After a 13-3 season and early exit in the 2016 Divisional Round, the Dallas Cowboys must make the right moves this offseason to get where they want to be. Adding a pass rusher is at the top of the list of much-needed moves to be made, and with the class of edge players in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cowboys should not have trouble doing so.
Considering the depth of the class, it has been suggested the Cowboys go in a different direction in the first round, and then look for a defensive end in round two. Wide receivers such as Washington’s John Ross, and cornerbacks such as Florida’s Jalen “Teez” Tabor have been mocked to the Cowboys at the end of round one, with an edge rusher coming 60th overall.
While this makes sense on paper, I don’t believe it can work in practice. In order to get the pass rusher they desperately need, they must select him 28th overall. With players like Carl Lawson, Charles Harris, and Derek Rivers potentially being available, Dallas cannot afford to miss in round one.
2nd Round Rushers Are Not The Same
Since 2005, only four edge rushers selected in the 2nd round have finished with 8 sacks or more in a season three times. Typically, the drop off between edge players taken in round one and round two is steep, both in production and talent.
Since the 2005 draft, only 4 2nd round EDGE prospects have recorded 8 or more sacks in a season 3 times. EDGE close to QB in 1st/2nd split.
While this year’s class is deep, the immediate impact players will most likely be taken well before the Cowboys pick in the second round. Of course, this doesn’t mean the Cowboys shouldn’t look to add a second EDGE option on Day Two or Three, but that shouldn’t be their first option.
Bringing in someone like Al-Quadin Muhammad or Deatrich Wise Jr. in round three would be smart, but relying on a late-Day Two edge rusher to bring the change we need to see in Dallas simply would not make sense.
The First Round Options Are Just Too Good
I would not be so adamant of drafting a defensive end round one if it weren’t for the pure talent in this class. With the talent up top in Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, and Tim Williams, guys that would normally be top 20 picks will fall to the Cowboys at 28th overall.
Auburn’s Carl Lawson could be a double digit sack guy as early as year one, but will almost certainly do so in year two. Missouri’s Charles Harris has the most explosive spin move in this entire class, setting up for inside counter moves nicely. UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley may be the single most athletic EDGE in this class, and had an extremely productive season in 2016.
With the need to add an edge rusher being so huge, I just see no reason for the Cowboys to pass up on a defensive end in round one. Especially considering the talent in this class of first round edge rushers.
If the Cowboys were to pass up on a defensive end in the first round and wait until Day Two to address it, thinking they will get equal production, history would not be on their side.