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Cowboys 2020 Draft Breakdown: Defensive Edition

Breaking down the Dallas Cowboys draft needs based on their current roster.

When it comes to the 2020 NFL Draft, we as fans, are even more in the dark this year than we have been in years past. Due to the coronavirus Pro days, private workouts, and pre-draft visits were canceled, meaning the tools we typically use to gauge which prospects the Dallas Cowboys have shown an interest in are basically nonexistent.

We aren’t completely without resources though. We still have one thing to go one…the current Dallas Cowboys roster. Based on the players currently under contract and the depth at each position, we can guesstimate as to which positions they could potentially target come draft day.

I know it doesn’t help much as to which prospects the Dallas Cowboys could be targeting per se, but it does help narrow down the positions that need the most help. Unfortunately, that’s really the only tool we have at our disposal. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the defensive side of the ball to see where the Cowboy stand.

DEFENSIVE END

DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Dorance Armstrong, Joe Jackson, Aldon Smith, Randy Gregory, Jalen Jelks

If the season were to start today DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford would be the starting defensive ends for the Dallas Cowboys.

Dorance Armstrong will likely backup D-Law once again this year at LDE and if/when reinstated, Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory should backup Tyrone Crawford at RDE.

Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks provide depth at DE, but their status with the team under a new coaching staff is up in the air.

The Cowboys are playing a risky game at RDE with Tyrone Crawford (2019 hip surgery), Aldon Smith (suspended) and Randy Gregory (suspended). Because of that I believe they will try to come away with an EDGE rusher at some point in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.

My pick: Julian Okwara, Notre Dame (2nd round)

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Gerald McCoy, Trysten Hill, Dontari Poe, Antwaun Woods

Gerald McCoy (3-tech) and Dontari Poe (1-tech) should be the starting defensive tackles for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. As things stand right now, it looks as if Trysten Hill will backup McCoy and Antwaun Woods will be backing up Poe.

Tyrone Crawford’s DE/DT position flex should also factor into the mix here.

Defensive tackle is definitely a position I see the Dallas Cowboys addressing at some point in the 2020 NFL Draft.

My pick: Jordan Elliott, Missouri (3rd round)

LINEBACKER

Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, Joe Thomas, Luke Gifford, Chris Covington, Justin March-Lillard

The Dallas Cowboys got the entire 2019 LB band back together. Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch should once again reprise their role as starters, although Vander Esch’s health is a bit of a concern.

Sean Lee and Joe Thomas provide valuable and much-needed depth. Both are also capable of stepping in as potential starters if needed.

Luke Gifford, Chris Covington, and Justin March-Lillard are probably nothing more than depth pieces and core special teams players right now.

The Cowboys have enough depth at LB right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they targeted the position in the mid-to-late rounds in the 2020 NFL Draft.

My pick: Logan Wilson, Wyoming (4th round)

CORNERBACK

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown, Maurice Canaday, C.J. Goodwin

Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown could very well be the Dallas Cowboys starting cornerbacks in 2020. All three have starting experience and all three have performed well at times.

Maurice Canaday is probably an underrated free agent signing. He could factor into the mix as a starter at CB as well.

C.J. Goodwin was re-signed because of his special teams value in my opinion.

The Dallas Cowboys will probably try to upgrade the CB position early in the 2020 NFL Draft. Depending on how the draft falls, it could very well be with their first-round pick.

My pick: C.J. Henderson, Florida (1st round)

SAFETY

Xavier Woods, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Donovan Wilson, Darian Thompson

As things stand right now Xavier Woods and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix would be the Dallas Cowboys starting safeties. Both are probably better utilized as free safeties, so it’ll be interesting to see how this new coaching staff deploy them.

Donovan Wilson could factor into the mix as a starter in his second-year with the Cowboys. He showed flashes of starting potential in preseason last year, but didn’t see the field much in the regular season.

Darian Thompson was an odd re-signing by the Cowboys in my opinion. He didn’t play well when he was thrust into the lineup last year, but maybe it was for his special teams value.

