clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

ESPN power rankings: Cowboys draft helps them move up a little

The Cowboys are still a middle of the pack team, according to these rankings.

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

ESPN has decided to offer up a post-draft power ranking of NFL teams. They did a similar thing after most of the big moves had been made in free agency, and the Cowboys landed at #18 in that ranking. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of their 2021 season, but until there is a noticeable improvement in their defense on the field, there will be skepticism of this team.

Speaking of improving the defense, the Cowboys spent a good portion of their 2021 draft trying to do just that. Six straight picks on the defensive side to start the draft, and eight of 11 defensive picks overall. They hit all levels of the defense - defensive line, linebacker and secondary - in order to jumpstart a recovery on that side of the ball.

The ESPN power rankings were meant to show who improved, or dropped, based on their draft, and which player on each team’s roster benefited the most from the draft.

The Cowboys actually moved up two spots from the post-free agency rankings. This shows a minor bump based on the defensive improvement expected from the Cowboys draft, and maybe more confidence in Dak Prescott’s recovery.

16. Dallas Cowboys

Post-free-agency ranking: 18

Player who benefited most from draft: S Donovan Wilson

Safety has been a need for years for the Cowboys, even if Wilson showed he could develop into a productive player with his ability to be around the ball. The Cowboys added three safeties in free agency in Keanu Neal, Damontae Kazee and Jayron Kearse, but Neal is expected to begin at linebacker, Kazee is coming off an Achilles tear and Kearse is mostly a special-teamer. The Cowboys did not select a safety in the draft but will move sixth-rounder Israel Mukuamu, a cornerback, to the position. That is good news for Wilson’s standing, not just on the roster but as a starter. — Todd Archer

Donovan Wilson does seem to be penciled in as the starting strong safety for the team. The Cowboys are going off a small sample size from last year when Wilson was a wrecking ball who got involved in turnovers for the defense. It’s probably a solid idea to allow him to prove himself as a starter over a full season to see if they have solved one-half of their safety problem.

As for the team overall, the Cowboys seemed to have helped their defense with the draft, although no one is really going to buy into that heavily until the proof is shown during regular-season games. Dan Quinn appears to have a plan, but does he have the horses to make it work?

The good news from this power ranking is that even though Dallas is squarely a mid-level team, they are still thought of as the best in the NFC East. The Washington Football Team is at #20, the New York Giants are #23, and the Philadelphia Eagles are last at #27.

What’s your call BTB? Is #16 too high, too low, or just right for the Cowboys?