It’s draft season. A time when you look at what incoming rookies can do for your football team. At times it’s easy to forget that the players that everyone is excited about have never played a down in the NFL. That isn’t to say they won’t be good, but often, we let our excitement run away with our year one expectations for these rookies.
Every rookie faces a battle as they make their transition to the NFL. There’s an adjustment that must take place and the defensive side of the football is arguably more challenging for rookies to come in and make a significant impact.
We’ve witnessed first hand how rookie defensive tackles go through some growing pains like Trysten Hill and Neville Gallimore have. In 2020, though there was a lot of good, Trevon Diggs faced his fair share of struggles during his first season with the Cowboys.
Again, rookies can make an impact, much like Leighton Vander Esch did in 2018. And then you go back another year and you find Taco Charlton, who made very little impact during his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys.
A rookie isn’t a sure bet to hit the ground running in their first year on the field. So why are we acting like whoever they pick at 10 will suddenly transform the 2021 Dallas Cowboys Defense? They might, but there’s a better chance that rookie struggles in year one.
The speed of the game, the physicality, and the mental challenges these players face grows considerably from the opposition they faced in college. And that’s why the Cowboys should continue to scour the free agent and trade market.
Though there are reports the Cowboys have moved from veteran linebacker KJ Wright, they should try and get back to the table with him to provide a really good SAM and WILL linebacker spots.
While they re-signed Jourdan Lewis, the Cowboys should continue to look to bring in cornerback help through free agency or the trade block. The Cowboys aren’t done with free agency, especially as the date when the compensatory pick formula no longer counts toward next year’s selections. And as the draft approaches, more teams may approach the Cowboys about a trade for Michael Gallup.
I get that this draft has to be a hit on the defensive side of the football but this is a deep cornerback class. Teams can find linebackers to help their team throughout the draft. Passing on a generational talent like Kyle Pitts at 10 because you need defense isn’t the way to draft.
Patrick Surtain is the best defensive player in the draft and if the Cowboys picked him it wouldn’t be a solid pick. At the same time, the Cowboys shouldn’t worry themselves with a particular position or side of the ball. We’ve seen Will McClay put together solid drafts throughout his tenure with the Dallas Cowboys. This year should be no different.
There is a way that Pitts falls to 10, much like there was a path for CeeDee Lamb to fall to 17, like I wrote about last year. And if Pitts falls to 10, the Dallas Cowboys have to look at their cornerback group later on down the road. And down that road, the Cowboys will have options to help the defense.