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4 defensive sleepers who the Cowboys could select on Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft

What hidden defensive gems could the team find in later rounds?

Notre Dame v Virginia Tech Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Dallas Cowboys have their work cut out for them in the draft as they will be picking late in each round. While their chances to land quality starters come with a greater challenge this year, they do have several Day 3 picks to work with. In fact, they have four picks in the fifth round alone thanks to the Amari Cooper trade and some compensatory capital, giving the Cowboys a grand total of six draft picks on the third day of the draft.

While those picks are essentially dart throws, the team could still get lucky and find some gems late. On Wednesday, we examined four offensive sleepers who might be available later in draft, and today we’re going to take a look at the defensive side of the ball. Here are four potential Day 3 defenders who offer some intriguing upside.

Note: Average draft rankings courtesy of NFL Mock Draft Database

LB Brian Asamoah II, Oklahoma (Average draft rank: 116)

The undersized Sooner is projected to be the 13th linebacker taken from this draft class. If you’ve watched his tape, you might balk at this notion because the way he flies to the ball suggests a talent like this won’t last that long. And he may not.

But the thing is, this draft class is filled with quality Day 2 linebackers so some of them will fall into Day 3 (like Jabril Cox did last year). Asamoah’s size means he could be stuck in between LB and SS and that could dissuade some, but regardless, he covers a lot of ground quickly and when he finally arrives, people feel it.

CB Alontae Taylor, Tennessee (Average draft rank: 117)

Trying to find a late-round corner, it’s important to seek out a player who may not necessarily have star potential, but shows some degree of discipline to where they’re not a constant liability, i.e. Anthony Brown.

Phooey on that!

Taylor is a risk/reward type corner. He’s not that fluid and shifty receivers can be a handful for him, and there are times where he’s late locating the ball, so that’s not ideal. But with those warts comes a lot of great qualities too. He’s a solid athlete, is instinctive, and has a propensity to make big plays. Taylor is also a high-character guy, yet it might not be obvious because he plays with a lot of swagger.

EDGE Amare Barno, Virginia Tech (Average draft rank: 124)

This edge-rushing draft class not only offers ,great talent early, but there are plenty of players who possess some intriguing upside. Granted, the later guys have blemishes, but with the right development, there could be a few gems.

Barno is a player who jumped off the tape. Don’t get it wrong, he’s a project player. He needs to add some bulk and possesses very little in his pass-rushing arsenal, but he knows how to use his incredible length to keep blockers away from him. Barno is very good at seeing where the play is going, which puts him in a great position to run people down. Dan Quinn made a statement last season by collecting long players with great wingspan and Barno fits that to a T.

The choice to target Barno in Day 3 should be as easy as ABC. And speaking of ABC, edge rushers should Always Be Closing. With speed and the lengthy pursuit of Barno, he most definitely can do that.

DT Neil Farrel Jr., LSU (Average draft rank: 128)

The Cowboys have a plethora of 3-tech defensive tackles who will be competing for reps this season as Trysten Hill (one year left on his rookie deal), Neville Gallimore (two years left), and last year’s rookie Osa Odighizuwa (three years left) will all be fighting for playing time. But they are still lacking is a true nose tackle. They did re-sign Carlos Watkins to a one-year deal, and last year’s rookie Quinton Bohanna is still in the mix, but this is a position the Cowboys have desperately needed to upgrade for years.

A player like Georgia’s Jordan Davis could remedy that in a hurry, but that would require a first-round investment. Plus, he might not even make it to pick 24 or the Cowboys may continue to just not value that position enough to pull the trigger. Nonetheless, it would be wise to have a contingency plan.

LSU’s Neil Farrell is a great player to take a flyer on later in the draft. He brings 330 pounds of muscle that are well distributed within his 6’4” frame. His strength and length help him shed blocks and he exhibits great awareness to focus on where the play is going. His footwork and hands need development and he’s not a guy that is going to live in the backfield. However, his overall strength and discipline to be an effective space-eater would give the Cowboys some added strength along the interior defensive line.