Draft day is almost here and it’s business as usual for the Dallas Cowboys. Every year, NFL scouts, coaches, analysts and writers break down hours of film on different prospects and potential draft picks.
By now, the team’s scouts and coaches have watched film, gone to the pro days, interviewed players, etc. The team has done its homework so that by the time it’s their turn to pick, Cowboys fans everywhere are hoping that Jerry & Co. will make the right moves.
A lot has occurred this off-season, and now the team will need to answer for the moves they made.
Players like Anthony Hitchens and Dez Bryant are no longer with the team, and new Cowboys like Allen Hurns and Kony Ealy are eager to get started. However, before anyone hits the field, the Cowboys need to answer these five questions during the draft.
Only when these are answered, will the Cowboys be ready to get started.
Who will replace Dez Bryant?
Signing Deonte Thompson and Allen Hurns look like solid moves that will help quarterback Dak Prescott, but neither look like viable heirs. Realistically, Thompson looks to be more of a Brice Butler replacement and Allen Hurns is an improvement at the WR2 position over Terrance Williams.
As far as finding the new play making, number one receiver? That looks likely to be answered in one of the first three rounds.
Whoever this new player is will have a lot of pressure on them to not only click with Dak Prescott, but to become the new star receiver wearing the star. The last one was Dez Bryant, so they’ll have some big shoes to fill.
In what round do they complete the offensive line?
The Cowboys are as close to having a complete offensive line as you can have, except for the left guard spot. Last year’s starter, Johnathan Cooper, is gone and there’s a vacancy at his position. The team has a few options on the roster currently in Chaz Green, Marcus Martin, Joe Looney, and possibly La’el Collins.
Collins looked very good at right tackle in the second half of the season, and switching him back to guard doesn’t seem likely. What does seem likely is using a draft pick on the position.
If the team wants an instant starter, they’ll have to address the left guard in one of the first two rounds. This year’s interior line group is very top-heavy, and any one of them look like they could fill in nicely with the Cowboys.
What’s the team’s biggest defensive priority?
The Cowboys have needs at linebacker, safety and nose tackle. Which one gets drafted first is sometimes based upon best available as well as which area needs the most help.
The Cowboys have a starting set of linebackers in Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith and Damien Wilson, but the depth behind them is not very good. Depth is much more important than realized when you throw in the injury history of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.
The Cowboys have plenty of talent and depth along the defensive line, but the biggest mistake made was playing Maliek Collins at the nose tackle position when he thrived at the 3-technique. A pure nose tackle is a big need, which could solidify the starting front four.
Finally, we reach the back-end of the defense.
Amazingly, cornerback is not a need this year, as it has been. With Byron Jones moving back to corner opposite Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis playing in the slot, the starting corners are set.
As far as the safety position, Xavier Woods looks like the most talented, and he has the ability to play multiple secondary positions. Jeff Heath and Kavon Frazier will compete for the other starting spot, but I wouldn’t put it past the team to improve on the position sometime early in the draft.
Is Rico Gathers the future?
We all saw Rico Gathers ball out in the 2017 preseason, and then Cowboys fan’s imaginations went wild. However, a concussion and subsequent neck injury caused Gathers to miss all of his second year.
With Jason Witten not getting any younger, James Hanna retiring, Geoff Swaim being more of a blocker than a receiver, and Blake Jarwin being all potential at this point, the tight end position is a question mark. We all want Rico to be “the guy,” but how much longer can the team wait?
I wouldn’t put it past the Cowboys to at least consider drafting a tight end. This year’s tight end group is very deep, and all options should be considered. Undoubtedly, Rico Gathers is talented and could become a serious receiving target for the team, but by the time the draft is over, we may have our answers.
Is Earl Thomas still on the table?
Ever since Earl Thomas went into the Cowboys tunnel following their game against the Seahawks, Cowboys twitter has been buzzing. As we’ve gotten closer to the draft, these rumors have not died down in the slightest.
The Seahawks initially tried to get a first rounder for Earl Thomas, but that wasn’t happening.
A more likely asking price is a second or potentially a third-round pick. Dallas being willing to trade one of those for Thomas is still a possibility.
Earl Thomas, wherever he ends up playing, wants a new contract, and it doesn’t look like he’ll get one. Richard Sherman is gone, and Earl Thomas could end up the same way. Not only does he want a new contract, he wants to go to a team of his choosing.
With the release of Dez Bryant, a contract extension for Earl Thomas is a bit more realistic. But whether or not the Cowboys are interested in trading for him, or if Seattle wants to part with him will be answered on Draft night.