Going into the 2017 NFL Draft, and offseason as a whole, the Dallas Cowboys have clear deficiencies on defense which must be addressed.
A lack of any real pass rushing threat or shutdown cornerback plagued the Cowboys defense during the 2016 playoffs, as Aaron Rodgers sat in a clean pocket and picked Dallas apart.
Now, we look ahead to the team-building process, anticipating the moves which Will McClay and company will make to improve this roster. Hoping, and trusting that they will shift their focus to the defensive side of the ball.
When you take a closer look at how the Cowboys have drafted in recent years, however, it’s clear that the focus has been on defense all along. The problem, they simply haven’t hit on their defensive picks like they have on offense.
Over the last five years, the Cowboys have had 40 draft picks, 25 of which went to the defense. This list includes 5 defensive ends and 9 defensive backs. 9!
Ironically, these are the two places the Cowboys have their biggest needs.
Draft pick allocation over the past 5 years…
The lesson here is pretty clear.
The NFL Draft is not an exact science. Despite all of the detailed scouting and meticulous analyzation of prospects, much of the “hitting” teams do on draft selections comes down to a little bit of luck.
In 2015 the Cowboys drafted Byron Jones in round one and Randy Gregory in round two. Both players first round talents, only one has panned out to become any type of contributor thus far.
Dallas has simply had bad luck with Gregory. With Gregory on the board, the Cowboys made the “right” pick in many ways. He was the best player available when they selected, and he filled a position of need. Unfortunately, Gregory just can’t pass a drug test. This is partly on the organization for drafting a player with a previous drug history, but it is also just sort of the luck of the draw.
The Cowboys have been lucky enough to hit on high character, superbly talented offensive players over the last five years. Defensively, not so much.
Now, with the offense just about ready to take over the league, the Cowboys must finally make their defensive selections count. They must finally find the “right kid of guys” who can be impact defenders from day one. They must finally find a pass rusher who will not face suspensions to begin damn-near every season.
This year, the Cowboys must find quality over quantity on the defensive side of the ball. And while they have missed on most of their defensive picks thus far, I do have faith in this front office to make the right selections this April.