It’s a rare thing to have a draft class that is universally loved by both local and national analysts. Generally, people are quick to criticize a Dallas Cowboys draft with Jerry Jones as the central figure, but I’ve yet to see anyone have any issues with the way the Dallas Cowboys went through the weekend.
Round by round, Jerry Jones, with Will McClay taking the lead, navigated them to incredible value picks throughout. Much like the 2016 draft class did that season, this year’s crop of rookies has an opportunity to make a significant impact for the Dallas Cowboys in their first season.
In 2016, the Dallas Cowboys got incredible contributions from fourth-round pick and Rookie of the Year winner Dak Prescott. Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing while accumulating 2000 total yards. Third-round pick Maliek Collins had five sacks. Anthony Brown and Kavon Frazier helped the defense as rotational players.
Aside from the impact of your franchise quarterback, the 2020 class has a shot at doing more for the team in its rookie season than the 2016 group did.
CeeDee Lamb may not be the lead wide receiver for this offense this season, but his ability to play in the slot and on the outside will help take this offense to another level in 2020. They were outstanding last year. If everything goes right this season, they have a chance to be the league’s best.
Also, on the offensive side of the ball, Tyler Biadsz could make a run at the starting center position. Though Joe Looney, the 2018 starter, figures to be at the head of the center competition, Biadsz, the Rimington Award winner and First-Team All-American, has the talent and the pedigree to take that job in training camp.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Dallas Cowboys selected two cornerbacks in Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II that figure to compete for starting spots in year one. The Dallas Cowboys were intent on finding a cornerback or two that had size, length, could play press-man coverage and affect the football.
Cowboys VP of player personnel Will McClay on drafting Trevon Diggs in the 2nd round and Reggie Robinson II in the 4th: “This was a good draft at the top four rounds for those big, long corners. We were fortunate that the runs (on CBs) came a little differently this year.
While Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis each started games under the previous regime, Mike McCarthy and Mike Nolan won’t feel beholden to starting those guys if they think Diggs and Robinson make them better on the defensive side of the ball.
In addition to their two cornerbacks, third-round pick Neville Gallimore figures to compete for rotational snaps behind Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy at defensive tackle. Gallimore is an explosive player and figures to help out in pass-rushing situations during his rookie year. If the Cowboys focus his snaps to passing situations, they’ll be able to get more out of him than relying on him as a three-down defensive tackle in year one.
The last rookie that can make a significant impact in 2020 is fifth-round pick Bradlee Anae out of Utah. Though he didn’t test well at the NFL’s Scouting Combine earlier this Spring, the Dallas Cowboys don’t feel like that’s reflective of who he is an athlete.
DE Bradlee Anae collected 30 sacks at Utah. Fell to Cowboys in Round 5 after 4.93 40 at combine. Cowboys asked themselves: Does he play as fast as his 40? “We felt like he played faster,” Will McClay says. Reactive athleticism, football IQ clear on film.
Anae was an incredibly productive player as an edge rusher for the Utes. Over his final 36 games his last three years at Utah, Anae had 27.5 sacks and 38 tackles for loss. That’s elite production, and I don’t care how bad your testing is. At the Combine this year, several players had questionable testing numbers, perhaps Anae succumbed to the same issues that plagued many at the Combine.
With questions surrounding the reinstatements of Randy Gregory and Aldon Smith, there remains a hole on the right side of the Dallas Cowboys defensive line. Even if Gregory and Smith are reinstated, I’d imagine Anae figures into the rotation on rushing downs.
The one draft pick that doesn’t figure to get involved in the 2020 season is seventh-round pick Ben DiNucci. A lot would have to go wrong for the rookie quarterback from James Madison University to find his way onto the field in any meaningful way. However, even if he doesn’t start, he could earn a role as the third and perhaps even the second quarterback on the depth chart.
These guys have to get on the practice field to see what they’ve got against NFL talent before we can truly know what kind of impact they’ll have in 2020 and beyond. However, on paper, this looks to be a draft class that could make a significant impact for the Dallas Cowboys. Will that impact finally help America’s Team get over the hump and into the Super Bowl? Only time will tell.
In this episode of Inside The Cowboys, John Williams from InsideTheStar.com is joined by Kevin Turner of the About Them Cowboys Podcast on The Athletic to recap the 2020 NFL Draft.