We're just hours away, folks!
Having the number-four pick in tonight's NFL Draft, the Dallas Cowboys are generating as much pre-draft buzz and excitement as at any point in many years. Not only their own fans anxious to see what top-level talent gets selected, but other teams and their followers are waiting to see how Dallas' decision impacts the rest of the draft.
I thought I would share all of my final pre-draft predictions, opinions, and wonders as we all await the start of the festivities. Please chime in with your own. Also, please plan to join me tonight in the Pigskin Hub Live Chat at the following links:
Also, be sure to check out the following resources as you prepare for and enjoy tonight's draft:
- Final Mock Draft covering the Cowboys' first AND second round picks.
- My Cowboys “Big Board” for the top 35 players Dallas should be wanting.
Now, all that business aside….
Almost No Chance of a Trade Down
I don't think the Cowboys will be calling anybody about trying to trade down from their #4 pick. They will have their pick of at least two of Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, or Jalen Ramsey and maybe even all three. Assuming their interest in Myles Jack has cooled with the rising knee concerns, those three make the most sense for Dallas given their perceived and the Cowboys' needs.
That doesn't mean another team won't make an offer, though. If someone is really craving one of those players, or perhaps one of the offensive tackles or even quarterback Paxton Lynch, they may call Dallas about moving up. The Cowboys could be enticed by a generous package of picks like we've seen the Rams and Eagles give up in recent weeks.
One team I'm watching hard is New Orleans, who would seem very interested in a quarterback given Drew Brees' age and expiring contract. The move from their #12 pick to the Cowboys' spot would require at least their second-round pick and at least one more mid-round pick. Dallas would have the leverage and may be able to force next year's first-rounder out of the Saints.
I don't think this will happen but you can't ignore the possibility. Ultimately I think the Cowboys will very happy to land one of the draft's premiere talents at a position of need.
Are We Getting Two Players Tonight?
Speaking of trades, Dallas has the ammunition to try and trade up from their #34 pick in the second round and select another player tonight. Combining that pick with their third-round selection should be able to get them into the 18-22 range. Using their first fourth-round pick would get them to around the 26-30 picks.
I expect Dallas to take either Ramsey or Elliott at #4 despite their glaring need for a pass rusher. If someone like Shaq Lawson or Leonard Floyd slips down the board then I could easily see the Cowboys moving up for one of them to make sure they've added some help at defensive end.
Why Not Bosa?
As I said in my Big Board I think Bosa will, at worst, be a very solid player who can get you close to double-digit sacks any season. However, that doesn't make him any better than guys we've seen in the past like Greg Ellis or Anthony Spencer. Those players were considered first-round disappointments and neither was taken in the top five of their draft.
Bosa doesn't strike me as the kind of physical phenom who usually emerges as one of the league's best pass rushers. People comparing his combine numbers to J.J. Watt are ignoring two key facts; Watt was over 20 pounds pounds heavier running those drills and crushed Bosa in the bench press.
I like Bosa's floor in that I don't think he will be anything close to a bust. He'll give you enough seasons of good production that you're ultimately satisfied with his tenure. But from a top-five pick I want a guy that I truly believe has a chance at being the best in the NFL at his position. Bosa just doesn't hit that mark for me.
Ramsey vs. Elliott
The Chargers may take care of this for us and draft Ramsey, leaving Elliott as the clear front-runner for Dallas' pick. Assuming San Diego goes with one of the offensive tackles or DeForest Buckner, what should the Cowboys do if they have to pick between the draft's best defensive back and it's best running back?
I stand by what I've been saying for about two years now; there's only so much that extra talent will do to improve Dallas' running game. DeMarco Murray, a former third-round pick with one great season to his name, broke records set by one of the greatest backs to ever play for the Cowboys or any team.
Dallas has built an offensive line that will continue to get league-leading production out of solid to even marginal talent. Darren McFadden didn't start getting starter touches until Week 6 and was still the fourth-best runner in the NFL last year. He did it with a rookie playing at left guard and no passing game to help take the pressure off.
The Cowboys line will be better this year than ever before. Zack Martin and La'el Collins are entering their third and second years. Collins could take an especially dramatic leap. The hopeful returns of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant to healthy status will diversify the offense and open up even more lanes for runners.
In 2014 the Cowboys rode that combination of high run production and efficient passing to a 12-4 record, the NFC East crown, and a playoff win. However, their season ended in Green Bay because the defense could do nothing to stop an injured Aaron Rodgers.
Everyone comparing Elliott and the offensive line to the days of Emmitt Smith and the Great Wall are forgetting how strong that 90s defense was. Right now we only have a couple of guys who could've played with that crew.
The chance to get a Jalen Ramsey doesn't come often. Guys with his upside aren't hanging around the middle or late parts of the first round. If you don't like McFadden or Alfred Morris then don't worry, because we can still find upgrades for them in any draft class. Ramsey presents a far rarer opportunity.
I don't care what anyone says about Ramsey being a better safety than a cornerback. If that's true then play him at safety and enjoy what teams like the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Chargers have with the likes of Eric Berry, Earl Thomas, and Eric Weddle. As I said with Bosa, I want guys who I think can be the best in the league at their position. If you think Ramsey can be the best safety in the NFL then I have no issue with him at the #4 pick.
Bottom line; our offense already has enough talent to win a Super Bowl. Our defense doesn't. Ramsey's the pick.
Let's just hope the Chargers don't like him, too.