Super Bowl week has finally arrived, and with it will come the end to another NFL season. As the Dallas Cowboys prepare to watch the rival Eagles play for their first Lombardi trophy against the Patriots, their offseason preparations continue with the 2018 Senior Bowl already in the books.
Keeping the core of their coaching staff in place, the Cowboys are moving forward as a deep team with few glaring needs — at least in the eyes of the Cowboys’ front office.
Slated to pick 19th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cowboys will look to fill any holes in the roster through the fringes of free agency before entering the draft with ten total selections. As of right now, here are the positions that Cowboys Nation can confidently say the team will avoid at the start of the draft.
The latest Dak Prescott narrative will have to wait until another day. The only reality that matters here is that Prescott is firmly in place as Dallas’ starter in 2018. The third-year quarterback could see plenty of changes — hopefully for the better — elsewhere in the passing game this offseason.
The Cowboys could even be in the market for another QB late in the draft or in free agency. Seeing as many as five quarterbacks come off the board before their first round pick will only help the Cowboys though, who are not players for one of this year’s top passers.
Finding a franchise quarterback in the fourth round just two years ago, the Cowboys may not draft a QB with their first pick for a very long time.
This is another obvious position of strength for the Cowboys, as well as a reason for optimism with Ezekiel Elliott putting his suspension behind him. The Cowboys will expect a full 16 games out of their workhorse back, and feel good about Rod Smith backing him up as well.
Similar to their situation at QB, the Cowboys may get great value out of a late-round running back to keep this backfield an overall team strength.
The best runner in this class — Penn State’s Saquon Barkley — will be drafted before the Cowboys come on the clock, as Dallas will happily let other first-round talents like USC’s Ronald Jones II slide further down the board.
Drafting an offensive lineman is not out of the question for the Cowboys at 19, especially one with the versatility to play both guard and tackle. A guard with flexibility to play center, or worse yet a true center, would not be worthwhile picks for the Cowboys, however.
Travis Frederick has been nothing but consistent at center for the Cowboys since 2013, named to his fourth Pro Bowl this season. Frederick will remain the anchor for an offensive line that has inserted new starters alongside him at left guard with similar results — the Wisconsin product doing his job.
This won’t change in 2018, or for the foreseeable future, with Frederick starting at center for the Cowboys.
If interviewing former lineman Marc Colombo for their vacant TE coach position wasn’t enough of an indicator of how the Cowboys evaluate the position, this draft class itself at TE will deter most teams from taking one in the first round.
The Cowboys certainly don’t have overwhelming depth at tight end, with Jason Witten near the finish line of a Hall of Fame career. Behind Witten, there is fan-favorite Rico Gathers, Geoff Swaim, James Hanna, and Blake Jarwin.
Valuing the blocking ability of these TEs over the impact they provide in the passing game, the Cowboys are set up well enough to target plenty of other positions at 19th overall.
Drafting two cornerbacks last year to replace Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr, one of the biggest positives from the Cowboys’ otherwise disappointing season was the play of rookies Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis.
Toward the end of the season, the Cowboys even found a way to break Anthony Brown out of his “sophomore slump,” kicking him inside to play the slot.
The results the Cowboys saw in turning over their secondary shouldn’t steer them away from continuing to build this back-end into one of the league’s best — now being led by Kris Richard. First-round picks should be immediate starters in most cases, though, and a CB at 19th overall may have a hard time seeing the field in 2018.
Even Xavier Woods — drafted in the sixth round as a safety — saw time at cornerback to start his Cowboys career, with fellow safety Byron Jones a popular candidate to play CB once again under Richard. This leaves the safety position as one to be evaluated closely prior to the draft, with far less uncertainty surrounding this group of cornerbacks.
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Compare this list to my previous list of positions where the Cowboys could actually use new starters and the offseason approach for this team becomes pretty focused. With the talent already in place on offense, the Cowboys must add depth on this side of the ball to keep another season from inexcusably unraveling following a few injuries.
Defensively, the right picks early in the draft could elevate Rod Marinelli’s unit to do things that have not been seen from a Dallas defense in quite some time.
The 19th-overall pick sits right on the edge of where teams generally still have prospects graded in the first round available. It presents the Cowboys a great opportunity to land another key starter, one that could make the difference in returning to the playoffs in 2018.