Now that the smoke is starting to clear from the Cowboys entering free agency with “guns a’ blazing”, aggressively signing eight players. How is their draft in April affected?
Head coach Jason Garrett has said the Cowboys strategy is to address needs prior to the draft freeing them up to select the “best player available”. I’m not positive that I understand or agree with that approach but hey Jason attended Princeton so let’s roll with him here. Jason says he likes to load up each position creating competition and then let’s see who makes the roster.
Again who am I to match wits with an Ivy League guy just because I’ve never iced my own kicker? But here it goes anyway. Does it mean even if they have three QBs on their roster, that they are all good to go with, if the best player on the board happens to be a QB, they will select him? Even when their pass rush fades away late in games like footprints in the sand? That just doesn’t seem logical to me. Seems they would want a player that could play and contribute right away in the first round while addressing a specific need.
In drafting the “best available” I hope the Cowboys manage to address the following areas.
Wide Receiver: The Cowboys let Robinson walk to the Jaguars after he had a very productive year for the Cowboys. They didn’t want to give that kind of money to their 3rd receiver but regardless he was a real “go to guy” in the redzone. I think they will miss him and you should sign your most productive wide receiver especially when you are a passing team, in a passing league, during a passing era. Just sayin’. Dallas brought Ogletree back but they still could use another WR at some point in the draft just in case he plays like he always has in the past. Raymond Radway showed a lot of promise last year but suffered a season ending injury prior to the season. It remains to be seen if he has recovered and can fill that 3rd spot at all.
Tight End: Dallas parted ways with Marty Bennett which I agree with the move. It just wasn’t working out and Marty seemed preoccupied with other things like social media and stuff. The Cowboys could use depth behind Witten and Phillips and I think they will draft a TE at some point. They could use a good blocking TE and hopefully will find one. Tight ends are expected to start coming off the board in the second round.
Pass Rusher: Can be OLB, DE or DT. I look for Dallas to get one in the first round now that the secondary has been addressed with the additions of CB Carr and Safety Pool. Unfortunately the best DE Coples will likely be off the board before 14. OLB Ingram will also likely be gone before the Cowboys first pick. Both of these guys have the ability to make the pass rush much more effective if they are available.
There are three defensive tackles that are possibilities for Dallas. Michael Brockers, Fletcher Cox and Dontai Poe are all expected to go around 14 or perhaps before then. Adding a young, athletic NT could really help the Cowboys pass rush and also provide a human tree stump against the run. While these guys are not going to get a bunch of sacks, they can tie up offensive linemen so that Ware and gang can do their thing. Picking a DT early is not considered a “sexy” pick but it has worked out pretty good for the NY Giants.
Guard: Yes Dallas added two guards in free agency but when you analyze them, you realize they just may not be the answer. Pro Football Focus points out that Livings was less than spectacular for the Bengals and ranked him a pedestrian 56th among guards. If David Decastro is available at 14 then Dallas will be wise to draft the best guard in the draft to solidify the middle of the line. DeCastro is a safe pick that should be dependable for many years to come. Right now the middle of the line is still kind of shaky.
Secondary– As noted earlier, Dallas has done a good job of improving the secondary in free agency but it will not be a bad idea at some point in the draft to bring in an additional CB for depth. They never seem to have enough DBs during the season. Also Pool was signed to a one year deal and Sensabaugh is not getting any younger so picking up a safety for the future makes sense. Unfortunately after Barron from Alabama, there aren’t a lot of impressive safeties in this draft. May have to address that next year.