Dallas Draft Preview; Luxury or Need in the first?

Draft picks: #26 (Round 1), #58 (2), #90 (3), #129 (4), #176 (5), #212 (6), #246 (7)

Notable Free Agent Additions: Brandin Cooks (Houston – Trade), Stephon Gilmore (Indiannapolis – Trade), Ronald Jones (FA)Notable departures: Dalton Schultz (FA – Houston), Connor McGovern (FA – Buffalo)

As has been the case the last few off seasons, Dallas continue to be a bit more shrewd in who comes in and who goes out at the turnstiles at AT&T stadium. A few eyebrows were raised last offseason when they let some offensive lineman depart in La’el Collins and Connor Williams, betting on themselves in being able to replace them, and replace them they did with 1st round Rookie Tyler Smith who acquitted himself in well in various positions along the offensive line in his first season whilst they played mix and match for periods of the 2022 campaign.

Whilst they repeat half the trick this offseason by letting Connor McGovern head to Buffalo in Free Agency, I wouldn’t rule out another offensive lineman being addressed early in the draft as there is not a great deal of depth there considering the blotched injury history of most of the current starters that sees stalwarts Zack Martin and Tyron Smith reach their 33rd birthdays this year.

Some holes that don’t necessarily need to be addressed with high draft capital this year due to offseason dealings are Wide Receiver, with the signing of Brandin Cooks from Houston and the Cowboys state cohabitants are picking up a 3rd of his salary for the upcoming season. Cooks, who seems to have been traded more than a unwanted pog (the good old days) joins Dallas for some late round picks. He’ll slot in as WR2 after Michael Gallup struggled after coming back from his ACL injury the year prior, and with the Wide Receiver Class not being strong, it made sense for Dallas to bring someone in like Cooks.

Another hole filled was the 2nd Cornerback with Stephon Gilmore joining from the Colts. There are a few questions of concerns in the Cornerback room with Anthony Brown not at this time re-signed by the Cowboys and Jourdan Lewis is coming off a Lisfranc injury that required surgery. Both Gilmore and Cooks are veteran guys to bolster the experience in the locker room and are good additions for the prices paid.

So where do Dallas go assuming they utilise their 1st round pick? Well if you’d ask the bookies initially, the favourite was running back. Ezekiel Elliott was released by the Cowboys for cap purposes and whilst I think the Cowboys may draft a back in the later rounds, I would be surprised if Dallas take a Running Back with their 1st pick especially this day in age and how Running Backs are viewed value wise.

That being said, if Bijan Robinson finds his way down to pick 26, I wouldn’t say no and I doubt Dallas would either. I feel Dallas would have to trade up to get him though, not something Dallas do very often, especially given the position value of the player despite the undeniable talent. Dallas will utilise franchise-tagged Tony Pollard to the fullest extent with former Buccaneer and Chief Ronald Jones joining this offseason. He is more of a banger than Pollard can ever be and whilst he wont replicate peak Zeke years, he’ll probably fill a spelling role for Pollard which will probably be short yardage/goal to go situations.

That role will be taken away from him should the Cowboys take a back with their 2nd or 3rd round picks (prospects such as Charbonnet/McBride/Bigsby/Bijan’s running mate Roschon Johnson), though cant see it myself. It is worth noting that Dallas have swapped Kellen Moore for Brian Schottenheimer at offensive Co-ordinator and Schottenheimer is known for his allegiances towards hammering the ground game, so it may not be out of the realms of possibility that they use a premium pick on a Running Back.

After a week or two of the markets being open it then changed to Tight End the Cowboys will be drafting on opening night of the draft. This Tight End class could be one for the ages, with a multitude of prospects with great profiles are ripe for the picking.

This makes the most sense considering Dalton Schultz has left the franchise in Free Agency, leaving the Cowboys with some fairly inexperienced but useful guys in the Tight End room. Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot flashed at various points in 2022, but with the likes of Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid and Darnell Washington (amongst others) available and depending on what type of Tight End they want to bring in will determine who they want.

Mayer and Kincaid are more of your receiver first type tight ends, whilst Washington is more familiar with blocking and is a unit of a man (though that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have receiving skills, he just wasn’t asked to do much of it at Georgia) and is less likely to create separation or be thought of as a deep threat like the other two, though that never stopped Schultz being productive in this offence.

Other considerations are to add further depth at defensive tackle but more realistically, Cornerback. Considering they are picking at 26, the top of the prospects in most positions have gone so Dallas will need to continue to rely on their scouting program to find the diamonds in the rough should they pick further down the charts in those positions. I know they’ve plugged the gap with Gilmore as stated above, but Trevon Diggs is on the last year of his rookie deal, Gilmore was signed to a 1 year deal and everyone else seem to be wildcards with regards to what they may produce in 2023. And you can never have enough depth at Corner, right?

This draft class seems quite deep at EDGE and there a re few decent options at DT should the Cowboys wish to address these positions.Despite trading away some picks for Cooks and Gilmore, Dallas still have 7 draft bullets in the chamber to beef up a few positions. I expect the more valuable picks to cover Tight End, Offensive Line and Cornerback and perhaps Linebacker.

However, should some value appear at Running Back (Bijan only), defensive line or Wide Receiver, they are never afraid to pull the trigger (see Lamb, Parsons from the last few years). I wouldn’t rule out a trade back or two also.

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