The Cowboys have done a great job at one thing this offseason - creating massive amounts of roster uncertainty. The team created two more holes on Friday with the release of tight end Blake Jarwin and kicker Greg Zuerlein. The future for Amari Cooper, La’el Collins and DeMarcus Lawrence is also uncertain, and fitting any outside free agent help under the cap likely means moving on from players that helped this team win the NFC East a year ago.
With the draft rapidly approaching, the Cowboys are firmly in position to draft for immediate need and add plug-and-play starters. This doesn’t mean any of their starters/projected starters can’t be put on notice by the direction the team goes with the 24th overall pick and beyond.
As it currently stands, here are four players that might be on the edge of their seat next month during draft time.
CB Kelvin Joseph
The Cowboys used veteran Anthony Brown to ease Kelvin Joseph into his first season. Joseph did not play a ton of snaps in college, and was drafted in the second round after the Cowboys were wiped out at the position in round one. Brown helped shore up the cornerback position opposite Diggs, but Joseph took strides that put him in line to potentially start in year two.
Nahshon Wright was mostly a special teams player as a rookie, and Brown is entering the final year of his deal, so it’s time for the Cowboys to prepare for both the present and future at cornerback. Drafting for depth at any point this year would be smart, but taking a cornerback early could be a sign the Cowboys have doubts that Joseph can be a full-time starter.
DT Neville Gallimore
With the latest on DeMarcus Lawrence being that the Cowboys starting defensive end “isn’t going anywhere”, the Cowboys could enter the draft with a pass rush combo of Lawrence and Parsons still in place. They also should be prioritizing Randy Gregory as one of their top internal free agents. This would make defensive end a depth need, and give any 2022 rookie - even a first-rounder - time to develop and earn snaps.
The easier path towards finding snaps for a first-round defensive lineman is on the interior, where the Cowboys could use more of a pass rush. Neville Gallimore along with second-year players Osa Odighizuwa and Chauncey Golston are the current players Dallas is counting on here, but with more uncertainty at the 1-technique, it makes sense for the team to be looking for upgrades.
Gallimore did not play until week 14 this season, but looked disruptive in stretches with the quickness to get in the backfield. The short list of players the Cowboys could be looking at for pick 24 includes some ready-to-play defensive tackles. Pulling the trigger on a position that’s also been lacking first-round talent would force Gallimore to fight for his playing time, entering his third season with only 13 career starts.
C Tyler Biadasz
The sting from the Cowboys playoff loss to the 49ers was still fresh when talks of moving on from center Tyler Biadasz began this offseason. The position is clearly one Dallas can upgrade at, with too much at stake in protecting Dak Prescott to be complacent. The fuel on the fire to the idea of replacing Biadasz comes in the form of Iowa prospect Tyler Linderbaum.
Linderbaum is a very scheme-specific player, that’s only played at center. He is a fit for Dallas at 24, and the waiting game should he slip outside the top 15 will have plenty of Cowboys fans - along with Biadasz - on edge.
The Cowboys also have a need at left guard with Connor Williams hitting the open market. The possibility of drafting a lineman with flexibility to play either guard or center, wherever the team’s more pressing need ends up being, is further bad news for Biadasz. In-house options to replace Biadasz’s seems to only be second-year player Matt Farniok - hardly enough for Dallas to feel set at this position before the draft.
K Chris Naggar
Writing about professional football in early March can get weird. This is worth mentioning because, after Greg Zuerlein’s release, Chris Naggar is currently the Cowboys only kicker. Playing his college football at Texas and later SMU, Naggar would surely love nothing more than to enter the season as Dallas’ starter.
Of course, he’ll have more than just the draft to keep an eye on as the Cowboys look for a new kicker, with undrafted free agency and trades a possibility. Nick Folk was the last kicker the Cowboys spent a draft pick on back in 2007, and their all-time leader in made field goals remains Dan Bailey, who went undrafted in 2011.
Naggar might want to take a screenshot of the Cowboys current depth chart to clearly see his name at the top.