Condolences to employers across the country today who think they're going to get anything out of us. It's Draft Day 2022, the NFL's biggest holiday, and only one thing is on hardcore football fans' minds as they prepare for the big event.
The Dallas Cowboys sit at the 24th pick thanks to apparently the most meaningless 12-5 win-loss record in league history last season. The mood this offseason is hardly one you'd expect for a team coming off such a strong showing; a deceptively weak schedule, the immediate playoff exit, and a lackluster offseason thus far have left the fans highly dissatisfied.
After watching Amari Cooper, Randy Gregory, and La'el Collins all relocate in the name of cap space and no significant free agent signings to counter, Cowboys onlookers are nervous about 2022. This draft is now the last major opportunity for Dallas to infuse talent into the roster and hopefully replace some of these departed stars, or at least get stronger at other positions of need.
Waiting for the 24th pick tonight is going to be agonizing for some. Will you actually have to wait that long? What might happen once we get there? What are the best and worse-case scenarios?
Here are my final thoughts before the Cowboys 2022 draft.
Trades Possible, but Unlikely
The hot rumor yesterday was that Dallas is “desperate” to trade up about 10 spots tonight, though with no talk of who they want so badly. If it does happen it will likely cost the Cowboys their 2nd-round pick and perhaps one of their late-rounders to seal the deal.
It's hard to imagine the team giving up that much capital, even if it's just the 56th pick, to move up for an offensive linemen, receiver, or linebacker. There are just too many options for a solid talent at these needy positions to be there at the 24th pick. At the most I could see Dallas sacrificing a 4th or a couple of 5ths to jump up a few slots and secure someone they really like.
If the Cowboys do go big to get into the middle of the draft it's for someone they think is truly special and doesn't come along every year, like the freakishly athletic DT Jordan Davis. It's not one of their biggest needs but, like with CeeDee Lamb in 2020, Dallas has shown it will go with talent and potential over need when the situation presents itself.
Honestly it's more likely that the Cowboys trade back than up give the multiple opportunities to land quality players at several positions. But by the end of night, I expect Dallas to stand pat and let the dominoes fall. The odds are in their favor that they'll get a very helpful rookie at the 24th pick, and probably at least one guy they wouldn't want to risk missing out on by trading down.
When your team needs help is as many way as the Cowboys do right now then it's hard to be disappointed. If they wind up with a new starting guard, center, receiver, linebacker, or pass rusher with tonight's pick then can you really be upset?
That said, as I broke down yesterday when I ranked the team's needs, I have some strong feelings about the current state of the offensive line. Adding Zack Martin in 2014 was the catalyst for breaking the 8-8 cycle and getting Dallas back into the playoffs and a legitimate contender. That stalwart offensive line helped rookie Dak Prescott keep this team competitive in 2016 even in the most unexpected of circumstances.
Zion Johnson, Kenyon Green, Tyler Linderbaum; I don't really care. I just want to see some infusion of talent at the forefront of this draft class. We have to do better than Connor McGovern as LG next year. And even if Tyler Biadasz can be a capable starter at center, Linderbaum could be an immediate upgrade and has much higher upside.
If the offensive line once again becomes a strength for this team, you will be amazed how much issues such as Ezekiel Elliott's production, WR options, and even depth on defense don't seem to hurt so much going forward.
I've seen it said that, “it will be hard for the Cowboys to screw up this draft.” That's one of those things it's easy to say now before the draft but then, when they pass on T.J. Watt for Taco Charlton, you'll be ripping the team about for the next decade.
Lots of teams missed on Larry Allen in 1994, letting him fall all the way down to the defending Super Bowl Champions in the 2nd Round. Or how about all those QBs who went before Dak Prescott in 2016?
It does go both ways sometimes.
So no, any follies coming out of this draft may not be immediately recognized. But if there is anything I will be disappointed by tonight, it will be the team reverting to its risk-taking, red-flag-ignoring ways with its 2nd-round pick.
No more Randy Gregorys, Jaylon Smiths, or Kelvin Josephs please. Whether it's character or medical concerns, please stop rolling the dice with your second-most-valuable asset this weekend. There are good, solid, capable players with upside to be found on Friday night and we've missed too many of them through the years trying to get cute.
Sure, some gambles pay off. But outside of Trevon Diggs when was the last time that you could say Dallas really had a win with a 2nd-round pick?
Even Sean Lee, who had documented medical concerns in college, ultimately had a checkered career with all his absences. As much as Lee was rightfully adored during his time, could the Cowboys have found a more reliable asset?
Before Diggs you arguably have to go all the way back to 2002, Center Andre Gurode, for a 2nd-round pick with irrefutable success. Almost 20 years, guys.
We have to do better!