In last year's draft the Cowboys picked six defensive players before finally adding help on offense. With the 2022 NFL Draft finally upon us, could Dallas be looking to put the same focused energy into the other side of the ball with this rookie class?
The Cowboys had an usual bevy of draft picks in the first four rounds of 2021; seven overall thanks to compensatory selections. It was no surprise when they went defense in the 1st Round, but instead of one of the cornerbacks that had long been projected we got LB Micah Parsons.
No regrets, right?
Dallas' draft continued to surprise as the defensive players kept coming: CB Kelvin Joseph, DT Osa Odihizuwa, CB Nahshon Wright, DE Chauncey Golston, CB Nahshon Wright, and LB Jabril Cox. It wasn't until OT Josh Ball was drafted in the 4th round that an offensive player was added.
As a team with historically balanced drafting year to year, Dallas' 2021 class was an outlier. But if balance is their typical goal, could the Cowboys seek to find it by making this year's draft similarly one-sided towards offense?
The foundation for an offensively-focused draft has certainly been laid. The departures of Amari Cooper, La'el Collins, Connor Williams, Cedrick Wilson, and Blake Jarwin have pulled the OL, WR, and TE positions to the top of pre-draft conversations.
Many draft projections for 2022 have the Cowboys going with an interior offensive lineman in the 1st round and then a WR in the 2nd, or vice versa. If that is how it unfolds, it's not unreasonable to see a TE or OT being drafted in the 3rd round if there's a top talent who falls.
But whereas Dallas was deep at most of those positions last year and able to stand pat on current talent, the defense isn't nearly as well-stocked now. The Cowboys would certainly be justified to consider help on the defensive line or at linebacker early in this draft based on their needs.
The last time that Dallas had a one-sided draft was in 2017, going all defense the first two days before finally taking WR Ryan Switzer in the 4th round. But the drafts before and after were very balanced; 60/40 splits between offensive and defensive picks in the first five picks.
The glass-half-empty perspective for 2022 is that the Cowboys have a lot of holes to fill and opportunities to improve, which is accurate. But optimistically, that means Dallas can truly go “best player available” this week and focus on talent over needs.
In the end, an offense-heavy 2022 draft class may be a product of circumstance over any pre-draft strategy. But if Dallas lean on that side of the ball this week, filling their roster with young defensive prospects last year will certainly be a contributing factor.