The 2022 NFL Draft is still a couple of months away, but that doesn’t stop us from looking ahead at what players could be donning a Dallas Cowboys jersey come September. This draft class features a lot of quality talent at many different positions that could help this team going forward, but just how much help is available?
Recently, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released his Top 100 players. This list gives us a nice idea of how the talent of this draft class is distributed by position. What does this distribution tell us? How could it impact what the Cowboys do this offseason? Here are six quick impressions of what this could mean for Dallas.
The Cowboys will find themselves a new edge rusher
Both Randy Gregory and Dorance Armstrong are entering free agency. Should they sign elsewhere, that leaves DeMarcus Lawrence, Tarell Basham, Chauncey Golston, and the occasional services of Micah Parsons rushing the passer. Losing Gregory and Armstrong, who both played some of their best football last season, will hurt the team’s edge-rushing depth, but just how urgent of a need would that make the defensive end position?
This draft class is loaded with quality edge rushers and it shouldn’t surprise if there was an enticing option available in each of the first four rounds. For Dallas, it could come down to which player is just too good to pass up at each respective round, but with as deep as this new crop is, it would be shocking to see the Cowboys not come away with a new rookie edge rusher in this draft.
Goodbye Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson
When it comes to which of their own free agent wide receivers the Cowboys will retain, it could come down to which player would come the cheapest. And to be honest, even that might not be enough. Gallup should find interest from some team that feels they can get more out of him than what the Cowboys have since CeeDee Lamb arrived. And Cedrick Wilson Jr. played well enough to get some type of offer that will be above the bargain bin receivers in free agency. That leaves Malik Turner as the most likely candidate to get re-signed as his cost should be next to nothing.
The reason the Cowboys could and should take this approach is the abundance of wide receiver talent in this draft class. Following edge rushers, the wide receivers are next in terms of having the most players among Brugler’s top 100. Why pay out for someone when the team has so many intriguing options to land them a cheap player under four years of player control?
Cornerback cap casualty coming soon
While the Cowboys will let receivers walk in free agency, they may have to take matters into their own hands at the cornerback position. Both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis were given second contracts by the Cowboys after their rookie deal expired as they provided depth at the position. Ideally, these veterans would serve as bridge players as younger corners like Trevon Diggs and Kelvin Joseph developed. Well, it’s time to cross that bridge.
With a draft class that features a good amount of potential starting corners, the Cowboys could again dabble and try to find another guy. Releasing Brown would save the team $5 million and cutting Lewis would save them $7.5 million over the next two seasons. Even without drafting a new corner, the Cowboys have enough in Joseph already that makes keeping both Brown and Lewis unnecessary. And another trip through the draft could see the Cowboys getting younger and going cheaper.
Lots of different ways they can go at offensive line
The offensive line is such a tricky thing for the Cowboys because there are so many different ways things could play out. What happens to La’el Collins could be the first domino to fall as it could identify if the team needs more help inside or out. Of course, the Cowboys could let the draft dictate that depending on whether they find a talented tackle or guard fall into their lap at some point over the first couple days of the draft.
There are nearly 20 offensive linemen in the top 100 of this class, so the Cowboys have a lot of options. If they are targeting left guard, they could draft one of the many quality guards or convert one of the many quality tackles available in the draft. The good news is that the team doesn’t really have to make any decisions upfront and can figure things out after the draft. They have the flexibility to go a handful of different ways.
This is the year they finally draft a good safety!
Just kidding. That won’t happen. Actually, who really knows, but if you’ve been burned by this tease before, it’s always better to prepare to be disappointed.
That being said, there are some good choices in this draft that could present themselves on Day 2. That would allow the Cowboys to avoid spending their most precious draft capital on a safety, yet still, find a starting-caliber player at a cheaper draft cost. We know this team tends to ignore investing in this position, but considering the only safeties they currently have under contract are Donovan Wilson and Israel Mukuamu, it might be time to finally pull the trigger.
Should the Cowboys re-up on Dalton Schultz?
There is a good list of draftable tight ends in this new class; however, if the team is looking for one of the better ones, things get a little scarce. Brugler only has four tight ends listed in his top 100, which means a lot of teams are going to miss out.
Will this lack of supply cause the Cowboys to consider re-signing Schultz? Sure, they can always wait it out and select a more raw player who will need time to develop, but that could mean losing a player like Schultz in free agency might sting a little longer than they’d like.
Here is the layout of the top 100 players on Dane’s draft board...
Need a pass rusher?— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) February 16, 2022
Breaking down the top-100 by position gives a good look at where the strengths are in this draft class.