that didn’t stop six players coming off the board, with four of them coming in the final five picks. That limits the options if Dallas wants to find another EDGE rusher early on to complement Randy Gregory on the right side of the line, although Parsons could potentially get some reps there if need be.
Azeez Ojulari of Georgia, considered by some to be the best edge rusher in the draft, didn’t hear his name called. He’s considered to be more of a 3-4 outside linebacker, but has the traits to fit in Dallas. But Ojulari is likely going off the board early on Friday, so a trade up to get him might be necessary. Wake Forest’s Carlos Basham Jr., Florida State’s Janarius Robinson, Miami’s Quincy Roche, and Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins are in the next tier of edge rushers after Ojulari.
Two players here that have been tangentially connected to the Cowboys during the Pro Day circuit are Tulane’s Cameron Sample and Baylor’s William Bradley-King. Both of those guys have a late-third-round/fourth-round grade on them from most draft experts, but if there’s another run on edge players Friday it may force Dallas’ hand.
Offensive line still has some options too
The Cowboys got wiped out at cornerback, traded down, and still didn’t take Rashawn Slater, as some thought they might. Still, Mike McCarthy more or less said they were going to target an offensive lineman in this draft at least once, and there’s a few borderline first-round options still out there.
At tackle, there’s Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins, North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz, Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg, Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield, and Texas’ Samuel Cosmi. Some of those guys could theoretically play inside at guard as well, such as Jenkins and Mayfield. All of these guys would be excellent options as the eventual successor to Tyron Smith, if that is in fact the plan.
While Dallas is less likely to look for a guard or center, especially early, there are some options there too. Top centers Creed Humphrey and Landon Dickerson are still there, although the Cowboys seem to like Tyler Biadasz. Ohio State’s duo of Wyatt Davis and Josh Myers are also on the board, as is Georgia’s Ben Cleveland and Notre Dame’s Aaron Banks.
Do the Cowboys want to add a skill player on offense this early?
Odds aren’t good that the answer is yes, given bigger needs on defense. But there are some intriguing options out there. At wide receiver, there’s Elijah Moore, Rondale Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., Dyami Brown, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. There’s not much at tight end, but Parsons’ teammate Pat Freiermuth is the top tight end on the board heading into Friday. And there’s still some good running backs out there, but that’s likely the last position the Cowboys will target this year.