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Dallas Cowboys 2021 NFL Draft overall recap and grades for each pick

How did the 2021 NFL Draft fair for the Dallas Cowboys?

LSU vs Auburn Photo by Gus Stark/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Football Christmas is finally over, and the Cowboys have added a ton of new players to their roster to compete for the 2021 roster. While the 2021 draft will not be viewed in the same light as the 2020 draft, the Cowboys still added multiple players who will make an impact in 2021 and for years to come. For the Cowboys, the draft played out like this:

  • Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State (12th Overall)
  • Kelvin Joseph, CB, Kentucky (44th Overall)
  • Osa Odighizuwa, DL, UCLA (75th Overall)
  • Chauncey Golston, EDGE, Iowa (84th Overall)
  • Nahshon Wright, CB, Oregon State (99th Overall)
  • Jabril Cox, LB, LSU (115th Overall)
  • Josh Ball, OT, Marshall (138th Overall)
  • Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford (179th Overall)
  • Quinton Bohanna, DL, Kentucky (192nd Overall)
  • Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina (227th Overall)
  • Matt Farniok, OL, Nebraska (238th Overall)
Penn State v Memphis Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

For Micah Parsons, there is no questioning the talent he possesses in his 6’4”, 250-lb frame; he has freaky athleticism and speed for an off-the-ball linebacker. Paired with his linebacker skills, Parsons comes to the Cowboys with an EDGE background, and that is the position he was originally recruited to play at Penn State. Parsons will need to continue to develop his processing skills, learn to trust his instincts more as a run defender and coverage player, and continue to mature as a professional off the field. But the talent, physical and athletic traits, and ability to rush the passer gives the Cowboys a defensive talent in the front seven that they lacked in 2020.

Grade: B

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 24th

Dane Brugler’s Board: 12th

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 11th

Dalton Miller’s Board: 13th

Ole Miss vs Kentucky Photo by UK Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

After going with Parsons in the first round, the Cowboys zoned in on cornerback with the 44th overall pick. Eyeing both Trevon Moehrig out of TCU, and Kelvin Joseph out of Kentucky, the Raiders made the easy choice for the Cowboys by trading up and snagging Moehrig in front of the Cowboys in the second round. Joseph is a supremely talented cornerback prospect with first-round tape at Kentucky. While still being raw in some areas of his game from a technical aspect, Joseph’s makes up for his lack of refined technique with elite athleticism and length at the position. While missing out on Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn hurt, adding a player of Kelvin Joseph’s caliber in the second round was a huge win for this front office. Similar to Parsons, Joseph has some maturity and off-the-field questions he’ll need to grow from, but if he can continue to mature on and off the field, and has a lockdown cornerback skillset.

Grade: B-

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 53rd

Dane Brugler’s Board: 52nd

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 66th

Dalton Miller’s Board: 63rd

USC v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

One of the most interesting picks of the Cowboys draft was in the third round, when they used the 75th overall pick on UCLA’s Osa Odighizuwa. Possessing exceptional length, athleticism, and explosiveness for the position at 280lbs, Odighizuwa is undersized, but plays the position with tremendous effort and has some juice off the ball. Odighizuwa is raw in a lot of areas of his game (pass rush moves, pass rush plan, and pad-level), but he’ll be part of a deep rotation in Dallas at the 3-technique position. I’ll be interested to see if the Cowboys look to bulk him up a bit and move him to the interior as a full-time player, but he has the size, athleticism, and build to play as a 5-technique if the Cowboys look to use odd-front schemes in 2021 under Dan Quinn. The Cowboys stockpile of undersized 3-techniques is getting a little long, and we all should have preferred a player with more nose tackle position.

Grade: B

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 123rd

Dane Brugler’s Board: 4th Round

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 112th

Dalton Miller’s Board: 124th

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 27 Holiday Bowl - USC v Iowa Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For a very questionable character draft, the Cowboys added an exceptional locker room leader in Iowa’s DE Chauncey Golston. Golston, an ideal candidate to replace Tyrone Crawford in 2021 and the foreseeable future, has great size, length, and strong hands at the strong-side defensive end position that can also play some of the under tackle as well. While lacking the ideal twitch, flexibility, and speed to be a consistent threat as a pass rusher, Golston can make a massive impact against the run as a defensive end on obvious running downs, and reduce down inside as a under tackle in obvious passing downs. Golston won’t be a sexy pick for the Cowboys, but his effectiveness against the run, and versatility intrigued the Cowboys, especially after losing Tyrone Crawford to retirement in 2021.

