It is a combination of a myth, an unrealistic approach, and a great thing in a perfect world. It is drafting the best player available. BPA has long been a goal of the Dallas Cowboys, according to what the ownership has repeatedly said over the years. At times they have gotten a bit close, but in the early rounds, you can usually see roster needs affecting the selection. Last year was a good example. Tyler Smith definitely addressed one of the biggest needs for the team. He was intended to become the starting left guard before exigencies forced his move back out to tackle.
The problem with BPA drafting is that it can leave a glaring hole unaddressed. That has led to the modified idea of taking BPA at a position of need. True or pure BPA can only be done if there are no true needs going into the draft. That just hasn’t happened for the Cowboys recently. Until, maybe, now.
With the trades to acquire CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Brandin Cooks, the Cowboys have addressed two of their biggest needs this offseason. They also took care of a couple of others by re-signing LB Leighton Vander Esch and S Donovan Wilson. When looking over the players currently under contract, the most significant remaining needs appear to be LG (again), DT, particularly a big-body NT type, and a RB to help Tony Pollard carry the load. Every other position would be further down for depth. Already they have more needs covered before the draft than at any time in recent memory. And they may be about to take care of one of the three remaining.
Heavy lifting has been done by Cowboys. But still some work left before the draft. Dallas would like to keep DT Johnathan Hankins & DE Dante Fowler. https://t.co/3wx232NeSZ— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) March 20, 2023
With free agency still not quite a week old, the team is very near being in a pure PBA scenario. And as the above tweet makes clear, they still have opportunities to do more.
This really frees up the team to focus on finding the best talent they can. Positions like RB, TE, OG, and DT are not usually seen as great options in the first round, but this year, there is not really a good argument for not taking one of those if it represents the best player remaining on the team’s draft board when they go on the clock at 26 (assuming they don’t trade out of that spot.) Further, with a relatively weak class this year, that late position in the first round really should be viewed more as a high second-round pick, which makes going BPA even more feasible.
Speaking of potential trades, this also makes a move back more viable. Depending on how their board looks when they are getting close to their pick, they may see value in moving back and gaining an additional pick, especially if it is on day two.
For years, Will McClay has been perceived as the most important voice in the Dallas war room. His scouting department sets the board, and he has a big vote when the time comes to send up a card. Coaches, particularly the offensive and defensive coordinators, have sometimes swayed that decision because of pressing needs they see. This year, McClay’s voice will carry more weight, because the coaches will have a very hard time making the case they need to fill a particular position.
If there are truly needs to be filled, it may be at a couple that just don’t have a lot of bodies right now. That does put some focus on RB, where the only players the Cowboys have under contract are Tony Pollard and Malik Davis. That should not be the case by draft day, as the team can easily pick up a low cost body in free agency. Additionally, usable NFL talent at the position can be found on all three days of the draft. Still, the idea of taking a RB in the first round (I will not mention that name here) is a lot more palatable, even for the “running backs don’t matter” crowd.
We may actually see a nearly pure BPA approach for the Cowboys in the draft this year. And we should have far less reason to be anxious about whomever they do take at any spot. The ownership has long preached this approach. They might actually practice it in 2023.