My pick: Kenny Robinson, XFL/West Virginia (3rd round)

SPECIAL TEAMS

L.P. Ladouceur, Chris Jones, Kai Forbath, Greg Zuerlein

No one should have to question where L.P. Ladouceur stands with the Dallas Cowboys. He will continue to be the long snapper until he finally decides to call it quits.

Chris Jones didn’t have the best year in 2019 and could be looking over his shoulder to see who the Cowboys might bring in to try and replace him.

A kicking competition? The Cowboys re-signed Kai Forbath and signed Greg Zuerlein in free agency, which means one way or another the kicking situation is probably settled.

My pick: Braden Mann, P, Texas A&M

What do you think?

Brian Martin

Written by Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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  1. Good article but really not sure where we will ultimately draft. Really don’t think Henderson will be there at 17. I know what most fans think about DE but sure does seem that Dallas coach and front office have other ideas. I think they expect much more out of Smith and Gregory than anyone else.

    I really think that if Brown and/or Kinlaw aren’t at 17 that the Boys move down (if Possible) and take Grant Delpit at SS and pick up an additional pick in 2nd or 3rd. Something like 17 and 51 for 20 and 42, or 17 and 51 for 26 and 26, 35, and 109 (projecting Mia trade with Det). It will be a defense weekend for Dallas.

    • It certainly sounds like the Dallas Cowboys are exploring all the possibilities, even trading down. I think we could see an unprecedented amount of players sliding the draft to have any kind of medical red flags, like Kinlaw (knee tendinitis) and maybe even Chaisson (past ACL injury). Teams don’t have the medical re-checks like they’ve had in the past. And, I don’t see the Cowboys drafting a safety in the first-round. They don’t seem to value the position very much and have greater needs elsewhere.

      • I don’t agree with that…. Even though we need a CB1, we can safety is the biggest need for us!! Your thinking about the old coaching staff that didn’t value the safety position!! This new coaching staff is totally different than the old staff!! I just hope they know that if we can’t get a CB1 in the 1st round that we need to get a safety in the 1st round…. Preferably Xavier Mckinney!!

        • That very well could be true, but I just don’t get the feeling they’re going to draft a safety in the first-round.

  2. Great breakdown and read! I love the selections on defense. I’m getting less confident in Henderson making it to 17. Trading back in 1st into the 23-30 range would yield several CB options like Fulton, Terrell, Diggs, Gladney, ans Jaylon Johnson. That would also get more picks in the 3-7 rounds

    • Thanks Victor! I think the Dallas Cowboys are exploring all their options right now, even the possibility of trading down. I think that could be the ideal situation, but it could be more difficult this year than in years past.

  3. I believe that the Kenny Robinson pick in the 3rd or 4th could provide us with future talent and the ability to win right now. I liked what I saw from his film and the kid has major upside. Considering that he was able to play XFL games, the experience could increase his chances of immediate playing time and possibly push Darian Thompson out of a roster spot. Depending on how the pieces may fall in the draft, this move could be one of the best at a position of need for us.

    • Kenny Robinson is one of my “pet cats” for the Dallas Cowboys. He’s a Top 5 safety in this year’s draft class in my opinion.

  4. the pick will be #23 – The Cowboys select CB Jaylon Johnson. Sorry to be a spoiler but I’ve already told everyone now so it’s a done deal. I like the selections possible in the second. The Notre Dame DE could very well be the pick, and a good one. I see them going WR there for some reason – a crazy one at that, not one we’d expect. I’d pick the Syracuse DE in the 4th if it were up to me though and get Winfield in the 2nd and Duvernay as a slot in the 3rd. So many trades are going to happen. It’s going to be a wild and fun draft this yr.

    • The only DT I don’t like it 17 is Javon Kinlaw. His lack of production and knee tendinitis make him too big of a risk in my opinion, especially this year with no medical rechecks or private workouts.

  5. I would rather see Juedy, Lamb or Ruggs is any are available n 1st. Then all Defense in 2nd through 7th. I don’t think we should pass on any of these three rookies if they are still on the board. They will be great players for whoever drafts them and we need a third receiver with as much 5 WR sets McCarthy likes to run.

    • I really like the idea of taking one of the Top 3 WRs at 17, but I don’t know if the Cowboys feel the same. I really think they’re going to try to trade back if they can find someone wanting to move up.

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