GRADE: D+

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 156th

Dane Brugler’s Board: 4th Round

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 180th

Dalton Miller’s Board: Not Ranked

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 21 California at Oregon State Photo by Brian Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nahshon Wright was the first player drafted in the 2021 NFL Draft that I had not watched, and honestly just had no clue who he was. Watching the little bit of tape I had on him this morning gave me the sense that the Cowboys just valued Wright’s size, length, and the ideal scheme fit he’ll provide in Dan Quinn’s system. Wright is very thin-framed, and that shows up on tape. Against Oregon, Wright got pushed around a lot in the running game, and struggled to stay in phase due to getting knocked around throughout the route-stem. Wright doesn’t offer much as a run defender, but his size and ball skills intrigued the Cowboys enough to use a top 100 pick on Nahshon Wright.

Grade: F

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: Not Ranked

Dane Brugler’s Board: 7th-PFA

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: Not Ranked

Dalton Miller’s Board: Not Ranked

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Texas A&M Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

After hitting multiple singles in the first few innings, and striking out with the bases loaded. The Cowboys come back with an absolute moon shot to center field with the selection of LSU LB Jabril Cox. Cox had a very successful year at LSU, after dominating at North Dakota State for his first three seasons of college football. While Cox has inconsistencies as a run defender, his skills in coverage were the best in this class. Cox steps in as the Cowboys best cover linebacker day one, and has the ability to make an impact as a blitzer as well. While Cox will need to improve his take-on skills as a run defender and speeding up his processing skills, he is the exact player the Cowboys need in their linebacker room.

Grade: A+

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 44th

Dane Brugler’s Board: 77th

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 58th

Dalton Miller’s Board: 71

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 06 Marshall at Boise State Photo by Tyler Ingham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

While there’s no denying Josh Ball’s talent, this is another pick that carries a ton of baggage. Ball started his career off at Florida State, but later was suspended from the program due to multiple different domestic violence allegations. On top of that, he had another issue with a Florida State staff member before being suspended from the program. Ball has all the physical and athletic traits to be a very good player in the league, but the off-the-field issues are serious, and the list isn’t short for Ball. If he can get it together off-the-field he has great swing tackle ability, with starting quality potential at left tackle.

Grade: C

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 192nd

Dane Brugler’s Board: 5th

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 201st

Dalton Miller’s Board: Not Ranked

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 19 Stanford at UCLA Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We knew at some point in this draft the Cowboys would target a receiver in such a deep class, it was all just a matter of when. The Cowboys used their only fifth-rounder to add Stanford’s Simi Fehoko to the receiver room. Fehoko is a tall, physical framed receiver with the ability to stretch the field vertically due to his long frame and 4.4 speed. Fehoko has a legit shot to make the final roster due to the deep-threat ability he brings to the table, and the ability to contribute on special teams from day one. While there were a few receivers graded higher here, the Cowboys added a player that possesses size and speed that the receiver room lacks.

Grade: B-

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 203rd

Dane Brugler’s Board: 3rd-4th

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 145th

Dalton Miller’s Board: 103rd

Ole Miss vs Kentucky Photo by UK Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

It finally happened... the Cowboys added an actual fat guy. After years of neglecting the nose tackle position, Quinton Bohanna will join his Kentucky teammate Kelvin Joseph in Dallas for the next few years. He is an absolute load at 327lbs, and plays with good anchor against the run, and has an impressive wingspan to cover multiple gaps at the nose tackle position. Bohanna offers little to nothing as a pass rusher, but that’s not his style of play. For years we’ve been asking for that “trash can full of dirt” style of player and they finally got one.

Grade: C+

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 279th

Dane Brugler’s Board: 7th Round

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 299th

Dalton Miller’s Board: Not Ranked

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 10 South Carolina at Vanderbilt Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’ll be very interesting to see what the Cowboys do with seventh-round defensive back Israel Mukuamu out of South Carolina. Having experience playing both cornerback and safety, Israel Mukuamu projects best at corner from my viewings, but has the size, length, and athleticism to play as a safety in Dan Quinn’s system. At South Carolina, Mukuamu played his best football lined up on the other side of the field from Jaycee Horn, using his length and physical frame to dominate receivers in man coverage. While the original plans may be to have Israel Mukuamu play safety, they could end up moving him back to corner, where he seems the most comfortable and confident.

Grade: A-

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: 114th Overall

Dane Brugler’s Board: 6th-7th Round

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: 139th Overall

Dalton Miller’s Board: Not Ranked

Nebraska v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

There were rumors surrounding the Cowboys adding interior offensive line depth at the start of day two, but with the need at cornerback and defensive line, they elected to address it with their final selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. Matt Farniok is extremely versatile and possesses the size and length to play tackle, center, or guard in the NFL. While he’s likely more of practice squad caliber of player in year one, he has intriguing traits as a versatile depth linemen for year two and three.

Grade: B-

Player Rankings:

Connor Livesay’s Board: Not Ranked

Dane Brugler’s Board: PFA

Arif Hasan Consensus Board: Not Ranked

Lance Zuerlein Board: PFA