Heading into the 2021 offseason, the Dallas Cowboys have a lot of needs that need to be addressed in both free agency and the draft. Retooling and upgrading the defensive side of the ball is arguably the most important task the Cowboys front office and scouting department must undertake this offseason.
While the Cowboys could easily go in several directions in the 2021 NFL Draft. Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report examined each team and selected one player each team needs to draft in April. For the Dallas Cowboys, he selected Georgia EDGE rusher Azeez Ojulari who he's projecting as a top 10 pick. And, the Cowboys happen to pick 10th.
“The Dallas Cowboys produced 31 sacks in 2020, with 11.5 of those coming from DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith. However, Smith is scheduled to become a free agent, and Dallas could struggle to re-sign him.”
Enter Georgia's Azeez Ojulari. During the 2020 season, he showed that he can be a difference-maker and a constant presence in the opposition's backfield. He amassed 9.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss to go with 31 total tackles.”
The piece goes on to mention the Cowboys impending contract resolution with Dak Prescott as a reason why they might not have a bunch of money to spend in free agency. However, he missed one aspect of why spending a top 10 pick on an edge rusher might not be a good idea. And that's Cowboys Defensive End Randy Gregory.
From week seven through the end of the season, Randy Gregory’s four sacks were second on the team to DeMarcus Lawrence’s six. Gregory, however, played 82 fewer pass rush snaps than Lawrence.
Over that same time period, Aldon Smith didn’t record a sack. Gregory was tied with Smith with 25 pressures per Pro Football Focus from week 7 to 17.
Gregory was outstanding last year despite being limited to a reserve role, sharing snaps with Smith and Dorance Armstrong.
The Cowboys don’t need to use their first round pick on an edge rusher. Randy Gregory opposite of DeMarcus Lawrence is an intimidating and dangerous pairing.
While yes, the Cowboys may not bring back Aldon Smith if the price gets too exorbitant, Randy Gregory proved in the second half of the season that he was perfectly capable of manning the right side of the defensive line. Gregory, coming back from suspension should be the front runner to start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence in 2021.