The draft is over, and for just about a week now the Cowboys draft has been analyzed and scrutinized. Many people discussed at length whether the Cowboys selected Nahshon Wright far too early, while also wondering if Jabril Cox was the steal of the draft? They also asked why they may have felt comfortable drafting a player such as Josh Ball with all of his off-the field-baggage, or if Simi Fehoko can challenge for playing time early on? These conversations will continue on, but as OTA’s are around the corner and we are inching closer to some semblance of organized football, we sit here and wonder if the Cowboys did enough throughout the draft to instill confidence and hope for a successful next season.
The Cowboys certainly had a theme when it came to their draft selections and they made no mistake about the fact that they wanted size and speed. On both sides of the ball they were looking to add length and athleticism, realizing they were not physical or fast enough and clearly made it a point of emphasis to change that. As you look down the list of defensive draft picks and their measurables, you can see Dan Quinn’s fingerprints all over it.
The Cowboys were not afraid to take chances on questionable character either, and by doing so they provided this draft with massive boom or bust potential. Players such as Kelvin Joseph and Josh Ball have had their own off-the-field concerns that call their character or commitment to football into question. However, as pure football players, many draft experts believe they were drafted later than their pure on-field skills would have had them originally slotted. The Cowboys had to be comfortable with the things they saw and were told in regards to these players off the field, but if these selections were to pan out positively, they would be tremendous value picks for them.
The question remains, as we sit here and draw closer to next weekends OTA’s, do we feel better about where the team stands now compared to before last weeks draft? Its tough to sit here and not think that the team did not at the very least get marginally better. The Cowboys went into the draft with a plan, and that plan was predominantly to revamp the defensive side of the roster. They looked to add an influx of talent to that side of the ball by collecting young, cheap talent to help compete and soften cap ramifications. Stephen Jones alluded to the fact that although it is a stretch to think that all 11 draft picks would make the roster, he certainly would love to see it happen, while suggesting just how beneficial it would be for the team and their cap situation.
Beyond the cap side of things, the Cowboys were able to add talent and competition to this roster that was clearly lacking in the year prior. The linebacker room, with the addition of Micah Parsons and Jabril Cox, should make that position group a real strength for the team moving forward. By adding Parsons and Cox, they are also afforded the opportunity to move on from Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith when and if they feel it is time to do so. Whether that be due to performance or if it is strictly financially advantageous for the team, they have put themselves in position at linebacker to do so if they so choose.
Coming into the draft cornerback looked to be an urgent position of need, and many believed that we would see Jaycee Horn or Patrick Surtain II in a Cowboys uniform by the end of Thursday night. The draft, like it so often does, didn't quite go as planned. Although those are not the faces that will be manning the secondary like we previously assumed, do not sleep on Kelvin Joseph. Ask around and many draft experts and people around the league will assure you it was not Joseph’s talent that is in question. Many viewed him as a day one prospect, and it was off-the-field questions that had his draft stock slide to the second round. If McCarthy and staff were comfortable with what they heard in regards to Joseph’s commitments, and they are proved right, it could absolutely be a steal for the Cowboys. Adding the potential of Joseph, the raw ability of Nahshon Wright, and length and the option of position flex that Israel Mukuamu presents to the secondary, adds some intriguing talent and untapped potential to a secondary group that needs to be successful this season in order for this team to be able to reach the level desired.
Beyond the secondary, the Cowboys were able to add defensive linemen with position flex and moldable traits. As you sit and re-watch Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston’s tape, you see prospects that can come in and fill that Tyrone Crawford type of role that allows the Cowboys the option to be multiple up front. Having the ability kick inside and play the 3-technique as well as be a situational pass rusher is very enticing to the team. Where Cowboys Nation and draft pundits feel the most excited about on the defensive line, is the drafting of Quinton Bohanna. He fills that true 1-technique role that the Cowboys have been missing for years. Having him there to be a massive presence in the middle will hopefully allow the linebackers to run cleanly and make tackles in the open field and help bolster a porous run defense.
As you look over the draft selections, study more of the tape, and analyze the prospects in a lens for how the Cowboys may envision these players contributing, you can understand the thought process they were using by selecting them. Add size, speed, and players that fit within your scheme. All while allowing themselves to maximize the draft to add an influx of talent and provide an opportunity where all 11 players have the chance to come in and be young, cheap contributors. They did all this while also prioritizing the on field skills, and even if the character is something to monitor, they felt comfortable enough within their organizational structure to target talent and work out all other questions and concerns as a franchise.
This strategy will be questioned and pondered for the next few years as it all pans out and unfolds in front of us, but as we sit here now, the Cowboys are a better football team now, than they were a week ago.