The Dallas Cowboys go into the 2022 NFL Draft with nine picks, including four in the fifth round. It is going to be a challenge to properly use their first-round selection, as our DannyPhantom has explained. But that just covers the opening act. Most teams get a good player in the first round. Utilizing those day two and three picks are what really makes a difference in the draft. Fortunately for Dallas, they have become one of the best drafting teams in the league. Will McClay has done very well with mid-round picks over the past few years. Now he has a lot of ammunition to work with, and what may be a target rich environment.
Interesting draft note from Mike McCarthy's media session today.— David Helman (@HelmanDC) March 29, 2022
Mike said Will McClay told him back in January that a typical draft class has 150-160 draftable players. Cowboys think that number starts at ~220 this year. They're putting a lot of emphasis on this class.
If the scouting and coaching staffs are right, the picks the Cowboys have are suddenly very valuable. Putting things in context, “draftable” means players that have a decent shot at making the roster. In a year when that 150-160 number is valid, it means that the draft is largely over by the fourth round. This year, the final pick in the fourth is 143. After that, in a normal year teams are looking for players they have on their board that slip through.
But if there are 220 or so players that appear to have legitimate NFL talent, even if as a backup or special teams contributor, that puts the entire fifth and sixth rounds in play. Since Dallas does not have a seventh-round pick this year, there is a decent chance that their entire draft class this year may contribute. Even if you expect a couple of the selections to not pan out, there still have an excellent chance of seeing seven or so of their picks on the field this fall.
Further, this is a draft where there are comparatively few “blue chip” talents, with the strength of the class being day two and even day three level players. It is conceivable that the true first-round talents may be largely taken by the time the Cowboys go on the clock at 24. Depending on how they have the names stacked on their board, and how closely they see them, it may be a great chance to trade back and get more of those mid-round picks. As Danny outlined in his insightful article, there are four viable offensive line prospects for Dallas - Kenyon Green, Zion Johnson, Tyler Linderbaum, and Trevor Penning. If things fall right and all are still on the board at 24, it would make a lot of sense for them to entertain a trade back if someone needs to jump up to get a player that team needs. They don’t want to go back too far, but if they could drop back a handful of spots and pick up an additional fourth-rounder while still getting one of their preferred offensive linemen, it could net them good value later on.
The depth of the class also makes trading up on day two and three a viable option. Just packaging the two compensatory picks might get them an additional late-fourth-round slot. If the rest of the league sees the draft talent the same way they do, there might well be someone willing to make that kind of move.
It looks like a draft where Dallas can prosper by being very active moving around during the draft, or just standing pat and using their current picks. It all comes down to how well McClay and his staff set the board. They also have to manage things correctly during the draft, but recent history indicates that should not be a problem. While offensive line is seen as the biggest need, and being telegraphed as the plan, other positions like wide receiver and linebacker have some very good options around where the Cowboys are currently scheduled to pick on day two and three.
This is looking like it will be a fun draft, with lots to look forward right up until the last selection of the Cowboys. We will be livestreaming during the entire draft, so join us to dissect what Dallas does, as well as analyzing what the rest of the league does.