Heading into the offseason without the Lombardi Trophy means that the team was one of 31 that didn’t finish the season on the highest note. How everyone deems exactly what makes the season a successful one can be vastly different as you talk to various people. As the glass half full type, it is hard to make the case of a 12-win regular season as an unsuccessful one. Of course there have been disappointments along the way, but that is the status quo for all teams. This even includes the one who gets the Super Bowl ring when the season has concluded, as there are always things to be improved upon from season to season. Complacency is not an option.
The great organizations around the league are competitive just about every season. It doesn’t matter if the proverbial rebuild is in play or not, but the great organizations tend to bounce back much faster than their counterparts. Unfortunately, some franchises seemingly cannot get out of their own way when it comes to building a roster that is not only competitive, but consistently competitive. That comes down to assembling the best players through free agency and the NFL draft. Some teams tend to do some expensive shopping through free agency, and try to get back on track in hurry by going this route. Other teams like to draft players, and develop them into NFL caliber talents. Both ways have had their share of successes, but the teams that consistently are successful do a little bit of both. The Dallas Cowboys in recent years tend to want to build a winner via the draft while going to the clearance rack for some cheap free agents.
Whether you like this approach or not, it seems that what the franchise is doing has made them a much more consistent football team. The approach has garnered back-to-back playoff appearances, as well as back-to-back 12-win seasons. Now, a little bit of good fortune while working this approach never hurts either. If the Cowboys front office are good at one thing, it is drafting and developing homegrown talent as they are one of the leaders in the league in this department. What sometimes can be a little bit of an Achilles heel is the lack of opening up those purse strings just a little more to get a higher level free agent. This Achilles heel most certainly could be the reason for the lack of postseason success.
Thankfully, Dallas has had some good fortune during the NFL draft and that will lead us to our stock up for this week. On the flip side, some of that good fortune could be used to potentially draft players to particular area of the team which happens to be our stock down for this week.
Let’s dive in!
Stock up: Micah Parsons will be back next season
In recent years, and more specifically during 2021 NFL draft, the Cowboys drafted arguably the best defensive player in the league, and did so at pick 12. The most savvy part about this trade was the slide back from number 10 to number 12, getting an extra third-rounder, all while still ending up with Micah Parsons. If that isn’t a win, then what is? A decade from now, this trade could be seen as one of the best ones in awhile. This all depends on a few variables which includes how the career of Micah Parsons ends up. The career of Parsons thus far has been everything a franchise could’ve wanted and much more.
At just 23-years-old, he’s been named a two-time All-Pro as well as a two-time Pro Bowler. Currently, he is one of three finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award after the year prior winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year. From a numbers perspective, he has totaled 26.5 sacks through just 33 games which means he is expected in 80% of his games to record at least one sack. This would put him sixth all-time in this category. Through two seasons, Parsons is already on a historic run, and given how he was acquired, it seems like the Cowboys have the advantage in the deal.
Stock down: Pass catching room
Coming into the 2022 season, and knowing what went on prior to it, there were plenty of questions surrounding the pass-catching department on this team. The big question was, can CeeDee Lamb become a legitimate number one option in the NFL? Lamb would silence any of those doubts by catching 107 passes for 1,359 yards and 9 touchdowns. With numbers like that, there is no question who the top wide out is on the Cowboys. After Lamb however, the next option gets a tad bit more murky.
Dalton Schultz comes to mind after being second on the team in receptions with 57, but he isn’t exactly a dynamic player. He still is a good player, but his game represents being more of a safety net for quarterback Dak Prescott. This is effective, but it doesn’t exactly stretch defenses like most would like. Noah Brown had his moments in 2022 and finished third on the team in receptions with 43. Just like Schultz, Brown doesn’t exactly stretch the field like Lamb and is more of a possession and blocking type of player. This is also effective, like Schultz’s game, but it doesn’t really give Prescott any game-breaking options to throw to aside from Lamb.
The Cowboys obviously felt similarly about this group as they brought in a known deep threat in seasoned pro T.Y. Hilton. They signed him late in the season in hopes of giving the team a much needed kick in the pants in the receiving game. He did have a memorable first catch on a 3rd and 30 that helped lead to the Cowboys defeating the Eagles, but Hilton wasn’t the same player he once was. Lastly, Michael Gallup’s 2022 season was essentially a lost one because it is clear that he is still working his way back from a serious ACL injury. Year two post injury will tell us exactly what the Cowboys have in Gallup. Fingers are crossed that he returns to his old form because in the final game of the year against the 49ers, the lack of electric playmakers in the passing-catching room reared it’s ugly head.
San Francisco wasn’t worried about anyone catching passes other than CeeDee Lamb. Due to the this, the Cowboys offense sputtered by producing just 12 points on the evening. As the team readies itself for this year’s draft in April, they might want to consider adding some juice to the wide receiver room. There are plenty of quality players that could come in right away and help this offense go to the next level. Given how much success the Cowboys have had recently when it comes to the NFL Draft, the chances of improving areas that have been deemed a deficiency tend to increase. Hopefully, America’s Team will address this area via the draft and bring in some more talent that is also on a rookie deal.