Welcome to the week of the 2022 NFL Draft. Seven days from now the Dallas Cowboys will have a draft class that, they hope, will justify the way that they have approached team-building this offseason. It was not shocking at all to see Dallas sit out the major parts of free agency, but the reason that was so often listed was that the draft had yet to come. Well the draft cometh which means it is officially go time.
It is certainly possible that the Cowboys net a class that creates confidence; we all have a rooting interest in the team doing well. Unfortunately, though, there are two sides to every coin which means it is also possible that this draft falls apart for the Cowboys and they don’t get what they want.
Sometimes one can lead to the other as evidenced by last year’s first round. Dallas had their top two choices taken away in the two picks before them with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos taking Jaycee Horn and Patrick Surtain, respectively, but they pivoted and landed Micah Parsons and fans are grateful that they did.
Plans for the draft so rarely work out which is why we have to approach it with a wide-net level of thinking. In the spirit of that, we are going to examine the best- and worst-case scenarios for this team a week into the future.
The best way that the 2022 NFL Draft goes for the Dallas Cowboys
At its core the NFL draft is about filling holes on your team. If you have a need then you would obviously like to draft a player, a good one at that, who plays the position that you are in need of. This isn’t rocket science.
Just about any Cowboys fan would tell you that this team has some serious holes at left guard, wide receiver, and defensive end. Help can be had at other spots like linebacker, you can never have enough defensive backs, tackle depth would not exactly be a bad thing, and the long-term future of this team needs a tight end which is a factor to consider.
It is very possible, and some would argue even likely, that Dallas will walk away from the first two rounds with an answer at left guard. The offensive line is the ‘only’ position of need that they have not addressed at all throughout free agency which suggests that they are banking on landing premium help during the draft. A guard makes a lot of sense in the first round specifically, but there are options in round two should Dallas like say one of the receivers at number 24.
Obviously predicting what the Cowboys will do in further rounds is contingent upon what they do before it. If we are to assume that the Cowboys do land guard help in the top two rounds and spend the other of those two picks at wide receiver then they could be on the hunt for their tight end of the future in the third round, but given that the sweet spot of the draft for tight end this year seems to be around rounds three and four they could wait just a bit longer and grab their edge rusher inside of the top 100.
In some way, shape, form, or fashion the Cowboys must come away with help at the three positions of need that we identified, a tight end of the future given Dalton Schultz’s franchise tag status, and while we are at it another contending option for the swing tackle spot given our general lack of trust in 2021 fourth-round selection Josh Ball. It is a rather long list of preferences, which means that trading back in the first round would give them more bites at the apple which would be nice to see, but the Cowboys have seemingly felt confident that they can handle it and if they do, kudos to them.
The worst way that the 2022 NFL Draft goes for the Dallas Cowboys
Ultimately the TL;DR answer here is that none of the things that we just talked about happen. That goes without saying.
But there is more to the idea of this draft going poorly for the Cowboys than simply not drafting players who play positions that they need. As noted, this team has purposefully left holes like left guard to be addressed during the draft which suggests that all of their study and preparation over the offseason noted this was possible. If it weren’t then it would prove how inadequately the Cowboys ‘read the room’ across the league and would underscore how unwise it was to build an offseason plan upon that sort of foundational piece.
In thinking with that sort of logic, the Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper partly to alleviate cap space and because they felt like he was not worth the price tag that he was on, and did so because they clearly felt like they could land reinforcements in the draft. If there is a run on receivers, whether before they pick at 24 or between then at 56, that leaves them hanging at the altar then they are going to taste the bitterness of miscalculating the way so many uncontrollable factors could go.
To make a longer story a little less long. the worst case scenario for the Cowboys this draft would be if it exposed their line of thinking as faulty all along which would make everything that led up to this point very frustrating.